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America, Educational “Reform” in France, Oxford, History Workshop, Reports

,

good vse of Habermas’s
theory of knowledge-constitutive interests; and his
specification of the forms of
political practice consonant
with critical social theory
resonates with the concepts of
self-reflective critique and
undistorted communication
developed by Habermas in his
examination of Freud.

The greater part of the book
(chapters 2 and 3) is taken up
by the analysis of positivist
social science. Having outlined its epistemology and
methodology, he then argues
for its constitutive interest in
technical control via an analysis of the structural identity
of explanation and prediction
contained in the D-N model.

He then argues that this
general interest in technical
control gives rise to a particular conception of political
practice, namely as policy
science, ‘a set of scientific
laws and axiomative decision
rules which a politician can
use to determine objectively
the best cour se of action to
take. ‘ (p49) Fay rejects this
conception, both for its internal incoherence, and for its
objective consequences: reinforcement of the status quo of
industrial- capitalist society,
and an elitist relationship between politicians and people.

A methodological critique of
positivism follows, and leads
into the analysis of interpretive social science, which is
criticized for, amongst other
things, the conservative political implications of its constitutive interest in increasing
or re-establishing communicative understanding between
groups and individuals. Fay’s
analysis here, as in the final
chapter on critical social
theory, is much briefer,
though it manages to achieve,
for example, a useful distinction between three levels of
interpretive understanding.

The book is written throughout with great clarity and
lucidity, which compensate
significantly for its generally
schematic nature and absence
of any real advance in the articulation of the nature of critical theory, or in the examination of the difficulties involved
in its program for political
practice. Above all, it can be
recommended as an approachable and helpful application of
a generally Habermassian
perspective.

Russell Keat

News
America
The Radical Caucus of the
American Philosophical
Association met in New York
from December 28 to 30 with
all meetings being well attended and with lively discussion.

On the evening of the 28th,
there was a symposium on
Marxist Theories of Ideology
with Richard Lichtman as the
principal speaker, and Roger
Gottlieb and Syla Ben-Habib.

The meeting was attended by
about 200 people. On the
morning of the 29th, Andrew
Brook read a paper on
‘Political Education’, which
was commented on by Naomi
She man, and Sandra Harding
read her paper, ‘Does Philosophy Support the Values of
the Powerful?’, with Joel
Levinson as the commentator.

In the afternoon there was a
symposium on ‘Marxism and
Critical Theory’ with Trent
Schoyer and Dieter Nisgeld.

The topic for the symposium
in the evening was ‘Ra wls’

System of Social Justice: A
Critique from the Left’, the
main paper being given by
Gerald Doppelt and commented on by Larry Blum. On the
morning of the 30th, James
Lawler, Nanette Funk, Dick
Howard, and Ken Magill were
the panelists discussing ‘The
Role of a Party in Contemporary Politics’, and Wesley
Cooper read a paper on ‘Marx
on Justice’ in the afternoon.

The program was organized
by Joel Levinson, Kai Nielsen
and Bob Ware. The discussion
was generally cooperative,
comradely, and productive,
even though the participants
came from a variety of political positions. It showed that
there is still an active interest
in North America in doing
radical philosophy.

At the business meeting on
the 30th, arrangements were
made for the continuation of
the Radical Caucus in the
Eastern Division with stronger
lines of communication being
drawn with those who have
been organising in the Western
and Pacific Divisions. With
collections made at a couple
of the meefings and generous
contributions from those at the
business meeting sufficient
funds were collected for some
necessary travel funds and for

organizing and advertiSing expenses. The program committee for the next meetings of
the Radical Caucus in the
Eastern Division was agreed
on with the following members:

Roger Gottlieb, Philosophy,
Univ. of Connecticut
Sandra Nicholson, Educational
Foundations, SUNY at Albany
New York
Kai Nielsen, Philosophy, Univ.

of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta
Canada
David Travers, Nasson
College, Springvale, Maine
The meetings will be held in
Boston on December 28 to 30,
1976. The members of the program committee are now calling for ideas, abstracts and
papers for possible inclusion
in the 1976 program. Those
who would like to be on the
mailing list for the program
later in the year should write
to Kai Nielson at the above
address.

Educational
«Reform» in France
French education is getting the
once-over from a government
committed, in its own words,
to ‘change in continuity’. Last
year there was the so- called
Haby reform of the schools,
presented, deferred, then rushed
through with some ambiguous
changes, then mysteriously held
back from application. This
year university programmes
are to be reformed. The preposterous rhetoric of reform in
France, plus the French acceptance of upheaval, may nevertheless announce more openly the
thoughts of governments and
ruling classes elSewhere in
Europe.

The government’s aim, to
adapt education to the needs of
work and to save money, shows
in two ways. First, stages and
possible channels that a student
may adopt are being multiplied.

The effect of this may well be
that students stop at an earlier
stage because it presents itself
as a stage. Thus in school education a new Common Programme Certificate granted at
fourteen years of age will be the
last diploma some students will
receive, thereafter sharing their
last years of education between
school and apprenticeship.

