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Karl Popper on Plato - Dictionary of Arguments
Höffe I 45
After [Popper's] work The Open Society and its Enemies (1957)(1) Plato appears in the Politeia as an opponent of an open society and advocate of collectivist utilitarianism.
Höffe: It is true that Plato's main work contains many highly objectionable elements. For example, he subjects the guardian state to strict rules of reproduction; he allows censorship, even a political lie, i.e. a deception, provided it serves the common good.
Euthanasia/Platon: Furthermore he advocates a rigorous euthanasia - not uncommon in antiquity, of course - he allows infanticide and refuses medical help for people who are malignant and incurable according to their soul.
Equality/PlatonVsVs/Höffe: But it is also true that Plato opposes the inequality of men and women that prevailed at that time and considers institutional precautions against corruption.
HöffeVsPopper: One can hardly blame the philosopher for not being aware of the openness and dynamics of modern societies, even to a limited extent, for not correctly assessing the measure that was already possible back then.
More importantly, Plato is concerned with an element that also deprives modernity of openness and dynamism, the basic and framework conditions of the community.
Idiopragy/Plato: With Plato, the idiopragy formula is considered unchangeable; in modernity it is democracy in conjunction with fundamental rights and separation of powers. On the other hand, the idiopragy formula allows for openness and dynamism, and accordingly gifted people are open to advancement(2).
2. popperVsPlaton: Popper's second accusation, that Plato subjects the individual to the collective good, can refer to the beginning of Book IV, according to which it does not matter that any group (ethnos: tribe) is particularly happy, but the whole polis (3).
Polis/PlatonVsVs/Höffe: A Platonic polis does not sacrifice the welfare of individuals or groups for the common good. Rather, it is set up in such a way that everyone, groups as well as individuals, can become happy. The above-mentioned passage only formulates, in provocative exaggeration of Plato's basic intention, that no one may pursue his interests in an exclusiveness that robs others of the same right to pursue their interests.
1. K.Popper 1945. Die offene Gesellschaft und ihre Feinde. London: Routledge
2. Politeia III 415 b–c
_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
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