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Tom Bottomore, 1920-1992

problems. Nothing new or constructive was being said: criticisms
of the idea [hat history has ended are attacks on an easy target. The
last item on the list was the ‘world-wide power of the “phantom
states” of the mafia and of the drug groups’. But Derrida was not
moved to expand on the subject of this major social development,
despite its having been drawn into the force-field of the lecture’s
main theme. This was symptomatic of Derrida ‘s failure to engage
genuinely with any of the social forces which he is concerned to
regulate through revised, ‘inspired’ laws.

The lecture did not operate through the multiplying of contradictory, envisaged futures. There was no genealogy or
symptomatology of the components of modern capitalism. There
was no suggestion that the drug-marketing ‘phantom states’

might be integral to this system (in that they exacerbate the
circulation of commodities) and that they could be crucial in the
process of this form of capitalism undermining itself. Instead,
there seemed to be nothing at the end except the pious hope that
law-makers could learn to be taken’ out of themselves’ (out of the
modern ‘programme ‘) by ‘ghosts’ such as Marx – the hope that if
we could all be agonised by ‘undecidability’ (like Hamlet?) we
might be able to move a fraction closer to justice.

Justin Barton

delegate informed me, it is well nigh indispensable for thinking
about it. A one-day meeting of the French societe de philosophie
analytique did take place immediately after the conference, with
round table discussions on ‘le realisme moral’ and’ I’ argument de
terre-jumelle’. It remains to be seen, however, whether nonEnglish spoken analytic philosophy takes root.

If English is inescapably the language of analytic philosophy,
the vision of analytic philosophy which informed the conference
was decidedly American: exacting and scientistic, preserving the
spirit, if not the content, of logical positivism. There was intriguing talk among delegates of ‘post-analytic philosophy’, but this
seems to refer to greater theoretical integration with cognitive
science, and a strengthening of analytic philosophy’s ‘special
relationship’ with the sciences, rather than the rapprochement
with continental philosophy anticipated by Putnam and Rorty.

Most of the eighty or so papers given fell within the categories
philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and (mainly meta)
ethics. There were no papers on either political philosophy or
aesthetics, and scarcely anything on substantive ethics or the
history of philosophy. Given the occasion and the place, one
might have expected something of a sense of history, but this was
little in evidence.

The second congress takes place in Sheffield next year.

Kevin Magill

Clear English
The First European Congress
of Analytic Philosophy
Aix-en-Provence, 23-26 April 1993
Despite the flight from Nazism of German, Austrian and Polish
analytic philosophers to America, there now exists a small but
significant number of philosophers throughout Europe who count
themselves as belonging to the analytic tradition. The European
Society for Analytic Philosophy (ESAP), which organised the
congress, was launched in Zinal (Switzerland) in 1990, in order to
‘further contacts and collaboration amongst European analytic
philosophers’ . one hundred and eighty philosophers from most of
the countries of the new Europe were in attendance, together with
a good smattering from the US, Canada, Australia and Israel.

Promotional literature for the congress announced that ‘the
tradition of contrasting “Analytic” and “Continental” philosophy
… is inadequate, for the values of analytic philosophy are universal. Analytic philosophy is characterised above all by the goal of
clarity, the insistence on explicit argumentation’. That analytic
philosophy has the distinctive virtues of clarity and explicitness
was also averred by Keith Lehrer in his fraternal address as Chair
of the American Philosophical Association, going on to comment, in line with Popper’s model for the sciences, that if a piece
of analytic philosophy is false, at least it is capable of being proved
false. What is meant by clarity, and what distinguishes analytic
philosophy as a putatively distinctive way of doing philosophy
are questions that analytic philosophers have thought and written
about, and it would be mistaken to judge the official optimism of
conference opening speeches as necessarily typical. It would also
be pointless to deny that some idea of need for explicit argumentation does guide the endeavours and self-awareness of analytic
philosophers: allusiveness and the like are definitely not on.

