Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close

Letters

Vol. 3 No. 24 · 17 December 1981

Search by issue:

Cutting the universities

SIR: Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer (LRB, 19 November) continues to be vastly pleased with himself, his university (‘Cambridge, uniquely, is free from this fault’), and the lucid hardheadedness with which he settles all the issues that need facing.

On tenure contracts he repeats a currently fashionable non-sequitur that because tenure was designed to protect ‘academic freedom’ it has no business to be invoked ‘for the protection of jobs’. The two are not so easily separable, and more is at stake anyway than the two terms of this distinction (even if it were not a false one) by themselves suggest. First, the UGC’s pressure on individual universities to discontinue, reduce or expand particular academic activities in ways which might entail particular staff redundancies is precisely a breach of that ‘academic freedom’ which tenure was designed to ‘protect’: the freedom of universities and of individuals within them to pursue what they judge to be their true academic priorities, unmolested by externally-imposed conceptions of what these priorities ought to be at a given political moment. The immediate burden falls where academics have always had reason to fear it – on those areas of disinterested and speculative inquiry which are not considered at the time to be useful, profitable or socially desirable. Contraction is inevitable in times of economic stress and universities must accept their fair share. But it is precisely against the direct, crudely applied and irreversible consequences of such stresses that tenure’s protection of ‘academic freedom’ is most urgently needed.

The UGC may believe that it still just about preserves the fiction that universities are free to follow their academic judgment within the financial limitations. But its present (perhaps reluctant) posture of bullying dirigisme, backed by heavy ministerial noises off, seems calculated to achieve the opposite effect. The vocal and public admonitions of what the Government wants to see done (including the encouragement or discouragement of particular subject areas, and apparently the abolition of tenure itself) directly challenge that ‘academic freedom’ which Sir Peter and some leader-writers believe is no longer at issue.

The Charter of my university (like that, I assume, of some others) specifies in close detail the conditions under which an academic employee may be dismissed, and these do not include fluctuations of government policy. University Charters are not private contracts. They are granted by Royal Prerogative through the Privy Council, and their provisions have a public and national validation which the Government cannot shrug off as it might shrug off the haphazard products of agreements among private bodies or individuals. Ministerial encouragement of breach of contract would, of course, be unsavoury even if the contracts were of a more private kind (as they may be in some universities). But there is a distinct likelihood that a general abolition of tenure might entail retrospective legislation, a thing considered repugnant in British Parliamentary tradition as an infringement of freedoms not merely ‘academic’. Sir Peter somehow manages to inject a note of complacency into the very act of opining that this is ‘not an attractive prospect’. It is a measure of decline in public standards that a person in a position to be well-informed on such matters should be able to suppose, no doubt with justification, that it is a real ‘possibility which it would be foolish to ignore’.

The tendentious cant which reduces tenure to a false distinction between freedom and jobs also sidesteps a simple, glaring fact whose moral and social implications ought surely not to be overlooked. Tenure contracts are legally binding agreements on which large numbers of individuals have built an entire choice of life. These have usually been talented people, with other and more lucrative careers open to them at the start. Their trust in the security of the tenure system was part of what made it possible for them to develop the increasingly specialised skills which the advanced pursuit of their academic disciplines demanded of them, and which cannot easily be transplanted outside a University context. They have committed years or even whole lifetimes to research and to teaching programmes not immediately applicable elsewhere. Are the rules suddenly to be rewritten retroactively for a few thousand such people?

Sir Peter is probably right that we give tenure too early. This is one of the things about the system which requires overhauling, though not, in a civilised society, at the cost of a wholesale breach of existing contracts. But even here his comparisons with other countries are not scrupulously exact. It is true that it takes longer to obtain tenure in the United States and that some teachers are not kept on. But there are in America many more university institutions (proportionately to population) where such teachers may find employment, including tenured employment, if their original institution does not keep them on. American universities employ, by comparison with British ones, a huge turnover of junior teachers, and it is easier for a young academic to find a first job there. Because this is not so in Britain, the competition for first posts has always been exceptionally strong, and there is almost certainly less likelihood in British conditions of making a really poor initial appointment. And once it is achieved, tenure is in practice very firm indeed in the United States, as also in other major Western democracies. A senior French academic told me recently that in the French tenure system ‘posts can be made redundant, but not persons’, though tenure is again achieved more slowly than in this country. We may or may not accept the value of a tenure system, but as long as it exists it is a matter of public trust.

