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12 Reviews

Social inertia being what it is
revolutions are resisted and hence
infrequent. The small caucus
which always provides the spark for
a popular revolution must be fully
aware that a successful revolution
will only come about if there prevails a profound dissatisfaction
wi~ the status quo.

In a sentence whose political profundity
makes it strangely incongruous in
its context of a discussion of
Cantor’s leap into transfinity,
Wittgenstein wrote:

The sickness of a time is cured

by an alteration in the mode of
life of human beings, and it was
possible for the sickness of
philosophical problems to get
cured only through a changed mode
of thought and of life, not
through a medicine prescribed
by an individual
~emarks on the Foundations of
Mathematics, pS7)
Finally, since so much emphasis
has been laid on Wittgenstin’s idea
of philosophy as ‘leaving everything
as it is’, with its apparent implication that Wittgenstein was a man

utterly removed from the Radical
Philosophy ethos of socially relevant activity, I should like to
remind you of Wittgenstein’s bitter
reproach to Malcolm:

What is the use of studying philosophy if all that it does for you
is to enable you to talk with
some plausibility about some
abstruse questions of logic etc.

and if it does not improve your
thinking about the important
questions of everyday life?

Peter Nowlan


Hegel’s Politics
Schlomo Avineri: Hegel’s Theory of
the Modern state, Cambridge
University Press, £1.40
Writers on Hegel’s political
thought have time and again asserted that he was an extreme authoritarian, an exponent of stateworship and thoroughgoing political
repression. Russell, who held that
Hegel’s philosophy of the state
‘justifies every internal tyranny
and every external aggression that
can possibly be imagined,l, or
Popper, who proclaims ‘the identity
of Hegelian historicism with the
philosophy of modern totalitarianis~’2, may be taken as representative of this view. On the other
hand it has been argued that Hegel
is closer to liberalism or even
radicalism than his critics suppose. 3
At the opposite extreme from Popper
is Marcuse, who sees in Hegel the
origins of ‘critical theory’ and
traces the ideological roots of
German fascism not (as the antiHegelians like to suppose) to Hegel
but to the various branas of ‘positivism’ which came to dominate the
philosophical scene after Hegel’s
death. 4
Avineri’s Hegel’s Theory of the
Modern state offers a formidable
defence of Hegel against the charge
of totalitarianism. Drawing not
merely on the Philosophy of Right
but also on Hegel’s political
writings, his Jena manuscripts of
1802-6 and a wide range of documentation regarding his life and
political outlook, Avineri sets
out to ‘restore a more balanced
view of Hegel’s political thought’

(p239). His defence is successful: the prehistoric crudities of
the Hegel-as-totalitarian view do
not survive detailed examination.

The argument of the book is not,
however, merely negative. Avineri
contends that Hegel is ‘the first
major political philosopher who
attempted to confront the realities of the modern age’ (loc. cit.)
and, once again, documents his
view. with much fascinating material.

In what follows I shall look first
at what he has to say on the
‘totalitarianism’ issue. Many of
Avineri’s points bear repeating
since the misconception they are
directed against is still preval-

ent. I shall then consider his
own account of Hegel’s social
thought and criticise it not,
indeed, as regards its general emphasis but because of its incompleteness in certain important

(i) Is Hegel a totalitarian?

In· 1818 Hegel became professor of
philosophy in Berlin, thereby – his
critics claim – setting the seal
of philosophical approval on the
restoration Prussian state which
had emerged following the defeat
of Napoleon. His Philosophy of
Right, published in 1821, is said
to deify the Prussian state by
seeing in it the embodim~nt of
Absolute Reason. His harsh condemnation of the putatively iiberal
Jacob Fries and his hostile attitude to the student fraternities
(Burschenschaften) are viewed as
attempts to curry favour with the
authorities by springing to the
defence of the political status

In all this there is more than a
little truth; and it is a truth
which no defender of Hegel should
lose sight of. However, taken as
it stands it gives a distorted
image of Hegel since it leaves
out all that makes his position
intelligible and fails to take
account of views held by him at
other periods of his life.

The story of Hegel and Schelling,
then students at Tllbingen, celebrating the French Revolution by
planting a ‘liberty tree’ is well
known. AyinerD points out that
Hegel welcomed the defeat of
Prussia by Napoleon’s armies at
Jena and quotes (p63) his famous
description of Napoleon as the
‘world-soul’. Hegel’s rectorship
of the Nuremberg Gymnasium he
interprets as a period of participation in the social and educational’life of a Germany transformed and modernised in the
aftermath of the French victories.

He notes that Hegel had no time
for the chauvinistic outbursts of
German nationalism in 1813 – as
might·indeed be expected given
Hegel’s view that ethnic or cultural ties have no part in the
formation of a modern state. 5
Regarding the acceptance of the
Berlin professorship in 1818, he
argues that ‘the Prussia with

which Hegel became associated .••
was a reformed Prussia, as it
emerged after the Napoleonic wars
from the modernising and liberalising efforts of von Stein and
Hardenberg. Among the states of
post-181S Europe, Prussia was
surely one of the relatively enlightened ones’ (pl16). Bearing
in mind the press censorship set
up by the Carslbad Decrees of 1819,
one would not want to exaggerate
the extent of this ‘relative enlightenment’. However, support for
Avineri’s general reading of the
situation comes from a particularly
astute commentator on German politics and philosophy: Heinrich
Heine, writing as early as 1833. 6
Avineri casts interesting light
on Hegel’s Berlin period itself.

Fries, whom Hegel criticised,
emerges not – as is so often
supposed – as a champ-ion of liberalism but as a violent antiSeIDite. And the student fraternities opposed by Hegel ‘prefigured
the most dangerous and hideous
aspects of German nationalism’

(pl19) – a point which has also
been made by Marcuse. 7 Finally,
it is pointed out that Hegel’s
last political essay, his discussion of the English Reform Bill,
itself fell foul of the Prussian
censor – a strange occurrence
given Hegel’s semi-official philosophical standing.

Turning to the Philosophy of
Right, Avineri’notes that in a
number of respects – its advocacy
of political representation and of
trial by jury, its support for
Jewish emancipation – this work
shows itself to be more than a
mere ideological reflection of the
existing Prussian state. Hegel,
he maintains, offers a model of
the state which is no totalitarian
monolith but, rather, involves ‘a
differentiated and pluralistic
structure’ (p172i see also·p168).

The relation of the individual to
society is mediated by m~ership
of social class and of voluntary
organizations (the ‘corporations’):

it is in this flexible and nonauthoritarian sense, Avineri
suggests, that Hegel regards the
state as ‘organic,.8 Finally, it
is argued that there is nothing
‘militaristic’ in Hegel’s views on

war. 9
Avineri’s discussion of Hegel’s


life and writings demonstrates
clearly how misguided are the fulminations of critics like Russell
and Popper.

However, he himself
seems in danger of substituting one
misleading image for another: instead of Hegel-the-totalitarian we
come close to having Begel-theliberal. Certainly the ‘pluralist’

elements in his doctrine of the
state, his views on the rule of
law and the separation of church
and state bring Hegel closer to
the liberal tradition than is
sometimes supposed.

But, after
all, his famous definition of the
state as ‘the actuality of the
ethic~l Idea,lO is light-years
removed from the individualism of
(say) Locke or Mill. Although
liberalism is clearly not necessarily committed to a social contract theory of political obligation, Hegel’s insistence that the
state cannot be said to rest on a
contractual basis is nevertheless
symptomatic of his distance from
liberal assumptions. We should beware of thinking that because Hegel
is not a totalitarian he has to be
a liberal. His theory of the state
does indeed contain a liberal
‘moment’ (and Avineri does well to
highlight it as a corrective to
Russell et al); but this of course
is not enough to turn him into a
liberal as such.

It is worth pausing at this point
to compare Hegel’s Theory of the
Modern State with Avineri’s earlier
work on the social and political
th~ught of Marx. 11 Here, he tends
to ‘soften’ Hegel in the direction
of liberalism; there, he ‘softens’

Marx in the direction of political
gradualism. There is a direct
parallel between the two books in
that they both argue for the ‘unity’

of the thought of their respective
subjects: it is wrong, Avineri
holds, to counterpose an early
‘Hegelian’ Marx to a later ‘scientific’ Marx; in the same way, he
argues that it is wrong to counterpose an early ‘radical’ Hegel to
a later ‘reactionary’ one. On the
one hand the radicalism of the
early Hegel should not be exaggerated (see Avineri, pl12) and on the
other, as has already been shown,
it is entirely misleading to project on the later Hegel the image
of totalitarian state-worshipper.

The relation between Avineri’s
two books is the more interesting
because, in a sense, the second
provides (by implication) additional argument fbr the conclusions of the first.

In The Social
and Political Thought of Karl Marx
Averini argued that the decisive
step in Marx’s intellectual development was taken in the Critique
of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right
written by Marx in 1843. The
suggestion is that – for example Marx’s conception of the proletariat as the ‘universal class’ was
modelled on Hegel’s conception of
the administrative bureaucracy.

