From beginner-friendly introductions to classic books by Popper, this page features books to suit any learning style. It’s important to note that there is no single best book on Popper. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading. For example, if you tend to find classic works of philosophy difficult to understand, you might want to start with a short, beginner-friendly introduction. If you prefer more depth, you can choose a more comprehensive introduction or read Popper for yourself.
It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.
Here are the best books on or by Karl Popper in no particular order.
An Introduction to the Thought of Karl Popper – Roberta Corvi
Publisher description: This is a comprehensive introduction to the philosophical and political thought of Karl Popper, now available in English. It is divided into three parts; the first part provides a biography of Popper; the second part looks at his works and recurrent themes, and the third part assesses his critics. It was approved of by Popper himself as a sympathetic and comprehensive study, and will be ideal to meet the increasing demand for a summary introduction to his work.
The Philosophy of Karl Popper – Herbert Keuth
Publisher description: Karl Popper is one of the greatest and most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. Originally published in German in 2000, Herbert Keuth’s book is a systematic exposition of Popper’s philosophy covering the philosophy of science (Part 1); social philosophy (Part 2); and metaphysics (Part 3). More comprehensive than any current introduction to Popper, it is suitable for courses in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of social science.
The Cambridge Companion to Popper – Jeremy Shearmur & Geoffrey Stokes
Publisher description: Karl Popper was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. His criticism of induction and his falsifiability criterion of demarcation between science and non-science were major contributions to the philosophy of science. Popper’s broader philosophy of critical rationalism comprised a distinctive philosophy of social science and political theory. His critique of historicism and advocacy of the open society marked him out as a significant philosopher of freedom and reason. This book sets out the historical and intellectual contexts in which Popper worked, and offers an overview and diverse criticisms of his central ideas. The volume brings together contributors with expertise on Popper’s work, including people personally associated with Popper (such as Jarvie, Miller, Musgrave, Petersen and Shearmur), specialists on the topics treated (Bradie, Godfrey-Smith and Jackson), and scholars with special interests in aspects of Popper’s work (Andersson, Hacohen, Maxwell and Stokes).
Popper Selections – Karl Popper
Publisher description: These excerpts from the writings of Sir Karl Popper are an outstanding introduction to one of the most controversial of living philosophers, known especially for his devastating criticisms of Plato and Marx and for his uncompromising rejection of inductive reasoning. David Miller, a leading expositor and critic of Popper’s work, has chosen thirty selections that illustrate the profundity and originality of his ideas and their applicability to current intellectual and social problems. Miller’s introduction demonstrates the remarkable unity of Popper’s thought and briefly describes his philosophy of critical rationalism, a philosophy that is distinctive in its emphasis on the way in which we learn through the making and correcting of mistakes.
Popper has relentlessly challenged both the authority and the appeal to authority of the most fashionable philosophies of our time. This book of selections from his nontechnical writings on the theory of knowledge, the philosophy of science, metaphysics, and social philosophy is imbued with his emphasis on the role and by reason in exposing and eliminating the errors among them.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery – Karl Popper
Publisher description: Described by the philosopher A.J. Ayer as a work of ‘great originality and power’, this book revolutionized contemporary thinking on science and knowledge. Ideas such as the now legendary doctrine of ‘falsificationism’ electrified the scientific community, influencing even working scientists, as well as post-war philosophy. This astonishing work ranks alongside The Open Society and Its Enemies as one of Popper’s most enduring books and contains insights and arguments that demand to be read to this day.
The Open Society and Its Enemies – Karl Popper
Publisher description: One of the most important books of the twentieth century, Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies is an uncompromising defense of liberal democracy and a powerful attack on the intellectual origins of totalitarianism. Popper was born in 1902 to a Viennese family of Jewish origin. He taught in Austria until 1937, when he emigrated to New Zealand in anticipation of the Nazi annexation of Austria the following year, and he settled in England in 1949. Before the annexation, Popper had written mainly about the philosophy of science, but from 1938 until the end of the Second World War he focused his energies on political philosophy, seeking to diagnose the intellectual origins of German and Soviet totalitarianism. The Open Society and Its Enemies was the result….
Publisher description: Conjectures and Refutations is one of Karl Popper’s most wide-ranging and popular works, notable not only for its acute insight into the way scientific knowledge grows, but also for applying those insights to politics and to history. It provides one of the clearest and most accessible statements of the fundamental idea that guided his work: not only our knowledge, but our aims and our standards, grow through an unending process of trial and error.
The following sources were used to build this list:
University Course Syllabi:
- Karl Popper: The Logic of Scientific Discovery – Leibniz University Hannover
- Bibliography for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Karl Popper
- Bibliography for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Karl Popper: Philosophy of Science
You might also be interested in the following reading lists:
- The Best Introductory Philosophy Books
- The Best Books on the History of Philosophy
- The Best Books on the Philosophy of Science
Or browse this collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists to find more philosophy book recommendations.
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A Collection of the Greatest Philosophical Quotations
A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.