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54 Reviews

REVIEWS

Isidor Feinstein Stone, The Trial of Socrates, London, Cape,
1988, xi + 282pp, £12.95 hb, ISBN 022402591-0
Near the end of his life 1. F. Stone turned away from the
hidden history of US politics to look at an older story, the trial
of Socrates. Always a defender of democracy and freedom of
speech, he could not understand how free and democratic
Athens could have executed this aging philosopher. Digging
beneath the ‘official history’ presented by Plato, he aims to
give a more accurate picture of Socrates and reconstruct the
case for the prosecution, so we can understand how he appeared to his fellow citizens.

His investigations took him into ancient Greek literature,
history and philosophy. His method was to concentrate on the
primary sources, and he taught himself ancient Greek to
overcome the obstacles inevitably introduced by translators.

While he admires Socrates’ personal courage and defends his
right to speak his mind, Stone has none of the traditional
reverence for him as a person and completely rejects his ideas.

Stone’s conclusion is that Socrates was disliked by the
people of Athens because of his philosophy. He claims that
there were three important philosophical disagreements between Socrates and his fellow citizens. Probably the chief
difference was Socrates’ anti-democratic political philosophy. In his view, the real complaint against Socrates was that
he subverted (politically) the youth by turning them against
the Athenian democracy.

The second difference arose from Socrates’s beliefs about
virtue and knowledge. Protagoras argued that all citizens can
offer advice about political decisions because they all have a
share in virtue. He assumes that virtue is necessary to take
part in political life but sees virtue as a disposition to behave
correctly. For Socrates someone has virtue not because they
behave correctly or have good character but because they
have knowledge, and knowledge is knowledge of absolutely
correct definitions. Since most people could not provide such
definitions, they had no knowledge and were unfit to play a
role in the political affairs of the Athenian city-state.

The third difference between Socrates and his fellow citizens was that he preached withdrawal from the political life of
the city-state. Politics is inevitably dirty and leads to the
contamination of the soul. The only way to keep one’s moral
integrity is to be apolitical. Stone argues that most Athenians
would have seen participation in political life as a duty, and
cites a law enacted by Solon that people who do not take sides
during an important political struggle should be deprived of
their citizenship.

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

According to Stone, Socrates was tried and convicted for
exercising his freedom of speech. Socrates’ constant criticism
was tolerated after the anti-democratic coups of 411 and 404
BC, but the unsuccessful coup of 401 BC made the Athenians
more nervous and soon thereafter Socrates was put on trial.

Stone believes that in the light of political events after 411 BC
the trial of Socrates is understandable, but that it was still
unjust, and against the spirit if not the letter of the Athenian
tradition of free speech. He argues that Socrates went out of
his way to antagonize the jury, did not really try to defend
himself, rejected the possibility of escape or a lighter penalty,
and so brought his punishment on his own head. He admits,
however, that Socrates could not have consistently argued
that his prosecution was a violation of the right to free speech
because he did not himself accept this as a right.

In some ways the structure of the book is disjointed, but
most of the digressions are interesting and· related to the
general theme, so this is not a serious drawback for the reader.

In Chapters 2 and 3 Stone gives a political analysis of parts of
the Iliad, and in Chapters 9 and 10 he takes a look at Socrates
in the eyes of the comic poets. As might be expected, he
discusses some passage or other in most of Plato’s dialogues.

In the Epilogue he rejects the traditional view that other
philosophers (Anaxagoras, Diagoras, and Protagoras) were
also persecuted in Athens. Stone argues that this claim is an
invention of Plutarch and other later Roman writers.

In an extensive and valuable review in the New York
Review of Books, M. F. Burnyeat claims that one of Stone’s
great achievements is to give a ‘vivid and detailed portrayal of
Athenian political experience’ in the period leading up to the
trial of Socrates. While Stone has much to say about the
political background of Socrates’ life, I believe that another
of Stone’s achievements is to explain the political impact of
Socrates’ philosophy on contemporary Athenian society.

For example, he argues that Socrates’ political philosophy
was not only anti-democratic, but that it was anti-oligarchic
as well. The main political issue of the day was the extent of
citizenship. Democrats wanted more people with less wealth
to be citizens while the oligarchs wanted fewer people with
more wealth. Both sides assumed that all citizens were equal,
whether there were few of them or many, and understood that
being a citizen carried with it the right to take part in political
life.

By contrast, Socrates rejected the traditional conception
of the polis and ‘saw the human community not as a selfgoverning body of citizens with equal rights but as a herd that
required a shepherd or king’. Nobody was a citizen, all were
35

subjects. Socrates introduced a totally new conception of the
state, and was outside of the normal political debates of the
day. He believed that people were subjects of a state, not
citizens in a state.

Stone also draws attention to the political implications of
Socrates’ account of knowledge. As we have seen, Socrates
argues against democracy because it puts political power in
the hands of people who have no knowledge, and Stone’s
view is that Plato rejects it for essentially the same reason.

This analysis of the Socratic/Platonic argument against democracy is quite different from some recent discussions, for
example that found in Plato by R. M. Hare. When he discusses Plato’s political theory, Hare chooses to focus on the
assumption that values are objective. His view is that Plato’s
argument ‘is more secure than it looks at first sight’ and
cannot be rejected without rejecting widely held views on the
objectivity of values. Throughout his discussion, however,
Hare assumes (with SOcrates and Plato) that ‘only a certain
section of the population are rational and informed’, and that

‘only some, not all, people are qualified to pronounce on
questions of value’ . Hare wants to avoid Plato’s authoritarian
conclusions without giving up Plato’s assessment of the intellectual capacities of the majority of the population.

Stone rejects this assumption about people’s intellectual
abilities. He argues against the approach to knowledge used to
justify the claim that most people do not have any. Since
knowledge does not entail the requirement to produce absolute definitions, it does not follow that the citizens of Athens
have no knowledge because they cannot produce them. Stone
realizes that Plato’s authoritarian conclusions do not follow
from the objectivity of values without the assumption that
most of the population have no knowledge. Hare gives us one
way to avoid Plato’s argument while Stone gives us another.

Burnyeat and others who have reviewed Stone’s book
insist that Stone has little patience with the ‘inconclusive
meanderings’ of philosophy, but I think this is a misunderstanding of his position. Stone is not critical of philosophy in
general, only a certain type of philosophy, the type practised
by Socrates and Plato. Socrates was the first to see philosophy
as the search for definitions, but Stone believes the search for
such things is a wild goose chase (Chapter 6) and he approves
of Hobbes because of his opposition to the Socratic approach
to philosophy. To reject the search for absolute definitions is
to part company with Socrates, but it does not mean parting
company with all philosophy.

36

As I mentioned above, Stone is quite critical of Plato’s
approach to knowledge. He points to a passage in the Theaetetus in which Socrates leads Theaetetus to conclude that
‘he who is ignorant of knowledge does not understand cobblery or any other art’ (p. 72). Stone’s reply to this is that the
shoemaker does in fact know something. He knows how to
make shoes because he can make a pair to suit his customer’s
requirements. In effect his objection is that the shoemaker
knows something because he can do something successfully.

Many would not accept this as a refutation of Plato’s theory of
knowledge. They would introduce the distinction between
knowing how and knowing that and argue that Plato is wrong
here because cobblery is an instance of knowing how to do
something. In this case, if one can make shoes then one has
knowledge of cobblery, but the Platonic position can still be
maintained for knowing that something is true.

This is not the end of the argument, however. If the
distinction is rejected, and all knowledge seen as related to
action, Stone’s argument would stand. His rejection of Plato’s
theory of knowledge fits in well with the outlook ofthose who
would argue that knowledge is a guide to action and that its
correctness is proved by practice. Stone’s rejection of Plato is
not a rejection of all philosophy, but itself can be seen as
assuming a positive position about the nature of knowledge.

Central to Stone’s account of the trial of Socrates is his
claim that his political philosophy was anti-democratic. Such
a position is by no means original, and can be found in the
book Class Ideology and Ancient Political Theory (1978) by
E. M. and N. Woods. Some writers argue that Stone comes to
the wrong conclusion about Socrates because he confuses the
real Socrates with Plato’s Socrates in the dialogues, but the
evidence Stone presents is from Xenophon, not Plato. In fact
some of his evidence is the same as W. K. C. Guthrie’s in A
History of Greek Philosophy, vol. In. Citing passages from
the Memorabilia, Guthrie attributes to Socrates.an argument
against the lot and a condemnation of the popular election of
officials. In his Political Theory of Plato and Aristotle Ernest
Barker also comes to the same conclusion about Socrates that
Stone does, arguing that ‘the anti-democratic trend of his
teaching is obvious; and it proves the Athenian democracy not
to have been altogether mistaken in its dislike of Socrates’.

However, not all scholars agree with Stone. An extended
criticism of Stone’s position has been made by Gregory Vlastos in the journal Political Theory. He concedes that Socrates
appeared anti-democratic to his fellow citizens but argues that
he in fact prefers Athens’ democratic constitution to all other
existing political systems, including Sparta. Vlastos reconstructs the political philosophy of Xenophon’s Socrates,
shows that it is quite different from the moral/political views
of Socrates in the early dialogues, and argues that the views of
Plato’s Socrates were (roughly) democratic. He then tries to
give some reasons for thinking that Plato’s Socrates is more
historically accurate than Xenophon’s.

It seems to me that without fully realizing it Stone has
uncovered a long-standing dispute among specialists. Burnet
and Heinrich Maier, as well as Barker and Guthrie, line up
with Stone, while Vlastos and Julia Annas argue the other
side. Stone may not be a professional classics scholar, but his
conclusions about Socrates are not wild or fanciful.

Many commentators wish to argue that Stone’s account of
Socrates is too political, but to me this is one of its strong
points. Stone is looking for the political implications of Socrates’ views, while his critics claim that Socrates was just a
philosopher and nothing else. For example in his review for
Commentary Donald Kagan insists that Socrates was a philosopher, not a politician, and he was martyred on behalf of
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

the freedom to seek the truth by inquiry. However, Stone does
not argue that Socrates was a politician: he tries to show that
Socrates’ philosophy had political implications, and these can
be seen by looking at their relation to other ideas current at the
time. In the Times Literary Supplement Jasper Griffin writes
that he cannot believe that Socrates was as political as Stone
makes out. He thinks Socrates was a danger not because of his
attitude to democracy but because he questioned traditional
moral values. Still Stone argues that the traditional values
supported the democracy, so questioning the traditional values undermined it; his point is that Socrates’ moral views had
political implications.