Now, in Hegel’s ~heory of the
Modern State, Avineri approaches
his central contention of an underlying continuity between Hegel and
Marx from, as it were, the opposite


direction: he gives an account of
Hegel’s own social theory which
stresses the presence in it of
certain ‘Harxist’ themes.

It is
to this aspect of his book that we
now turn.

(ii) Hegel and ‘civil society’:

economics, ~olitics and methodology.

Avineri’s view of Hegel as ‘the
first major political philosopher
who attempted to confront the realities of the modern age’ (p239) has
already been quoted.

Be supports
this view with a fascinating discussion of Begel’s Jena writings
of 1802-6, writings in which Begel
lays the foundation for his later
treatment of ‘civil society,.12
In them, the impact on Begel of
political economists like Stuart
and Smith can clearly be seen.

In a manner which points forward
to Marx, Begel emphasises the
alienation of labour entailed by
commodity production (production
for the market) and mechanization: the worker, he says, ‘becomes
through the work of the machine
more and more machine-like, dull,
spiritless. The spiritual element,
the self-conscious plenitude of
life, becomes an empty activity.

The power of the self resides in
rich comprehension: this is being
lost.’ (cited by Avineri, p93)
Begel, then, despite Germany’s
economic backwardness, is alive to
the dynamic of bourgeois industrialism developing around him.

In the Jena writings he concludes
that this dynamic of civil society
‘like a wild animal calls for
strong permanent control and curbing’ (cited p95). Thus Begel is
led to his philosophy of the state
as the sphere of universality, in
which the particularism and selfinterest of civil/society are
aufgehoben, or transcended. As
Avineri suggests, this attempt to
sublimate the particular ism of
e~onomics into the universality of
politics ultimately founders on
the problem of poverty.13 Nonetheless Begel remains a philosopher
grappling with important problems
which still concern us at the
present day.

Avineri’s presentation of Hegel
in this perspective is fertile and
stimulating. The issue of whether
Hegel was a totalitarian or a liberal or neither related to his
institutional conclusions; here,
Avineri’s implicit (and sometimes
explicit) suggestion is that, whatever the conclusions, there is a
certain continuity with Marx in
the questions Begel is asking and
to which the conclusions are intended as answers. Bowever, stimulating though his approach is,
there are gaps in Avineri’s discussion which prevent him from
following up his insights and
giving a comprehensive account of
Begel’s social thought.

In the first place, he gives no
serious discussion of Begel’s methodology: he would appear to agree
with Pelczynski that ‘Begel’s
political thought can be read,
understood and appreciated without

having to” come to terms with his
metaphysics. ,14 The inadvisability of such an approach can be
seen by comparing Hegel’s Theory
of the Modern State with Raymond
Plant’s Hegel, a book which covers
much the same ground as Avineri’s.

Plant is alert to the interconnections between Hegel’s general
philosophy and his politics: he
argues that the philosophical
quest for totality went hand in
hand with the quest – inspired by
the classical polis – for a
coherent and integrated political
community. Be suggests that
Hegel saw philosophy as ‘the core
of co~~on culture’ and hence as
‘the key to community,.15 In
this way Plant is able to give his
account of ~egel’s social thought
a philosophical centre of gravity
which Avineri’s lacks.

Secondly, Avineri gives no discussion of the social themes which
run through Hegel’s Phenomenology.

This omission and his playing down
of the methodological and philosophical issues are connected, as
it is above all in the Phenomenology that the unity of Hegel’s
methodology and his social thought
directly confronts one.

it is precisely the Phenomenology,
written in Jena in 1806, which
represents the culmination of the
work of the preceding years to which
Avineri (rightly) attaches so much

The central notion of the Phenomenology is that of Bildung: the education and formation of the human
spirit. Spirit first attains selfconsciousness in the struggle for
recognition between master and
slave. 16 The slave, chastened by
Hobsesian fear of death, submits
to the master; the master is ‘recognized’ and confirmed in his
humanity by the slave, who works
for him.

However in the master’s
eyes the slave is less than human
and so this recognition in the end
counts for nothing. Moreover, the
master merely consumes while the
slave produces: the master comes
to be dependent on the slave rather
than vice versa. Ultimately, then,
it is not the military or political
prowess of the master in the
initial struggle, but the economic
labour of the slave in the period
which ensues, that opens the way
to spirit’s further formation and

In this passage we
see Hegel raiSing in dynamic and
dialectical terms the issue of the
relation of economics (labour, the
slave) to politics (the master)
which is alSO’ fundamental to the
rather more static framework (civil
society and the state) of the
Philosophy of Right.

The same dialectic of economics
and politics reappears later in
the Phenomenology when, in the
section on ‘Estrangement’, Hegel
portrays the historical dynamic
which culminated in the ‘Absolute
Freedom and Terror’ of the French
Revolution. 17 There, the dialectic
of master and slave, of the state
and civil society, is set forth
as a dialectic of ‘state power’

on the one hand and ‘wealth’ on

the other. State power is found
to presuppose wealth and the pure
political consciousness of the
nobility degenerates into the
attitude of the ‘haughty vassal’

who in effect sees state power as
his own private property.18 Just
as the slave turned out to be the
truth of the master So here wealth
emerges as the truth of state power.

Hegel goes on to set out the dialectic of a society based solely
on the economic criterion of
wealth, a society in which ‘all
identity and concord break up, for
what holds sway is the purest
dischord and disunion ••. what has
a being on its own account has its
being outside itself. ,19 Such a
condition of estrangement cannot
endure and society is on the brink
of a revolutionary upheaval.

These passages from the Phenomenology are methodologically
important because they show Hegel
posing some of the basic questions
of his social theory, those concerning the relation of economics
to politics, in the context of a
dynamic, historicist dialectic.

They are essential to help us
grasp the significance of Avineri’s
own comment that Hegel introduced
into political philosophy ‘the
dimension of change and historicity
which has since become central to
modern political thought’ (p. x).

In the Phenomenology, as Marx tells
us, Hegel ‘grasps labour as the
essence of man,;20 and in the absence of a discussion of this work
Hegel’s reasons for giving (as
Avineri notes) so central a place
to labour in his philosophical outlook cannot clearly be understood.

The above criticisms notwithstanding, Hege1’s Theory of the Modern
State remains an extremely valuable
addition to the Hegel literature.

It is, one hopes, the definitive
refutation of the Hegel-astotalitarian approach. It is
detailed and lucid thro~ghout,
drawing on a wide range of Hegel’s
writings and making available, as
already noted, a number of fascinating passages from the Jena
period. It is consistently readable – no mean achievement, although its readability may be
purchased at the price of refusing
to be drawn on methodological and
philosophical issues.

For anyone poised on the brink of
Hegel, Avineri’s book provides a
useful ‘way in’; for anyone already
immersed in the depths Avineri is
bound to help clarify some murky
impreSSions. Hegel, it is generally agreed, is a philosopher as
difficult as he is important.

Avineri’s book is one of the small
number of secondary works which,
taken together, remove any excuse
for not having come to grips with

1 Bertrand Russell, History of
Western Philosophy, Allen &
Unwin, 1965, p7ll
2 K.R. popper, The Open Society
and Its Enemi~s, Routledge,
1969, vol.2, p78

3 For a collection of articles
on this debate, including
Kaufmann’s reply to Popper,
‘The Hegel Myth and Its Method’,
and Avineri’s ‘Hegel and
Nationalism’, see Walter
Kaufmann (ed.), Hege1’s Political Philosophy, Atherton, 1970
4 Herbert Marcuse, Reason and
Revolution, Routledge, 1969
S See Hege1’s Political Writings,
Oxford, 1964, plS8
6 Heine, Religion and Philosophy
in Germany, London, 1882, plS3:

although, says Heine, Hegel
‘may have given support to
various suspicious vindications
to the existing order of affairs
in church and state, he did so
in favour of a state that, in
theory at least, rendered homage to the principle of progress, and in favour of a
church that regarded the principle of unrestrained inquiry
as its vital element; and he
made no secret of this; he
avowed all his intentions.’

It is true that a little further on Heine refers less
favourably to how Hegel ‘had
himself crowned at Berlin, unfortunately with some slight
ceremony of anointing’. (op.

cit., plS6)
7 Marcuse, op. cit., pp179-8l
8 Note in this connection Hegel’s
conviction that the state
should beware of ‘the pedantic
craving to determine every
detail’ of public life and of
‘mean carping at any independent action by the citizens’.

