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St. Andrews, Lampeter, Cambridge, RPG Reports


‘Nevertheless (Austin) did
succeed in haunting most of
the philosophers in England,
and to his colleagues it seemed
that his· terrifying intelligence
was never at rest. Many of
them used to wake up in the
night with a vision of the
stringy wiry Austin standing
over their pillow like a bird of
prey. Their daylight hours
were no better. They would
write some philosophical sentences and then read them over
as Austin might in an expressionless frigid voice and their
blood would run cold. Some of
them were so intimidated by
the mere fact of his existence
that they weren’t able to publish a single article during his
lifetime. ‘ •
Warnock (on Austin)
‘(Austin’s) third child of fourteen is very clever and about
to go up to my school,
Winchester. He talks and looks
very much like Austin and we
have great hopes for him. ‘

Thus spake Zarathrustra
‘. .. Amongst the Englishmen who
are staying with me here there is
also the very agreeable Professor of
Philosophy at University College
London, R obertson, editor of the
best English philosophical journal,
Mind. a quarterly review … All the
great men of England are amongst
its contributors: Darwin (whose
splendid essay ‘Biographical Sketch
of an Infant’ is in No Ill), Spencer,
Tylor etc. You know that we here in
Germany have nothing comparable
in quality to the English with this
journal, or the French with Th.

Ribot’s Revue Philosophique ..•
I thought again, while he spoke of
Darwin, Bagehot etc., how much I
would like you to penetrate into this,
the only good philosophical milieu
that now exists. Will you not contribute something to this journal? .. ‘

– Nietzsche in a letter to
Paul Ree, August 1877
The title of Richard Norman’s
article’ in RP14 should have been
“Dialectic” and not “On Dialectic”
as printed. The title of Sean Sayers’

article should have been “On the
Marxist Dialectic” and not “The
Marxist Dialectic” as printed.

Sean Sayers writes: ‘I attach some
importance to this, since my paper
concerns not the Marxist dialectic
in general, but only a specific aspect
of it: viz. what Mao calls “the
universality of contradiction”. ‘


In St Andrews, there is virtually no
philosophy going on that could be
called Radical. The reasons for this
seem to me to be essentially pOlitical

In the first place, St Andrews is a
very conservative university: at a
recent referendum an overwhelming
majority voted to leave the NUS.

The S. R. C. (! ) is a Tory stronghold:

the I. S. Society consists of less than
a dozen people. The general result
is rampant apathy.

Secondly, StAndrews is strictly a
university town and there is no pressure to make courses relevant to

Thirdly, several other areas of
possible radical theory – pOlitics,
sociology, anthropology are without
foundation because there are no
departments covering these

Finally, the university and town are
dead outside of term time because all
students and most lecturers leave consequently there is no on-going

Any radical theorist, then, has
immediate feelings of isolation
arriving here and these feelings are
exacerbated because of the distances
involved in travelling to conferences,
meetings etc which are usually held
in South England. Within the university, the organisation of radical
activity inevitably falls to the lot of
a very small group. We did suggest
at the beginning of last year that the
philosophy postgraduate students run
a radical seminar group, but too
many seemed to be intimidated by
the old-guard lecturers to risk such
a course. The only radical philosophy that has gone on over the past

year was 2 general seminars I gave
on Foucault .. although I’ve come to
the conclUSion that Foucault could
hardly be called pOlitically radical.

We’ve been trying to get a
Cambridge RP group off the ground
for over a year. Ne conceived of it
as a general ‘countercourse’ sort of
thing – providing an alternative
series of seminars to Cambridge
Analytic philosophy for anyone interested, though possibly with some
radicalising effect. Within the philOsophy faculty such a project would
have been disastrous chiefly because
of the apathetic ‘conservatism of
most students – who’d be interested
in a counter course providing scope
for investigation of other philosophical traditions but not in anything
explicitly ‘radical’ …

A more successful venture was a
small reading group which we set up.