Similarly a Diploma of General
37

Univer1iity Education, introduced
a few years ago before the
British Diploma of Higher
Education which it resembles,
is now to become harder to turn
into the first part of a degree
course. Throughout his education a student’s decision whether
to continue or not will inevitably
be guided by whether he thinks
he has a chance of finding work
later. In the French case the
application of intelligence tests
at school will show him his
channel early, but these are unlikely to find favour in Britain
so soon after ll-plus (French
education has long been comprehensive up to age 16).

Secondly, the government is
turning students towards ‘useful’ subjects. In France all the
subjects taught in school courses
and many of those taught in university courses have always
been fixed by law. Last year
philosophy became a cause
celebre when the reform tried
to change its status. At present,
philosophy is a compulsory subject for 90% of those who stay on
at school until they have taken
the Baccalaureat at eighteen.

About a quarter of those taking
philosophy have as much as 8
hours a week. Whatevp.r its
shortcomings, the French system is proof that it is possible
to teach philosophy to large
numbers· of young people. The
level is high; and there are
well-adapted text-books. But
the options involving a lot of
philosophy have been lOSing
ground for some years to those
which have less, because the
job advantages of a technical or
scientific baccalaureat are wellknown to students. (In France
philosophy is a ‘literary’ option)
In school reform the government wants to leave the field to
pressure from the students’

own choices. There will be no
more compulsory subjects in
the final year; philosophy will
become an option in the final
year and a minor compulsory
subject in the year before that.

Against the danger of a collapse
of demand, a weighty philosophy
establishment raised an impressive storm of protest, the outcome of which is not yet known.

But the debate was revealing.

Philosophy has been taught in
French SCh001s, on thoroughly
Enlightenment principl es, since
the last century. And there are
still philosophy teachers to be
found to express those principles, arguing that philosophy’

forms a rational discourse reSisting critically the claims ‘of
all ideologies. But this attitude,
38

visible enough in the pre-war
critical idealism of a Brunschvicg, doesn’t wash so well
in the urban, technological
France of the last decade.

Against the traditionalists, the
opponents of philosophy argued
that what was now required for
political ‘responsibility’ was a
knowledge of the baffling institutions of technocracy. Between
the two, progressive supporters
found themselves obliged to concentrate upon points of detail in
the government’s scheme. There
is a general point: since a society ruled via universal dependence upon and respect for technique requires no positive principles to keep its members in
order, any thinking on principles
will tend to be ‘futile’ or
‘negative’ .

For the universities, the
government’s current scheme
for subjects to be taught has the
virtue of candidness. There is
no talk here of student choice.

Each degree or masters’ programme will be submitted by the
university to a panel, appointed
by the ministry, consisting of
half academics and half ‘representatives of the principal
sectors of economic, cultural
and social activity’. The panel’s
report will include an appendix
on ‘the employment possibilities
off ered to the graduates in the
sectors of activity which correspond with the training proposed’.

The ministry will then give
approval or not ‘according to the
programme, the resources that
the institution can put into operation, and national and local
needs’. In this scheme the
limitation of higher education to
technical apprenticeship is open
and explicit.

It is easy to believe that the
general direction of education
in western democracies may
follow the French. A long-term
trend towards rule via technique
is accelerated by the problems
of stagnation in the current
crisis. It was foreseeable that
the sheer cost of education
could lead to its value being
questioned (Illich, or for that
matter the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development, made the point a good
five years ago). And when that
happened, the humanist objectives of a higher education for
the future members of the
ruling class were bound to
come up against the fact that a
ruling class that no longer
needed humanism anyway did
not have room for its products.

From the French example it
seems that the persuasive idea

of student choice can be used
as a means to make this evolution felt. A progressive reply
cannot simply reiterate principles accepted two decades
ago, or advocate the devotion
of so much human effort for no
particular reason, or sound
like mere pleading of profes,…

sional interest. Yet it is vital
that education should not at
this time be assimilated to
technique, if it is to survive
as a force in society of any
kind. The pressure to redefine
objectives will no doubt be seen
in philosophy: French philosophy shows signs of gravitating to American and British
scientific models on the one
hand, or marxism on the other.

But British philosophy has been
trying for so long to pass itself
off as a pseudo-science that
that cannot now constitute a
response.

Noel Parker

Oxford
They arrived in twos and
threes, preceded by their
bellies, and addreSSing each
other with the familiar ease
that comes from long years
at the best finishing school in
the world, the Oxford SCR.

A polite cough from the
Chair indicates that the
meeting is in seSSion, and
as if someone had switched
from Capital to Radio 3 the
voices change and protocol
reigns.

‘Does Professor Ackrill
have anything to add to his
report?’ Better ask Prof.

Ackrill, I thought. Oh, I
see, he is asking Prof.

Ackrill! I was there to present a
recommendation from the
Graduate Consultative Committee – ‘that there should be a
University appointment in postHegelian Continental philo.sophy’. Also before the meeting was a report stating an
‘urgent need for posts in
Philosophy of Language,
Medieval PhiI., Phil. of
Science, and statutory Readerships’, and our proposal is
interpreted as being one to
tag on to the end of this list.

It is met with active support
fro~ Freddie Ayer who adds
that he has been thinking of
lecturing on phenomenology
for some time, and of course
from Alan Montefiore, and
with bemused if generally
approving silence from else-

whe~.