Vlastos has the most sophisticated reply to Stone. He
argues that Socrates has a unique moral end, perfection of the
soul. This moral end has political implications, because it
destroys the oligarchic distinction between the necessary
people (banausoi), who were inferior and should be excluded
from citizenship, and the worthwhile people (kaloi kagathoi),
who should not. From this he concludes that Socrates’ philosophy was democratic.

Vlastos may well be right that Socrates rejected the oligarchic distinction between the necessary people and the worthwhile people, but one of Stone’s points is that Socrates
rejected both the democratic and the oligarchic conception of
the polis. He replaces the distinction between necessary and
worthwhile people with another one, that between rulers and
their subjects. If Socrates did reject the distinction Vlastos
draws our attention to, that fact alone may not allow us to conclude his views were democratic.

Even a quick reading of Stone’s book makes it clear that it
is not a textbook in philosophy or ancient Greek history. Still
it has qualities many academic books lack. It is readable,
lively, passionate, and interesting. Above all, it is written by
someone with real political insight in an area where political
issues are frequently ignored or buried. I would recommend it
to anyone with the slightest interest in ancient Greek philosophy. It may not be the last word on Socrates, but it is certainly
a good start.

Ken Sievers

MOVEMENTS OF THOUGHT
Gerhard Funke, Phenomenology: Metaphysics or Method?,
trans. David Parent, Athens, Ohio University Press, 1988, xv
+ 264pp, £26.55 hb, ISBN 0-8214-0719-8
History has dealt unkindly with the reputation of the acknowledged creator of the ‘phenomenological movement’ . Edmund
Husserl died in 1938, aged 79, but the fiftieth anniversary of
his death passed unnoticed. Some analytic philosophers have
praised him, faintly, for his commitment to making philosophy into a ‘rigorous science’; they have treated his idea of
‘intuition of essences’ as a brave attempt – highly commendable in a ‘continental philosopher’ – to replicate G. E. Moore’ s
quest for ‘simple, indefinable, unanalysable objects of
thought’ . Others, noticing his programme of ‘bracketing off’

the natural belief in the actual existence of the world, have
regarded him as a born-again subjective idealist, who obstinately refused to acknowledge the real world and the achievements of modern science. It has been comfortably presumed
that his attempts to explore the structures of the ‘transcendental ego’ were just a throwback to wishful pre-scientific superstitions.

Nor has Husserl benefitted from the popularity of those
who followed him into phenomenology a generation or two
later. Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty were not unwilling to be seen as having progressed beyond Husserl’s oldfangled ‘rationalism’. They replaced his ‘transcendental’

phenomenology with ‘existential’ and ‘descriptive’ varieties
which promised to deal with real human beings, situated in
the living world of language, emotion, the body, sexuality,
poetry, politics and history. Evidently, only the dullest scholastic could want to return to a pallid Husserlian transcendental ego after that.

From this point of view, the best thing about Husserl was
that at the end of his career, when he wrote The Crisis of
European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology, he
became slightly less stiff and boring, and even tried to catch
up with interesting questions about human history and the
‘life-world’. Still, he was pictured as a bewildered old man,
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

lingering on the platform unaware that the train had left the
station long ago. And the waves of condescension which have
since engulfed the ‘Existential Phenomenologists’ in their
turn have not – or not yet – led to a review of their own
judgements of Husser!.

Gerhard Funke of the University of Mainz might be classified as a Husserlian loyalist, and Phenomenojogy: Metaphysics or Method? is an excellent English version of a rich and
programmatic work which, though it appeared in German in
1966, is not significantly out of date. In it, Funke attempts to
dismantle the prejudicial frameworks through which Husserl
is customarily approached, so as to reveal a range of strenuous
reflections on history, subjectivity, truth and scientificity
which have few rivals in the entire archive of Western philosophy.

Funke believes that phenomenology is not just one
amongst several optional styles of philosophy. It is, rather, a
distillation of the practices of rigorous thinking as such. Phenomenology focuses on the intentional bonds, or ‘transcen-

37

dental connections’, between subjective ‘performances’ and
the various kinds of objects to which they are directed. It must
sedulously resist every temptation to fashion a ‘universal
image of the world’, for to do so would be to relapse from
careful phenomenology into dogmatic metaphysics, the ruin
of philosophical thought. Phenomenology aims to be a science, but it differs from all other sciences in that its results can
never be recorded and stored up for future use; its only goal is
‘to dissolve familiar contexts’ – including complacent scientism. Phenomenology is essentially disquieting; it is not a
system, but a process: ‘the interminable process of the disillusionment of favoured absolutised expectations’ . Phenomenology is ‘consciousness of phenomena in the form of the abolition of matter-of-courseness (Selbstverstiindlichkeit),.

But if this is so then perhaps, as Funke argues, phenomenology did not stand in need of the ‘historicisation’ to which
(as we have been repeatedly told) it was subjected by
Husserl’s revisionary successors. Husserlian phenomenology
was always rigorously historical all the way through. For it
was, or rather is, always new; and its future operations can
never be anticipated. ‘The phenomena treated in philosophy,’

says Funke, ‘are in an eminent way finitely historical phe-

I

,, .

~

nomena.’ They are the occasions when ‘anything whatever
that was previously taken for granted loses its matter-ofcourse character’ . Hence, Funke argues, the investigations of
historicity and the ‘life-world’ in Husserl’s last works are not
a break with classical phenomenology; they are, on the contrary, a consistent elaboration of its recognition that ‘thinking
must be topical and cannot draw its examples from utopia’.

Funke also turns the tables on the idea of a ‘phenomenological movement’ which is supposed to have gone beyond the
aridities of Husserlian ‘methodology’ into the lush land of
‘ontology’ and ‘metaphysics’. His main target is, of course,
38

Heidegger, whom he interprets (very heavy-handedly, no
doubt) as attempting to construct a new, extra-historical absolute in the form of the ‘existential structures of Dasein’. This
is the dogmatic ground, according to Funke, from which
Heidegger projected his career as a phenomenologist beyond
Husserl’s gravitational influence. Unfortunately, Heidegger
failed to note that his ‘existential structures’ could be apprehended only in correlation with indelibly rooted, finite, historical acts of consciousness. It is as if Heidegger and his
followers were trying to ‘fall out of the correlation and discover something eternal … which suddenly (one knows not
how or why) no longer remains bound to the context of
understanding and its powers’ .

So in effect, according to Funke, Heidegger was seduced
by the debilitating attractions of Rousseauism. Historicity,
which Husserl had recognised as the origin of philosophical
thought, was domesticated and converted into ‘a strictly foreground phenomenon’. Thus Heidegger neglected ‘the most
important outcome’ of Husserl’s thought: the unflinching
acknowledgment ‘that truth cannot be discovered by any
‘return to the mothers’ of whatever kind, but that it always
emerges now, today, here, when farewell is said to the things
reason takes for granted’.

Phenomenology and psychoanalysis are often compared
on the basis of their common concern with how people try to
make sense of their world, as distinct from how that world
might be in itself, from no particular point of view. But there
is an institutional similarity in addition to this theoretical one:

both psychoanalysis and phenomenology present themselves
as ‘movements’, each tracing its origin to a series of works
written in German by a founding father, over a period stretching from 1900 to the beginning of the Second World War; and
each movement was savaged by Hitlerism and scattered forlornly round the world as a result. More than any other wouldbe scientific enterprises (including Marxism).phenomenology and psychoanalysis reproduce themselves by retelling
tales of their past, repairing and translating the canonical
texts, rearranging their pantheon of household Gods, and
offering new interpretations of the spirit of their tradition in
order to present their own revisions as proper developments
of it. Funke’s book is not, however, an attempt to return ‘the
phenomenological movement’ to Husserlian fundamentals. It
is, rather, an attack on the very idea of such loyalties and
‘movements’ in philosophy; especially, it is an attack on the
idea of ‘The Phenomenological Movement’ , as memorialised
in Herbert Spiegelberg’s monumental book of that title, which
first appeared in 1959 and was substantially revised for a new
edition in 1982. Contrary to Spiegelberg (and, by implication,
to later commentators who have told tales about the logical
progress from phenomenology, through structuralism, to deconstruction) Funke denies that fundamental thinking such as
Husserl’s has an objective location in a shelf of alternative
kinds of philosophy between which we philosophical consumers may make our choice.

It is a profound thought. In 1938, Husserl himself wrote:

‘All I claim is the right to speak according to my best lights primarily to myself and correspondingly to others – as one
who has lived through a philosophical existence in all its
seriousness.’ If a philosophical existence such as Husserl’ s
has some claim on our attention, it is perhaps not as part of
some general ‘movement’ , but as a collection of finite, unique,
and idiosyncratic acts of resistance to the soothing generalisations of orthodox intellectual history.

Jonathan Ree
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

ANNA F.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Anna Freud: A Biography, New
York, Summit Books, 1988, 527pp, $24.95, ISBN 0-67161696-X
Anna Freud was always reluctant to become the subject of a
biography. Approached by the German author Uwe Peters,
she agreed to answer factual questions, but no more. When
Peters’ biography appeared in 1979, she supplied its hapless
author with a list of errors he had made, criticised him for ‘not
knowing enough’ and opined that the whole enterprise had
been unfortunate. She also made it clear that she hoped that no
English edition would appear until after her death; her wish
was granted, and A Life Dedicated to Children did not appear
until 1985. She further confided to Muriel Gardiner that she
had every intention of allowing the past to die with her. Here,
she is very much her father’s daughter. Freud is known to
have destroyed personal papers, and looked forward to leading the biographers astray. His Antigone may have had doubts
about biographers, but the past was carefully preserved, with
every letter filed, as though in the hope that a faithful biographer would appear.

Elisabeth Young-Bruehl cannot be criticised for not knowing enough and her fidelity is beyond reproach. Her biography was written at the invitation of Anna Freud’s literary
executor, and she was granted access to a mass of unpublished
papers and letters spanning a period of almost seventy years.

The result is the authorized biography, and the most complete
account we are likely to read. As well as providing an intimate
account of an exceptional life, it also has a vital contribution
to make to the general history of psychoanalysis, covering the
heroic period, the diaspora of two wars and post-war reconstruction and consolidation, though this is also the period
when the direct link with the founding fathers is at last
broken. Young-Bruehl traces a history of institutional
struggle and of personal rivalries and loyalties with admirable
clarity.

