What would Karl Popper debate about with Plato?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that one area in which Plato and Popper would have a vigorous debate would be in the realm of political philosophy.  In his belief of the forms and the faith in the philosopher- king, Popper would have a viable case in suggesting that Platonic political thought can be associated with despotism and the potential for tyranny.  Karl Popper was a staunch advocate of the liberalism intrinsic to the "open society."  Platonic thought does not advocate such liberalism in how society and political structures are to be developed.  There is a sense of questioning and reflection that Popper believes all citizens need to have in "the open society" that Plato would repudiate.  The structural adherence in which Plato believe so passionately would be a source of contention for Popper, who would see this as a pretense that could be manipulated for despotism or tyranny.  In this, Popper articulates a more modern perspective, one borne out of the modern sensibility that Plato would not or could not have conceived.  I believe that this would be a source of debate between both Popper and Plato.

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