As someone once said, however, clarity is not enough. English
is pretty important as well. English is not only a necessity if you
want to publish in analytic philosophy, but, as a young German

Radical Philosophy 65, Autumn 1993

Tom Bottomore
1920-1992
Tom Bottomore, one of Britain’s most respected and best-loved
sociologists, died suddenly on 9 December 1992, at the age of72.

He had made the study of Marxism and other varieties of social
theory accessible to generations of students and ‘teachers around
the world in a wide range of uniquely readable and reliable books
and through his teaching at the London School of Economics, the
University of Sussex, and Simon Fraser and Dalhousie Universities in Canada. He also played a very active part in British and
world sociology. He was president of the British Sociological
Association from 1969 to 1971 and he was largely responsible for
the successful development of the International Sociological
Association, of which he was president from 1974 to 1978.

One of the questions to which Tom returned again and again
was that raised in the 1950s by Maximilian Rubel (with whom he
produced the classic reader Karl Marx. Selected Writings in
Sociology and Social Philosophy, 1961) and Lucien Goldmann:

‘Is there a Marxist Sociology?’. Or to put it slightly differently: Is
Marx a Sociologist? Is there a sociology in Marx? Tom’s answer,
in a nutshell, involved’ accepting the dualism of fact and value’ ,
and seeing in Marx’ s thought both a science of society (sociology
or political economy) and a normative social theory (the assertion
and grounding of definite values and ends) which are distinct but
related. He had argued earlier that’ [Marx’ s] theoretical analysis
and his allegiance to the labour movement were congruent and, in
a sense, mutually supporting’.

Tom would have certainly been surprised to be called a radical
philosopher ,just as he vigorously rejected Kolakowski’ s lapidary
claim at the beginning of his Main Currents ofPhilosophy that’ Karl
Marx was a German philosopher’. But there was undoubtedly a
radical philosophy in Tom’s work – all the more impressive for
the calm and measured way in which it was expressed. (A vulgar,
as opposed to a Marxist materialist might try to make his ubiquitous
pipe into an explanation of his intellectual style; it is at least a
powerful image.) Tom had discovered Marxism while still at
63

school and he was briefly a member of the Communist Party. This
meant that, after a first degree at LSE in economics and economic
history, and a period of military service in postwar Vienna, he was
unable to take up a Rockefeller fellowship in the United States
itself. He went instead to Paris, where he found not only a
vigorous Marxist tradition but a broader intellectual climate
which influenced his thought for the rest of his life. (Looking at
his books, which are to form a special collection at the University
of Warwick, I was struck by the quantity of French material of this
period, strategically located in his study book-case along with the
Marx-Engels-Werke.)
Back at LSE, Tom worked on Marxism and sociological
theory, and also increasingly on what was coming to be called the
Third World, especially India, where he made many life-long
friends. His textbook Sociology (1962) stood out for its attention
to these three areas of the subject: Marxism, (the rest of) classical
sociological theory and the Third World. Forty years before
Fukuyama rediscovered Hegel’ s end of history, Tom had been
through English evolutionary sociology and French Hegelianism.

He transcended them in a characteristic conception of society
which was essentially Marxist but involved a conception of
objectivity which owed much to Max Weber, replacing what he
saw as too easy appeals to dialectic and philosophy of history.

Tom had worked mainly on his own in the 1940s and 1950s.

In the 1960s English-language sociology finally caught up with
him and by 1968, when he returned to Britain to the University of
Sussex after three years in Vancouver, sociological theory was
changing beyond recognition. Simmel, Lukacs, Gramsci, LeviStrauss, Althusser, Foucault, Marcuse, Habermas, and sometimes even Wittgenstein were coming into the sociological canon
– against a background of a politics which was at least intellectually, if not in the end politically, revolutionary. Tom had been here
before, and he guided generations of graduate students through
the maze, sometimes warning against uncritical enthusiasm for
the latest trends, sometimes drawing attention to neglected areas
such as the work of the Austro-Marxists, always pointing out

intellectual genealogies and contexts. While not himself primarily interested in philosophical issues, he was unfailingly encouraging to those of us who felt that the social sciences, especially in
the UK, needed to pay closer attention to such themes.