Born in 1895, Anna was the youngest of the Freud children
and in her own view the twin of psychoanalysis, competing
with it for her father’s attention. She certainly had a legitimate
claim to being the daughter of psychoanalysis itself. She sat
listening in on the Wednesday meetings at the age of 14, went
into analysis with her father at 23, and became a training
analyst at 30. Her role in the history of psychoanalysis is the
stuff of legends. Sometimes seen as the ‘vestal virgin’ – the
phrase is Marie Bonaparte’s – sometimes courted as the princess whose hand in marriage would provide the keys to
Freud’s kingdom (the young Ernest Jones emerges in a particularly bad light here), she was of course the pioneer of child
analysis, displaying constant devotion to a specialty which
has always been given second-class status. Child analysis
without Anna Freud is almost inconceivable. In this domain,
her great rival was Melanie Klein and their differing views,
explored and explained with great lucidity by the author, still
provide the major clinical and theoretical orientations here.

Sometimes seen as a remote figure preoccupied with her
identification with Freud, Miss Freud, as she was habitually
known, proves to have been a woman with a remarkable gift
for friendship, usually with women (Lou Andreas-Salome,
Marie Bonaparte, and above all Dorothy B urlingham, her
tireless associate at the Hampstead Clinic), but also with older

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

male analysts like Aichhorn. The strictly orthodox guardian
of the paternal heritage also proves capable of entering into
the imaginary world of children with remarkable empathy,
and could quite justifiably claim that, although celibate, she
had ‘many, many children’. Even her social and psychoanalytic conservatism appears to have been less rigid than might
be supposed: although she continued to regard homosexuality
as something to be cured, she was, later in life, able to accept
that homosexuals could be accepted for training analyses. It is
a measure of psychoanalytic conservatism that one is so
struck by this unexpected concession.

Despite the fascination of Young-Bruehl’s narrative and
the sophistication of her portrait of Anna F., certain doubts
must arise as to her methodology and mobilization of analytic
theory as an explanatory schema. The temptation is obviously
difficult to avoid, if only in that Anna Freud had little or no
life outside psychoanalysis; being granted membership of the
Committee was, for instance, ‘a very beautiful birthday present’. But it can slide into a glib mythologization, as in the
claim that the departure of the sons (Adler, Stekel, Jung,
Rank, Reich) left the daughters (Freud and Klein) free to fight
over the father. Analysis allows the young Anna to transmute

fantasy activity into the social activity of writing. A study of
sublimation is in itself an act of sublimation, and Anna pays
the price by becoming an ascetic. Her later concentration on
the Oedipal period and apparent lack of interest in, say,
female psychology and sexuality, are held to be a reflection of
an ‘unresolved father complex’. In purely psychical-biographical terms, this is not unconvincing, but the claim raises
some important epistemological and theoretical questions. If
theoretical innovation in psychoanalysis is purely a matter of
personal insight and self-analysis, its history becomes a
chronicle of exceptional individuals. Ultimately, this exposes
the whole of psychoanalysis to the objection that it is no more
than the cumulative expression of the neuroses and unanalyzed resistance of its practitioners.

The psychoanalytic history of psychoanalysis is often

39

written in terms of a bizarre family romance, and such histories almost inevitably involve loyalties on the part of the
author. Young-Bruehl is no exception; Klein’s ‘depressive
position’ is deemed ‘quite un-Freudian’, presumably because
Anna Freud did not accept the notion. Righteous psychoanalysis is, then, defined in terms of absolute loyalty to father
and daughter. One begins to wonder just whose family romance is at stake here. One is also sometimes reminded of
those Marxist histories of Marxism which are constructed so
as to justify the correctness of a contemporary line. This can
lead to a rather odd picture of the development of psychoanalysis as a whole; Lacan is conspicuous by his absence,
largely, one suspects, because Anna Freud ‘took a dislike to
him’ in 1936, the year of the mirror phase paper. More
significantly, the rather dubious manoeuvrings of Anna’s
friend and ally Bonaparte, and the role she played in the
schism within French psychoanalysis, are passed over in
silence. Whilst Lacan is obviously of no great importance to
the biographer of Anna Freud, Bonaparte is not a minor figure

in this narrative, and it would appear that loyalty to her and
Anna Freud outweighs broader historical considerations.

Methodological doubts aside, this is also a most moving
account of a life which was not without its tragedies. In some
ways, it is the personal detail that stays with the reader. Four
of Anna’ s aunts died in the concentration camps. They had
been left behind in Vienna in the naive belief that four elderly
women with no interest in psychoanalysis would not be
harmed. Anna Freud’s comment is chillingly laconic and to
the point: ‘The Nazis wanted their appartments.’ After Burlingham’s death, Anna consoles herself by wearing Dorothy’s
sweaters, stroking a last memento of a friend she had never
been seen to touch. The last, haunting image comes from
1982, the year of Anna Freud’s death: a shrunken old lady sits
by the pond on Hampstead Heath wrapped in her father’s
winter coat, which she had carefully preserved since his death
in 1939. It is a difficult image to forget.

Davld Macey

NATURAL RIGHTS
Tom Regan, Animal Rights, London, Routledge, 1988, xv +
400pp, £7.95 pb, ISBN 0-415-00760-7
Arne Naess, Ecology, Community and Lifestyle, trans. and
edited by David Rothenberg, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989, xiii + 212pp, £25 hb, ISBN 0-521-34406-9
Just about everyone is concerned about the environment
nowadays, but different people are concerned about different
bits of it. Tom Regan first published his book in 1984 in an
attempt to give the struggle for animal rights a secure philosophical basis. Many have agreed that he manages to do so,
but at the cost of reducing the number of animals to whom we
can ascribe rights to a minimum. His basic strategy is to use
the kinds of arguments which have been advanced to secure
rights for humans, regardless of colour, religion etc., and to
extend them to the realm of animals. The strategy depends on
showing how some animals are sufficiently like human beings
to make it inconsistent to argue for human rights and yet to
disallow the same rights for animals. Clearly only some kinds
of animals are even remotely like human beings, and so his
strategy will, prima facie, condemn large swathes of the
animal kingdom to rightlessness. The animals which are rescued are those which have ‘perception, memory, desire, belief, self-consciousness, intention [and] a sense of the future’,
and Regan remarks that ‘these are the leading attributes of the
mental life of normal mammalian animals aged one or more’ .

The possession of rights is thus restricted principally to mammals, and while this might satisfy the professional philosopher it is of limited use to the wider animal rights movement,
and of even less value to those who (in these environmentally-conscious days) want to develop an ethic for the environment as a whole. In an aside on environmental ethics
Regan remarks that the challenges of producing a rightsbased environmental ethic have not been successfully confronted. He argues that the difficulties are formidable because
of the problem of ‘reconciling the individualistic nature of
moral rights with the more holistic view of nature emphasized
by many of the leading environmental thinkers’. This is true,
40

but he compounds the problem by making it a requirement of
rights-bearers that they have something like the mental life of
human beings. In effect his monumental work shows us that
traditional rights discourse can only be applied to a small
proportion of the non-human world, and this is where the
Norwegian Arne Naess comes in.

In 1972 Naess gave a lecture in Bucharest in which he
drew a distinction between ‘shallow’ and ‘deep’ ecology,
with the former amounting to a concern for die environment
for the sake of human beings, and the latter being a concern
for the environment (very widely understood) for its own
sake. He held then, and holds now, that only a deep ecological
perspective will provide for a sustainable life for human

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

beings on the planet, because shallow ecology merely reproduces the sin (not too strong a word) which has got us into the
mess in the first place: that of regarding the environment as
having value only in so far as it is of use to us as human
beings. In the deep ecological camp this has led to much
spilling of ink in the attempt to develop exactly that which
Regan says is so problematic – an ethic for the environment,
including not just non-mammalian animals, but trees, rivers
and stones as well. Some deep ecologists have tried to extend
the traditional rights discourse used by Regan into this new
territory and have come up against the problems he outlines,
such as that of demonstrating the intrinsic value of the nonhuman environment. Others, and Naess is among them, have
substantially abandoned this strategy in favour of what might
be called a ‘change of consciousness’ approach. This involves
demanding that people experience the world in a different
way, so that the question of how much interference in it is
legitimate is asked at a lower level of intensity, as it were. The
Australian philosopher, Warwick Fox, who is such an ardent
exponent of this strategy that he disqualifies intrinsic value
theorists from the deep ecological camp altogether, puts it this
way: ‘When asked why he does not plough the ground, the
Nez Pearce Indian Smohalla does not reply with a closelyreasoned explanation as to why the ground has intrinsic value
but rather with a rhetorical question expressive of a deep
identification with the earth: “Shall I take a knife and tear my
mother’s breast?”‘. In essence the ‘change of consciousness’

deep ecologists want us all to begin thinking like Smohalla.

As Naess himself writes: ‘I’m not much interested in ethics or
morals. I’m interested in how we experience the world …. If
deep ecology is deep it must relate to our fundamental beliefs,
not just to ethics. Ethics follow from how we experience the
world.’ Naess seeks to develop a ‘new ontology’ which owes
much to Spinoza and which ‘posits humanity as inseparable
from nature’. If we could internalize this, then our dealings
with the non-human natural world would necessarily be more
benign. There is some standard philosophical discourse here,
but as Naess says, getting to grips with this new ontology is
primarily an intuitive affair, like having a series of ‘a-ha!

NIETZSCHE SOCIETY
FOUNDING
CONFERENCE
28th April 1990
at the
University of Essex

experiences’. The problem with this is that the kinds of
experiences which Naess has had, and which have left him
living in a hut on a mountain in Norway developing his
Ecosophy, are not available to many of us – a week in a hut on
Norway’s highest mountain at the age of 15 with a wizened
violin player, or ski-ing at night under a full moon at -20 degrees centigrade. Less flippantly, what experiences are necessary for conversion? An answer might turn on a prior question, which few deep ecologists have confronted: if ethics do
follow from how we experience the world, then what makes
us experience the world in such and such a way? This might
be more a political question than a philosophical one, and I do
not think that deep ecology will make its mark as fully as it
might until it becomes as much a social philosophy as it is
already a metaphysical one. Naess’s book provides the most
up-to-date full-length version of the deep ecological project
in its ‘change of consciousness’ guise and Cambridge University Press is to be commended for having made it available
over here. Together with Regan’s Animal Rights it bears out
Naess’s belief that ‘the ecopolitical frontier. is ·immensely
long’ – the frontier is so long, in fact, that there is now room
for fratricidal skirmishes over tactics and objectives behind it.

