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24 January 1980
... lives as they choose, and those which the law cannot check or control without infringing an essential freedom of choice. But what are these necessary limits on freedom? The reports starts from John Stuart Mill’s classical discussion, in On Liberty, of the proper limits of government interference with the freedom of the individual to conduct ‘experiments in living’, if he so chooses, and it cites ...

Wild Words

Stuart Hampshire

18 August 1983
A History of the Modern World: From 1917 to the 1980s 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 832 pp., £16.50, April 1983, 0 297 78226 6
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... comes to seem an obsession, an obsession both typical and revealing. In the world as a whole, Maynard Keynes was probably the most influential thinker that Britain has produced, at least since John Stuart Mill, and in addition he exhibited a variety of talents and achievements which together amounted to genius. Wherever 20th-century English literature is discussed, whether in America or elsewhere ...

Machiavelli’s Bite

Stuart Hampshire

1 October 1981
Machiavelli 
by Quentin Skinner.
Oxford, 102 pp., £4.50, May 1981, 0 19 287517 5
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The Prince and Other Political Writings 
by Niccolo Machiavelli, translated by Bruce Penman.
Dent, 354 pp., £3.50, June 1981, 0 460 11280 5
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... This is a short book, scarcely more than a long essay, on a subject vastly investigated and written about. Professor Skinner’s powers of compression and command of the evidence provide as good an introduction to Machiavelli’s thought as could be asked for. As in his Foundations of Modern Political Thought, he is determined to place Machiavelli’s theorising in its historical context among the ...

Driving Force

Stuart Hampshire

19 June 1980
Life Chances 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Weidenfeld, 181 pp., £8.95, January 1980, 0 297 77682 7
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... It is not disarming when Professor Dahrendorf writes, in the very first sentence of his Preface: ‘The subject of this volume is simple: what are human societies about?’ And later: ‘What is human society and its history about?’ The intention is probably to appear informal, friendly and approachable, and at the same time to be profound in theme: but the effect is depressing. The vagueness leads ...

Accepting Freud

Stuart Hampshire

4 December 1980
Freud 
by Ronald Clark.
Weidenfeld, 652 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 297 77661 4
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... There has for some time been the hovering suspicion that there are deliberately concealed sources for the biography of Freud, and that they will gradually emerge from hiding as the years pass. Mr Clark refers to the suspicion, and he has, in fact, made use of some useful sources which were not available to Ernest Jones. The most important are the original series of letters to Wilhelm Fliess without ...

Small Creatures

Stuart Hampshire

5 September 1985
Spinoza 
by R.J. Delahunty.
Routledge, 317 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 7102 0375 6
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... In the academic study of philosophy in English-speaking countries Spinoza is not usually considered an indispensable source for the central tradition, on a level with Descartes, Locke, Hume and Kant; and probably he never will be. Even advanced students of philosophy often proceed on their way through the 17th century towards Leibniz and Locke without reading the Ethics, Spinoza’s posthumously published ...

Radical Egoism

Stuart Hampshire

19 August 1982
The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, Vol II: June 1913-October 1916 
edited by George Zytaruk and James Boulton.
Cambridge, 700 pp., £20, May 1982, 0 521 23111 6
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Selected Short Stories 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Brian Finney.
Penguin, 540 pp., £1.95, June 1982, 0 13 043160 5
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The Trespasser 
by D.H. Lawrence, edited by Elizabeth Mansfield.
Cambridge, 327 pp., £22.50, April 1982, 0 521 22264 8
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... These are the years of early fame after Sons and Lovers, and of the publication of The Rainbow and its banning, and of Lawrence’s violent and despairing reactions to the war. He was already a fully recognised writer, a probable genius, and his more intimate correspondents include Cynthia Asquith, Ottoline Morrell, Bertrand Russell, Edward Marsh, Middleton Murry and Katherine Mansfield, Philip Heseltine ...

Against Simplicity

Stuart Hampshire

18 February 1982
Moral Luck 
by Bernard Williams.
Cambridge, 173 pp., £16.50, December 1981, 0 521 24372 6
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... The surprising title, first attached to one essay among the 13 here collected, does suggest the theme that holds the book together. Much of the argument in the various essays is a many-sided onslaught on Kant’s conception of morality. Kant had represented morality as imposing identical claims on all men equally and at all times, irrespective of all other differences between them, including differences ...