So Tom kept a sharp eye on developments in philosophy,
especially as it related to social and ethical theory. A sharp eye in
both senses of the term: though many of his friends, such as Roy
Edgley and Istvan Meszaros, are Marxist philosophers, Tom saw
Marxist philosophy as a whole as something of a disappointment,
if not a suspect project altogether:

whereas a Marxist sociology or political economy can be,
and has been, developed on the basis of Marx’ sown
analysis and investigation of modes of production and
social formations, there is no real starting-point in Marx
himself – in the sense that he provided any systematic and
comprehensive treatment of philosophical issues – for the
elaboration of a Marxist conception in any of the principal
fields of philosophical inquiry.

If the above quotation suggests a desire for orthodoxy, this was far
from Tom’s intentions. This is not the place to argue how well his
own philosophical convictions – notably, his striking scepticism
about dialectics, his emphasis on the fact – value distinction and
his conception of science and moral-practical reflection as distinct
yet by no means unrelated activities – fit with more conventionally Marxist positions. But the way Tom put into practice his most
private convictions about intellectual and personal honesty and
rationality rightly made him admired and loved throughout the
world. Tom lived through a long period in which radical social
and political thought were in eclipse, another in which they
flourished, and the beginnings of a third, the present, in which
they seem again to be on the decline (although Tom’s own view
was more optimistic). His steadfast yet by no means inflexible
pursuit of his convictions is a model of intellectual courage and
integrity.

William Outhwaite

LETTER
Dear Radical Philosophy,
Whilst I agree with Sean Sayers that there is a need to defend
realism and dialectic (Sayers, ‘Once More On Relative Truth’ ,RP
64), I think that his realism creates some unnecessary strains on
the relationship between language/thought and reality.

Sean argues that when beliefs are false and their objects are
merely apparent, they are interesting only as phenomena – for
example, primitive beliefs and ideologies. Such phenomena would
only tell us something about their causes, rather than saying
something in their own right. However, I think the term ‘phenomena’ is wrong in relation to cultural beliefs because one ofthe first
things to acknowledge about ideologies is that they produce real
effects.

What I think Sean’ s view ignores in the traditional model of
dialectics is its claim that for something to be real in its effects it
must also be real in itself. Criticism of Hegel hinged largely on the
observation made by Feuerbach that to supersede a theoretical
position required one to recognise the reality embedded in that
position. The process of negation, it was argued, was not one in
which a position transcends something separate, external, but one
of self-mediation; the reality of the negating position is already
contained inchoately in what it negates. In other words, the
relationship between an apparent object and its social effects only
works because some reality is perceived in the former. Hence
also, the relationship between something illusory and its effects is
not one of externality or pure contingency.

64

What is needed here, as Sean recognises, is for realism to
depart from the classical conception of caus;llity – which is
enshrined in the theoretical ideology of ‘atomism’. This ‘billiard
ball’ model indeed sees cause and effect as externally rather than
internally related. Arguably, for realists, a better approach is the
Althusser/Spinoza idea of systemic or structural causality. Here,
causes themselves are always part of an interactive system and
hence never purely causes, but also effects. In a nutshell: the cause
is already conditioned systemically, and so determined by its
effect; similarly, causes are immanent in their effects. In other
words, false ‘positions’ which have an effect do so because they
contain a reality which is sustained by their effects, as systemically mediated.

Sean’s materialism seems to produce the drastic separation of
ontology and epistemology which he seeks to avoid because it
does not allow the unreal/false to contain the real/true. It therefore
opens up a domain of contingency – against the spirit of realism
– where things are only real in their effects. I would want toargue
that the symbolic representations of illusory or ‘apparent objects’

do not have to be taken as entirely false or unreal. The causes of
such representations would be immanent in their effects and, as
such, constitute the material moment of the symbol. As Lukacs
argues in the Ontology, even magic makes some real connections.

The symbolic process, which produces effects, belongs to the
material universe even when it creates an illusory whole of which
the reality is only a part.

Howard Feather
Radical Philosophy 65, Autumn 1993

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