Andy Dobson

AUTONOMY AND ITS
DISCONTENTS:

THE FATE OF AUTONOMY
IN MODERNITY
A one-day conference at the
University of Essex
24 February 1990

Participation in the Conference and Membership
of the Society will be open to anyone
with an interest in Nietzsche.

Anyone who would like to organise and/or participate in
a workshop should write with details of their proposal to:

Keith Ansell-Pearson, Nietzsche Conference Organiser,
Department of Political Studies,
Queen Mary College, University of London,
Mile End Road, London El 4NS.

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

Speakers include:

Cornelius Castoriadis Jean Grimshaw
Russell Keat
Further details from: Peter Dews
(Autonomy Conference)
Department of Philosophy, University of Essex,
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester C04 3SQ

41

PLATO’S FORMS
Charles L. Griswold (ed.), Platonic Writings, Platonic Readings, London and New York, Routledge, 1988, 321pp, £25 hb,
£11.95 pb, ISBN 0-415-00186-2 hb, 0-415-00187-0 pb.

Plato and Kant together are often taken to stand for that
rational ideal of philosophy which has been so thoroughly
demolished or deconstructed in recent years. But the world of
Platonic scholarship has also read Gadamer, not to mention
Rorty and Derrida. This collection of essays is an attempt at
rereading Plato in the light of modern concerns.

The first part of the book is a series of linked essays; the
second is a series of ‘dialogues’ on recent important books
about Plato’s philosophy. Each part is sub-divided into a section of ‘Readings’ and a section of ‘Writings? Each of these
sectionS begins with pieces that address particular texts and
moves towards more general issues of wider scope. Each
piece (with two qualified exceptions) was written specially
for this volume. The editor and contributors have worked
together well to carry through so careful and detailed a plan.

It is generally accepted that the distinctive feature of
Plato’s writing is its dialogue form. One question is why Plato
wrote dialogues; the other is why Plato wrote dialogues. Because he wrote in dialogue form, Plato never speaks, so we do
not really know what answers he gave to any question. We can
draw conclusions about what he thought important, and about
the terms in which he thought; but that is all. This formal point
is reinforced by the way in which themes change and develop
in his writing. The dialogues are consistent, in their way, but
there are no complete, systematic or finished theories.

The claim that Plato wrote dialogues is more complicated
than it might seem. The platonic letters are not in dialogue
form. But most of these are recognized as forgeries (if that
term, with its very specific legal and ideological meanings,
can be applied to the Ancient World). But one of them, the
Seventh, is often accepted as genuine, and Robert Brumbaugh’s ‘Digression and Dialogue: The Seventh Letter and
Plato’s Literary Form’, relates philosophical and literary

42

questions to these ‘purely factual’ matters.

Another qualification is that some of Plato’s dialogues,
especially the later ones, are more like disguised treatises than
real conversations or debates. Several essays are germane to
this point. For example, Kenneth Sayre’s ‘Plato’s Dialogues
in the light of the Seve nth Le tter’ argues that Plato’s aim in the
dialogues is to kindle illumination in the reader, rather than to
set out truths as does a treatise.

Many of the essays discuss Plato’s own criticisms of
writing as a medium. The real dialogue, for Plato, is not the
one written in the text; it involves the living soul of the student. Jurgen Mittelstrass’s ‘On Socratic Dialogue’ is one of
several essays which discuss the idea that the dialogues are
essentially concerned with showing something, rather than
saying it. This missionary call to the life of philosophy is
carefully examined. Charles Griswold’s own contribution
‘Plato’s Metaphilosophy: Why Plato Wrote Dialogues’ compares Plato to Kant and Hegel. showing Hegel’ s great concern
with those who cannot respond to an appeal to reason because
they are not (yet) philosophers.

Philosophy for Plato was the effort of a human being to
become like a god. This religious dimension to his thought is
difficult for modern philosophy to face up to. Jean Fran~ois
Mattei’s ‘The Theatre of Myth in Plato’ does discuss the
myths and take them seriously. But he discusses them as part
of Plato’s technique, rather than his philosophy. This dimension reappears in the second part when John Moline debates
the place of the theory of recollection as described in Kenneth
Sayre’s Plato’s Late Ontology: A Riddle Resolved.

There is also a question about how we should read the dialogues. In ‘Why Dialogues? Plato’s Serious Play’ Rosemary
Desjardins suggests that interpretation was one of Plato’s
central concerns and in ‘On Interpreting Plato’, Alan Bowen
discusses Tigerstedt’ s history of platonic interpretation. Issues of interpretati ve method also appear in the second part.

The question how far a requirement of consistency between
the dialogues should guide interpretation appears more than
once. It is part of Clifford Orwin’ s discussion of Richard
Kraut’s Socrates and the State, and also bears on David
Roochnik’s assessment of Terence Irwin’s thesis in Plato’s
Moral Theory about the ‘craft analogy’ and his resolution of
the well-known puzzle that in the Protagoras ‘Socrates’ appears to aC,cept hedonism.

For the contributors to this book, the natural assumption is
that we read the dialogues as Plato himself intended them to
be read. So Diskin Clay’s ‘Reading the Republic’ analyses the
Republic in terms of the challenge of the text to the reader and
so explains both why Plato wrote that dialogue and how we
should read it. Richard McKim’ s exploration of Plato’s handling of the weapons both of logic and psychology in ‘Shame
and Truth in Plato’s Gorgias’ equally answers both questions.

But in the second part, Nicholas White’s epistemological
response to Hans-Georg Gadamer’s Dialogue and Dialectic
brings this natural assumption into question.

Plato’s methods are inextricably bound up with the answers he proffers. Thus the relation between drama and philosophy bears on the question of whether Plato accepted personal and individual immortality in the Phaedo, which is
debated in the second part by J oachim Dalfen and Kenneth
Dorter. The literary, the philosophical and the historical all
play a part in Ronald Polansky’s assessment of Paul
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

Woodruff’s book on the dubiously authentic Hippias Major,
in which the question of Plato’s development of the theory of
Forms is an important issue.

There are many themes and ideas that are pursued throughout the book. But there are important differences between the
two parts. In the first, the essays are more closely related and
a reasonably clear line of development appears. The new
approach to Plato is the starting-point for a fresh exploration
of the familiar texts. These essays throw fresh light on the
texts and raise many new and interesting questions about
them.

In the second part, the critical assessments of each book
are replied to by the author. All sides seem to accept that the
relation between the literary or dramatic aspects of the texts
and the philosophy is important, but there is less agreement
about what can be learnt from it. The collection of books is
rather disparate and no issue is pursued very far. What are
billed as dialogues are too much like salvoes from defended
positions.

The book as a whole makes little attempt to address directly the views of Plato which are a standard reference-point
in the texts of modern philosophy. Nonetheless, some consensus emerges; Plato is an acutely self-conscious and careful
philosopher; his texts do not give final answers, but have a
wider aim; his writing is meant as an exploration or a stage on
a journey. Indeed, there is a danger of forgetting that Plato
remains inescapably platonic in his belief that there is a

terminus to our discoveries, though whether that is an end to
philosophy is less clear.

Many of the contributors write as if their work were a
break with the recent past. But those who represent orthodox
scholarship do not accept that the new approach involves any
drastic change of method. It turns out that, for the most part,
specialist discussion of Plato can adjust to modern philosophy
without radical revisions. Perhaps the scholars have missed
the point; or perhaps modern philosophy is less revolutionary
than we thought.

Claude Pehrson

MORAL DIMENSIONS
Amitai Etzioni, The Moral Dimension: Toward a New Economics, New York, Free Press, 1988, 257pp., $24.95.

Etzioni’s book is a substantial critique of neo-classical economics, written with a sharp eye to its influence in Reagan’s
America. Etzioni is a leading American social scientist, and
he sets out in this work to show that the individualist rationalism of neo-classical economics is only one among many coexisting modes of human action, rather than the fundamental
building block of human society. Etzioni’s work is the latest
in a long tradition of major sociological critiques of economic
individualism, which one can trace through Durkheim, Talcott Parsons, and indeed Etzioni’ s own earlier work on the
sociology of complex organisations. It was there that he first
outlined a scheme of concepts of coercive, utilitarian and
normative motivation and compliance that remains basic to
his current argument with rational individualism.

The first part of the book distinguishes between utilitarian
motives based on pleasure-seeking, and altruistic or morallybased motives. Etzioni sets out a case for ‘deontological
social science’, incorporating ideas of moral obligation and
bondedness, and cites a variety of published evidence for the
large role of such moti vations in social life.

The second part is a critique of rationalistic explanations
of social and economic behaviour, emphasising the role of
normative-affective factors. He argues that rationalistic models typically exaggerate the rational capacities of actors, underestimate the effort demanded by rational processes (in
search or transaction costs, e.g.), and ignore the degree to
which actors rely not on instrumental calculation but on
shared or internalised moral rules in making everyday decisions.

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

Part 3 (‘Beyond Radical Individualism: The Role of
Community and Power’) provides the most substantial sociological argument of the book. Etzioni argues that rationality
depends more on supportive social structures than on individuals conceived as free of social constraints. Rationality
and individuality are emergent properties of historical societies and cultures, not an innate human condition. Rational
decision-making is often enhanced rather than diminished by
organised collectivities. This is because organisations can
filter out the irrational impulses of their members, gather and
retain more relevant information than individuals in isolation,
and institute productive divisions of labour and attention.

Anyone who has been helped to think by a good seminar will
understand what Etzioni means. Even competition – a state of
‘contained conflict’ – depends, he says, on social structure
and a framework of rules for its sustained viability. In practice, Etzioni demonstrates, competition between equals is a
somewhat rare phenomenon in capitalism since political
power is widely used by collective economic actors to enforce
their advantages (via regulatory, tariff, or tax policies for example) in so-called free markets.

Etzioni argues for forms of understanding which take
account of multiple dimensions of action, in contrast to the
one-dimensional, deductive simplicities of economic theory.

He stresses that he is not against markets or rational individualism, but wishes to see these as one option to be balanced
against others in a more inclusive framework.

This book provides a heavyweight counter-attack to the
current hegemony of the neo-liberals, stressing the social and
altruistic principles almost absent from neo-classical models.

It argues for an alternative mode of explanation – the ‘I-we
paradigm’ or ‘socio-economics’ – not for specific prescrip43

tions or programmes, though it tends to support ethicallygrounded limits to private economic power. Like the functionalist sociological critique of economic individualism of
the post-war years, it provides implicit support to ideas of
morally-principled interventionism, more than welcome at
this time.