Claude Rawson
Department of English, University of Warwick

Ideal Speech

SIR: Geoffrey Hawthorn reviews my book, Hegel contra Sociology (LRB, 19 November) as if I build the case for Hegel’s importance for social theory on a dismissal of the case for Habermas’s ideal speech situation. He also says that I see sociological reason as ‘a deluded world’ which is ‘uncomprehendingly stuck “at the Fichtean station" ’. In fact, the first and longest chapter of my book is devoted to discussing the ‘neo-Kantian paradigm’, in order to derive the conditions of intelligibility of sociological reason, not its ‘uncomprehendability’. My discussion of Habermas is merely a sideline in this argument, which examines the Fichtean station as already half-way on the road between Kant and Hegel.

Hawthorn accuses me of saying ‘three times that Hegel has no social import if the absolute cannot be thought,’ and yet I ‘never quite say how to think it’. Yet the main bulk of the book is devoted to explaining how the absolute might be thought in different areas of social life: in politics, art, religion, philosophy etc. Finally, Hawthorn indicts me for severity, for being ‘far too self-denying’ in insisting ‘that if a view is not secure it has no value.’ But my whole book is a defence and restatement of the view that Hegelian heights are, as he puts it, the most ‘sensational’ in offering a perspective on the recurrent issues of social theory. Furthermore, I try to show that Hegel himself provides an account of why his view is ‘not secure’, an account which, I suggest, may usefully be applied to the history of Marxism.

In short, Geoffrey Hawthorn’s strategy of reducing so many books to their common denominator by elliptical reference to Rousseau and Habermas has caused him to overlook completely my claim that a neo-Hegelian Marxism might provide the best answer to the problem of Rousseau’s new Héloise.

Gillian Rose
University of Sussex

SIR: Authors may show forbearance when their ideas are misunderstood: but when misunderstanding borders on distortion, both of one’s own ideas and of those about which one writes, then there may be some obligation for authors to respond. It is this sense of obligation which prompts me to comment upon Geoffrey Hawthorn’s recent review of books dealing with issues in ‘critical theory’.

Included within the scope of this sweeping review is Paul Ricoeur’s Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences. The themes of this book are summed up by Mr Hawthorn in one sentence: Ricoeur, it seems, conceives of language in terms of two poles ‘which ground reflection and hope together to reveal what we really may mean in what we say’. This is simply a misrepresentation of Ricoeur’s position. In Chapter Two of Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences Ricoeur is critical of the attempt to ‘ground reflection’ through an analysis of language. For Ricoeur, reflection is one stage in a process of interpretation which cannot be divorced from historical tradition and which does not stand in need of being ‘grounded’. As for the suggestion that the process of interpretation will ‘reveal what we really may mean in what we say’, it may be left to Mr Hawthorn, let alone Ricoeur, to tell us what this suggestion ‘really may mean’.

Mr Hawthorn’s treatment of my book, Critical Hermeneutics, is even more disconcerting. Apparently I have attempted ‘to rescue the whole of Habermas’s vertiginous ambition … by reconnecting the abstracted interlocutors of the ideal speech situation to what is, as put forward by Thompson, a disappointingly unargued and rather simple view of a very uncivil society’. Indeed such a view is unargued for, since I put forward no view of any society, uncivil or otherwise. What I argue for in the closing pages of my book (pages 209-13) is the following idea: to make sense of the notion of rationally resolving conflicts concerning the truth of interpretations, one must imagine the possibility that subjects could come to an agreement about the interpretations under conditions which were free from asymmetrical relations of power. I try to show how this idea can be elaborated so as to avoid some of the objections that may be levelled against Habermas’s formulation of the ideal speech situation.

I am sure that the careful reader could find difficulties in the arguments which I advance in Critical Hermeneutics. Mr Hawthorn dismisses these arguments out of hand, engaging in caricature rather than criticism. This, perhaps, is what he understands by ‘civility’.

