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Academic Psychology

Geoffrey Hawthorn

18 June 1981
Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology 
by Henri Tajfel.
Cambridge, 369 pp., £25, April 1981, 0 521 22839 5
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... It is said that when the electors to a vacant chair of psychology met recently in a small but by no means undistinguished university, a university with some past distinction in psychology itself, their first inclination was to agree that the subject had ceased to exist and that the chair should not be filled. The philosopher argued that mental events just were indeterminate. A cumulative and convergent ...

Be Spartans!

James Romm: Thucydides

21 January 2016
Thucydides on Politics: Back to the Present 
by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Cambridge, 264 pp., £21.99, March 2014, 978 1 107 61200 6
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... so long been an entrenched endurance contest had by this time changed in character, with Spartan and Athenian navies now chasing each other about the Aegean. It is in this anomalous eighth book that GeoffreyHawthorn, until his death at the end of last year an emeritus professor of international politics at Cambridge, finds the truest and most revealing aspects of Thucydides’ thought. Here more than ...
13 February 1992
Plausible Worlds: Possibility and Understanding in History and the Social Sciences 
by Geoffrey Hawthorn.
Cambridge, 192 pp., £27.50, September 1991, 0 521 40359 6
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New Philosophy of Social Science: Problems of Indeterminacy 
by James Bohman.
Polity, 273 pp., £35, October 1991, 0 7456 0632 6
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... Certainly not the saddest for historians, according to GeoffreyHawthorn’s wonderfully playful and intelligent book: rather, the most instructive. Hawthorn is intrigued by the philosophical standing of counter-factuals – hypothetical ‘other worlds’ – and their usefulness for historians and social scientists. Some historians resist the legitimacy ...

Top of the Class

Geoffrey Hawthorn

8 May 1997
The State Nobility 
by Pierre Bourdieu, translated by Lauretta Clough.
Polity, 475 pp., £45, November 1996, 0 7456 0824 8
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... No theorist of what only a theorist would dare to call ‘modern society’ commands more attention in the anglophone world; no one is closer to the centre of the local ‘field of power’, as he would describe it, that is Parisian intellectual life. Pierre Bourdieu’s first book, his 1958 ethnography of the Kabyle of Algeria, was, it’s true, social anthropology done in the British manner: it talked ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn

20 October 1983
In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... Vaizey has no doubt at all. ‘They were the best.’ Hugh Gaitskell, Iain Macleod, Richard Titmuss, Anthony Crosland and Edward Boyle. They were all ‘clever, honest, admirable and honourable’. They were all, except Boyle, who was at school at the time, affected by the slump. They were all excited by the political changes and administrative advances of the war. Four of them entered the Commons ...

Participation in America

Geoffrey Hawthorn

6 November 1980
Authority 
by Richard Sennett.
Secker, 206 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 436 44675 8
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... De Tocqueville feared, not for the failure of democracy in America, but for its success: not, like so many of his French contemporaries, for its propensity to release an unbridled égoisme, but for its propensity to ‘unbend the springs of action’ altogether. The citizen of the new republic, as Tocqueville saw him, ‘exists only in himself and for himself’; he neither sees nor feels the others ...

Diary

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Two Koreas

20 November 1986
... The guidebooks still call Korea ‘the land of the morning calm’. I’d not expected that. I knew that, once, the country had been calm – and archaic, involuted and corrupt – and had been easy prey to Japan in 1910. But the Japanese had imposed their language, expropriated landlords, set up industries, and, with an efficiency and determination unmatched by any of the other colonial powers, given ...

Green Films

Geoffrey Hawthorn

1 April 1982
Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage 
by Stanley Cavell.
Harvard, 283 pp., £12.25, December 1981, 0 674 73905 1
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... Cary Grant sits down at a table with Ralph Bellamy and Irene Dunne in 1937 and says: ‘So you two are going to get married.’ It is The Awful Truth. Grant sits down at a table with Bellamy and Rosalind Russell in 1940 and says again: ‘So you two are going to get married.’ It is His Girl Friday. Asked what the Bellamy character in the film, the man who plans to marry his former wife, looks like ...

