ABSTRACT

The transition of the academic study of modern science from a positivist to a historicist venue may be clearer as a description of what was left behind than what the study of modern science has become. During the war years Popper had a teaching position in New Zealand during which he wrote his most influential book, The Open Society and Its Enemies. Popper's libertarian view of the open society is not the only one possible, for a left- wing version is available that is expressed in the activities of George Soros, the financier and social activist, and in the writings of Richard Rorty. Rorty has a positive view of historicism that resides precisely in what to many critics is its greatest fault, namely, its tendency toward relativism. Popper's concept of the "open society" may be contentless, but it is plainly persuasive to many people because it is responsive to what is perhaps the primary general assumption of contemporary democratic politics.