R P Dayschool
Over 50 people attended a lively and stimulating RP
sponsored dayschool held at Sussex University on a
rather cold and snowy November Saturday. The topic
was ‘Recent Issues in Marxist Philosophy’.
The day began with John Mepham and David Ruben
discussing the recent Harvester series which they
edited, with Jonathan Ree providing critical comments.
In the discussion the status of Marxist philosophy
was explored, and there were some heated exchanges
over the question of whether Marxism had anything
distinctive to contribute to some perennial philosophical problems, like the problem of truth.
After lunch Roy Bhaskar and Chris Arthur addressed
separate ttudiences on scientific realism and objectification and alienation in Hegel, respectively. To
close the day Gerry Cohen discussed some issues
raised by his recent book on historical materialism.
In particular he drew attention to, and criticised,
Marx’s conception of communism, which seemed to
restrict human fulfilment to a realm of freedom
where no-one had determinate social roles to play.
One thing that struck me about the day was the
confidence of the Marxists who participated in it,
and the associated sense that here was a vital and
distinctively British contribution being made to
Marxist thought. It was encouraging to see so many
members of RP actively involved in this process,
particularly in the light of recent difficulties
with the magazine.
I was rather disturbed, though, by two aspects of
the dayschool. Firstly, only about 10 per cent of
the audience participated in the discussion and most
of those who did were faculty. I have mixed feelings
about this. On the one hand, argument was very
lively at times just because people who have the
opportunity to get deeply involved in these questions
tossed their ideas about. On the other hand, it was
really difficult for a less confident person who
wanted to raise a different issue to do so.
The second disturbing aspect of the day was the
sexist language. ‘He’, rather than ‘he/she’ or
perhaps just ‘she’ was used continually by most of
the participants. What distresses me here is that
some men in RP don’t seem to make the slightest
effort to avoid such usage. This can only alienate
feminists and impede the further progress of the
Scientists and Disarmament
A new independent organisation – SANA (Scientists
Against Nuclear Arms) – was set up by scientists
meeting at Milton Keynes on 21 and 22 March ‘in
response to the acute dangers of the continued
escalation of nuclear armaments and the consequent
risk of nuclear war’. SANA aims to help peace and
disarmament groups through the provision of reliable
and accurate information.
The conference was attended by over 140 scientists
from all over Britain including natural and social
scientists, engineers and technologists. Nobel
Laureate Dorothy Hodgkin opened the conference with
a speech in which she stressed the new sense of
urgency to persuade governments to adopt more sensible policies than those of planning total destruction. Professor Hodgkin traced the continued organisation of scientists against nuclear weapons from
the time of Hiroshima, through the founding of the
Pugwash movement, then CND, and now the present
upsurge of activity in peace movements world-wide.
After the plenary session the scientists formed
working groups to discuss a wide range of subjects on
which they hope to help the peace movement, such as
nuclear weapon and delivery systems, civil defence,
the economics of the arms race and of disarmament,
strategic theories, and arms and the third world.
At the final full meeting Professor Mike Pentz,
Dean of Science at the Open University, was elected
chairman, and Professor Tom Kibble of Imperial
College London, Vice-Chairman. Provisional SANA
sponsors include more than 20 Fellows of the Royal
Society. SANA agreed the enclosed aims and functions
for the organisation. The task befoFe SANA now is to
build up membership as rapidly as possible and to
establish groups researching and producing material
on the most urgent subjects facing the peace movement.
Further details can be obtained from Barbara Pearce,
11 Chapel Street, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes.
As a result of changes in Yugoslavian law, the
dissident Professors of Philosophy, ‘The Praxis
Eight’, a collection of whose work is discussed in
our reviews section, are soon to be completely
deprived of all their remaining academic rights.
Tito’s death has been followed by the continued
harrassment of these and other dissenting voices
‘undermining socialism’, on and off Yugoslavian
Readers of Radical Philosophy are urged to join
the international protest against this repression,
in particular by sending letters, with as many signatures as possible, to the Yugoslav Embassy in their
Professor Robert S. Cohen, Department of Physics,
Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA
can supply an informative report (Yugoslav Notes 8).