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Philosophy Festival

Radical Philos…..y Twelve
Philosophy
4

reslival
The Radical Philosophy Group will hold a conference at Balliol College, Oxford, on 10, 11,
12 January 1976. The aim of the conference is to
enable people to meet and talk winh one another
on the basis of a common concern with the connections between politics and theory, in the context
of the rise of radical theory groups (like the RPG)
in the last few years, in England and elsewhere.

There will be a combination of workshops and
plenary sessions.

A

1

2
S

B

5

PLENARY SESSIONS
An opening address indicating the nature and
purpose o£ the Radical Philosophy Group, and
of the conference, and situating these in their
political and social and theoretical context.

A presentation by students – possibly on course
criticism.

A closing session on the achievements of the
conference: ‘What is to be done?’

Bartre and Marxism,
(Jonathan R~e)
Sartre’s Critique de la Raison
Dialectiqae, which came out in 1960, was an
attempt to provide new foundations for a Marxist
understanding of history and society, on the
basis of a post, -existentialist concept of.

praxis. The book has not been widely read or
widely influentiai, but it ~an be argued that
it .has defined and explored the limits within
which Marxist theory has operated for fifteen
years.

Moralism and the Teaching of Moral Philosophy
(Andrew Collier)
The formalism of much
philosophical ethics as taught in British
universities hides a fundamental assump~ion that morality is a distinct and uniquely
important category of practical reason. But it
is possible to challenge this assumption and
raise questions which moralism systematically
ignores: of the possibility and scope of a nonmoral form of practical reasoning; of the
repressive function of morality; of politics and
morality as alternative practices concerning the

WORKSHOPS

Those interested in learning more details about a
particular workshop should get in contact with the
person(s) concerned, and anyone wishing to organise
or contribute to a workshop should contact us.

Workshops organised so far fall into two categories:

general and text-based.

GENERAL WORKSHOPS
1 China
~han R~e’will describe the nature and role
of philosophy in China since the Cultural Revolution, on the basis of a recent visit.

2 Marxism and Psychoanalysis
Sue Lipshitz and Kate Soper will discuss the
relationship between Marxism and Psychoanalysis,
with particular emphasis on the concepts of
fetishism, alienation and repression. It is
hoped that this will provide the basis for a
comparison of the theories and methods of Marx
and Freud in analysing the structures of capitalism and the structures of the unconscious.

Suggested reading:

Freud: Fetishism (1927), Repression (1915),
Beyond t~e Pleasure Principle (1920)
Marx: Capital I, chapter 1
H. Marcuse; Eros and Civilisation
N. Geras: ‘Aspects of Fetishism in Marx’s
Capital’ in Ideology in Social Science (ed.

Blackburn)
3 ‘Is Mental Illness a Myth?’

Sean Sayers will compare the psychiatric approach
and the psychoanalytic approach, and consider
the ‘humanistic’ (phenomenological-idealist)
critique of the concept of mental illness.

Suggested reading:

Freud: Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis
and Studies on Hysteria (esp. case of Elizabeth
von R.)
Kraepelin: Lectures~n Clinical Psychiatry
Szasz: Ideology and Insanity
Sayers: ‘The Concept of Mental Illness’ (RP5)

same problems; and of the relevance of -the human
sciences to practical reasoning.

Suggested reading:

Engels: Ludwig Feuerbach and the outcome of
Classical German Philosophy
Nietzsche: Twilight of the Idols
W. Reich: The Sexual Revolution (esp. ch.l)

6

Contradiction and Dialectic
(Roy Edgley). Roy Edgley writes: ‘The current
crisis in world affairs is also an intellectual
crisis, which at its most abstract and philosophical level centres on the concepts of reason
and science. The dominant ‘value-free’ versions
of these developed in Western capitalist society
have been articulated in analytical philosophy
and Anglo-Saxon philosophy of science. The
Marxist alternative is dialectic, and its embodiment scientific socialism. This workshop will
discuss some ideas on these topics roughly outlined in my paper “Science, Social Science, ~md
Socialist Science: Reason as Dialectic”, which
I’ll send to anybody who writes tome at Sussex
University. ‘

Further suggested reading:

Marx: Capital I, part I, chap.l, section 4.

Engels: Socialism: Utopian and Scientific
Goldmann: ‘Is there a Marxist Sociology?’ (RPl)
1

Popper: ‘What is Dialectic?” (Mind 1940 reprinted’in Conjectures and Refutations) ,
Blackburn (ed.): Ideology in Social Science
(articles by Geras, Godelier and Colletti)
Bottomore: ‘Karl Marx: Sociologist or Marxist?’