At first we told all the radically
minded philosophy students (about
8: ) but students from other courses
like English and social sciences
kept turning up ‘. Initially some of
us saw it as offering critical rather
than just alternative philosophical
discussion. For instance two main
tasks could have been:

(1) to understand exactly how analytical philosophy in its content can
genuinely be seen as part of bourgeois ideology – the conceptions of
the subject implicit in &p1piricism,
its approach to explanation in the
non-natural sciences etc. How its
various approaches to meaning are
ideological, both by the role invokep
for the individual in discourse, and
demands for meaning invariance anp

·Journals received
Science for the People, VIII, 1 (January 1976)
Camerawork, 1 (February 1976), 2 (April-May 1976), 3
Social Work and the Welfare State, a radica.l pamphlet published by SCANUS,
3 Endsleigh Street, London NC1H ODU
Socialist Revolution, No. 27
Radical Science Journal, No. 4
Philosophy Today, Vol. 19 No.4, Vol. 20 No. I, Vol. 20 No. 2/4
Cultural Studies, 9
History Workshop: A Jburnal of Socialist Historians. No. 1
Sozialistische Politik 36. August 1976 (Wissenschait als allgemeine Arbeit)




a Journal of socialist historians

Issue 2 .. Autumn 1976
Charles van Onselen: Randlords and Rotgut, 1886-1903: the role of alcohol
in the development of European imperialism and Southern African capitalism
Tim Mason: Women in Nazi Germany (conclusion)
Anne Summers: Militarism in Britain before the Great War
Gudie La waetz: Mai 1968 on film
Hywel Francis: The South Wales Miners’ Library
E’dward AlIen Rymer: The Martyrdom of the Mine: autobiography of a 19th
century pit agitator (conclusion)
Local History Museums
Subscription £5 a year (2 issues)
Archives and Sources
$14 overseas, from
History Workshop, P 0 Box 69
Oxford OX2 7XA

consequent acquiescence within a

Together with this, (2) we thought
of trying to see what is useful and
enlightening within recent analytical
philosophy, and what could consequently occur at the interface of the
analytic and Marxist traditions:

For instance, in social explanation
– the relevance of the work of, say,
Davidson, stressing the social
function of interpretation of action
as the origin of subjective categories.

Also how the work of Feyerabend,
Lakatos, Putnam etc. effects questions of meaning and scientificity.

Meaning variance shows language up
as the medium of ideology and ideological change, and in view of these
and other considerations, scientificity of rational activity lies if anywhere, in the heuristic powers of
conceptual frameworks. This led us
to see, say, Althusserian Marxism,
as trying to formulate such a scientific framework, with an extensiona1
language of social formations, contrasted with the subjective categories
invoked by all empiricist/analytic
gestures towards the social. But this
is just a beginning and all-in-all this
could be an extremely fruitful area.

(If any other groups are interested in
this, contact us. )
But the reading group itself has
turned out to be rather different,
being rather more alternative than
critical. We’ve tried to understand
what various non-analytic thinkers
are trying to do, and have discussed
them in largely Marxist terms. So,
though valuable to us, educationally,
not much of an analytic-Marxist’ .

dialogue got going., It seemed to be
more of a switch, than a transition,
in perspective.

This term we had three meetings,
in which we discussed the following
short papers: Habermas’ “Knowledge
and Interests”, Althusser’s “Marxism and Humanism” and Levi-Strauss
“History and Dialectic”. The spectra
of familiarity with, and interest in,
the issues involved were broad, and
as a result discussion has been
rather bitty, and often misguided and
at cross-purposes, though when it
did get going, good and productive.

The group-dynamism also presented
problems – notably with people’s lack
of confidence in commenting after
someone (always male) gives some
seemingly informed spiel, and difficulties in articulating our dissatisfaction with analytic philosophy, and
feelings about “radical philosophy”.

Of course we hope to continue next
year, though I and some others involved are changing to Social and
Political Sciences (because we can
study more interesting and relevant
philosophy that way than in the philosophy faculty!). So it may turn into
more of a ‘radical theory’ group,
though personally I’d be interested in
maintaining the critical/AnalyticMarxist dialogue bit, not wanting to
lose touch myself, and hoping to keep
some radical philosophy alive within
the Philosophy Faculty itself. Most
parti~ular ideologic~l


students within it are surprisingly
unaware of the horizons of their tradition and beyond. In Cambridge
Marxism seems to be considered no
more relevant to philosophy than to,
§ay, mathematics. But maybe we can
do something to remedy this. Despite
total lack of enthusiasm for anything
in Cambridge, espectally anything
political, there seems to be some
s cope and interest.


aims and goals, not the least of these
being Marxism and materialism.