(Political Writings, ed. cit.,
9 Hege1’s Theory of the Modern
state, chapter 10. There is a
good discussion of the subject
by H.-G. ten Bruggencate, , Hegel’ s
Views on War’, The Philosophical
Quarterly, October 19S0
10 Hegel, Philosophy of Right,
Oxford, 1967, para 257
11 Shlomo Avineri, The Social and
Political Thought of Kar1 Marx,
Cambridge UP, 1968. See the
review of this work by Chris
Arthur, RP1, January 1972
12 See the section of Hege1’s
Theory of the Modern state,
chapter S, headed ‘Labour,
Alienation and the Power of the
Market’. Cf. Avineri, ‘Labor,
Alienation and Social Classes
in Hegel’s Rea1phi1osophie’,
Philosophy and Public Affairs,
vol.l, no.l, Fall 1971
13 On poverty see Philosophy of
Right, paras.24l-5, and especially the Addition to para 244
14 Z.A. Pelczynski, Introductory
Essay to Hege1’s Political
Writings, ed. cit., p136
15 Raymond Plant, Hege1, Allen &
Unwin, 1972, p88
16 Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind,
J.B. Baillie trans., Allen &
Unwin, 1966, pp229-40. The
best commentary on this section
is A. Kojeve’s Introduction to
the Reading of Hege1, Basic
Books, 1969
17 Phenomenology, ed. cit., ppS0948. For a’ commentary see Jean
Hyppolite, ‘The French Revolu-

tion in Hegel’s Phenomenology’

in his Studies on Marx and
Hege1, Basic Books, 1969,· esp
18 Hegel was a sharp critic of any
attempt ‘to make public power
into private property’, arguing
that such an attempt would entail ‘the dissolution of the
state’ (quoted from a draft of
his essay on ”l’he German Constitution’ by ~vineri, p4l).

Ironically, it is precisely
Marx’s criticism of Hegel’s view
in the Philosophy of Right of
the bureaucracy as the ‘universal class” that they will transform the public, universal interest into their own private,
particular interest, i.e. into
(in effect) their p~ivate property. See Marx, Critique of
Hege1’s Philosophy of Right
(Cambridge UP, 1970, p48): ‘In
the bureaucracy the identity of
the state’s interest and the
particular private aim is established such that the state’s
interest becomes a particular
private aim opposed to other
private aims.’ It seems that,
in the Philosophy of Right,
Hegel falls .victim to a mystification which in many other
places in his writings he sees
through clearly.

19 Phenomenology, ed. cit., pS4l
20 Marx, Economic and Philosophic
Manuscripts of 1844, Moscow,
1967, p140

Richard Gunn

A Critical Review

Vol. XIX 1974-75

Medicine and Socialism in Chile
ModeII and Waitzkin

Whither America?

l L. Horowitz

Reply by Joseph & PIotke

Weber and Lenin on the state

Marxism: A Prolet-Aryan Outlook

Moore Replies by Himnielstein & Mack
other articles by Moreira AIves, Boggs, and Glanz;
introducing the Journal of Negative Results


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Marxism and Science
Dominique Lecourt, Marxism and
Epistemology, NLB, £5.50
The discipline ‘philosophy of
science’, for many people, is a
barren one. Its subject matter
is not the science of the scientists, but a philosopher’s conception of science, one might call
it’science-in-general’. Its
problems are difficult to solve
and bear little relation to any
issue within science.

Lecourt’s book, Marxism and
Epistemology, charts the work of
another tradition – it is a tradition in so far as the ideas of
the three people dealt with have
their roots in a denial of a certain position in epistemology:

positivism. The book falls into
two parts. Part one deals with
Bachelard’s philosophy of science
as constituted by his concern with
problems in Mathematical-Physics,
the ‘queen of the sciences’.

Lecourt describes the way in which
Bachelard contrasted the achievements made in physics in the
early 20th century with the developments in the philosophy of the
period. While in the former, many
new and exciting discoveries were
being made, and the nature of the
subject matter was changing; the
latter remained sterile, dogmatic
and bound up with problems that
bore no relation to the dynamism
of physics. Lecourt characterises
the ‘philosophy of the philosophers’ as ‘ideology’ and as the
medium through which other ‘ideologies’ – social, economic and
political – intervene in scientific knowledge. Philosophy im~
ports extra-scientific values into
the sciences: Bachelard’s term for
these is ‘epistemological-obstacles’.

As Lecourt puts it, borrowing
Althusserian terminology, science
is constituted in a ‘rupture with
its ideological past’.

But apart from the philosopher’s
philosophy, there is another philosophy, implied in the practice of
science, which can express what is
scientific about science. Science
contains, within itself, the norms
of its own validity. Science
takes place in history; so ‘real’

philosophy of science, which lays
bare in what scientific knowledge
consists, will also be, essentially, historical. Epistemology is
historical, and the history of
science is historical epistemology.

All this is very general; Lecourt
goes on to point to the ways in
which Bachelard tried to show,
more specif~cally, how ‘real’ philosophy of science functions. First
he gIves two criticisms of the
‘philosophers’ philosophy’. Both
‘idealist’ and ‘realist’ theories
of knowledge tend, according to
Bacnelard, (a) towards absolute
truth, and (b) in the one case
towards pure thought and, in the
other, towards pure Being, none
of which bear on actual scientific
practice. Both theories re·ly on
an unscientific notion of the


‘given’. In fact the object of
scientific knowledge ought to be
construed as .a process.

Bachelard calls his own central
philosophical categories: ‘Applied
Rationalism’ and ‘Technical Materialism’. The former has to do, it
appears, with scientific concepts.

According to it, when considering
the way in which concepts are produced, one must bea~ in mind the
conditions of their application.

One might ask ‘Who must bear this
in mind?’ ‘Are these concepts intended to be those of the scientist or those of the philosopher’s
characterisation of .the scientist’s
activity?’· Bachelard’s answer,
though, would be that they are both:

the scientist, when he is practising
‘real’ science, as opposed to its
‘ideological’ part, employs the
very same categories as those the
philosopher might use to describe
his activity. ‘Technical Materialism’ deals with scientific experiments (this category, too, must be
construed in the uwo senses).

Scientific experiments must have,
integrated into their solutions,
the theoretical conditions of their
formulation. One of Bachelard’s
examples might make this clearer:

in the pre-scientific 18th century,
the science of the chemical actions
of light could not be thought.

Within the 18th century problematic,
in which gravitational forces and
the forces of chemical attraction
were conceived as identical in nature, the only possible conclusion
that could be drawn from ‘experiments’ in which bodies were exposed
to light, was that light is a body,
and that it produces different
phenomena by chemical attraction.

Then came Fresnel, whose importance
lay in his establishing in optics
‘the government of mathematics’.

Experiments were now viewed in the
light of the science of photochemistry.

Bachelard’s philosophical categories are described in a very
general way, and one is left rather
in the dark about what precisely is
their significance. But they are
important, though, because they are

categories which wilL allow for the
dynamic and changing character of
the sciences.

Part two of Marxism and Epistemology begins, again, with Bachelard.

Here Lecourt points out the limits
of Bachelard’s epistemology.

According to Lecourt, Bachelard is
able to deal, with his epistemology,
with the effects ‘epistemological
obstacles’ have on scientists’

practice, but he cannot give an
adequate account of the way in
which these obstacles are formed.

What he· does is to resort’to
‘psychoanalysis’. Epistemological
obstacles arise because of human
psychology. Everybody has a tendency to defer to images produced,
as Bachelard puts it, ‘because the
human soul is rooted in the imaginary of images produced by the
imagination’. We gain some insight
into the meaning of this from
Bachelard’s book The Psychoanalysis
of Fire. Flames have always fascinated the human mind; to some of
the Greeks, for example, fire was
the noblest of the elements. Moreover, whatever the state of knowledge in relation to the chemistry
of combustion, scientists and laymen alike have tended to be influenced by the images which the
flames call up. Scientists are
influenced by them when forming
their theories of combustion. The
tendency to be influenced in this
way is part of the human condition;
it requires no further explanation,
so far as Bachelard is concerned.

There follows a section on
Bachelard’s theory of the imaginary,
and then one on Canguilhem; who is
characterised as someone who practiced the history of science using
Bachelardian categories. Finally
we reach what is perhaps the most
important section of all – a discussion of Foucault’s Archaeology
of Knowledge.

Lecourt begins by presenting us
with a contradiction – Foucault’s
latest work expresses both a continuity with his previous work
and an abandonment of it. The
problem is this: although Foucault
has abandoned a category – that of
the episteme, which he had qsed as
a weapon against the ‘humanists’;
this is not to say that he has
become a ‘humanist’. He abandone~
this category in order to inaugurate a critique of his own ‘structuralist’ alternative. We are
treading dangerous and difficult
ground. It is Foucault’s aim to
walk the tight-rope between pure
idealism and a mechanical materialism. Lecourt says: ‘the concept of
history which functions in the
Archaeology has many consonances
with ••• the scientific concept of
‘history as it appears in historical
materialism’ • Foucaul t argues,
against every theory which presupposes as its fixed point a category of subjects, e.g. empiricist
or sensualist theories. This
polemic is also turned against the
correlative category of the ‘object’. He shows how Bachelard’s
descriptive viewpoint of the ‘rupture’ in history and his construal
of obstacles as images which inter-

vene in scientific practice, lead
back to a ‘pure’ subject.