Then, the Chairman ‘Uh, does Mr Nowlan think
that people want to study
Continental philosophy or do
Continental philosophy?’ ‘Urn, er, I’m not sure that’s
a very useful distinction. ‘

Silence. ‘I mean, I don’t
really see how you can do the
first without beginning to do
the second.’ Silence.

Montefiore to the rescue:

‘I think, Mr. Chairman, that
as well as a growing general
interest in Continental philos0phy we do have certain
graduate students now who
identify their problems within
the framework of that tradition,
from that perspective. ‘

The point is carried. But of
course there are unlikely to be
any appointments at all for five
years, so is there any provisi on for financing visiting
lecturers? ‘What!’ chortles
Ayer, ·would you have Flew
up from Reading?’ Snorts of
derisive laughter all round.

Montefiore points out that
there are people in this country
who could lecture on such
things – Pivcevic in Bristol,
for example.

Suddenly R. M. Hare jerks
upright, haughty and mildly
deranged.

‘Yes, jolly good idea’. Let’s
get some of these chaps up
here and then we can see what
sort of quality they are, what!

I mean who is this Pivcevic
fellow anyway? Anyone heard
of him, eh?!’

-Faintly embarrassed silence
greets this outburst. Then
Ayer mutters ‘Student of mine
actually. ‘

One final point: why was it
thought necessary to ask for a
Philosopher of Language, wlth
which of all things apart from
Logicians Oxford is best
endowed?

Chairman – ‘Professor
Strawson? ‘

Strawson – ‘Hmm. I suppose
we are rather well endowed in
that respect. ‘

Me – ‘Well doesn’t its
presence in the list of posts
urgently needeq: weaken the
other requests? .’.

Strawson – ‘I suppose so, to
some extent. ‘

Me – ‘Well would you be
prepared to withdraw it?’

Straws on – (pause) ‘No’

(grins).

(Approving laughter)

Peter Nowlan

History Workshop, a new
‘journal of socialist historians’

is being launched this April.

Its original stimulus lies in
the series of meetings held
since 1966 at Ruskin College
Oxford. At these ‘History
Workshops’ ~uskin workerstudents and other socialist
historians pooled information
on such subjects as popular
culture, workshop trades,
childhood in history, and so
on. The journal is to continue
and extend this work, exploring (to quote the manifesto)
‘the fundamental elements of
social life – work and material
culture, class relations and
politics, sex divisions, marriage, family, school and
home. ‘ It will appear twice a
year, each issue book-sized
(200 pages), and containing
two or three long articles and
a wide variety of shorter
pieces on particular themes
(eg museums, workers’

libraries, teaching history),
or under recurrent headings
such as work in progress and
archives in sources.

History Workshop aims to
make history a more democratic activity – to break the
boundaries of a narrow academic discipline by encouraging women, workers, trade
unionists, to recognize their
own experience as history,
and to write about the past as
theirs. The standpoint of the
editors is socialist and feminist, and this will determine
subject matter and presentation. New interpretations
will be advanced, new questions asked, theoretical
questions raised. The object
is to bring history closer to
the needs and interests of
socialists and working people
today, to restore it as a
weapon in contemporary class
struggle, to use it to understand the present.

The first issue contains
editorials on the aims of the

journal, on feminist history,
and on history and sociology;
Rodney Hilton, Origins of
Capitalism; Tim Mason,
Women in Nazi Germany (I);
Frank McKenna, Victorian
Railway Workers; Gwyn
Williams, Welsh Indians: The
Madoc Legent and the First
Welsh Radicalism; Anna
Davin, Historical Novels for
Children; Ian Rodgers,
Village History in Brill; and
Alessandro Triulzi, A Ms
Museum of Peasant Life in
Emilia; History on Stage
(about a production in
Grimsby) by Tony Knight and
Paul McGrath; TV History
(about making documentaries)
by Jerry Kuehl; Hans-Josef
Steinberg, Workers’

Libraries in Germany before
1914; and Stan Shipley on the
Alliance Cabinet Makers’

Library in 1914; David Vaisey
Court Records and the Social
History of Seventeenth
Century England, Raphael
Samuel, Local History and
Oral History, and Kathy
Henderson, Pictures in
History; Jeff Weeks, Sins
and Diseases; Some Notes on
Male Homosexuality in nineteenth century England; the
Martyrdom of the Mine (a
facsimile reproduction of a
nineteenth century pit agitator’s autobiography) by E. A.

Rymer, and Colonialism in
the Arctic (a translation of
a tape recording of Inuits
discussing their experience
of white colonialism) by Hugh
Brody; ‘Enthusiasms’ on
George Ewart Evans, on a
Bolivian film (Blood of the
Condor), on Women at Work,
Ontario 1850-1930, and on The
Modernization of Irish Society,
1848-1918; Reports; Noticeboard.

Subscriptions (especially by
bankers’ order) and all forms
of support welcome. UK rate
£5 per annum, overseas $14;
send to History Workshop
Journal, P 0 Box 69 Oxford
OX27XA

The awareness that they are
about to make the continuum
of history explode is characteristic of the revolutionary
classes at the moment of their
action. The great revolution
introduced a new calendar.