We have a very extensive programme plaimed for next Academic
Year. As well as speakers we plan
to have regular discussion groups,
and even more regular committee
meetings where we hope to discuss
policy, publicity etc. In the past the
group has been sporadic and unstructured, – with any luck, next
term, we will be highly organised
and operating on a regular basis.


In relation to its size Lampeter has
a reasonably large Philosophy Depart.

ment; around 90 people take PhiloOn a torrid Saturday in June thirty
sophy as one of their Part I courses,
people met in the basement of
and on average 15 to 20 people go on
Birkbeck College to discuss plans for
to take Philosophy Honours as their
.a collective FP project on dialectic.

degree subj ect. Generally speaking
The meeting was divided into a genthe Department itself is of a liberal
eral discussion and a planning session
nature – it attempts to attract mature
The discussion was opened by Sean
students and encourages student part- Sayers and Fichard Norman, who
icipation in general policy-making
spoke”about the diverging pOSitions
(although this aspect is limited by
taken up in their respective articles
UniverSity of Wales Regulations to
in FP14, the pOints at issue between
which the Department itself must adthem, and why they saw these issues
here). On the whole the Anglo-Saxon
as central to the study of dialectic.

approach prevailS, although there
Other speakers stressed the importare new courese in Oriental Philoance of the specifically social, as
sophy, German Idealism and Marx.

distinct from logical or ontological,
When the Lampeter RPG was set up
orientation of the Marxian dialectic,
this was welcomed by the staff, in
and the need to consider the dialectifact our inaugural meeting, ~
cal tradition within the wider history
shoot philosophers or listen to them?

of modern philosophy, both bourgeois
was a paper given by a lecturer tn the and Marxist.

Department. Nevertheless, owing to
After lunch everyone spoke briefly
a general lack of direction, not to
about their individual reasons for
mention a host of secondary factors,
being interested in dialectic – both as
the Lampeter RPG, which has been
relating to particular authors and
active, and inactive, for around
texts, from Hegel, Marx, Engels and
three years, almost completely
Lenin to the English Hegelians,
collapsed this summer. A motion by
Lukacs, Mao, Heidegger, Habermas
the Chairman of the Executive called
and Foucault, and in connection with
for the dissolution of the B PG on the
different fields and objects of theory
grounds that we no longer fulfilled a
– philosophy of science, sociology and
function within the college. Fortunate- SOCial/critical theory, theory of value,
ly this motion was unanimously
class consciousness, logic. The res. jumped on. It was agreed that the
ponse to the idea of a collective progroup had been inactive but the ‘lack
ject was, so far as the temperature
of interest analysis’ was firmly re ..

permitted, generally lively and positjected. As stated above the prime
ive; though some deep divisions were
reason for stagnation was lack of
apparent between individual viewspecific motivation for the group as
points, perhaps most importantly
a whole, and this manifested itself
regarolng the project’s relation to
in chaotic organisation meetings
dialectical materialism. No attempt
being rarely publicised, and so forth.

was made to establish an agreed
The group was looked upon by its
collective ‘platform’, though some
members as a forum for an amorphnotes offered for discussion on the
ous bunch of malcontents who rejecthematic connections between differted the basis and the implications of
fi!nt aspects of dialectical theory
what was being served up in our insti· reflected the need to keep the project
tutions in the name of philosophy.

from lapSing into eclecticism.

Hence to many of the members it was
The meeting agreed that one long
merely contingent that the few speak- term possibility is to produce a book
ers who came to Lampeter were
consisting of papers, translations
Marxists; Marxism was a form of
and other material, but that the
radicalism and this conceptual
immediate aim should be to hold a
challenge to the philosophical status
conference in September 1977. Other
quo was enough.

smaller meetings will be arranged
However, as a result of the dissolu· and announced during coming months.

tion motion and the lively discussion
A co-ordinating group of six people
which ensued the Lampeter R PG has , was nominated to put together inform·
now, hopefully, transcended the
ation about the work that people are
,desire to simply reject (certain
currently doing or planning to do, and
brands of philosophy) as its raison
encourage work on topics which are
d’ etre – we plan to build ourselves
in danger of being neglected. It was
into a group with clearly defined
agreed that circulating notes, papers,

bibliographies etc among active participants ill the project is essential; a
mailing system has been set up for
this purpose. Anyone interested in
contributing to the project is asked to
write to Richard Norman, Darwin
College, University of Kent, Canterbury, giving brief notes on their own
directions oflnquiry and on other
areas in .which they would like to see
work done.