Foucault, like Bachelard, wants to
get at the nature of scientific
knowledge. Lecourt describes his
task as that of ‘thinking the
differential history of the sciences
and the non-sciences’. To this end
he introduces various categories,
central among which are those of
‘discursive-event’, ‘discourse-ingeneral’ and ‘discursive-connexion’

‘Discourse’ is both ‘material’ and
historical. Foucault hopes to get
at its materiality through the ‘relations of connexion’ among its
units. These ‘relations’ only exist in material supports; Lecourt
says ‘it is clearly necessary to
think the history of discursive
events as structured by material
relations embodying themselves in

Discourse turns out to be a practice, but not in the sense of an
activity of a subject; it is a
practice in that it ‘designates’

the objective and material existence of pertain rules to which the
subject is subject once it takes
part in discourse’. The discursive
connections between the units of a
discourse are not external to it,
but neither are they internal to
it; rather, ‘they determine the
bundle of relations that discourse
must establish in order to be able
to think of this or that object, in
order to be able to speak of this
or that object in order to be able
to deal with them, name them, analyse them, classify them, explain
them’, etc., and the connections
characterise discourse itself as a

Lecourt gives us the glimmerings
of a critique of Foucault’s Archaeology. According to this interpretation of the work, its task is to
provide a theory of the ‘discursive
instance’ in so far as it is ‘structured by relations invested in institutions and historically determinate regulations’. But, he says,
this task is only carried out by
Foucault in the form of a description. Lecourt claims that Foucault’s attempt to provide a materialist and historical theory of
‘ideology’ rests upon the tacit and
untheorised distinction between
‘discursive-practices’ and ‘nondiscursive practices’.

The main limitation of Foucault’s
work, which rests on the above
limitation, according to Lecourt,
is his failure to give an account
of the genesis of practice. The
main determination of the Archaeology’s conception of practice is
‘rule’, ‘regularity’. The rule’s
function is to ‘think’, in their
unity, the relations that structure
discursive practice, their relation
of subjection on the speaking ‘subjects’, and the interlocking of one
practice with another. But Foucault
is able to ‘think’ this unity only
as a juxtaposition; when he comes
to ‘ think’ the regularity of the
rule, he is unable to do so – because of the untheorised distinction between types of practice.

His notion of ‘rule’ turns out to
have much in common with that of

‘status’ or ‘power’; and his theory
of knowledge reverts to a mechanical
materialism, a theory which reflects
an existent social structure.

Much of this book is difficult and
obscure on first reading, especially for those of us brought up on
a diet of Anglo-Saxon philosophy.

And for those of us who screw up
inside at the sound of Althusserian
jargon, the appearance of words like
‘scientificity’ and ‘specificity’

comes as something of a shock.

However, some degree of linguistic
complexity is unavoidable when the
ideas being expressed are complex
and this book certainly shouldn’t
be rejected because of the way it
is expressed. It is a very important book; it contains invaluable
epistemological insights, and it
is probably the only book which
raises, and attempts to answer the
question: ‘Why should a Marxist be
interested in epistemology?’ Many
of the ideas that it sets out are
only incompletely developed, but
this should not be taken as a
criticism of the book; rather, it
should be taken as a challenge.

One think this book certainly tells
us: there is a lot of work to be

Alison Assiter
Against Empiricism
Roy Bhaskar: A Realist Theory of
Science, Leeds Books, 1975.

The aim of this book is to elaborate and to defend a non-empiricist
theory of science and of causality,
articulated in terms of structures,
generative mechanisms, powers-and
tendencies. It is argued that the
notion of causality as a constant
conjunction of experienced events
is anthropocentric, and relevant
primarily to a man-made experimental
situation the closure of which is to
be contrasted with the openess of
natural systems. In such systems
which exist and persist independ~
ently of the presence or of the
intervention of human agents, there
is on~y a contingent connection between the occurrence of events and
the operation of underlying, real
causal mechanisms. Consequently,
any theory which limits its analysis
of causality to constant conjunction
must fail to provide an adequate
account of processes occurring in
open systems. Furthermore, it will
espouse limited conceptions of, for
example, scientific l~ws, natural
necessity and explanation, and, by
concentrating on atomistic facts
will ignore the social processes
whereby scientific knowledge is
produced and transmitted.

As Bhaskar points out, his intention is to develop a philosophy for
science which, we discover, draws
much of its inspiration from Harr~,
opposing or extending the views
elaborated by, typically, Hempel,
Nagel, Goodman, Anscombe, Scriven
and Popper. Unfortuna tely, having
located himself on this terrain in
order to criticise it, Bhaskar be-

comes ensnared, even mesmerised by
his opponents. It is not merely
that he devotes a disproportionate
amount of his time to exposing the
limits of their views, leading the
uns~specting reader into a labyrinth of technicalities from which
he emerges, if at all, drained and
punch-drunk. Far more importantly,
when he ventures off this terrain
into areas like the history and
sociology of science, Bhaskar completely fails to g~asp the significance of ‘such fields to his project. For surely the work of Kuhn,
Lakatos and Feyerabend, to which he
refers, has brought home to us that
a philosophy for science must entail
more than an epistemology for
science, and that it must see
science as more than a social institution devoted to producing
theories which uncover ever deeper
levels of reality. Bhaskar’s inability to realise this, and his
associated capitulation to the terms
of debate set by his opponents, impose serious limits on his book
which, regrettably, detract from the
value of its central thesis.

In wha~ follows I shall first attempt to present a coherent account
of Bhaskar’s Transcendental Realism
(TR), and the notion of causality
which it engenders. This seems to
me to be an interesting and potentially fruitful approach to an epistemology for science. Thereafter, I
shall critically discuss Bhaskar’s
analYSis of what he calls the transitive dimension of science, the
social aspect of the production of
scientific knowledge. In this
review, I shall not consider in any
detail his criticisms of other aspects of the orthodox philosophy of
science, although Bhaskar devotes
much attention to them. As I have
already indicated, they are relatively technical and specialised,
and do not make for ready summary.

Transcendental Realism
TR is an account of science which
views scientific knowledge as
socially produced (the transitive
dimension) and the objects.of that
knowledge as independent of men (the
intransitive dimension). The former
embraces the raw material available
to the practising scientist out of
which he fashions knowledge, and to
which he has access by virtue of his
~embership of a scientific community.

It includes existing theories, models, and methods and techniques of
inquiry. The intransitive objects
of knowleqge are real structures
and mechanisms which generate patterns of events, which events may
or may not form part of the empirical world, i.e. the world of human experiences. TR thus differs
from empiricism in insisting that
the objects of science are the
structures or mechanisms that produce events, and not the events
themselves, and from idealism in
holding that such objects are
intransitive, Le. that they exist
and act independently of men.

According to TR, then, the phenomenal world of patterns of events
is the external manifestation of


the inner working of real structures which produce it, but to which
it is irreducible and from which it
is ontologically independent. This
process of externalization is possible by virtue of the exercise of
tendencies and powers which are
ascribed to the structured things
of the real. Such tendencies may
be exercised, or ‘in play’, but not
fulfilled, they may be possessed but
not exercised, and they may be
realised but not experienced by men.

It is to the existence and opera-‘

tion of these tendencies that causal
laws refer. Such laws, says
Bhaskar, are transfactuals; they
take us beyond the level of that
which actually occurs to a deeper
stratum where tendencies are in play
which may, but need not, be manifested.

Causal laws then are not to be analysed as the constant conjunction
of similar events, but as the tendencies of things. When their initial conditions are instantiated,
such law-like statements assert that
a mechanism is in play which, if undisturbed, would result in the manifestation of the tendency. However,
they do not assert that the tendency will, in fact, be fulfilled
nor need this happen in practice.

If that is so, it may be asked, how
can we ever formulate a causal law?

How can we gain access to tendencies if they can be exercised unrealised? And how do we know when
they are realised? Bhaskar’s
answer is that this is possible
because there are certain conditions under which tendencies must
be fulfilled.

These are the conditions which prevail in closed
systems. In such systems factors
and causes which might count~ract
the workings of a particular tendency are absent or are controlled
by human intervention, and a constant conjunction of events occurs,
generated by the mechanism in

Closures, though rare in nature,
are produced in experimental activity. The experimentalist makes
constant conjunctions take place,
by triggering the mechanism which
he is studying and by ensuring
that countervailing causes cannot
intervene to block its realisation.

By so doing he can establish a
unique relationship between the
antecedent and the consequent of
a law-like statement.

An experimentalist is thus in a
position to gain access to the enduring mechanisms of nature that
produce the events he records in a
closed system. As a result it is
possible for his output to be relevant to open systems; the causal
laws he formulates are transfactual.

Open systems are the rule, closed
systems the exception, outside the
laboratory. They may be characterised as systems in which the antecedent of a causal law is initiated
(i.e. the mechanism in question is
in play) but in which the consequent ‘

is not realised. This occurs because,
in such systems, several mechanisms
operate together, crossing and annulling one another’s effects, so that
most events which do in fact occur


are to be regarded as ‘conjunctures’.

Furthermore, because the mode of
articulation of the mechanisms being
exercised is not known, it is not
possible to predict what events will
occur in such systems. On the other
hand, we can explain those that do
occur because our experimentally
gained knowledge, under the artificially produced conditions of
closure, is transfactually applicable (i.e. in open systems too).

