At first glance the name of philanthropist George Soros’ large and effective charitable network might seem to be a bit of a generic name for a charity. The notion of an “open society” seems like a fairly broad and standard goal for any charity to be working towards. Some might consider it to not be specific enough. However if you look into the origins of the name then the fact that Soros chose it might make a lot of sense. The phrase open society is connected to a man who is considered to be one of the greatest philosophers of science, Karl Popper. Popper was the author of a book called The Open Society and Its Enemies. His text detailed the ingredients that were necessary for democracy and the freedoms that democracy protects such as freedom from persecution, enjoyment of human rights and a high quality of life from the forces that seek to endanger these freedoms. This book appealed to a young George Soros who himself had recently fled a restrictive society when he read it as a university student in London during the middle of the 20th century. Through Popper’s work Soros learned that societies will prosper only as long as they protect freedom and the rights of individuals. This idea of protecting the qualities that keep societies open and thus just, equitable and able to provide a high quality of life for everyone is the idea that drives the Open Society Foundations and is the reason that they have a name that might appear a bit puzzling at first. If anything their name signals the fact that the notions of societies that are free and just are not necessarily valuable to everyone. Know more about George Soros on CNBC.
The lessons that Soros learned from Popper’s book were what inspired him to do something worthwhile with his wealth. During the late 20th century Soros was able to gain a lot of wealth from his financial success on Wall Street. His business acumen in the world of investment meant that he was among the wealthiest people in the country and he even became one of the first Americans to earn an annual salary that totaled $1 billion. While many people who reached that level of financial success might have been tempted to keep all of that wealth to themselves George Soros chose to go in the opposite direction. He has actually chosen to give $12 billion away to charity. His charity has focused on helping minority groups, refugees, people who need healthcare, groups that need access to higher education, AIDS patients and civil society organizations across the globe. His programs have focused on building the capacity of civil society groups to respond to the social ills they organize around and on giving financial assistance to groups that need it most such as institutions of higher education in Eastern Europe. Learn more about this article at washingtontimes.com.