Radical Philosophy is a UK-based journal of socialist and feminist philosophy, the first issue of which appeared in January 1972. It was founded in response to the widely felt discontent with the sterility of academic philosophy at the time (in Britain, completely dominated by the narrowest sort of “ordinary language” philosophy), with the purpose of providing a forum for the theoretical work which was emerging in the wake of the radical movements of the 1960s, in philosophy and other fields.
The journal is run by an Editorial Collective and appears three times a year. It features major academic articles by some of the most famous writers in contemporary left-wing and feminist philosophical, political and cultural thought, including Alain Badiou, Étienne Balibar, Homi K. Bhabha, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Michèle Le Dœuff, Paul Feyerabend, Michel Foucault, Axel Honneth, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean Laplanche, Michael Löwy, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Richard Rorty, Peter Sloterdijk, Gayatri Spivak, Rick Turner, Paul Virilio and Slavoj Žižek. Each issue also has a large and diverse reviews section (reviewers have included Daniel Bensaïd, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson and Christopher Norris) as well as commentaries, obituaries, interviews (including Cornelius Castoriadis, Drucilla Cornel, Jacques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Stuart Hall, Rem Koolhaas, Edward Said, Jeff Wall and Cornell West), news and conference reports. Radical Philosophy also organises regular conferences.
Frontispiece Declaration of Issue 1, Spring 1972 (view a pdf here):
Contemporary British philosophy is at a dead end. Its academic practitioners have all but abandoned the attempt to understand the world, let alone change it. They have made philosophy into a narrow and specialised academic subject of little interest to anyone outside the small circle of Professional Philosophers.
Many students and teachers are now dissatisfied with this state of affairs, but so far they have been isolated. The result has been that serious philosophical work outside the conventional sphere has been minimal.
The Radical Philosophy group has been set up to challenge this situation, by people within philosophy departments and other fields of work. We aim to question the institutional divisions which have so far impoverished philosophy: for example, the divisions between academic departments which have cut philosophers off from the important philosophical work already being done by psychologists, sociologists and others; the divisions between students and teachers which has divorced academic philosophy from the radical activity and ideas of students; and, above all, the divisions which have isolated the universities and other educational institutions from the wider society, thereby narrowing the horizons of philosophical concern.
As well as exposing the poverty of so much that now passes for philosophy, we shall aim to understand its causes. We need to ask whether its barrenness is the inevitable consequence of its linguistic and analytical methods as opposed to, for example, their application to trivial “problems”. We shall examine the historical and institutional roots of recent British philosophy and investigate its ideological role within the wider culture.
But we do not want to become exclusively preoccupied with the inadequacies ofthis type of philosophy. Our aim is to develop positive alternatives. For this there areother traditions which may inform our work (e.g. phenomenology and existentialism, Hegelian thought and Marxism). However, the group will not attempt to lay down a philosophical line. Our main aim is to free ourselves from the restricting institutions and orthodoxies of the academic world, and thereby to encourage important philosophical work to develop.