There is thus an asymmetry between
explanation and prediction in open
systems which does not occur in
closed ones. It is only in the
latter, where deductive test predictions can be confidently made,
that corroborations or falsifications are possible. Furthermore,
it is only to the latter that the
hypothetico-deductive model of
science can be applied. The failure
to realise this in these two cases
is symptomatic of a general weakness of most of the orthoaox philosophy of science viz. it presupposes
a closure. Since the world is, in
fact, an open system, such philosophies require drastic revision,
perhaps even rejection. TR, says
Bhaskar, shows the way in which such
a revision must be made.

One general criticism of this
theory of causality is the following. We have seen that Bhaskar
draws the open/closed system distinction roughly parallel to the
natural world/experimental situation distinction. By and large
the world is an allegedly open
system, and the aim of experimental
activity is to produce a closure,
thereby gaining access to a real and
enduring mechanism. No evidence is
brought in support of these empirical claims. There are obviously
many instances of constant conjunction outside scientific laboratories:

tear gas and rubber bullets disperse
demonstrators, motor car accidents
mutilate human bodies, ~~e moon
affects G~e tides and acids corrode
metals. Conversely, the formulation
and testing of causal laws is merely
one among many facets of experimental activity. A great deal of
‘respectable’ and challenging
‘normal’ chemistry, for example,
involves the dete~ination of molecular and crystal structure, the
measurement of energy levels, and
the collation of spectroscopic and
thermodynamic data. That granted,
it may seem preferable to regard
the distinction between open and
closed systems as a logical rather
than as an empirical one. Unfortunately if it is conceded that
naturally occurring patterns of
events regularly reveal the presence of a specific tendency, and
not the conjuncture of several
mechanisms, not only is the role
of experiment in TR rendered problematic, but also claims made by
the orthodox philosophy of science
that it accounts for processes outside the laboratory gain respectability. On the other hand, construing the open/closed distinction logically makes it possible to
extend TR into areas to which
Bhaskar makes only passing reference viz. the non-experimental

social sciences. Either way it
seems that a large amount of work
still needs to be done on this particular problem if Bhaskar’s views
are to win general support.

The Transitive Dimension
Consistent with his narrow
‘characterisation of scientific
experiment as the search for causal
laws, Bhaskar specifies’the aim of
science as the production of theories of varying degrees of complexity which ref~ect the stratification
of the world. This it does by
operating on an already existing
material, using the intellectual
and technical skills initially
acquired in a scientific education.

Science is work, an institutionalised social activity which occurs
independently of any particular
scientist, and which produces knowledge of the enduring mechanisms of
nature by transforming pre-existing,
socially produced, cognitive items.

It is this social aspect of the
scientific enterprise that constitutes its transitive dimension.

Now Bhaskar is aware that a large
amount of contemporary research has
revealed that the aims of science
are not those that he specifies.

Thus he refers, for example, to
notions like entrepreneurial
science and shoddy science, introduced by Ravetz, and, to Chomsky’s
government science. But, he remarks disarmingly, this is not due
to science’s transitive dimension
as such but to ‘the present character of its social character’ (plSS).

No historical or other evidence or
arguments are produced to support
this assertion. Nor are the precise features of science’s contemporary social character which
have corrupted it specified, so that
even if we wished to reinstate it
in its purified form we ,WOUld have
no idea what to attack. Furthermore, it is not at all clear how
is possible to separate those features of the transitive dimension
which Bhaskar identifies from the
broader aspects of science’s social
character. For part of any scientist’s heritage is a set of typical
problems which have been solved,
and a related set which need investigation. And there is no reason to think that all the problems
will be purely ‘internal’ to
science, nor should any theory of

the soCial dimension of science
presuppose that they are.

It might be argued that Bhaskar’s
intention is to establish what the
aims of science ought to be, not
what they· are. But even so, it is
encumbent upon him to argue that the
aims of science should be th9se
which he attributes to it. I will
gladly concede that he has formulated one aim of science, but would
resist any attempt to identify it
as the aim of science, or even the
demand that it should be always the
predominant aim of science.

Bhaskar’s specification of the
aims of science clearly echoes that
of Popper. His further claim that
the philosophy of science is a ra-tional reconstruction of science
locates him even more unambiguously
in the latter’s camp. And it presumably accounts for Bhaskar’s
bizarre representation of what he
calls the historical development of
chemistry. To illustrate this he
produces a schema which presents
that history as involving the identification of successively more
complex mechanisms which explain
the reaction of sodium with hydrochloric acid to produce sodium
chloride and hydrogen. The crudest
mechanism identified is that constituted by the theory of atomic
number and valency, which was
subsequently explained by a mechanism at a more basic stratum of
reality, viz. the theory of electrons and atomic structures, which
in turn can be explained by more
fundamental theories, and the
associated mechanisms, and so on.

Clearly this schema neatly presents chemistry as’ developing in
accordance with Bhaskar’s specification of the aims of science,
and equally clearly it has nothing
to do with the actual history of
chemistry. It defies belief that
anyone could presume to do this by
presenting one reaction ~rom inorganiC chemistry. Furthermore,
if a combustion or calcination reaction had been chosen, would
Bhaskar have included phlogistic
theory in his schema? And would he
regard that theory as being explained
by atomic theory, or would he allow
tha t a rupture occurred in the
transition from the one to the other?

And what of alchemy? Whatever the
answer to these questions may be,
Bhaskar’s claim to have produced a
representation of the historical
order of the developnent of chemistry is incredible.

Bhaskar is not modest about his
. own putative achievements. Without
transcendental realism, he asserts,
it is impossible to provide a coherent account of scientific growth
and change. Furthermore only his
view of science allegedly provides
a rationale for the use of scientific laws to explain phenomena in
open systems. In addition, his
analysis of the transitive domain
completes, he thinks, the development of the so-called Copernican
revolution in the philosophy of
science, i.e. the realisation that
science has a sociological component. In this he is surely mistaken. For as I have pointed out,


that revolution suggests that a
philosophy for science must be more
than an epistemology for science.

It requires that the question ‘What
must the world be like for science
to be possible?’, explicitly posed
by TR, include society in the conception of the world, and a view of
social organisation consistent with
science as a liberating force and
not an oppressive ideology. I
cannot believe that Bhaskar is
the Newton that the philosophy of
science has been waiting for to
complete its Copernican revolution;
or! even its Kepler.

John Krige

Gunther W. Remmling, The Sociology
of Kar 1 Mannheim, London, Routlegge
& Kegan Paul, 1975, £4;95
A detailed assessment of Karl
Mannheim’s contributions to the
sociology of knowledge would be
welcome. Unfortunately Remmling’s
book offers little more than a
literal description of Mannheim’s
work leaving many of its problematics uncovered. Within recent
years there has been a growth of
interest in the SOCiology of knowledge and it is increasingly the
case that the classification of
sociology and philosophy has witnessed a blurring particularly in
the area of the problem of the
social determinants of knowledge
in relation specifically to historical and dialectical materialism.

Mannheim occupies an interesting
position in the development of
sociology as both a major figure
in the development of the sociology
of knowledge and as an adherent to
gradualism and ‘social reconstruction’. His work tended to be influenced (if frequently negatively)
by the historical/chronological
position he occupied at any given.

juncture. As early as 1919, in the
short lived Kun administration,
Lukacs (as People’s Commissar for
Education) had been instrumental in
appointing Mannheim to the post of
lecturer in philosophy and the
theory of literature at the University of Budapest. Although never
a Marxist, Mannheim was influenced
by the prevalent Left Hegelianism
and Marxist thought of the period
and it was during this time that he
laid the foundation of a sociology
of knowledge. After the Kun administra~ion was brought down in
March 1919 Mannheim left for Germany
where he provided the substantive
account of his sociology of knowledge. With the rise of Nazism he
left for England where, with a
pragmatic climate, he concentrated
almost entirely on his formulations
of ‘social reconstruction’ and
‘planned democracy’.

As Mannheim left Hungary and
arrived in Germany the political
situation was again in ferment but
from the time of the Spartacus
Rebellion and the ensuing murders

of Liebknecht and Luxemburg to the
re-establishment of the Rightist
government Mannheim remained apolitical. This apoliticism is
more accurately the anti-Marxism
which was to characterise virtually all his future career.

During this period Mannheim developed an epistemology in part
derived from Kant. Kant states
that the epistemological world that
. surrounds us was produced by us as
actors within and upon it, that the
world derived its meaningfulness
from the human mind. The world was
then the epistemological product of
man. It was this point that
allowed for the emergence of Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge in
that Kant had prescribed the object-constituting function of cognition. From Kant, Begel historicised the process by describing the
world as a process of historical
occurrence moving towards increasingly higher developments.

-it was left to Max Weber’s neoKantianism to place sociology as
the science which linked interpretative understanding of social action with causal explanations as to
its ensuing effects. Mannheim added
a further category for the interpretation of social behaviour which
involved neither the structural position of an action nor its subjective intention but was rather
only understandable as an aspect of
the member’s total personality.

Thus the member’s vie~ of the situation, event, or even artifact is
only recognisable because it forms
a set with his (and by association
his group’s) total cultural achievement. This form of interpretation
was intended to allow sociology to
determine the spirit of any particular era, and further, that all
investigations incorporating this
procedure must necessarily reflect
the social structure.

