Fashion – Thought for the day

I’ll try to make it a rule that I blog in my own words, if I blog at all. But please forgive this rare exception: Bryan Magee on the philosopher Karl Popper. (lifted from Popper’s facebook page)


Karl Popper

“Another general attitude of Popper’s that I loudly applaud is his hostility to the tyranny of fashion in all its forms – the idea that we have to do certain things, or do things in certain ways, because these are the 1990s, and that we have to do certain things, and that we really have no choice, in that anything else is contrary to the spirit of the times, and therefore inappropriate, perhaps even inauthentic. This error is at its most predominant and destructive in the world of arts, but it operates in politics too. In Britain after the Second Word War we had years of uncritical commitment to Keynesian economic management followed by uncritical commitment to monetarism; we had an uncritical belief in nationalization followed by an uncritical belief in privatization. Town planners guided by what they took to be the spirit of the times devastated the centers of many of Britain’s most beautiful towns during the 1960s and 1970s, and corralled the poor of the inner cities into tower blocks. Anyone who opposed these developments at the time was denounced as conservative or reactionary, fuddy-duddy, out of date. Popper has always believed in either fighting or ignoring such tides of opinion. He sees them as forms of what another kind of philosopher would call “false consciousness,” and as ways of evading responsibility for our own decisions and our own actions. Insofar as we go along with them we are enemies of our own freedom. We can do whatever we can do, and it is up to us to do the best we can.”
Bryan Magee, “What use is Popper to a practical politician?”; can be found in “Popper’s Open Society after 50 Years” (ed. Ian Jarvie and Sandra Pralong), and also in “Karl Popper: Philosophy and Problems” (ed. Anthony O’Hear).

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