The M oral Dimension is a substantial work, though it has
some of the drawbacks as well as the strengths of a work of
academic synthesis. Critics of neo-classical economics who
work from inside the tradition – like Hirschman or Sen on
whose work Etzioni draws – are able to use the precision of
the theoretical tools of economics against its dominant grain,
where multi-disciplinary criticism finds it harder to achieve
such elegance. Etzioni understands that one-dimensional
analytical models are seductive (if misleading) to social scientists, because of their apparent power to solve problems by
deductive reasoning alone – this has been the intellectual
appeal of the neo-classical paradigm applied to each and
every social phenomenon. But it is one thing to point out this

error, and another to establish in its place a more inclusive and
multi-dimensional method of explanation. Etzioni succeeds
in setting out his new paradigm in rigorous terms, but unfortunately he does not here set out the problem-solving programme that will be needed if the paradigm is to gain ground.

The idea of a synthetic new paradigm which could supplant
the neo-classical supremacy may not be entirely consistent
with the looser multi-disciplinary pragmatism of the field of
policy research, in which Etzioni holds an important position.

As Albert Hirschman has pointed out, individualist and
collectivist ideas each have their temporary phases of dominance. The time is now certainly ripe for a resurgence of more
social modes of thinking. To this project, Etzioni’s book
should be essential reading, whether for sociologists, for
dissidents among the economists, or for philosophers interested to see what happens when one tries to build morality
into a model of economic life.

Michael Rustln
44

INSIDE YOUR SKIN
Didier Anzieu, The Skin Ego: A Psychoanalytic Study of the
Self, trans. Chris Turner, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1989, 246pp, £25 hb, ISBN 0-300-03747-3
Didier Anzieu, Vice-President of the Psychoanalytic Association of France and an Emeritus professor of clinical psychology, is probably best known for his huge Freud’s Self-Analysis, which appeared in translation in 1986. The present volume draws on original research, and attempts to make a new
contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of the self in
both clinical and theoretical terms.

For Anzieu, the skin is a basic datum and the most vital of
the sense organs, providing the essential bodily support for a
psychical function which transposes its workings on to the
mental plane. The skin ego can be defined as a mental image
which the child uses in order to represent itself as an ego
containing psychical contents. It provides both a narcissistic
envelope and a guaranteed and continuous sense of wellbeing, and is in that sense the heir to the holding environment
described by Winnicott. Whilst acting as a shield against
stimulation, the skin ego also supplies a basis for individuation (the me/non-me distinction). It provides a surface which
can link up various kinds of sensation, support sexual excitation, allow the libidinal recharging of the psychical mechanism, and register sense impressions. Many of the most important insights made in post-Freudian psychoanalysis are
mobilized in Anzieu’ s exploration of the construction of the
self: Klein’ s internalization (somewhat oddly rendered as
‘interiorization’ by the otherwise accurate and readable translation), Winnicott’s holding, Bion’s dialectic between container and content, Kohul’s view that the self is formed by a
process of mirroring and fusion, Bettelheim”s work on symbolic wounds and even Bowlby’s attachment drive. This does
not lead to eclecticism but signals, rather, a real ability to
make critical and non-dogmatic use of whole sectors of the
psychoanalytic tradition. Strangely, there is little mention of
Lacan, even though Anzieu did participate in the early seminars. Winnicott’s version of the mirror stage (in which the
mother’s face provides the child with its first mirror) is
privileged over Lacan’ s version, and the latter’s claim that the
ego is structured like a Mobius strip is held to be applicable
only to borderline cases. This may be an expression of the
new openness which characterizes so much post-Lacanian
psychoanalytic writing in France. If so, it augurs well for the
future.

One of the text’s most attractive features is its ability to
deal with body in physical terms. Smell, touch, sound, and
pain all become objects of investigation. Speech and hearing
are related back to their physiological supports – and to the
affective dimension that implies – rather than to abstract
mathemes and topologies. Anzieu’ s reading of the myth of
Marsyas, the satyr flayed by the god Apollo, is an eloquent
demonstration of how important the body (and physical pain)
should be to psychoanalysis.

Although the notion of a skin ego is novel, Anzieu succeeds in grounding it in Freud’s veiled comments on internal
differentiation and containment in the 1895 ‘Project for a Scientific Psychology’, in the thesis, advanced in ‘The Ego and
the Id’, that the ego is both an ‘envelope’ and a projection of
a surface, and on the ‘inscription’ themes of the notes on the
‘mystic writing pad’. His loyalty to the Freudian tradition is
beyond question, especially in his discussion of the prohibiRadical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

tion on touching in the analytic session. On the other hand,
Anzieu is highly critical of the ‘endless quasi-talmudic commentaries’ which characterized so much of the return to
Freud, and appeals to the alternative tradition of relying upon
the creative imagination to renew, and if necessary, challenge
the classic tradition. He accepts that his skin ego is basically
a metaphor, and that it requires further conceptualization.

But, even as it stands, it is a powerful and impressive metaphor.

In grounding his metaphor so firmly in Freud, Anzieu
does, perhaps, raise one unresolved problem. The title refers
to a skin ego; the subtitle (which does not appear in the French
edition) to an approach to the self. The French term moi tends
to be broader than the English ego, and often has definitely
philosophical connotations. In other words, it easily lends
itself to the claim that psychoanalysis contains within it an
entire philosophy of human subjectivity. Even Freud himself
is not always clear as to the precise meaning of ‘ego’: is it an
internal agency of the personality, or is it synonymous with
the personality as such? Fertile as it may be, the skin-ego
metaphor does not dispel this ambiguity.

One of the Skin Ego’s most appealing characteristics is the
author’s ability to draw on a vast range of source and illustrative material, from case histories, ethology, literature, mythology, the gospels …. Reading Anzieu, one has a refreshing
and exciting confirmation that psychoanalysis is still a creative mode of thought and practice and not merely a compulsive repetition-reproduction of Freud or a dogmatic defence
of existing concepts. He has the skill and the courage to
engage in a fruitful dialogue with a wide range of discourses,
from dermatology to Thom’ s catastrophe theory, without
lapsing into eclecticism or speculative banalities. The text can
at times be highly technical and rather dense, but it makes for
exciting and stimulating reading.

David Macey

MONEY, MONEY,
MONEY
Constantine George Caffentzis, Clipped Coins, Abused
Words, & Civil Government: John Locke’s Philosophy of
Money, New York, Autonomedia, 1989, 246pp., $26.95 hb,
$10.95 pb.

One of the more grisly sights of the late seventeenth
century, the era of peace, freedom and toleration ushered in
by the Glorious Revolution, was the behaviour of Isaac Newton as Warden of the Mint. The retiring Cambridge scholar,
prised from his solitary study to serve a grateful nation in an
amiable sinecure, became an avenging fury. Coiners and
clippers innocently pursuing their age-old occupations did
not know what had hit them, as the new Warden assembled a
network of agents and informers, ferreted out their misdeeds
and delivered them pitilessly to the gallows.

Recent biographers have amply rehearsed the factors in
Newton’s psyche that led to his relentless pursuit of the
wrong-doing and punishment of others. But how did an offence that seems to us barely more reprehensible than forging
a TV licence come to assume such monstrous and unforgiveable proportions? What does this tell us about the stability and
beliefs of a society in which clipping or falsifying the coinage
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990′,

is treasonable activity? Caffentzis’s book supplies a fascinating and plausible account which makes good sense of the
depth of offence committed by coiners and clippers, seen in
the light of the views of John Locke.

The coinage was certainly in a bad way by the 1690s.

Clipping had reduced coins to just over half of their legal
weight, and nearly a fifth of the coins in circulation were
counterfeits. The state of the currency threatened the stability
of the Whig settlement. But what to do about it? Treasury
Secretary William Lowndes argued that the effective devaluation of the currency be accepted, and coins be reminted to the
same face value, but containing appropriately less silver.

Locke was appalled by this proposal; in Some considerations
of the consequences of lowering the interest and raising the
value of money and Further considerations concerning raising the value of money he argued that this would be to validate
criminal acts and hence would undermine civil government.

Clipping is, furthermore, a philosophical or an epistemological crime, for it robs people of knowledge and introduces an
ever-deepening obscurity into our ideas. And the integrity of
the contract inherent in coinage is essential to the continued
existence of the state: money is, for Locke, the generating
cause of the social contract; to undermine the regulation of
money is literally to degenerate the state. Thus, much hung on
retaining the value of the coinage, even at the expense of
creating short-term economic ills.

Caffentzis pursues Locke’s views vigorously through Two
Treatises on Government and An Essay concerning Human
Understanding, as well as dropping valuable hints about cultural interconnections of philosophy, science and money. For
example, he notes more pointedly than others have done that
aspects of the world-views of Locke and Newton, characterised in part by determinism, the gold standard and the belief
that words signify ideas, travelled together before disintegrating together in the first half of this century. So this book is,
besides a detailed treatment of some views of Locke (at times
remarkably detailed: readers should not miss the cogent discussion of Locke’s views on the importance of regular defecation), a fascinating contribution to cultural history. In its
conception as a philosophical history of money, it complements the discussion of paper money in Brian Rotman’ s
Signifying Nothing (reviewed in RP 49), and shares a similar
admirable trans-disciplinary perspective. The writing of this
book was done while the author was at the University of
Calabar in Nigeria, which must be a good place for empathising with Locke’s concerns, whilst keeping the right distanced
perception of them.

John Fauvel
45

THE RELEVANCE
OF OBJECTIVITY
Guy Oakes, Weber and Rickert: Concept Formation in the
Cultural Sciences, London, M.LT. Press, 1988, 19Opp, £17.95
hb, ISBN 0-262-15034-4
In 1902, towards the end of one of the most celebrated illnesses in intellectual history, Max Weber sent his wife a letter
from Florence, in which he wrote: ‘I have just finished Rickert … he is very good.’ Anyone who has confronted Rickert’s
ponderous and convoluted works will read this either as a sign
of complete recovery or as the ultimate symptom. But they
will conclude, too, that the duty of any contemporary commentator is (a) to tell us why Rickert is significant and hence
worth reading, and (b) to do so by making him accessible to an
audience which extends beyond the rather narrow circle of
‘Weber Research’. Unfortunately, Guy Oakes’s new book
does neither.