The initial day of a calendar
serves as a historical timelapse camera. And, basically,
it is the same day that keeps
recurring in the guise of holidays, which are days of remembrance. Thus the calendars
do not measure time as clocks

do; they are monuments of a
historical consciousness of
which not the slightest trace
has been apparent in Europe
in the past hundred years.

In the July revolution an incident occurred which showed
this consciousness still alive.

On the first evening of fighting
it turned out that the clocks in
towers were being fired on
simultaneously and independently from several places in Paris.Walter Benjamin, Theses on
the Philosophy of History:XV

History Workshop

39

ReR_o–_I_s~__
Oxford Festival
354 people paid a registration
fee for the January Festival,
and, since quite a few of them
wondered where the money
was going to, here is a brief
breakdown of income and
expenditure:

£
INCOME
295
Registration fees:

236 @ 75p and
118 @ £1
EXPENDITURE
70
Stationery + publicity
50
Tea subsidy
86
Party expenses
30
Ac commodation
28
Films
£264
As you can see, we made a
small profit of about £ 30 on
the Festival, which is hardly
exploitative.

Friday night: opening session:

Northgate Hall. Balcony more
packed than the last Oxford
Students Union meeting …

The brief opening speeches by
two members of the group
tried to express why they
originally became involved in
Radical Philosophy in 1970 and
how things had changed since
then. Then came the Trot
Statement, the Gay Lib Statement, the ‘What’s wrong with
academic philosophy anyway’

Statement. A glimpse at the
many strands who comprise
the Radical Philosophy movement. Many were disappointed
at the tentative nature of the
ideas produced …

. .. Saturday and Sunday were
taken up with workshops.

Balliol JCR was packed on
Saturday morning with 100
people listening to two Sussex
graduates comparing Marx and
Freud by way of Althusser.

Many got slightly bored (How
can 100 people seriously debate
anything?) and wandered downstairs to hear an animated discussion between a Hungarian
and two Australians on the
nature of the Dialectic. Meanwhile Alfred Sohn Rethel, a
white-haired Marxist Professor
from Bremen, West Germany
and who had flown over especially for the conference, discussed his work. He added an
historic sense to the weekend,
both because his work was about
intellectual history and the
40

connection between ideas and
the mode of production, and by
his own wide experience as a
long time radical. Prefixing a
discussion of Russia with disarming personal experience:

‘I was there 30 years ago. I
saw it with my own eyes’, he
mentioned his experiences of
Fascism, and China. His optimism was a refreshing antidote to the cynical disillusionment of many younger radicals.

10 yards away, David Elliott
from ‘Alternative Technology’

talked about the experiences
of the Lucas Aerospace workers and their attempts to build
only socially useful products.

One of the most successful
and memorable sessions was
on ‘Concepts of Individualism
in History’. It began with a
dual presentation rangtng
from historical material
to individualism in sexual
relations. The workshop of
25-30 people (the ideal number?) lasted 3 hours, running
on deep into the lunch break.

For once, there was a balance
of sexes in attendance and
participation, and a degree of
previous contacts and mutual
respect among people with
shared commitment in related
fields of work.

25 workshops happened over
the weekend: we expected 80
or so people, 400 came. This
number of people, many of
whom had different expectations for the weekend,
resulted in several keenly felt
conflicts at the conference.

Many students felt hemmed
in by faculty lecturers and 3rd
year graduates dominating the
discussions. ‘We must organize separately?’ a Cardiff
student claimed. Marxists
were critical of non Marxists
and vice versa, and the final
sessions brought many criticisms of the conference and
the magazine itself.

Feminists bitterly pointed
out the absence of a creche.

(We had tried hard to provide
one but perhaps not hard
enough.) They also criticized
the workshops for being too
large, and the divorce at the
conference between philosophy
and personal experience, a
criticism echoed by other

people over the weekend. The
conference, it was claimed,
was too structured. There
was no chance to get to know
other people, nor for small
group discussions. In particular many thought there was
a too academic approach to
philosophy which belied any
radicalism. ‘I’m gonna take
you to the Trades Description
Act, man, because the weekend was neither a festival nor
was it particularly radical. ‘

‘An academic philosophy conference is what we’ve just
attended. ‘

Much of the criticism was in
a negative vein – there was a
quite revealing silence when
towards the end of the closing
session volunteers were asked
for to help coordinate the
Radical Philosophy Movement
– we’d just like to try and
extract some of the useful
points.

(a) ‘The conference was too
structured, the workshops
were too formal and had too
many people’.

We think there is a lot of truth
in this. In future (1) we should
pay more attention to circulating papers in advance so that
people are familiar with the
workshop material; (2) we
should make sure that the
workshop organizers are sensitive to coordinating discussions so that everyone can
feel a part of the debate and
(3) somehow we should plan to
keep reasonably small the
sessions which really are
workshops (by splitting them
up if necessary) as distinct
from those which are more
presentations by individuals
of their own work, where size
isn’t crucial. .. But – just a
note of caution – we had
several unstructured groups
on Sunday. Very few people
went to them, and they nearly
all broke up when people
realized that the workshops
depended on them as well as
everybody else.

(b) ‘The conference was too
dominated by lecturers’.