(in his Sociology as Social Criticism)
,7

Economics
John Taylor and Paul Soper will present a
critique of different explanations of the present economic crisis in Britain

8

Carlos Castaneda
(Peter Somerville) Peter Somerville writes:

‘I should like to concentrate on what I regard
as the key elements of don Juan’s teaching,
namely (1) his ethics, (2) his epistemology,
and (3) his metaphysics.

(1) is the warrior
ethic, which is absolutely crucial for the path
of knowledge. I want to examine the nature of
this ethic, and to explore its relation to, and
function within, different modes of production,
its specific difference from other, similar
ethics and so on.

(2) is his doctrine that
mode of life has priority over mode of thought,
i.e. the doctrine that meaning and understanding
at the level of speaking and conversation are
very much determined by the social roles being
played and by the forces at work in social reality. This is of course an old doctrine, but
it is one to which don Juan gives a special
twist, since for him there is no difference
between social reality and natural reality, or
between social reality and reality in general.

(3) is his doctrine of the tonal and the nagual.

Suggested reading:

Castaneda: The Teachings of Don Juan, A Separa te
Reality, Journey to Ixtlan and Tales of Power

9

10 History
Members of the History Workshop ,collective
will present a workshop, probably on the relationship between history and intellectual
history.

GENERAL WORKSHOPS on the following topics are
also envisaged
11 Ethnometbodology
12 Science and Myth
13 Critique of Technological Society
14 The Work of Leonard Williams on Ethology
15 Hegel
16 The Work of Alfred Sohn-Rethel
TEXT-BASED WORKSHOPS
17 Feyerabend
(John Krige, Roy Edgley)
Reading: Against Method (NLB 1975); ‘Against
Method’ (Minnesota Studies for the Philosophy
of Science, vol.IV, 1970); ‘How to Defend
Society against Science’ (RPll)
18 R. D. Laing
(Andrew Collier)
Laing’s writings are
characterised by three things: his attempt to
re-think psychoanalytic theory in terms of
existential phenomenology; his studies of the
family contexts of people labelled as schizophrenic; and his vision of ‘micro-politics’, a
liberation struggle at the level of the small
group. His thought raises a philosophical
question and a political one: Does psychoanalysis
require his programme of conceptual revision? and
What is’the place of micro~politics in political
and ideological struggles generally?

Reading:

R. D. Laing and A. Esterson: Sanity, Madness and
the Family; The Politics of the Family; ‘The
Obvious’ (in Tbe Dialectics of Liberation, ed.

Cooper)
Peter Sedgwick: ‘R. D. Laing: self, symptom and
society” ‘(in Laing and Anti-psychiatry, ed.

Boyers and Orrill)
Juliet Mitchell: Psychoanalysis and Feminism
(two ehapters on Laing)

Alternative technology, the Lucas Aerospace
Workers
(David Elliott)
David Elliott writes:

‘One way to shift the locus of control in society is to confront the status quo with new forms
of opposition which it has not yet learnt to
accommodate. The current critique of science
and technology by radicals is just such a project. Technology is a fundamental part of the
19 Trevor Pateman
capitalist infrastructure and the ideology of
(Trevor Pateman)
scientism and the mythology of use-or-abuse techReading: Trevor Pateman: Language, Truth and
nology provide legitimising mechanisms within
Politics (published by Jean Stroud and Trevor
the superstructure. But it is not enough to
Pateman)
confront the ideology. There must also be a
confrontation at the level of control over the
20 I. I. Rubin
use of technology at the practical level.

(Chris Arthur)
Community amenity group struggles, the alternaReading:

tive technology movement are fine, but tend to
Rubin: Essays on Marx’s Labour Theory of Value
be isolated. The recent initiative by the Lucas
Chris Arthur is also hoping to make available
Aerospace Combine Shop Stewards’ Committee, who
his own paper on ‘Abstract Labour’.

are campaigning for the “right” to work on
21 Lecourt and Bhaskar
socially usef~l and needed technologies in a
(Alison Assiter)
socially and environmentally appropriate way”,
Reading:

represents a dramatic move in the right direcDominique Lecourt: Marxism and Epistemology (NLB)
tion. The combine’s attempt to extend collectRoy Bhaskar: A Realist Theory of Science (Books,
~ve bargaining to include issues of choice,
Leeds)
design and control of products and productive
system implies a radical challenge to traditionAccommodation and food are being arranged.

al management prerogatives. And, unlike that
Please see the leaflet enclosed in this issue
of “co-operatives” or “participation” it is a
for details or write to Dave Berry, Hertford
transition strategy which does not involve the
College, Oxford
workers with managing the system, but stands in
The conference fee is £1 (7Sp for students)
opposition to it. There is much to be learnt
Cheques should be made payable to ‘Radical
from the combine’s experience, which will doubtPhilosophy’ and sent to Dave Berry.

less inform the development of our ideological
critique and technological practice. But more
important, it will provide the organizational
base for fUrther struggles.’

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