Ostensibly, its central concern is what Oakes calls ‘the
fundamental issue of Weber’s methodology’, namely the
problem of the objectivity of the cultural sciences. For Weber
all scientific inquiry depends upon the overcoming of the
alleged irrationality of the real. The manner in which this
irrationality is overcome is the manner in which an object domain is constituted. ‘Nature’ is reality related to laws, ‘culture’ is reality related to values. Oakes thinks that because
Weber insisted that value conflict was inevitable and that ‘the
light that illuminates the great cultural problems shifts’, his
work is haunted by the absence of objective criteria of valuerelevance. Moreover, he claims that Weber always evades
this problem, and for a solution he refers the reader to Rickert.

This is Oakes’ s justification for devoting two thirds of the
book to a quite separate discussion of Rickert’s account of the
nature of historical knowledge and of value-relevance. This
culminates in the assertion that, ultimately, Rickert acknowledges that he requires objectively valid criteria of historical
selectivity but fails to provide any. Choice between valuerelevances remains dependent upon the evaluative standpoint
of the historian. Therefore Rickert is no help in solving
Weber’s problem.

The difficulty here is that for Weber, the problem of
objectivity as Oakes states it didn’t exist. Oakes fails to note
that Rickert’ s attempted solution of the problem of objectivity
was a response to Nietzsche’s perspectivism, stated famously
in The Genealogy of Morals: ‘the more eyes, different eyes,
we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our
“concept” of this thing, our “objectivity”, be.. ‘ Weber understood the objectivity of social science – and many other things
– in a Nietzschean sense. The historian’s point of view does
not undermine objectivity, it contributes to it. Oakes’ s account, however, treats objectivity as a philosophical ‘problem’ confronting each individual historian on each occasion
of inquiry, when for Weber it is the concrete achievement of a
scientific community. Weber’s essay, ‘Objectivity in Social
Science and Social Policy’ , which marked his assumption of
the editorship of the Archiv Jur SozialwissenschaJt und
Sozialpolitik, is, among other things, a policy statement whose
central tenet is that ‘a peculiar charac teristic’ of the journal is
that ‘political antagonists can meet in it to carry on scientific
work’. Those who cannot face this type of work are ‘free not
to participate’ .

The ‘objectivity problem’ really serves Oakes as a pretext

46

,

V

for a display of his knowledge of Rickert. The discussion is
highly competent, but Weber is mentioned only five times in
104 pages. It is also written in a turgid and repetitive style
which appears to be modelled on Rickert. The profusion of
‘Considers’, ‘Supposes’ and ‘Thus’s’ at the beginning of
sentences reminds one of the overlong introductions to his
translations of the works of Weber, Rickert, and Simmel.

Even for those who ‘consider’ neo-Kantianism the mostexciting period in the history of German philosophy, this book will
be a literary disappointment. And the more general philosophical reader in search of plain intellectual pleasure had
better look elsewhere.

Charlie Turner
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

NEW VALUES
David Detmer, Freedom As A Value. A Critique of the Ethical
Theory of lean-Paul Sartre, La Salle, Illinois, Open court,
1988, v + 262pp, £12.95 pb, ISBN 8126 90834.

The aim of this study is twofold: firstly, to provide a critical
exposition of Sartre’s work in terms of an ethical theory, and
secondly, to explain and defend the central thesis running
through Sartre’ s writings – that freedom is the highest value.

The book succeeds in bringing together in a lucid manner the
different and conflicting strands of Sartre’s ethical thought
(namely his subjectivism and his objectivism) and providing a
coherent picture of Sartre’s ethics. Detmer defends Sartre’s
p~i~o~ophy of fre~dom against a number of frequently made
cntIcIsms – that It does not recognise the limitations to the
achievement of autonomous and creative action, that his later
thought is incon~istent with his earlier existentialist position,
and that there IS a fundamental incompatibility between
Sartre’s existentialism and his Marxism. Concerning the latter, Detmer suggests that Sartre’s turn to Marxism is not
adequately or appropriately construed in terms of a ‘radical
conversion’; rather, the adoption of a Marxist perspective
re~resents a continuation of the major concerns of his early
phtloso~hy of freedom. Dialectical materialism provided
Sartre ~Ith a much-needed realism in recognising the material
constramts placed on human praxis and a recognition that
freedom is not so much an ontological and individualistic
value as a practical and social one. The emphasis in Sartre’s
work shifts from a preoccupation with ‘desire’ and the inventi?n of values to a concern with ‘need’ and the recognition and
dlsc~ver~ of values. In other words, an ethic of play is only
possIble m the context of the satisfaction of human needs. The
implications of Sartre’s adoption of such a viewpoint for
un?erstanding the shift in his politics is clear. Sartre’s thought
~hI~t~d from placing responsibility for creative action on
mdIvIdual conversion to placing it on an act of social revolution. I found this emphasis on the continuity of Sartre’s
ethical concerns particularly refreshing. His argument that the
myth of Sartre’s radical conversion rests on the incorrect
assumption that Being and Nothingness is intended as a complete description of an inescapable human condition, rather
than as an incomplete description of those features of the
human condition in need of radical alteration, is a pertinent
one.

The weaknesses of this study stem from the lack of any
discussion of Sartre’s philosophy of freedom in the context of
some of the debates in moral and political theory that have
taken place in recent years. I would argue that Sartre was one
of the most important thinkers in the twentieth century to have
accepted Nietzsche’s challenge that we revalue the fundaI?ental values of humanity and, out of a dialectical appropriatIon, create new ones. Yet nowhere in this study is the precursor of Sartre’s philosophy of freedom (understood as a philosophy of values) mentioned. Both Kantian constructivism
(Rawls) and Nietzschean creativism (Foucault) are crucial to
cU.rren.t debates in moral and political theory, and a study of
thIS kmd could have made a valuable contribution to our
knowledge of how Sartre’s thinking on ethics fits into these
debates (e.g. MacIntyre’s critique of the vacuity of our modern emotivist moral culture, including Sartrean heroism). It
would also have been interesting to know where Detmer
thinks Sartre’ ~ Ma~ism, his recognition of the priority of
need over deSIre, dIffers markedly from Rawls’s philosophi-

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

cal defence of some form of welfare liberal democracy as the
best way of achieving a community in which the satisfaction
of. hu~an ne~ds an~ the space for creative human activity
eXIst SIde by SIde. If It had taken these issues into account this
study would constitute an even more valuable contributi~n to
our understanding of Sartre.

Keith Ansell-Pearson

NEW TERRITORIES
Ronald Bogue, Deleuze and Guattari, London, Routledge

1989, xiii + 196pp, £8.95 pb, ISBN 0 415024439.

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari are unusual in their longstanding collaboration and for the originality and contention
of their work. This is essentially a book about their interaction, but both are prominent in their own right. Guattari,
working in the Lacanian tradition of psychoanalysis, has been
associated with Laing and Cooper and is perhaps a little more
well known than Deleuze, whose Nietzschean poststructuralism has constrained his popular appeal. But neither of these
writers has received the attention he deserves, and Bogue’s
text is the first full length exposition of their work in English.

It considers their joint works, Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand
Plateaus in accessible detail, and discusses a number of
Deleuze’s major works, including Nietzsche and Philosophy
and Difference and Repetition. Bogue does not pretend to be
exhaustive: this is a study of texts chosen for their ability to
reveal the overall direction and meaning of their authors’

ideas, and Bogue succeeds in presenting a unified body of
thought whilst at the same time maintaining the diversity and
breadth of Deleuze and Guattari’s concerns, which extend
~etween Marxism, linguistics, psychoanalysis, and aesthetICS.

Bogue is careful not to overemphasise Deleuze’ s role in
the partnership, pointing out that Guattari’ s engagement with
debates over political organisation and the nature of group
collaborations, particularly as they surfaced in 1968, was vital
to the development of Anti-Oedipus. Guattari’s attempts to
realign Freudianism and Marxism, bringing some notion of
desire to Marx and placing Freud’s unconscious in a social
context, were as important to this and their other texts as
Deleuze’s philosophical publications. The Nietzschean phi~osophy of becoming which dominates their thought emerges
In Bogue’ s clear exposition of the philosophical context in
which Deleuze and Guattari write, a project facilitated by

47

their explicit critical relation not only to Nietzsche but also
Kant, Hegel, and Freud. The relation of their work to that of
Lacan, Foucault, and Derrida is discussed in equally accessible terms.

Many recent French philosophers have been well served
by the Anglo-American interest in poststructuralism and postmodernism: Foucault and Baudrillard, for example, have been
made relatively accessible by numerous publications and
commentaries which have promoted them at the expense of
others in their genre. This has often meant that they are given
responsibility for many of the ideas which Deleuze or Guattari might be better placed to defend. This is particularly true
of the issues surrounding the dissolution of the subject, to
which the Deleuzian ‘desiring machine’ and ‘body without
organs’ bring a colour and intensity lacking in Foucault’s
work; Bogue’ s work goes some way to redress this balance.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is its
concern with literary criticism. This is approached through a
study of the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari to the concerns
of contemporary literary theory as well as studies of their
readings of Proust, Kafka, and Sacher-Masoch. Although this
emphasis precludes an equal concentration on the issues of
political theory and criticism, Bogue succeeds in emphasising
the literary debate whilst at the same time presenting a general
overview and careful introduction to the work of Deleuze and
Guattari. Bogue is clearly sympathetic to his subjects, and this
is not a critical text; there is little discussion of, for example,
the problems of foundation and meaning which underlie all
poststructuralist writing. But debates about Deleuze, Guattari, and the genre in which they write will undoubtedly be
encouraged and informed by this text, whose publication fills
a gap that was becoming increasingly obvious with the development of interest in the implications of poststructuralist
writing for literary, cultural, and social critique.

Sadle Plant

NOTES AND THEORIES
Maurice A. Finocchiaro, Gramsci and the History of Dialectical Thought, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1989,
xi + 313pp, £30 hb, ISBN 0 521 36096 x.

There is a great deal of current interest in the work of Antonio
Gramsci. His writings on hegemony are assuming an increasing importance for debates about the future of Marxist analysis and revolutionary politics, and his life of political activity
continues to inspire. This interest is nevertheless accompanied by a good deal of confusion and disagreement: every area
of the left reads a different Gramsci and draws different conclusions from his work. Some of these difficulties are due to
the discontinuity of the writing in the Prison Notebooks, and
the appearance of the first critical edition of the text in 1975
provided an unprecedented opportunity for their detailed
study. Finocchiaro considers the Prison Notebooks invaluable to the understanding of Marxism, and his book is the
scholarly product of careful thought and polished writing. It
presents a detailed exposition, criticism, and evaluation of the
Prison Notebooks and those thinkers – Croce, Hegel,
Bukharin, and Machiavelli – whose influence is paramount
throughout them.

