chapter  6
14 Pages

The sociological deficit of The Open Society, analyzed and remedied

ByJOHN A. HALL

The Open Society and Its Enemies can usefully be seen as a paean of praise to bravery. For one thing, we should open our theories to refutation, not least by writing as clearly as possible. More generally, we should embrace Gesellschaft and so reject the cosy womb-like certainties of Gemeinschaft. In this view, history is seen as an endless oscillation between systems dominated by the cowardice of the weak and those marked by the fearlessness of the strong. This essay concentrates on the historical sociology that lies at the heart of this position. I argue that this view is defective, both as an interpretation of the historical record and as a foundation for an open society – as is particularly clear when attention is drawn to some basic elements of a more veridical general account. All this can be formulated differently: despite the inspiration to be derived from the normative call to bravery, an open society in fact depends on more solid social foundations.1