Human Nature

Stuart Hampshire

25 October 1979
Beast and Man 
by Mary Midgley.
Harvester, 396 pp., £7.50
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... Biology​ as a guide to ethics has been an intellectual fad of the last decade, and Mrs Midgley is trying to restore a sense of proportion. Sociobiology has had its home principally in the United States rather than in the land of Herbert Spencer, and Professor E.O. Wilson of Harvard, author of Sociobiology the New Synthesis, is now the leading figure in this new, or revived, philosophy of human nature ...

Undecidables

Stuart Hampshire

16 February 1984
Alan Turing: The Enigma 
by Andrew Hodges.
Burnett, 587 pp., £18, October 1983, 0 09 152130 0
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... This is a very long biography, and before it appeared Alan Turing was not very well-known; his genius was of a kind that is not likely to be spread abroad. An immense amount of work has gone into this book, which expresses profound, and sometimes almost obsessional, admiration. It is not hagiography, but rather a study of a hero, an intellectual hero. I found it continuously readable and interesting ...

Master’s Voice

Stuart Hampshire

19 June 1986
The Time of My Life: An Autobiography 
by W.V. Quine.
MIT, 499 pp., £21.50, September 1985, 0 262 17003 5
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... This is a most unusual book. It is the autobiography of a philosopher who has been as widely and deeply respected as any English-speaking philosopher now alive. Professor Quine is enjoying a vigorous and productive retirement after many years’ teaching at Harvard. His tone here is jaunty, and he expresses steady enjoyment of almost everything that has happened to him along the way. In the age of ...

Local Justice

T.M. Scanlon

5 September 1985
Morality and Conflict 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Blackwell, 175 pp., £18.50, September 1984, 0 631 13336 4
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Spheres of Justice: A Defence of Pluralism and Equality 
by Michael Walzer.
Blackwell, 343 pp., £15, September 1984, 0 631 14063 8
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... on a mistaken search for ‘rational foundations’ for our moral beliefs? A number of recent writers have suggested in various ways that it has. Two stimulating books by Michael Walzer and by StuartHampshire make distinctive contributions to this debate. Both are more personal than most books in moral philosophy, and each gives the clear sense of an author working to understand and articulate ...

Someone else’s shoes

Geoffrey Hawthorn

23 November 1989
A Treatise on Social Justice. Vol. I: Theories of Justice 
by Brian Barry.
Harvester, 428 pp., £30, May 1989, 0 7450 0641 8
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Innocence and Experience 
by Stuart Hampshire.
Allen Lane, 195 pp., £16.95, October 1989, 0 7139 9027 9
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... As Brian Barry suggests, the question of justice arises when custom loses its grip; when the prevailing social myth and what StuartHampshire calls its ‘fallacy of false fixity’ – that relations cannot be other than they are – is exposed. This is not to say that new fixed entities are never then proposed to replace the myth. Plato ...

This Trying Time

A.N. Wilson: John Sparrow

1 October 1998
The Warden 
by John Lowe.
HarperCollins, 258 pp., £19.99, August 1998, 0 00 215392 0
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... lightweight books. Rowse complained that Sparrow had read none of them. ‘ “Do you know my Tudor Cornwall, John?” “No,” replied John and gestured to the figure on his right: “Do you know StuartHampshire?” ’ His biographer, with a faith touching in one who must have heard these carefully crafted witticisms repeated over several decades, tells us that ‘such ripostes were quick-witted ...

The Sun-Bather

Michael Neve

3 July 1980
Havelock Ellis 
by Phyllis Grosskurth.
Allen Lane, 492 pp., £10, June 1980, 0 7139 1071 2
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... itself the product of a general feeling that mére history was too narrow a form, has perhaps been the most resilient of these creations. Sexology is certainly the most curious. As writers such as StuartHampshire have reiterated, almost all the grand syntheses attempted by the 19th-century intelligentsia share a common aim: to replicate, as far as possible, the achievements and accuracies of the ...

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