Finocchiaro seeks to understand a world view which, in
his subject’s own words, ‘has never been systematically ex48

pounded by its founder”. Submerging himself in the notes,
references, and allusions of the Prison Notebooks, Finocchiaro surfaces with a fascinating and authoritative interpretation of the dialectical nature of Gramsci’ s writing. This is
primarily a work of hermeneutics, in its broadest sense; concerned with the elucidation of Gramsci’ s own concepts and
meanings. Finocchiaro continually reports on the methods
and intentions with which he develops a dialectical textual
analysis and studies Gramsci’ s own participation in this project. Finocchiaro alternates chapters analysing the Prison
Notebooks with expositions of its influences, and the book is
carefully paced to allow gradual involvement with the complexities of its textual studies.

The text moves between defence, criticism, and what Finocchiaro optimistically describes as neutral evaluation of
Gramsci’s work. One of the major concerns which emerges in
this process lies with the discrepancies between a writer’s
practice and theory: the gaps between what writers do and
what they say they are doing. For this reason the ‘self-image’

adopted by all those considered in the text is emphasised. The
self-images of Croce, seeing his work as anti-Marxist, and

Bukharin, perceiving himself as a positivist, are measured
against their actual procedures, and Finocchiaro applies this
critical method to Gramsci’s Marxism. He shows, for example, how Gramsci’s characterisation of a Marxist hegemony in terms of the broad philosophical legitimacy of a religion is influenced by Croce’s definition of religion as an
ethical world view. Similarly, he reveals the influence of
Bukharin’s positivism on the Prison Notebooks, and uses
such illustrations to subject Gramsci’ s dialectical method to
the same scrutiny. Finocchiaro argues for a distinction between Gramsci’ s theoretical perception of dialectic as the
historical process of synthesis and antithesis, and its practice
in his work, where it appears as an apolitical means to objectivity and a way of discerning underlying patterns and structures of thought.

This is a book about dialectical thought which aims to use
its own dialectical procedures to transcend the divorce between theory and practice it discerns in Gramsci. Finocchiaro
claims that the text is both for and against its main concerns,
including Marxism, science, politics, dialectic and, of course,
Grarnsci’s development of these areas, and this is largely
legitimate. Although the book sometimes appears to promote
Gramsci’s influences at his expense, this may well be due to
the unusually high quality of Finocchiaro’s investigation into
the foundations of his subject’s work. His respect for Gramsci
and the Prison Notebooks is clear, and the text is an accomplished addition to the literature.

Sadie Plant
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

BIOSOPHY
S. A. Barnett, Biology and Freedom: An essay on the implications of human ethology, Cambridge, Cambridge University
Press, 1988, 376pp, £32.50 hb, ISBN 0521 353165.

Barnett brings a welcome perspective to the debates over the
acceptability of ethology and its derivatives. He is a scientist
who fully recognizes and incorporates the prescriptive nature
of scientific inquiry into his analysis. He is particularly concerned. about the verdict most biological accounts of human
nature reach: that we are inherently violent, selfish and
greedy. Barnett argues that these conclusions are simply
moral judgments passed on humanity rather than the results of
a proper scientific method. Armed with these assumptions, he
proceeds to debunk such characterizations of human nature,
tracing their development from ancient pessimism, exemplified in Plato, to Nietzsche and the modern tradition. All these
accounts, he contends, advocate an essentially static conception of humanity, in which people are naturally an antagonistic group, bound by an unchangeable destiny of competitiveness.

Modem biology has built upon this misanthropy and seeks
to find scientific proofs for previously held philosophic positions. Barnett divides the general themes from the theory of
evolution and behavioural accounts into four portraits of
humanity. First, Homo pugnax, a concept built on the idea that
animals are in a constant state of strife and humans as evolutionary beings should also be inherently violent. This notion
of aggression as an explanation of various actions has become
increasingly popular, especially among sociobiologists. The
second, Homo egoisticus, is based on the idea of natural
selection: we compete for survival, so are therefore selfish
and competitive. The final two portraits are an alternative to
these views of humanity as instinct bound evolutionary
puppets: Homo pavlovi, a mechanistic account of behaviour,
and Homo operans, the rewarding of certain actions in an
attempt to engineer behaviour. Barnett sees these four portraits as modem science’s endeavour to explain human nature
and he takes issue with their conclusions, regarding them as
detrimental and pessimistic judgments upon humanity.

In order to question these assumptions, Bamett evaluates
the general methodology used by biology in its quest for an
explanation of human nature, questioning the applicability of
such theories to our species. He provides a clear case against
the use of animal analogies, the particular favourites of sociobiologists. The theory of natural selection is also criticized in
its application to humans. Natural selection is neutral in
relation to human values, making it difficult to tell specifically what characteristic would make a person more likely to
survive in a complex human society. He points out that natural selection is tautologous in a similar way to the proofs of
mathematics, which are based on axioms, a set of logical
relations not derived from any observation of the external
world. In this way, Bamett says, biologists formulate assumptions or propose axioms; compute the consequences of these
assumptions; and then tell us what humans do, or should do.

This is an unwarranted leap, as it can lead to the justification
of almost any type of behaviour the theorist wishes to promote. The legitimation of capitalism by claiming it as the
natural outcome of people’s essentially selfish and competitive nature is a well known example of such a leap.

On the whole Barnett provides an interesting critique of
ethology, giving many elucidating examples and illustrations,
that expand the case against biological determinism. Unfortunately, he often does not push his analysis to its logical
conclusion; for instance, he criticizes evolutionary theory on
the ground of its tautologous nature, while leaving its inherent
notion of species progression towards some more ‘efficient’

state untouched. He incorporates such a notion of progress in
his final argument against the pessimism of biology, by elaborating on the growth of freedom and the achievements of
humanity in the area of human rights. The achievements cited
are the elimination of slavery and the recession of racial
prejudice – very questionable assumptions. Despite this, it is
encouraging to see scientists concerning themselves overtly
with issues traditionally seen as the domain of the moral
sciences.

Lucy Frith

TRAGIC SENSE
Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society, with a new introduction by Steve J. Heims,
London, Free Association, 1989, xxx + 199pp, £10.95 pb,
ISBN 1 85343 075 7 (first published 1950; 1954).

This republication of a work which first appeared in 1950 is to
be welcomed, not least because it presents an important chapter in the history of contemporary science from the standpoint
of one of its protagonists. Wiener originally trained as a
mathematician, and was one of the pioneers of cybernetics a term he coined. The present book is a reworking of his
earlier Cybernetics (1948) in a form more accessible to the
non-specialist.

Wiener begins by indicating how, in the shift from a
deterministic to a probabilistic paradigm in the natural sciences, questions of communication and control come to occupy a key position; and it is these questions which define the
research field of cybernetics. Control and communication are
classed together in the definition of cybernetics because both
seek to establish ‘enclaves of order’ against nature’s tendency
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

49

to degrade the organised and destroy the meaningful – the
tendency for entropy to increase. Wiener’s thesis is that all
forms of organisation – biological, technological and socialcan be understood in terms of the messages and communication facilities which belong to them. Moreover, the existence
of these dynamic systems enables us to assert the existence of
progress. He does not suggest, though, that social evolution
can be understood in the same relatively unproblematic way
as the evolution of complexity in life forms or machines.

Cybernetics is immanently critical of merely technological
progress: an increase in the volume of messages transmitted
does not automatically mean a gain in communication – on
the contrary, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. The mass media and the ‘culture industry’ would
be good illustrations of communication at an advanced stage
of entropy. Information can increase organisation only to the
extent that it generates new meaning. With this necessary
reference to semantics, cybernetics itself, then, seems to invoke irreducibly human dimensions of communication. At
any rate, Wiener pre-empts the stronger claims sometimes
made for AI – that it not only simulates (aspects of) human
intelligence, but is (potentially) indistinguishable from it for a fairly straightforward and traditional reason: humans are
not machines. The idea of purpose in nature has been disposed
of by the probabilistic turn in science, but this has not undermined the persistence of that peculiarity, referred to by terms
like ‘consciousness’, ‘intentionality’ and ‘subjectivity’,

which sustains the belief that humans can have purpose. So
whilst machines develop formidable capacities for learning,
what they learn is ‘know-how’, and what they are incapable of
is that more important quality which Wiener calls ‘knowwhat’ – ‘not only how to accomplish our purposes, but what
our purposes are to be’.

Wiener further stresses that the determination of purposes
is not only subjective, but inter subjective; and his political
commitment to their free democratic thematisation is supported by cybernetics which shows that it is as unfeasible as it
is undesirable for information to be stored and concentrated in
few hands. Incidentally, he also has some powerful things to
say about the futility of governments’ obsessions with se50

crecy, and about some not unconnected defects in the institutional structure of scientific research.

The book has worn remarkably well. Wiener not only
foresaw the potential applications of cybernetics, but also
retained an awareness of those problems which information
technology is not likely to solve, and, indeed, others which it
creates. Machines cannot rise to the level of humans, but
humans can be brought down to the level of machines: ‘What
is used as an element in a machine, is in fact an element in the
machine.’ This explains the (perhaps not altogether felicitous) title of the book, whose content is otherwise better
described by its subtitle: for it was originally conceived as a
protest against the inhuman use of human beings. Wiener’s
underlying message is that we throw responsibility onto the
computer at our peril. Against the view that every problem
can be solved by manipulation, Wiener insists on a sense of
human limitedness, indeed, a tragic sense.

Tim Hayward

FABIAN FACTS
Ben Pimlott (ed), The Fabian Series (London, Unwin Hyman,
1989):

Austin Mitchell, Competitive Socialism, 107pp, £4.99 pb,
ISBN 0 04 440431.

Oonagh McDonald, Own Your Own: Social Ownership Examined, 83pp, £4.95 pb, ISBN 0 09 182383 8.

David Clapham, Goodbye Council Housing?, 77pp, £4.95 pb,
ISBN 0 09 1758076.

Clive Ponting, Whitehall: Changing the Old Guard, 76pp,
£4.99 pb, ISBN 0~04 440433 6.

Vivien Stern, Imprisoned By Our Prisons: What Needs To Be
Done, 101pp, £4.95 pb, ISBN 0 09 1758122.