John Thompson
Jesus College, Cambridge

Geoffrey Hawthorn writes: I did not intend to suggest that Gillian Rose makes her case for Hegel just against Habermas. I intended to say that she makes it against varieties of what may be described as ‘neo-Kantianism’. Habermas, about whom I was writing in the review, happens to be one of the most recent and most impressive ‘neo-Kantians’. Nor did I intend to reduce her book or any of the others. I intended merely to say in the space available to me how Hegel contra Sociology and the others connected to Habermas. However, I did intend to say, and would maintain, that Gillian Rose never quite tells us how to think the absolute. At page 204 she says that ‘if we cannot think the absolute this means that it is therefore not our thought in the sense of not realised. The absolute is the comprehensive thinking which transcends the dichotomies between concept and intuition, theoretical and practical reason. It cannot be thought (realised) because these dichotomies and their determination are not transcended.’ Yet, she continues, ‘once we realise this we can think the absolute by acknowledging the element of Sollen in such a thinking, by acknowledging the subjective element, the limits on our thinking the absolute. This is to think the absolute and to fail to think it quite differently from Kant and Fichte’s thinking and failing to think it.’ Other readers may take a different view, but the most charitable interpretation I could make of this paradox was that Gillian Rose was faute de mieux falling back upon a so-called ‘left Hegelian’ reading, in which, in her words (page 211), ‘speculative discourse [is] turned back into the discourse of abstract opposition.’ I believed myself to be confirmed in this by what she says about a possible Marxism at pages 219-220. She does indeed concede that Hegel himself saw the ‘historical barriers’ to his success (page 211), but does not defend his more purely logical and ontological arguments against the criticisms that have been made of them by Taylor and many others. So when I said that ‘we’, in ‘the international world of sociological reason’, are ‘uncomprehendingly’ stuck at the Fichtean station, I meant simply to record her view that we lack ‘comprehension’ in the true Hegelian sense of that term. I cannot speak for others, but I certainly do lack comprehension, because I cannot think the absolute any more clearly after reading Gillian Rose’s book than I could before, although I believe that I now understand why I cannot, which is a tribute to the book. Yet the paradox of not being able to do so and yet of not believing that Hegel has ‘no social import’, or no value, because I cannot, is a paradox that I would defend.

John Thompson misreads me on Ricoeur. I did not say, I do not understand what it would mean to say, that Ricoeur grounds reflection through language. I said, as Ricoeur himself says in the chapter to which John Thompson refers, that for him discourse is intelligible and so ‘grounded’ as a mediation between the memory of Exodus and the hope of Resurrection. My objection to John Thompson’s sociology is just that it is simple and tendentious. He sketches Society as consisting of nothing but putatively free and perspicuous subjects who are ‘dominated’ by unspecified institutions and ideologies. Accordingly, he supposes and does not defend the point of a critical theory.

Box of Data

SIR: You are very considerate to your readers in the provision of bibliographical information about the books reviewed and discussed by your contributors. You supply ISBNs and up-to-date prices, and, unlike too many journals, recognise the existence of paperbacks. The time and trouble it must take to gather this information are well justified.

But the box of data that accompanies Hans Aarsleff’s contentious article on Isaiah Berlin’s assessment of Vico (LRB, 5 November) makes me wonder about the principles and method of compilation of such data. You give price and publisher for both hardback and paperback editions, but ISBNs only for the hardbacks (the missing numbers are: Russian Thinkers, 0 14 02 2260 X; Concepts and Categories, 0 19 283027 9; Against the Current, 0 19 283028 7; Vico and Herder, 0 7011 2512 8). You (rightly) intend, it seems, to include preliminary pages in your calculations of extent, but in two cases you omit them (Against the Current is not 394, but 448 pages long, Personal Impressions 250 rather than 219). Concepts and Categories (220 pages, not 224) is out of print in hardback, which makes the hardback data of historical interest only. Personal Impressions was published not in 1979 but in 1980 – which makes it less anomalous that there is as yet no paperback edition (due from Oxford in October 1982). Finally, in his second paragraph Professor Aarsleff alludes to Four Essays on Liberty, the only collection of Isaiah Berlin’s work you do not list, and it may be worth adding its details for the sake of completeness: Oxford, 278 pp., £5.50 and £2.95, 1969, 0 19 215861 9 and 0 19 281034 0.

These remarks are made in the hope than an already excellent service can be further improved. The errors may only reveal inaccuracy in your source (British Books in Print?). If so, it seems there is no substitute for getting the data from the physical books themselves. It is a pity to geld the lily.

Henry Hardy
Oxford University Press

We take our figure for the number of pages from the last numbered page of the book.

Editor, ‘London Review’

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.