Yes! even though two-thirds
of the people who came were
students, contributions to the
workshops came mostly from
experienced philosophers.

How can we change this?

A few points here. (1) In a
session based on a text e. g.

Lacan which 95% of people
have not read, the minority
were bound to be a
dominant ‘elite’. (2) But
individuals, especially heavy
specialists, need to be kept

aware that workshops are
c6llective actions rather than
gladiatorial displays – or
lectures. (3) There’s also a
general problem here in that
there are different needs to be
satisfied. We think that some
of the sessions next time
ought to be planned and given,
frankly, as ‘teach-in’ sessions
(This doesn’t mean that the
other sessions can become
closed shops for experts: all
sessions have got to be open
to everyone. )
(c) ‘Too much separation
between philosophy and practice’, ‘an Enid Blyton version
OflVlind’. Let’s clear up one
criticism – ‘not related to
immediate practical activity’.

We did have two sessions, the
final ‘What is to be done? ‘

and a session on ‘student action’ for working out practical
proposals (the latter was very
badly attended). The objections are really about not
talking about the relationship
between our philosophy, our
personal experience, and our
political involvement. Of
course a lot of our theory is
already concerned with the
theory-and-practice problem.

But clearly we need to do
something more. (1) Give
more time to discussion of
the whole question of how or whether – our theory
relates to our personal life
and action (and in particular
to student life). (2) Invite
existing action groups (not
just philosophers) to use the
Festival to present and talk
about their experiences and
problems, alongside the
theoretical workshops but
without any pressure to force
discussion into a theoretical
format.

(d) ‘Not a Festival but a
boring conference’.

Well perhaps we were a bit
ambitious about calling it a
Festival. And in future we
shall have to use film theatre
and encounter groups more
fully. How about more ideas
for multi-media activities,
and generally how to make the
festival a Festivity.

As we were clearing up,
John from Essex University
asked if there was somewhere
to crash that night. I wondered how the other 150 we had
accommodated on various
Oxford floors had fared;
everybody we’d heard from
had really got on well with
their hosts. John had liked
best the ad hoc discussions
in the Kings Arms, the

Godard films and the party on
Saturday night. We left
Baniol and took him back to
Charles Street
David Berry and Colin Gordon
Extracts from the Festival
‘reviews and comments’ book
‘There are so many things
wrong with the conference it
is difficult to know where to
begin…

(1) The name ‘Radical Philosophy’ seems to have been a
contradiction – the ‘philosophy’

which has been presented at
this conference has been
academic – it is ‘radical’ only
to the extent that it has discussed philosophies in relation to currently fashionable
notions of Marx and / or other
acceptable contemporary
thinkers …

(2) The absolute non-relation
of workshops and papers given
to political praxis – and
complete failure by those who
run Radical Philosophy to
understand what its role could
be. RP has a different kind of
role in intellectual terms to
academic philosophy. Other
disciplines in education/
science which have ‘radical’

elements are more ‘practically’ oriented; there is a far
more direct relation between
theory / criticism and action.

RP has a different role, it
has, within philosophy, the
role of attempting to end
academic mystification (- and
how it has encouraged this at
the ‘festival’! ‘. ) in philosopy
Hself, and also the role of
acting as intellectual and theoretical centre of radical
intellectuals in all disciplines

,

‘A workshop can only work if
participants have sufficiently
prepared. The confusions of
some of the workshops resulted, I feel, from insufficient
preparation by some participants and organisers, rather
than from some of the other
reasons offered – ‘authoritarian structure’, Marxist bias,
philosophical in-talk/trendiness etc. ‘

‘I am disturbed to see that at
yet another conference, criticisms appear to be levelled
at ‘them’, the RP group or
‘professional philosophers’

for not providing the perfect
conference I experience etc … ,
in a quite uncomradely fashion,

instead of putting forward constructive proposals. While I
agree that we should have been
more a warc?Of the relationship
between the theory we are
discussing. and the various
practices which inform it and
are informed by it, I do reject
the automatic association between the necessity for a
rigorous theory and academic
scholasticism. The polarizations which seem to have
occurred are perhaps’ a function of failures of the conference but they also relate to
what seems to be a much
deeper rooted problem around
the relation between theory
and practice which relates
roughly to ‘alienation’, individualism etc. .. Maybe this
should be the subject of the
next conference. ‘

‘I didn’t feel I’d learnt a vast
amount on a theoretical level
over the weekend – the main
effect of the Festival, for me,
was as a massive practical
antidote to the specialising,
individualising habits and the
sheer narrowness of interests
that my undergraduate philosophy course had imposed on
me, and to impress on me, in
however rudimentary away,
that philosophy can’t be redirected towards tasks of
authentic social relevance
without a collective and socially conscious approach to the
actual business of doing
philosophy. ‘

Feminist Philosophy
At’the RP open meeting on
Saturday 13 March, a group
of us from Bristol initiated a
discussion on feminist philosophy based on a paper written
previously~ It emerged during
the discussion that a lot more
detailed work was needed in
this area. Several women at
the meeting showed interest in
pur suing this with us and so
we decided to meet in June for
a study weekend. Some preparatory work will be necessary
for the weekend (which will be
held in Bristol).