Rethinking Labour’s past as the basis for socialist advance in
the 1990s is not an unusual project on the left these days. The
need to recapture a radical agenda by ‘leapfrogging Thatcherism’ is another sensible proposition. To aim to land on the
terra firma of Swedish Social Democracy is another matter
altogether; accepting this aim, one must wonder whether the
policy proposals contained in this series have the strength to
take them there. For, considered collectively, their proposals
have not the legs to get far beyond the Labour Party policy
review, let alone to the social-democratic New Jerusalem.

The point is not the reformist tenor of these pamphlets this is after all a Fabian series – but their failure to explore the
possibility of democratic socialist reform at all. The Labour
Party’s alleged confusion of the ends of socialism with a
specific set of means, most notably nationalization, is the
stock in trade of all ‘market socialisms’, and Mitchell’s Competitive Socialism is no exception. It contains much on competition, but little that is meaningfully socialist. For Mitchell,
socialism’s aim is to make capitalism run more efficiently,
but he is unconvincing as to how to do this. His economic
policy centres on a massive and sustained sterling devaluation, and seems destined to create inflation rather than reflation, in the absence of a coherent supply-side strategy. Moreover, his refusal to consider such a devaluation as part of a
negotiated entry into the EMS undermines both the sustainability of such a devaluation, and any possibility of democratic
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

socialist cooperation across the European Community. But
what is most disturbing is Mitchell’ s proposals for avoiding
sterling crisis prior to a Labour victory by ‘keeping mum’ on
the central plank of Labour’s economic policy. This isn’t
‘democratically socialist’, or even competitive.

Fabian concern with planning and public control rather
than public ownership is continued in both Clapham’s
Goodbye Council Housing and McDonald’s Social Ownership Examined. If modem Fabianism finds Labour’s statist
past unsavoury, the new dish is ‘social ownership’, for both
industry and housing. McDonald and Clapham are aware of
the need for choice, and their recipe for social ownership
comes in many different flavours: Employee Share Ownership Schemes (ESOPS), Cooperatives, Swedish-style wageearner funds and Trade Union owned enterprises are served
up by McDonald, and various forms of cooperative and housing association developments by Clapham. Both argue that
such forms allow more scope for workers and tenants to be
involved in the management of the industries in which they
work, and the homes in which they live. But with both authors
management is confined within the limits of the market. The
potential for a long-term ‘system transformational’ perspective, which formed part of, for instance, the Swedish Labour
Organisation’s original plan for wage-earner funds, is not
discussed.

Goodbye Council Housing concludes by arguing that releasing local authorities from the day-to-day management of
housing will allow them to concentrate on long-term strategic
planning. This theme is transferred to the national level in
Ponting’s Whitehall: Changing the Old Guard. He argues that
the policy-making functions of the civil service need to be
divorced from the day-to-day execution of policy proposals.

Whilst the establishment of the new executive agencies is
castigated by Ponting as an extension of the government’s
privatisation programme, the White Paper proposals for
Whitehall reform do not seem to be far away from his own.

By far the best book in this series is Vivien Stern’slmprisoned By Our Prisons. Stern provides an informed and damning indictment of the state of British prisons. She argues for
reduction of custodial sentences through a number of alternatives, whilst presenting a convincing case for treating criminality as an integral part of social policy, and not merely as a
penal problem. The prerequisite for this is a major change in
the way society views crime. Whilst Stern certainly recognises this cultural problem, her calls to widen ‘public debate’

do not confront the problem of Britain’s ‘moral majority’ and
its attitude to criminality.

Concern with increased public debate and involvement is
displayed by all the authors in this series – a definite advance
on Fabianism’s old technocratic image. Yet the terrain on
which that debate takes place is confined to Thatcher’s
agenda. Ten Tory years may well have ‘cleared the decks’ for
a major rethink on the left, but with increasing public concern
over the environment and the future of Europe, the possibility
that the conservatives may well have cleared the decks of a
sinking ship escapes them. The vision is a reflated, efficient
capitalist economy, getting government out of day-to-day
management of industry and extending consumer choice in
the market place, whilst creating better overall co-ordination
of government policy. It is too restricted a vision for radical
parliamentary socialism. It seems designed to swell the ranks
of the Greens with disaffected Labour supporters seeking an
alternative agenda, rather than providing the groundwork for
a new Jerusalem.

Nigel Ambrose
Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

PAST THE POST
Jean-Fran~ois

Lyotard, The Differend: Phrases in Dispute,
trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele, Manchester, Manchester
University Press, 1989, xvi + 195pp, £29.95 hb, £9.95 pb,
ISBN 0-7190 (hb) 0 7190 1925 7 (pb).

Lisa Appignanesi (editor), Postmodernism: ICA Documents,
London, Free Association Books, 1989, 230pp, £9.95 pb,
ISBN 1-85343-078-1.

Both these books are mainly conversations with the French
philosopher Jean-Fran~ois Lyotard. The ICA volume is a
reprint of a glossy in-house pamphlet which has been widely
available since 1986. It contains the transcript of public discussions with Jacques Derrida at the ICA in Autumn 1985, but
most of the volume is taken up with papers from a two-day
conference on postmodernity and the postmodern held in May
1985. The ‘star’ of the May event was Lyotard and the text is
punctuated by his pithy (or occasionally banal) responses to
the participants’ efforts to move the debates about postmodernism up a gear. The contributions generally achieve just that.

Lyotard’s own short paper on defining the postmodern, as
well as the pieces by Michael Norman and Angela McRobbie,
justify bringing this formative stage of these debates within
postmodernism to a much wider audience. The debates have
shifted considerably since 1985 (it is noticeable, for instance,
that ‘art’ is the constant referent here) but this should rapidly
become a standard reference work.

Lyotard’s The Differend however is perplexing and infuriating. The form of the book is that of conversations with itself,
or the A (the first reader, as the bizarre Reading Dossier at the
beginning informs us – in other words Lyotard himself).

Sometimes fascinating, sometimes unfathomable, this latest
translation of Lyotard’s work lies somewhere between the
upbeat interviews in Just Gaming and the overrated The
Postmodern Condition. The 264 entries (or paragraphs) here
represent random thoughts fired from the barrel of a gun,
notes for a postmodern dictionary. If it all leaves A a little
breathless, he can always rewind to the Preface which (tongue
in cheek?) predicts that ‘in the next century there will be no
more books. It takes too long to read, when success comes
from gaining time’.

Steve Redhead
51

GOLD INTO DROSS
Robert B. Pippin, Hegel’s Idealism: The Satisfactions of Self
Consciousness, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
1989, xii + 327pp, £30 hb, £10.95 pb, ISBNO 521370264hb,
o521 37923 7 pb.

To paraphrase the song: why can’t Hegel be more like Kant?

That is the constant refrain of this book. Despite all appearances, Hegel’ s project is interpreted as an essentially Kantian
one, centred on the ‘problem of knowledge’. According to
Pippin, Hegel is trying to answer the sceptic and give a
deductive justification of knowledge in idealist terms. After
an initial discussion of Kant and Schelling, Pippin attempts to
sustain this account through a detailed consideration, first of
the opening sections of the Phenomenology (viz. ‘Introduction’, ‘Consciousness’ and ‘Self Consciousness’), then of
some key categories of the Logic. The selection of passages
for detailed commentary seems rather limited and arbitrary.

Apart from that, however, Pippin does what he does well
enough. But why do it? Why try to force Hegel into such an
alien and uncongenial mould? It is almost as though Pippin
had discovered the opposite of the philosopher’s stone. He
turns gold into dross. Hegel – the philosopher who attempted
to transcend the absolutist metaphysics of the eighteenth
century, who introduced the social and historical dimension
into Western philosophy – is transmuted into a fumbling and
obscure Kantian, constantly needing to be rescued from glaring errors and elementary confusions. Moreover, the whole
discussion takes place in the sort of scholastic void which
German philosophy all too often encourages, with no attempt
to relate it to current philosophical ideas or controversies.

consciousness, history, intentionality, and totality are considered in relation to Kant, Lukacs, Kojeve, Sartre, and
Althusser; the work of Heidegger, Foucault, and MerleauPonty is also considered. Paci’s claims to present a phenomenological Marxism which reconciles Husserlian idealism
with Marxist materialism, and the possibility of a dialectical
form of phenomenology, are assessed. The Husserlian Lebenswelt is offered as the potential ground for a renewed appreciation of the objectivity of Marxism, and Pike explores the
possibilities of a phenomenological understanding of the
experience of the totality common to both Marx and Husserl.

The differences and similarities between these thinkers’ approaches to such notions are developed in the context of an
appreciation of their philosophical backgrounds and the treatments each of them make of science and philosophy, and both
are seen responding to the positivism of scientism and identifying a crisis in the relationship between science and philosophy. The book’s understanding of Marxism as a social science
is achieved to the detriment of any concern with notions of
class and historical struggle. Nevertheless, Pike’s interest in
the epistemological and methodological interfaces between
the genres she addresses means that the text provides an
excellent framework for the discussion of anum ber of contentious and problematic issues. She is astute in her identification of the crisis of the legitimation of political theory and
social science, and the text is to be welcomed as an exploratory examination of fascinating and often neglected problems.

Sean Savers

Adopting a currently fashionable approach, Paul Owen
Johnson’s The Critique of Thought: A Re-examination of
Hegel’s Science of Logic (Aldershot, Avebury, 1988, xi +
276pp, £27.50 hb, ISBN 0 566 05765 4) offers a reading of
Hegel’s Science of Logic which is based on the premise that
Hegel is primarily a critical philosopher engaged in a dialectical analysis of our categories, rather than a ‘metaphysician
of the old school’ . Johnson provides a painstaking commentary on the Logic from this perspective, trying to show in
detail how Hegel’ s categorial revolution was meant to come
about. Although he does not altogether avoid sinking beneath
the weight of Hegel’s terminology and architectonic, and although he writes almost exclusively within the British tradition of Hegel-reception, this book will be a useful text for all
those who like their Hegel in close-up.

In Marxism and Phenomenology (London, Croom Helm,
1986, 201pp, £27.50 hb, ISBN 0 7099 40556) Shirley Pike
argues for some sort of synthesis of Marxism and Phenomenology, and explores the common ground between the genres with particular reference to the work of Hegel, Marx, and
Husserl. Notions of science and ideology, subjectivity and
52

Radical Philosophy 54, Spring 1990

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