This position.led Mannheim inevitably to find the actor bound
by· the historical specificity of
his epoch which would allow the
actor to have only a partial view
of a total or supra-historical
reality. Mannheim’ s move into the
problem of relativism was persistently to dog his theories and he
frequently was unwilling to delinate the particular problem.

It is this as much as anything else
which demonstrates, not so particularly his lack of a grasp of
Marxism, but his liberal selfsituated rejection of it. In
addition to Begel’s historicism
Mannheim was also influenced by
Dilthey’s application of Kant to
the social sciences and his own
variation of historicism. ‘Mannheim
went on to develop, still implicitly
ignoring the problem of relativism,
a theory of secio-historical determination. By the appreciation
of his own historical signification
Mannheim claimed the individual
could become aware of (investigate)
his own socio-historical location,
whether in terms of the subjective
intention~ of members or in general
prinCiples, with an exactness necessarily determined by his own
socio-historical position.


Mannheim attempts unsuccessfully,
just because of his rejection of
Marxism, to save himself from relativism by offering a new admixture to characterise the process of
history. On the one hand he claims
the process of Verstehen itself
(developed by von Ranke, Droysen,
Dilthey and Weber) as one of the
crucial determinators of any historical method in that it represents
the factuality of any activity for
a given society. On the other hand
he postulates that the appreciation
of society is an accumulation of a
series of insights. Mannheim’s reluctance to come to terms with
Marxism produces an historicism
which inevitably leads to history
being reduced to nothing more than
the conglomeration of particular

(See Althusser’s postscript
to ‘Contradiction and Overdetermination’). So while never fully
articulating a theory of intersubjectivity Mannheim paradoxically
gives primacy to member’s accounts.

Connected with this last point it
is interestingly Mannheim’s rejection of Left Hegelianism and Marxism that prevents him from establishing what could have been a
re-evaluation of the effect of
Hegel’s thought on Marx similar to
that of Althusser in ‘Contradiction
and Overdetermination’ without in
the procedure ignoring questions of
inter-subjectivity. This would
have represented a process both
divorcing him f!om the Hegelianism
of .Lukacs and the structuralfunctionalism that characterises
some of the work of Althusser. As
it remained Mannheim’s method which
he referred to as DialecticalRational Development claimed to
have evolved a stance that avoided
relativism and implied a special
role for the sociologist as both
the observer of, and agent of,
change within, society.

In giving ascendency to the sociologist as the observer of society
and agent of change Mannheim formulated his special role for the intellectual and intelligentsia for
society. His sociology was only
possible with the congruence of an
intellectual elite aware of the
social structure. Mannheim defined
the sociology of knowledge (1925)
as that which ‘explores the functional dependence of each intellec~
tual standpoint on the differentiated social group reality standing
behind it, and which sets itself
the task of retracing the evolution
of the various standpoints’ (Essays
in the Sociology of Knowledge,
p190). He now begins, then, as he
moves more into sociology proper to
present the paradoxical nature of
ideas and ideology and distinguishes
between the Intrinsic interpreter
of intellectual ideas and the Extrinsic interpreter of ide~s. The
former Mannheim categorises as
ideological in that the interpreter
merely sees ideas as ideas, the
second he categorises as sociological in that the interpreter
demonstrates that ideas are ideologies. For Extrinsic interpretation to be successful the interpreter must satisfy the require40

ment of unearthing the existential
contexts in which phenomena occur
and in which they become functional.

Mannheim using this procedure discovered the existence of two ideological positions in contemporary
Germany showing the conflict between traditionalism and the bourgeoisie and thereby explaining that
social reality was proceeding necessarily through the conflict between classes. This perceptive
analysis, which has been barely
sketched, is further added to in
his discussion of the proletariat
where, from Marx, he claims that
the proletariat could not but
succeed as it had no tradition and
that it emerged as a class which
would develop its own new traditions
and aspirations. However, his
theory of Social Location whereby
an individual’s location within a
group or class delimits his life
chances and his vulgar Generational
theory of generations’ actions upon
epochs in actuality come down to
very little. They merely explain
why in his system certain members
feel more attracted to certain
generational groups than others in
that they feel a general commitment to other groups as these groups
represent in the alien’s mind a
movement in tune with present time.

Mannheim continued with the sociology of knowledge up until the early
thirties, producing Ideology and
Utopia in 1929 and ‘Wissenssoziologie’ in 1931. He continues to
draw the distinction between the
analytical accuracy of Extrinsic
Interpretation over immanent interpretation. He claims that like the
newly emerging cultural sociology
and psychoanalysis the sociology of
knowledge is not dependent on immanence but has access into the
reciprocal relationship between
mental products and existential
relations. The investigations of
the existential determination of
knowledge will reveal the character
of structural relationships of both
the psychic and social behaviour.

As Mannheim equates social existence with reality investigations
will reveal the nature of particular values. Modern society he
claims is increasingly dominated by
a reality which stems from the
socio-economic ordering of that
society. Within such a realm of
determination individual producers
of thought can only have the
ability to select those partial
aspects of society that are codetermined by their group in particular and their society in
general (Aspektstruktur). The exact
empirical character of existential
determination Mannheim leaves open
to the investigative sociologist as
do both Weber and Durkheim. Mannheim saw his sociology of knowledge
as the culmination of contemporary
existence and thereby as its adequate tool of investigation.

The individual being situated
within a group provides Mannheim
with his sociology as the group
members must necessarily share
similar values, norms and aspirations. This conclusion allows h~
to develop an ideal-type of socio-

logical imputation, which is not to
be confused with Lukacs’ formulation
of imputed class consciousness, the
former being grounded quite specifically in the Weberian categorisation of ideal-types. The sociological imputation method left
Mannheim to assert correctly the
partisan perspective of the social
or political researcher, but because his thought remained locked
outside a Marxist ontology (labour)
he was forced to further compound
his already established relativism.

This relativism Mannheim proceeds
to term ‘relationism’ to distinguish
it from positivism but it does not
in itself avoid the general criticism that while representing a valuable attack on positivism and empiricism it still remains a relativism. Remmling sees Mannheim’s
relativism as an advancement of
Marx’s definition of ideology even
though in the end Mannheim subjects,
implicitly, Marxism to an attack
based upon pragmatism. It is a
mistake on the part of Remmling
that he does not, to counter
Mannheim’s relativistic conservatism, take the full consequences of
Mannheim’s brief discussion of the
sociology of organisations in
Ideology and Utopia (which represents a counter argument to Weber)
to demonstrate the potential radicalism of many of Mannheim’s sociological theories and thereby tease
them apart from his metaphysics.

Even with the embryonic rise of
National Socialism, Mannheim
continued in his attempt to incorporate the representations of all
party interests into his theory of
the co-existence of ideologies.

It was precisely, in fact, during
this period that he sought to
further elaborate his theory of
intellectuals as the ‘free floating
intelligentsia’ (freischwebende
Intelligenz). This group which had
the privilege of being ‘relatively’

classless was to have a special
cognitive advantage to appreciate
society by being little involved
(and therefore less ideologically
motivated) in the economic process.

From this vantage point the intellectual had more access to partial
knowledge than other memqers of
society and further could synthesise a various number of partial
perspectives and thereby achieve a
pre-eminence in understanding the
nature of the social world. Because of this access to many partial
perspectives the intelligentsia
would be able not merely to enumerate them but to synthesise those
valuable aspects of them into a
method of dealing with modern
societies’ increasingly complex
problems. It was the intellectual
who was to be the guardian and to
avoid for society ‘what otherwise
would be a pitch-black night’. As
Remmling accurately points out,
just as Mannheim continued to develop his formulation of a freefloating intelligentsia that would
be the only hope of liberal salvation the establishment academics
themselves turned on the Weimar
Republic, actively supported the

GNPP and forged an alliance with
the largest battalions of German
capitalism. At just this period
Mannheim tortuously argues that
while Utopians are partisan, partial
and biased, they nevertheless remain
a force that encourages their own
downfall by the reaction of rationality anQ that it is in such a
manner that history, hopefully,
proceeds. The result of this
formulation was a bastardised
Marxism which replaced revolution
with ‘social adjustment’ in a
framework of structural-functionalism. For this social adjustment
to occur benignly Mannheim suggested a remodelled educational
practice where the learning of
skills and general values be added
to by the introduction of a curriculum that encouraged groups to
‘radically change’ society and
thereby precipitate with more speed
the natural occurrence of improvement that he had previously ‘discovered’ in ~e movement of society
in general. Capitalism was not a
stumbling block for Mannheim’s
thesis because within it he saw, in
the interplay of contractual commitments, a counter to monopolism and
therefore a counter to totalitarianism. These ideas were promulgated
among the effects of the crisis of
capitalism in the late twenties and
early thirties.

Mannheim began his career in
England as lecturer in sociology
at the LSE. In the pragmatic climate of English academic life he
found little difficulty in giving
full rein to his ideas of social
reconstruction and this final period
is marked by a virtual disappearance
of his emphasis on the sociology of
knowledge as the fundamental category of social investigation.