If you are interested and / or
would like some more information please contact ILyn
Benjamin, Clare H~dson or
Avril Lord c/o Radical
Philosophy, Philosophy Dept,
Bristol University BS8 or
phone 0272-33239.

41

Radical Philosop-hy Movement
Open Meeting
The Radical Philosophy Group
Open Meeting on 13 March was
well attended; as well as the
organisational items, a discussion in the morning on
‘Philosophy and Feminism’

and, at the end of the afternoon, a film of an interview
with Simone de Beauvoir.

A s far as the magazine is
concerned – the financial position is now
considerably healthier than it
has been. The timing of the
next price rise will depend on
when the new postage rates
are introduced.

– we are looking at the possibility of joining with other
radical journals in a cooperative dis tribution network,
but we’ll wait for further information before deciding.

– we agreed to reprint 50
copies each of RP1 and 2,
possibly by xerox, and also to
meet requests for copies of
issues 3, 4 and 5, which will
mean running down our small
remaining stocks of these.

– Sean Sayers and Richard
Norman will try to find a
publisher for a Radical Philosophy Reader, reprinting
articles from back issues and
perhaps from other sources.

– We agreed to devote about
half of RP15 to the situation
. ·bf philosophy students and the
problems of doing philosophy
in academic institutions (see
letter to readers).

The next Open Meeting of the
Radical Philosophy Group
will be at the end of the
planning meeting for the
project on Dialectics which
is on Saturday 26 June 1976
in Birkbeck College, Malet
Street, London WC1 (nearest
tubes Goodge St, Warren St,
Euston, EustonSquare)
starting at 11 am.

‘The thing wrong with the
Existentialists and the other
Continental philosophers is
that they haven’t had their
noses rubbed in the necessity
of saying exactly what they
mean. I sometimes think it’s
because they don’t have a
tutorial system. ‘

Hare
V. Mehta: Fly and the Fly
Bottle – encounters with British
Intellectuals, weidenfeld and
Nicolson, 1963 p47
42

Local Groups
Bristol
The Bristol FP group has
existed sporadically ever
since the magazine came into
existence. However this
seSSion has seen a very large
increase in activity with the
group establishing formal
membership and obtaining the
status of an affiliated union
society with an annual grant,
a step forward in that it gives
us the opportunity to invite
speakers and publicise without
crippling financial restriction
i. e. having no money at all.

The group’s essential raison
d’ etre is the dissatisfactions
many of us at Bristol although by no means a majority of philosophy students have with regard to our course.

We intended the group to be a
forum for philosophical activity that departed from an atmosphere where ideas were
voiced in competitive opposition to other ideas, where concepts outside of the British
philosophical tradition could
be explored without prejudice,
where students could have the
opportunity to name the world
with regard to their own experiences rather than with
regard to a lecturer’s or professor’s ‘objectively’ correct
position, and where the belief
held 6y many of those who
assisted in the formation of the
Bristol group that for philosophy to progress it has to be
more truthfully interdisciplinary, in that it should use the
tools that other disciplines can
provide creatively with respect
to its own pursuits, rather
than the present pretence of
being a neutral objective criticiser of other disciplines’

methodologies. We have had
some degree of success in all
these areas but it is far too
early at present to assess if
the success can be sustained
or if the success is truly
sub stantial.

The group is essentially university based although we do
have a small number of contacts with other educational
institutions in the town. Unfortunately we have no contacts
outside of the academy. The
group is almost entirely made
up of students, although this is
by no means a policy of the
group. The activities of the
group fall under three main

sections (a) invited speakers
from outside the university,
(b) Thursday lunchtime meetings where we discuss either
a RP article or a student or
university staff member reads
a short discussion paper,
hopefully on issues relevant
to the above concerns of the
group, (c) Study Groups. The
group has two ongoing study
groups in existence at present.

One of these is concerned with
the philosophy of Jean-Paul
Sartre, the other with Art and
Philosophy. There will be a
detailed report of the activities of these two groups in the
third Radical Philosophy newsletter that will be the responsibility of the Bristol group.

Apart from these more formal
activities the group has
several members actively
working on research in areas
relevant to Radical Philosophy
such as feminist philosophy
and the ideological uses of
knowledge and reality.

Those involved with feminist
philosophy intend to hold a
meeting to which people from
around the country are invited
to attend.

In future the group is hoping
to expand in the following areas
(a) Practice
There is a feeling -in the group
that we ought to be working
actively in the areas of our con·
cern. The kind of action we
envisaged to begin with would
be to write to newspapers and
journals under the collective
title of the group expreSSing
our dissatisfaction with various
things, to attend the meetings
of and give support to various
radical groups, i. e. National
Abortion Campaign, Campaign
against the Criminal Trespass
Law etc etc, to have a Radical
Philosophy banner for demonstrations. Of course it is
questionable if the activity of
the Radical Philosophy group
in any of these areas would
have any effect but this begs
questions for the entire RP
group that is far beyond the
brief of what is essentially a
news item; in the meantime
we live in hope!

(b) Courses
We intend to present collective
RP motions to the Staff /Student
committee. For example,
Bristol University has just
advertised for a lecturer in the
Philosophy Department and we
intend to submit a motion stating that the students should
have an effective say in the
choice of person. We also intend that the RP group as a

forum for dissent concerning
the course and to agitate on
matters arising.

