James Franklin. Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia

Article excerpt

JAMES FRANKLIN. Corrupting the Youth: A History of Philosophy in Australia. Macleay Press, Sydney, 2003; iv + 465 pages.

This book has two strands. In the first Franklin recounts stories about life around philosophy and philosophers, particularly those who have been caught in the glare of public controversy. Activities at the University of Sydney are dominant. In the second he gathers conflicting philosophical and social or political positions of Australian philosophers around significant themes. Tying these together is the suggestion that somehow philosophy or philosophers have misled the young. The book is divided into three parts.

The first part, 'John Anderson's Sydney and Alternatives', in seven chapters, covers the twentieth century mostly from the point of view of the influence of John Anderson (Sydney University, 1927-58), his critical philosophy and his students. Catholic philosophy, particularly scholastic philosophy in the work of Paddy Ryan msc and Austin Woodbury sm, gets a chapter and appears obliquely in another chapter on the 1958-61 Gough-Kinsella affair. The Orr case, with many philosophers but little philosophy, is given a chapter. Two additional chapters deal with nineteenth and early twentieth century idealism and philosophy at Melbourne University.

The second part, 'The Wider Sphere of Philosophy', is in three chapters. The first recounts the activities of The Push, a group of ideologically influential libertarians who met at the Royal George Hotel in Sydney during the sixties. The second explores materialist theories of mind, prominent in Australia, and their impact on neuro-science and psychiatry and on phenomena such as experimentation with mind-altering substances. …


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