Mannheim’s first book explicitly on
social reconstruction (Man in
Society in an Age of Reconstruction,
1935) proposed a diagnosis for what
he regarded as the tWin-contradictions in western societies: namely
that laissez-faire principles were
necessarily uncontrolled principles
but were also necessarily those
which were supposed to bring social
equilibrium and a ‘free’ economy.

Here Mannheim echoes his theme of’

planned democracy and prescribes a
society built on harmonising the
psychic, societal and cultural
values of social groupings which
would be characterised by a ‘fundamental democratisation of society’

and the process of ‘increasing
interdependence’. This is to be
the tenor of all his future wo;k
in England. Remmling ends his book
wi th the paragraph: ‘.The waning of
the twentieth century is marked out
by political circumstances which
are as fluctuating as the forces
that overshadowed its cataclysmic
beginnings. But if this conflictual
historical period has also generated
various attacks on existential
meaninglessness and socio-cultural
paralysis – may the rediscovery of
Karl Mannheim as a member of this
humanist assault force augur the
more complete success of future
ventures.’ The author can remain
only gladdened that Mannheimianism

has been dignified by the recent
Reith Lectures of the present head
of LSE, Ralf Darendorf.

Just as the reconstruction prescriptions of Comte and the late
Durkheim remain only as sociological fossils so in the same tradition do those of Mannheim. It is
the inadequacy of Rernmling’s book
that the delineation of this progress is left untouched’ at any
sophisticated level. In precisely
not providing a symptomatic reading
of Ma~eim and thereby not allowing the problematic of his work
to emerge Remmling has provided a
study that is of little use to the
critical reader. Rernmling’s account
of Mannheim follows the tortuous
path of relativism but with less
sophistication than his subject.

He holds up Mannheim and his own
ideological project as, what in the
end is, an essay in pragmatism. In
consequence the book does not, as
it should do, encourage those
radical intellectuals who have not
yet done so to read Mannheim as one
of the important figures of twentieth
century thought.

Michael Erben
Quiet Flew the Don
A. Flew: Thinking about Thinking,
Fontana, 60p
I have done what perhaps none other
of your readers has done and that
is to count and classify the examples of faulty reasoning used by
Anthony Flew in his new book, the
publishers of which were kind enough
to send me a complimentary copy.

Ignoring short illustrations such
as substitutions for variables in
formal presentations of arguments
and ignoring, too, quotations from
other writers who agree with Flew,
I have discovered that nearly half
of his examples are political in
character; many of the others, as
we might have guessed, come from
writers on religion. Of the political examples, such as illustrations of fallacies, misrepresentation etc, those from left wing
sources such as the British Labour
movement, Communists and Trade
Unionists, outnumber examples from
the right by about five to one.

Indeed the only clear examples of
the latter are attributed to Hitler
(twice) and McCarthy (once). Something of the political character
of the book is seen in this question
from the penultimate page. (pl17)
It is, therefore, one-eyed as
well as short-sighted to welcome
the French or the Italian or any
other Communist parties as belated
converts to democracy; i f you have
no better reason than that they
now promise to work to obtain
power through the ballot box rather
than by revolution.

They still
deviously make their actual intentions clear by, among other
things, continuing to use the term
‘democracy’ to characterise the
e1ectora11y unalterable power
structures of the USSR and the

other Communist countries. There
was, by contrast something almost
exhilerating about the greater
frankness of Abu Zuhair Yahya,
Prime Minister of Iraq in 1968:

‘I came in on a tank, and only a
tank will evict me’ (quoted

Luttwak, p146) (faults of punctuation are in the original)
I am sure that Professor Flew does
not expect the charge of bias. He
has diligently searched for examples
from the advertising industry:

So much is in some circles urged
or assumed about the alleged evils
of this activity that the absence
of such illustrations may strike
many readers as curious.

But it
becomes less surprising when [.,re
consider how small a proportion
of total advertising output is argumentative prose. Certainly
when I checked through the advertisement pages of the various ne,,’spapers which come into our house
each week I found that most of
the column inches of both large
and small advertisements just
gave information about what was
‘For sale’ or ‘Wanted’. (pl07)
One can only admire the splendid
self-discipline with which he
steers clear of any suspicion of
political indoctrination in what,
after all, is a text book about
logic: ‘Let us waive, perhaps with
regret, questions about the much
abused profit motive.’ But later,
on the same page: ‘(Why, for instance, is our economic psychology
never enriched by reference to the
wages motive, the salary motive,
the fixed interest motive, or even
the best buy motive)’ (p95)
The dust jacket describes this as
‘an exercise in logical coaching’

without mentioning that it is also,
and not very surreptitiously, a
primer in political education. If
some Foreign Languages publishing
house in Eastern Europe had produced
such a textbook with illustrations
so blatently chosen for their
political point, Flew’s reaction
would have been predictable. That
he should use an elementary logic
text for these purposes, whether
disingenuously or not, is disgraceful. The alternative title ‘Or, do
I sincerely want to be right?’ has
the charm of ambiguity.

RA Sharpe
The Mind is not Sexual
Claire Tomalin, The Life and Death
of Mary Wollstonecraft, Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, £4.75, ISBN 0 297
76754 2
It was inevitable that Mary
wollstonecraft would be one of the
main beneficiaries of the renewed
interest in feminism. She is often
regarded as the first English feminist and yet no serious study exists
of her writings,’ and surprisingly
few people have read her most famous text, A VindicaLion of the
Rights of Woman. She was a political radical within a circle of
dissenting intellectuals whose ideas


were formed by the French Enlightenment and the events of the French
Revolution and yet Wollstonecraft’s
political, social and educational
ideas have never been adequately
examined. She led a chaotic personal life for which she became
notorious in her own lifetime and
at her death at the age of 38, her
husband, the political theorist
William Godwin, published a biography of her which subsequent
feminists disowned because of its
descriptions of her unconventional
sexual attitudes.

Four full-length biographie~have
appeared in England and America
since 1970 to replace Wardle’s 1951
study and I wish I could recommend
Claire Tomalin’s unreservedly. It
does attempt to bring all the
strands of Wollstonecraft’s life
together and it reads easily, but
compared with Emily SUnstein’s much
more substantial work, to be published in America this autumn under
the title A Different Face, The
Life of Mary Wollstonecraft (Harper
& Row), Tomalin’s is extremely

First of all Claire Tomalin gives
the impression of being simply unsympathetic to Mary Wollstonecraft
and uninterested in her ideas. A
minor but significant symptom of
this, is her use of ‘Mary’ throughout the book. For example on page
105 she writes: ‘Mary declared her
allegiance to the doctrines of
social equality’ and on page 171,
‘Mary’s feeling for what was feasible and right in human arrangements ••• makes her sound here
something like a founding mother
of Utopian Socialism’. There is
something patronising and infantilising about the use of Wollstonecraft’s Christian name
throughout and it made me wonder
what biographies of Karl, Vladimir,
Bertrand or Sigmund would read
like. The irritation it produces
in the reader is intensified by
Tomalin’s lofty comments on the
severe emotional.crises which Mary
Wollstonecraft experienced as a

result of her rejection of a
traditional female role. When
abandoned in Paris in 1793 by her
lover Imlay, with his child only a
few months.old, and the French
Revolution’s Terror going on under
her window and destroying many of
her friends, Wollstonecraft is
gently mocked:

Women who have gone to great
lengths to raise themselves above
the ordinary level of their sex
are likely to believe, for a while
at any rate, that they will be
loved the more ardently and
faithfully for their pains.


Virginia Woolf’s phrase to describe Imlay’s behaviour is surely
much nearer the mark – ‘in tickling
for minnows he hooked a dolphin’.

But much more importantly it is
necessary to insist that Mary
Wollstonecraft is not known to us
now because she led a fascinating
life and married a famous philosopher, but primarily because she
wrote about women and identified
herself with women at a time when
egalitarian notions were generally
assumed to apply only to men.

Claire Tomalin knows this, of
course, but her chapter on A Vindication is unsatisfactory. In
particular, one misses the detailed
examination of Wollstonecraft’s intellectual relationship with
Rousseau ‘with whom she was half
in love’ as she herself said, and
whose books she discussed in the
Analytical Review, early in her
intellectual development. She
clearly respected the Rousseau of
the Confessions and even went so
far as to excuse his abandonment of
his children on,the grounds that
their mother, Therese, was a ‘negative’ character; yet within a couple
of years she was to devote several
chapters of the Vindication to a
scathing attack of Rousseau’s Emile
for its educational suggestions for
women. In answer to Rousseau’s
advice to Sophia that she should be
submissive and coquettish in order
to keep her husband’s affection,

Wollstonecraft wrote,
After thus cramping a woman’s
mind, if, in order co keep it
_fair, he have not made it qui te
a blank, he advises her to reflect, that a reflecting man may
not yawn in her company, when he
is tired of caressing her. What
has she to reflect about who must

And on Rousseau’s views on the
transience of love she asks,
But, granting that woman ought to
be beautiful, innocent and silly,
to render her a more alluring and
indulgent companion; – what is
her understanding sacrificed for?