Sexual Subjects

Geoffrey Hawthorn

21 October 1982
The Sexual Fix 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 191 pp., £12.95, June 1982, 0 333 32750 0
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Questions of Cinema 
by Stephen Heath.
Macmillan, 257 pp., £12.50, August 1981, 0 333 26122 4
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‘Sight and Sound’: A 50th-Anniversary Selection 
edited by David Wilson.
Faber, 327 pp., £12.50, September 1982, 0 571 11943 3
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... In Diderot’s ‘Les Bijoux Indiscrets’, a man acquires a ring which has the power to make sexual organs speak. Michel Foucault says that he wants to make that ring speak for itself. (He sketched part of his project in this paper last summer: Vol. 3, No 9.) Sexuality ‘traces that line of foam which shows just how far speech may advance on the sands of silence’. To speak of it, to ourselves ...

Bitten by the love geist

Geoffrey Hawthorn

30 January 1992
Scheler 
by Francis Dunlop.
Claridge, 97 pp., £9.95, October 1991, 1 870626 71 0
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... Max Scheler had a great deal to say. He would start philosophising, his last wife said, as he dressed. The public lectures which the Chancellor invited him to give in Berlin in 1927 often went on for four hours at a time. The question is whether this garrulous, romantic, reactionary Bildungsbürger who, like most of the Weimar mandarins, despaired at what he saw as the triumph of practicality over ...

Informals of the world unite

Geoffrey Hawthorn

9 November 1989
The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World 
by Hernando de Soto, translated by June Abbott.
Tauris, 271 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 1 85043 144 2
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Cocaine: White Gold Rush in Peru 
by Edmundo Morales.
University of Arizona Press, 228 pp., £17.95, August 1989, 0 8165 1066 0
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A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present 
by Rondo Cameron.
Oxford, 437 pp., £30, July 1989, 0 19 504677 3
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... For an economic tract, Hernando de Soto’s book has had a remarkable success. It was first published in Lima, its subject, in 1986, but at once became a best-seller throughout Latin America. It is said to have been read with interest in China and the Soviet Union, and this summer de Soto was invited to Washington to discuss it with the American Treasury Secretary. De Soto says he was prompted to write ...

Listen to the women

Geoffrey Hawthorn

21 October 1993
An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution 
by Partha Dasgupta.
Oxford, 661 pp., £35, July 1993, 0 19 828756 9
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... The project of ‘developing’ the South, the countries of Latin America and the poorer former colonies of Asia and Africa, dates, as a deliberate project, from the Forties and early Fifties. It showed its origins. Economically, development meant industry. Adam Smith and Marx, it was assumed, were right. Output could most effectively be raised by moving as quickly as possible to capital-intensive ...

Diary

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Tribute to Ayrton Senna

9 June 1994
... Skill had been killing Formula One. In the early Nineties, Frank Williams and Renault had together been producing cars that were superior to the rest. The superior drivers wanted to be in them. Williams made more money, and their cars got better. The result was increasingly predictable processions round the circuits. Nigel Mansell won the championship in a Williams-Renault in 1992, Alain Prost in 1993 ...

Diary

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Watch the birdy!

2 November 1995
... One of the more unusual companies in the British register has done what it set out to do. ‘Buntings and New World warblers’, the ninth and last and, at fewer than five hundred pages, much the shortest of its volumes of Birds of the Western Palaearctic, is out.* Some wonder whether Western Palaearctic Birds Ltd might not have overdone it. Birding World, the magazine for the seriously obsessed, had ...

The Wrong Way Round

Geoffrey Hawthorn

17 September 1987
Rival Views of Market Society, and Other Recent Essays 
by Albert Hirschman.
Viking, 197 pp., £18.95, November 1986, 0 670 81319 2
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Development, Democracy and the Art of Trespassing: Essays in Honour of Albert Hirschman 
edited by Alejandro Foxley, Michael McPherson and Guillermo O’Donnell.
Notre Dame, 379 pp., $25.95, October 1986, 0 268 00859 0
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... The 20th century,’ Charles Sabel remarks in his essay in the collection in honour of Albert Hirschman, ‘has been a gigantic lesson in the transformability of theories, political programmes and institutions through their recombination in new contexts.’ It is a revealing remark. For although most of what now goes on in the ‘advanced’ societies – in what since the Bandung Conference of ...

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