Following on from the debate on ecological theory in RP40
we publish a critique of alternative medicine by a group-of
Dutch writers. In this area the phllosophical and the political intersect in social relations which are increasingly under debate as the very notion of medicine itself is questioned. Looking at the rise of holistic and alternative medicine
in the context of socio-political change over the last three
decades the authors examine the changes in the nature of
medicine itself and the impact of technological development
on its practices. They then go on to examine the political
context of the alternative medicine movement and its impact
on the health of its users. It is an important area of poll tical debate that, like the wider ecological questions, are only
now entering the theoretical terrain in Britain.
Also in this issue we continue Richard Sylvan’s examination of ecological theory. His in-depth analysis of the wide
spectrum of ecological theory is an important opening out of
the debate on such matters in Britain and we hope will initiate further thought. His essay attempts a sustained reformulation and defence of what he sees as important in deep
ecological thinking. Although Sylvan argues that the existing
formullations of deep ecology’s epistemological and metaphysical underpinnings are flawed, he is stlll in sympathy
with the general aims and applications of deep ecology.
Sylvan in fact goes as far as arguing that some of deep ecological thinking is ~nere rubbish and yet that there is both a
rational kernel and a critical importance to the whole enterprise. In the spirit of a critical rationalism Sylvan attempts
a resolution of the many problems inherent in an extended
synthesis of the corpus of ecological theory. Naturally we
welcome replies to and criticisms of Sylvan’s article.
Finally Tony Sklllen re-examines the statist conceotion
of poEtics in the light of responses to his earlier articl~s in
Radical Philosophy and his book Rullng Illusions. He argues
for an ‘open’ conception of ‘poEtics’ which goes beyond the
classic notion of that sphere in which the state is the sole
focus of attention. Below we print an invitation to a future
discussion of the state of philosophy in Britain today which
will form the basis of a future issue. Readers will also note
that we hqve expanded our news and reviews section and
that we now have a news editor who will be interested to
hear from anyone with information that may be of interest
to our readers.
PHILOSOPHY – WHY?
Some t:10ughts on a planned special issue of Radical
Philosophy (no. 44, publication September 1986), to which
you are herc.Vith ;nost cordially invited to contribute. All
articles in triplicate, please, to issue editor, Kate Soper at:
1 Bible Cottages, Rodmell, near Lewes, E. Sussex
tel 0273 477324.
Hegel wrote of philosophical truth that it was like a
‘BacchanaEan revel in which no member is not drunk ••• ‘;
Wittgenstein said of one of his works that if it were not
that it would be regarded as chicanery, he would like to
think it was ‘written to the glory of God’; even those (Marx,
the logical positivists, Derrida •.. ) who in their various ways
have heralded the ‘end of philosophy’ have been, or still are,
in the grip of the subject, and we may doubt their capacity
to iimagine, let alone enjoy, a culture without it.
To what e.xtent to philosophers today revel in phllosophy, or think of it as a creative pursuit to be judged by
its own intrinsic values? What feeEngs, aesthetic or otherwise, are phllosophical works capable of inspiring – and
why? Do philosophers today retain that sense of importance
and mission under whose pressure thinkers as diverse as
Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Russell or Carnap devoted themselves to the perfection of a phllosophical system or solution
of some distinct proble;n? Many philosophers have worked
with consuming energy on projects that seem pointless or
doomed from the start. What kept them going, and how
could their sense of phllosophical mission be so divorced (as
it sometirnes was) from their other concerns in IHe, or from
their political and religious outlook?
Here, then, is one set of issues upon which Radical
Philosophy would like your views, whether in the form of
autobiographical state:llent (as brief as you like) or in the
form of objective analytical discussion.
But the questions raised above also lead directly into
considerations of a more sociological kind qbout the role of
phllosophy and phllosophy teaching today. Here, we are asking ‘why philosophy?’ in a somewhat more conventional
sense: what is the point of its pursuit in higher education?
Can it continue to exist as an autonomous discipline? What
role has the radical critique of phllosophy played in undermining the traditional position occupied by philosophy in the
academy, and thus in depriving an education in phllosophy of
the esteem it once enjoyed? Has the success of that critique
– now endorsed in some important respects by mainstream
practitioners – brought about a situation in whch the study
of philosophy as a single, relatively autonomous subjectmatter, can no longer be justHied? Perhaps, in short, by
debunking philosophy of its mystique, we have begun to
argue ourselves out of a job?
On these issues, too, whether or not in concert with
your views on the ‘aesthetics’ of phllosophy, we soEcit your
COMPLETE SETS OF BACK ISSUES
We have now reprinted early issues of Radical
Philosophy and can offer complete back sets. This will
be Nos. 1-40 at special prices to RP subscribers
(institutional rates on application).
R. OS80RNE, 258 Shaftsbury Rd. London N 19 4QW.