And why is all this preparation
necessary only, according to
Rousseau’s own account, to make
her the mistress of her husband,
a very short time? For no man
ever insisted more on the transient nature of love.

The belief in education and reason
for girls as well as boys is backed
up in Wollstonecraft’s writing by
outlines of the kinds of schools
she would like to see, .the subjects that both sexes (‘the mind
not being sexual’) ought to study
and by a general theory of education.

Wollstonecraft’s belief that the
education of girls ought to be
‘natural, free and sensible’ in
order to rid them of the obsession
with marriage and the emotions,
was backed up by the demand for
them to be trained for financial
independence from men. She had
particular scorn for the useless
lives of the rich which she had
experienced at first hand as a
governess, and this gave her a
strong class consciousness which
runs through all her writings.

It was to be a long time before
feminists again saw so clearly the
connections between education,
financial independence and class
and the position of women.

The chapters of Tomalin’s book
which deal with Mary wollstonecraft
in Paris during the Revolution, and
in particular with the atmosphere

“Full of arresting and important ideas – a book of weight
without gravity, in which the aim of an ‘open’ discourse
is remarkably achieved” – Professor Roy Edgley, University
of Sussex
“a triumph of self-publishing” – Time Out
THIS BOOK offers a critique of everyday communication relevant to political and educational practice. It illustrates how types of communication can be repressive, mystifying,
alienating and privatising.

THE AUTHOR edited Counter Course (Penguin Education 1972)
and has contributed to Rad1cal Philosophy, PhiloSoah and
Phenomenological Research, Human Context, Women an
and many ot er periodicals.


trcvor pa1cman

PRICE £1.50 from some bookshops or post free from Jean
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generated by the revolutionary
women’s clubs, are very suggestive.

Tomalin mentions Diderot’ s radical”
attitudes to sexuality, as expressed in the Supplement au Voyage
de Bougainville, and it would have
been fascinating to know how far
Wollstonecraft’s sexual ideas were
influenced by sueh writings during
her stay in Paris. She certainly
treated the subject ~ather primly
in the Vindication (written before
. her stay in Paris), and her first
passionate sexual affair, with
Imlay, would have m~de her much
more receptive to Diderot.

Condorcet was also involved in
writing about womens rights as
citizens during Wollst0necraft’s
stay in Paris and in his A Sketch
for a Historical Picture of the
Progress of the Human Mind (1795)
he echoes Wollstonecraft’s educational demands:

.•• for not only would education
be extended to women as well as
men, but it can only really be
taken proper advantage of when it
has the support and encouragement
of the mothers of the family ••.

Would it not produce, what has
until now been no more than a
dream, national manners of a mildness and purity, formed not by
proud asceticism, not by pypoerisy,
not by the fear of shame or religious terrors but by freely contracted habits that are inspired
by nature and acknowledged by

In his essay of 1790 on the admission of women into full citizenship,
Condorcet blamed the women’s personalisation of issues on their deficient education and social conditioning and the treatment of his
ideas in this book made me long for
a collection in English of writings
on the women questioned by Condorcet
and other Enlightenme~t thinkers.

I am grateful to Claire Tomalin
for making me go back aftd read Mary
Wb11stonecraft. Unlike many of her
contemporaries, Wbll~tonecraft never
turned against the French Revolution, believing that ‘malevolence
has been gratified by the errors
·they have committed, attributing
that imperfection to the theory they
adopted, which was applicable only
to the folly of their practice.’

She had a dislike of the coming
factory ,age because of the inequalities it produced,
•.• th~s are whole knots of men
turned into machines to enable a
keen speculator to become wealthy;
and every noble principle of nature is eradica ted by making a
~n pass his life in stretching
wire, pointing a pin, heading a
nail, or spreading a sheet of
paper on a plain surface.

It is good that there is enough
interest in Wollstonecraft to produce four biographies in four years.

I . wish this book! had taken
us rather further in our understanding.

Jean McCrindle

Books Received
MITCHELL, J., Psychoanalysis and
Feminism, London, Allen Lane,
1974, £4.00
SHKLOVSKY, V., Ma!iakovsky and his
Circle, London, Pluto, 1975,
£4.50 (£2 ppr)
HIRST, P.Q., Durkheim, Bernard and
Epistemology, London, RKP, £4.95
GOLDMANN, L., Towards a sociology
of the Novel, London, Tavistock,
1975, £5.25
LIVELY, J., Democracy, Oxford,
Blackwell, 1975, £3.00
PARSONS, L.P., Man East and West,
Amsterdam, B.R. Grunner, 1975
KROPOTKIN, Prince,Ethics: Origins
and DevelQpment, Dorchester,
Prism, 1975, £1.95
MARKOVIC, M., The Contemporary
Marx, London, Spokesman, 1974, £4
The Socialist Idea, London,
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974, £6
GOLDMAN, H., Emma Patterson,
London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1975
ANDERSON, P., Passages from
Antiquity to Feudalism, London,
NLB, 1975, £5.00
ANDERSON, P., Lineages of the
Absolut’istl State, London, NLB,
1975, £8.50
OAKLEY, A., Housewife, London,
Allen Lane, 1975
WITTGENSTEIN, L., Philosophische
Grammatik, Oxford, Blackwell, 1975
WITTGENSTEIN, L., Philosophische
Bermerkungen; , Oxford, B1ackwell,
POULANTZAS, N., Political Power
and Social Classes, London, NLB,
POULANTZAS, N., Classes in Contem:porary Capitalism, London, NLB,
1975, £7.00
FEYERABEND, P., Against Method,
London, NLB, 1975, £5.75
HOFFMAN, J., Marxism and the Theory
of Praxis, London, Lawrence &.

Wishart, 1975, £5.75′

BIRCHALL, I., Workers Against ‘the
Monolith, London, Pluto, 1975, £1
PIRSIG, R.,Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance, London,
Bodley Head, 1974, £2.95
SPILSBURY, R., Providence Lost:, A
Critique of Darwinism, London,
NLB, 1975
PANNEKOEK, A., Lenin as Philosopher
Londo~, Merlin, 1975, £2 (£1 ppr)

TAYLOR, C., Hegel, London,
Cambridge UP, 1975
HEGEL, G., Lectures in World
History, London, Cambridge UP,
PELCZYNSKI, Z.A. (ed~), Hegel’s
Political Philosophy, London,
Cambridge UP, 1971
BARTHES, Roland, SIZ, London,
Cape, 1975
WEST, A., Crisis in Cri ticism, .

London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1975
OUTHWAITE, W., Understanding Social
Life, London, Allen & Unwin, 1975
£3.38 (£1.85 pp~)
HOLLIS, N. & NELL, G., Rational
Economic Man, London, CUP, 1975
PATEMAN, T., Language, Truth and
Politics, Newton Poppleford, Jean
Stroud and Trevor Pateman, 1975,
HINDESS, B. & HIRST, P.Q., PreCapitalist Modes of Production,
London, RKP, 1975, £7.50
HEIDEGGER, M., The End of Philosophy,London, Souvenir Press,
1975, £3.50
MAC LE OD , C., Lovelife, Rev. ed.

British Columbia, Creston, Box:

Solus Impress, 1975, $5.00
DANIELS, N. (ed.), Reading Rawls,
Oxford, Blackwell, 1975, £7.75
(£3.75. ppr)
O’FLINN, P., Them and Us in
Literature, London, Pluto, 1975
SILVERMAN, D., Reading Castaneda,
London, RKP, 1975, £3.95 (£1.94 p)
GORZ, A., Socialism & Revolution,
London, Allen Lane, 1975, £4.00
Critique of Anthropology
The Fox
Radical Science Journal
Socialist Revolution
Amongst contributors to this issue:

Vincent di Norcia is at La~entian
University, Sudbury, Ontario; John
Ibbett at Kingston Polytechnic,
Madan Sarup at Goldsmiths
College, London; Ross Poole at
Macquarie University, Australia;
Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer at
the University of Durham; John
Tagg at Goldsmiths College, London;
Alison Assiter is a graduate student
at the University of Sussex; Nicki
Jackowska is an undergraduate at

The content of volume 1 number 1 concentrates on a
revaluation of art-practice. The wri tings include
A Critique of Modernism: Does jt have to wear social
bl~nders in order to be ambitious? Art and Politics:

Is there the chance of a choice about the k~nd otsociety
artists want their work to reflect? Art and Power:

What good is a critique of institutions? Contempora~
art and the cthic of Consumershi : Is there a
pro ucer consumer re ations ~p egemony in art? Art
and Economics: Is there an economic functjon to innovat~on’?

Tfie Bankruptc of art education: I s the art
school a citizenshipactory? Art History: Is it the
propagator of the cogni ti ve monopoly or moderni srn?

The cult of the art super-star: Are professional art
car.~(‘ers neutral or the runct~on of a particular world
view? Also: Looking back on the art workers coalition …

the failure of conceptual art..; •• doubts about protest


Volu!”e 1 Number 1 $3.00 Volume 1 Number 2 (forthcoming this fall) $3.00 plus postage and handlIng.

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