(c) Other radical groups
There is a possibility, pending
a full group discussion of the
matter, of forging specific
links with other Bristol radical
groups to create a collective
non-sectarian forum for discussion of radical theory,
something which is sadly
missing from the radical scene
in Bristol.

As well as these things we
shall also work to expand ex] st·
ing activities, i. e. a study
group on Dialectic is envisaged
If anybody wants to contact
the Bristol group for any
reason, we would be pleased to
hear from people.

Daniel Jeffreys

Liverpool
It seems likely that a radical

philosophy group will be
·formed shortly in Liverpool.

The feeling seems to be that
we will form a Radical Education network operating partly
as a centre for Marxist Education (see below) and partly as
an association of radical
groupings, one of which and
probably the first that will be
formed is a ‘radical philosophy’ group. I think it is
likely that a group (initially
very small indeed) will be
formed in the University
. connected with the wider network above. It will take undoubtedly several months of
discussion before the organisation gets off the ground but
the aim is basically to form a
non-sectarian Marxist/radical
network of people interested in
education and discussion of
Marxist and radical political
theory /ideas and in looking at
specific disciplines (i. e. education, philosophy etc) from
a radical/Marxist viewpoint.

So a radical philosophy group
would work independently as a
specialist intellectual grouping
and also as part of a wider
town rather than university
based education network that
will hopefully be a much
larger conglomeration of
political groupings, individuals etc etc and such a network if we can establish it
might have some good chance
of getting interesting exchanges over a very wide political/intellectual grassroots
spectrum. In the context of a .

radical philosophy group, it
could mean a good pressure

on the group to discuss, in
public terms at least, matters
of real concern rather than
the academic /absurd. I’d be
very interested if any other
RP groups are organized and
I hope to organize themselves
in -this way would contact me.

Clive Dilnot

Oxford
The problems – and
successes – of our group are
discussed in the RP Newslettel
letter Nos 1 and 2 ;which the
group underto~ to produce
(see below). Suffice it to say
that this term we continued
with weekly meetings – alternating with discussing our
own work and having visiting
RP speakers like Trevor
Pateman. The study groups
continue – more conventional
this term – discussing
Foucault, Marx, Heidegger
and Hume replacing the more
exotic ‘Use of Analogy in
Wittgenstein’ and ‘Mysticism
and politics – are they incompatible?’ – groups which
flourished last term.

Perhaps it’s because we’re
nearer our exams.

Dave Berry

York
We’re trying to restart a
Radical Philosophy Group in
York again – and we think this
time it should get off the
ground. Any York readers
interested should contact
me.

Stu Johnson

Contacts
BIRMINGHAM
Birmingha.m RPG, c/o 64
Harbury Road, Balsall Heath
Birmingham 12
BRISTOL
Bristol Radical Philosophy
Group, c/o University Union,
Queens Road, Bristol 8
LIVERPOOL
Clive Dilnot, 128e ‘Shiel Road
Liverpool 6
OXFORD
David Berry, Hertford
College (tel 721954)
YORK
Stu Johnson, Vanbrugh
College

Letter to Readers
Radical Philosophy ought to
be the magazine of a movement – a movement of leftwing dissent from orthodox
philosophy. The editors do
their best to respond to the
movement’s needs, and the
marked success of the huge
Radical Philosophy Festival,
held in Oxford ill January, and
the well-attended Open
Meeting in London in March,
will, we hope, initiate a
closer relationship between
.editorial policy and the needs
of Radical Philosophy readers,
Since we began, we have
tried to encourage such items
as ‘Letters to the Editors’,
‘Discussion’, ‘Notes’, ‘News’

and ‘Reports’: but we depend
on you to send them in.

Please do so …..

The last Open Meeting
decided to devote about half
the next issue to “doing
Radical Philosophy in
Britain”. We are in the process of commissioning article·
articles on the subject; but if
anyone would like to contribute or to find out more about
this proposal, please write
to Dave Berry, 19 Charles
Street, Oxford, by 20 June.

At the last editorial meeting,
considerable concern was expressed about the reviews
section of Radical Philosophy.

It was felt that we should try
to expand in two directions:

we should cover more books
which lie in the centre of
philosophy as defined by
orthodox philosophers, and
we should have much, much
more brief reviews (50-500
wordsf.lf is impossible for
us as editors to implement
this policy on our own: we
need readers to send us such
items. So if you read a
philosophy book which you
think other people ought to
know about, please send us
a notice of it.

We recently received a
wonderful donation of £ 1 00
from an anonymous benefactor. Just what we needed.

Thank you very much. But
we cannot expect this to I
happen every montIJ, so it
is with some risk that we
have again decided to hold
down all our prices, in spite
of rising printers’ and
postage’ costs. We can only
aff ord this if we expand our
sales: so (if you are brows-

43

ing in a bookshop) please
buy this; or please take out
a subscription; and make
sure that your library
subscribes too.

A number of people are hoping
that another RP Festival/
circus /jamboree more or less
on the lines of the event at
Oxf ord in January can be
arranged for next winter.

On-going national workshops
on dialectics and feminism
are currently being set up
(see news section).