The last Radical Philosophy Group
Open Business Meeting took place at
the end of the long hot dialectic
planning meeting at Birkbeck College
London on 26 June.

Most of the discussion was about the
magazine’ a financial report (which
was quite encouraging) was approved;
as were plans for reprinting various
back issues, and for exploring the
sale of microform rights and for
,developing contacts with the Radical
Publications Distribution Cooperative
Reports were also given on the progress of the Feminist Philosophy
Group, which involves Brighton,
Canterbury, Colchester and Bristol
in a collective project, and on the
forthcoming Radical Philosophy
Newsletter, which is being produced
in Bristol.

Various discussions following the
meeting have thrown up the suggestion that Open Business Meetings
ought to be abandoned, since most of
the business bores normal people
stiff. On the other hand, Open
Business Meetings are , formally at
least, the supreme decision-making
body of the Group, and should not be
abandoned unless they can be
replaced by other democratic
channels. A possible solution would
be to substitute an annual general
meeting, possibly coordinated with
an annual conference, for the
Thrice-yearly Open Business

Next Operr Meeting
The meeting will be on Saturday 4

The business meeting will be preceded by a morning meeting, at which
David Murray will talk about antiscience ideology: ‘the marriage of
mysticism and scientism ‘. The meet·
ing will begin at llam and will be in
the lower common room of the
Students Union, Polytechnic of the
South Bank, Fotary Street, SEl.

This is 100 yards from the Bakerloo
line exit of Elephant & Castle tube

Readers may be interested to learn of
a new MA degree which is to be introduced at the University of Kent. The
‘M. A. in Philosophy (Socialist
Studies)’, starting in 1977, is made
up of three courses in the first two
terms, and a dissertation in the third
term and the summer vacation. The
three courses are’ Dialectical
Materialism (basic problems in the
Marxist philosophical tradition:

.materialism and Idealism, truth and
practice, dialectic, etc) ; Marx
(Marx’s social and political philosophy), and Varieties of Contemporary Socialism (Lukacs, Gramsci,
Marcuse ‘and the Frankfurt School,
.anarchist and libertarian schools of
thought, etc). The teaching will
probably be by David McLellan,
Richard Norman, Sean Sayers and
Tony Skill en. Details from the
F egistry at the University of Kent,

“!teligion, Ideology, Philosophy and
Development in Africa” is the title of
a proposed conference in Khartoum
in November 1977. Information from
Rip Bulkeley, 29 Richmond Road,
Oxford OX1 2JL, who can supply a
non-authoritarian prospectus.

Subscribe to
Radical Philosophy
A new series of philosophy books of
interest to readers of Radical
Philosophy is to start in September:

Philosophy Now, edited by Roy
Edgley and published by Sussex
University Press.

The aim of the series is to help to
push English philosophy out of its
academic ivory tower. Its means
will be to undermine, by argument
and example, the ideology by which
linguistic analysis has isolated itself from the practical problems
facing society, from substantive
issues in other disCiplines, and

from contemporary Continental
thought. The books will be in paperback as well as hardback, reasonably inexpensive, and mostly short.

The first two will be:

Ben Gibbs:

Freedom and Liberation
Richard Norman:

Hegel’s/ Phenomenology
Others in the pipeline include:

Jonathan Ree (ed):

Philosophy and Its Past
Istvan Meszaros:

Sartre: A Critical Tribute
Tony Skill en:

The End of Kingdoms
Paul Feyerabend:

The Rise of Western Rationalism
Brian Medlin:


The Sociology Group of the
Communist Party and Marxism
Today are organising a weekend conference on ‘Class and Class Structure’ on 27-28 November at the
Polytechnic of the South Bank,
London SE 1. Speakers will be Vic
AlIen, Stuart Hall, Paul Q Hirst,
N Poulantzas, John Westergaard
and Alan Hunt. The registration fee
is £2 or £1 for students, and should
be sent to the CP Sociology Group,
16 King Street, London WC2. It is
advisable to book early.

Following the highly successful
Radical Philosophy Festival at
Oxford earlier this year, we are
planning a sequel for next year.

Probably it will be in Brighton in
March or April. Full information in
the next issue of Radical Philosophy.

Meanwhile, anyone who has suggestions or requests about the form and
content of the festival, or is willing
to help with planning and organisation
should write to RP Festival, 40
Langdon Park Road, London N6 5QG


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