also included feeling among the rational faculties, along with thinking.) Macmurray develops the idea in some detail in his books. He explains its novelty by pointing out that we have systematically ignored and repressed our feelings, while valuing and developing our thinking. In order for our feelings to develop, they need to be freed. We have to be honest about them. Macmurray was under no illusion that undisciplined feeling would be any more successful than undisciplined thought in guiding our lives. He was an enthusiastic advocate of an approach to education which would address the whole person – thoughts, feelings, and their expression in practical activity. (Unfortunately, much of his writing on education remains unpublished.) Macmurray’s view of our emotional life (not to be confused with the self-centred approaches to emotional development common today) could have helped Tony Blair to achieve the humility which every person in a position of power is in danger of losing. By focusing outwards, a person’s capacity for feeling, on which their judgment depends, can continually develop towards maturity. This can help to counteract the isolation to which any powerful person is liable. It can help them to remain connected, at least in imagination, with the lives of ordinary people. John Macmurray’s ideas are unifi ed at a deep level by his respect for the individual person and his belief that we discover ourselves through our relationships with others. We need each other to be ourselves. He hoped for a better society following the catastrophe of the First World War in which he fought. He devoted his lifetime of philosophising to that end. He was enthusiastic about science, having early in life studied it and even wished to become a scientist. He also saw the limits of science. In this he has similarities with Popper. As a philosopher he insisted that science, art and religion all have their place in human activities. Tony Blair seems to have had only a limited grasp of John Macmurray’s thought. Blair’s Macmurray may indeed have been very like the Christian socialist thinkers of the turn of the twentieth century (as John Rentoul says in his book Tony Blair, Prime Minister ). The John Macmurray that those of us who study him know is, by contrast, an original and profound thinker, a continual source of fresh insights in philosophy, politics, religion, education and history. It is a pity that Blair is not more familiar with him.
P M T
The Philosophers' Magazine /4th quarter 2006
WIN! Sartre books
Three readers have the chance to win both volumes of Jean-Paul Satre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason, the second of which has just been published by Verso.
‘The Critique is essential to any serious understanding of Sartre.’ George Steiner
All you need to do is answer the following absurdly easy question.
With whom does Sarte share a grave?
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For various reasons, most of our readers come from the western industrialised world. One is that this magazine is, for many of the world’s population, an absurdly expensive luxury. So what would you do if, armed with the last of your cash, and about to buy this or some similar publication at a news stand, you saw someone dying of starvation? Wouldn’t it be obscene to buy the magazine, rather than buy food and drink for the destitute person? And if you would do that if the person were in front of you, what difference would it make if that person were far away, but still capable of being helped? These are the tough questions at the core of this forum, which draws on a conference “World Poverty and the Duty of Assistance”, organised by the Forum for European Philosophy. Make yourself comfortable — you won’t stay that way for long.
4th quarter 2006