Meanwhile a tentative proposal
to be discussed at the June
open meeting has been made
to organise a mini-festival
in late summer, say in
September: in addition to the
two or more workshops which
will by then hop efully be
producing material for discussion. Individuals and outside groups could be invited,
as in January, to present their
work, and some topics which
attracted ‘mass’ interest at
the festival, like psychoanalysis and Marxism, could
receive a more extended, and
possibly less frenetic, treatment. Holding such a conference on a reasonably manageable scale would, also,
help improve our collective
level of communication and
organisation, and hence our
ability to mount an effective
large-scale annual Festival.

People who missed sessions
at the January conference have
asked if those who gave papers
there still have copies available. If so, please contact the
newsletter (Bristol group).

Nos land 2 can be obtained
from David Berry, 19 Charles
Street, Oxford. If any reader
wants to be on the Hegular
mailing list write to that
address (distribution is ad hoc
at the moment).

History Bc Sociology
History Workshop will present
papers for discussion at the
City University over the weekend 26/27 June 1976.

This will be an attempt to
recover the lost history of
sociology and to subject its
claims to critical inquiry.

Papers will be given on:

Sociology and Class; Electoral
Sociology; Sociology and Social
Heform; 19th Century Social
Inquiries; Early Anthropology,
1820-40; Anthropology and
Liberal Imperialism; Malinowski and Mead; Sex and
Science in the late 19th Century; Sociology and British
Idealism; Radical Sociology.

Tickets £ 2 from James Mott,
Department of Social Science,
The City University, St John
Street, London ECl.

NEWSLETTER
A n idea suggested at the

closing session of the
Conference was the setting up
of a National RP Newsletter.

This would be entirely controlled and produced by local
groups in turn and its function
would be to provide better
communication between them.

It was also hoped that the
Newsletter could provide space
for articles /notes /ideas of an
unfinished tentative form which
were not suited for the magazine or for which there was no
room. The first 2 issues have
been produced by the Oxford
group (February and April).

It is hoped that it will come
out at least three times a
year. The next issue is being
done by the Bristol group and
any suggestions /notes jideas
should be sent to them (see
group contacts for address).

44

This issue was edited by
Jonathan Fee (coordinator)
Mike Dawney, Russell Ke”.t,
Michael Erben, Tony Skillen,
Colin Gordon, Ted Benton,
Kate Soper, Alison Assiter.

Production by
Chris Arthur, Colin Gordon,
Jonathan Ree, John Mepham,
Kate Soper, Mike Dawney
Typing: Jo Foster
Printed by: Waddington &
Ledger, Manor st, Dewsbury

BOOKS nECEIVED
1. JOHANSSON, A Critique of Karl

Popper’ s lV~ethodology, Copenhagen: Scandinavian Univ. Books,
1975. No price given.

H. A. MEYNELL, An Introduction
to the Philosophy of Bernard
Lonergan, London: Macmillan,
1976. £iG.OO
G. NOVACK, An Appraisal of John
Dewey’s Philosophy – Pragmatism versus Marxism, New York:

Pathfinder Press, 1975. £1. 45
S. TIMPANARO, On Materialism,
trans. L. Garner, London: NLB,
1975. £5.75
R. N. HUNT, The Political Ideas
of Marx and Engels: Marxism
and Totalitarian Democracy
1818-1850 Vo!. I, London:

Macmillan, 1975. £ 10. 00
A. GAMBLE & P. WALTON,
Capitalism in Crisis: Inflation
and the State, London: Macmillan,
1976. £ 8. 95 pb £ 2. 95
M. SHAW, Marxism and Social
Science: The Roots of Social
Knowledge, London: Pluto, 1975
£1. 50
L. LERNER, Thomas Hardy’s
‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’,
London: Chatto & Windus, 1975
£2.50 pb £1. 00
K. SCOTT AND J. STEVENSON,
They Also Serve: Ideology and
North American Philosophy,
Lafayette: Hard Times, 1975
£0.75p
J. HAWTHORN, Virginia Woolf’s
‘Mrs Dall oway, , London: Chatto
& Windus, 1975. £2.50 pb £1. 00
B. HARRISON, Henry Fielding’s
‘Tom Jones’, London: Chatto &
Windus, 1975. £2.50 pb £1. 00
W. SOU TAR , Poems in Scots and
English, Edinburgh & London:

Scottish Academic Press, 1975
£2.50
M. PICKFORD, University
Expansion and Finance, London:

Sussex UP, 1975. £6.00
T. W. ADOHNO et aI, The Positivist
Dispute in German Sociology,
London: Heinemann, 1976
£6. 50 pb £3.90
R. BA RTHES, The Pleasure of the
Text, London: Cape, 1976. £2.50
CH..A..F LES BETTLEHEIM, The
Transition to Socialist Economy,
Hassocks, Sussex: Harvester
Press, 1976. No price given
JOUF NALS RECEIVED
TRACT Nos. 16 and 17
SOCIALIST REVOLUTION No. 26
and 27
RADICAL HISTOFY REVIEW
Vol. 2 No. 4
THE FOX No. 2
WOFKING PAPERS IN SEX,
SCIENCE AND CULTURE Vol.l
No. I

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