Following John Anderson

by A. J. Anderson

From Dialectic Volume 30, 1987 (Special Issue: Andersonian Papers).

It was with mixed feelings, and after wrestling with considerable doubts, that I accepted an invitation to present, in August 1970, 'The John Anderson Memorial Lecture'.

The lecture was delivered under the auspices of The Sydney Philosophy Club, and The Workers' Educational Association, at Stawell Hall, Macquarie Street, Sydney. The following is a lightly edited version of the address I gave.

I did not specify that part of my concern was about how far my Oedipus complex might affect the content and presentation of the material I had in mind, though I hoped that some at least of the audience would have the wit to understand this!

I did, however, express my 'mixed feelings' that arose, inter alia, because I was concerned that perhaps someone with a broader knowledge than I myself had of contemporary and past philosophical theories should have raised the issues I proposed to deal with. On the other hand, perhaps such a person might not have recognised the issues from their very nature and their relation to him himself.

My father once remarked that I have a habit of 'boring into problems', rather than cutting a wide swathe around them. I can only hope that this paper will show that my method can achieve some not unimportant results.

Nevertheless, I had been vainly hoping that some philosopher somewhere would have applied the method of 'critical inquiry' advocated by John Anderson himself to John Anderson's own works -- at worst, coherently to condemn; and at best to extend on a sounder basis the theories he initiated (for let it be clearly understood that in these theories there are a multitude of condensations in need of elaboration, confusions in need of resolution, and downright errors which are contradicted by his own theories!). It would also be gratifying if his position had been so well understood and absorbed that, in the recent conflict over the question of 'obscenity' between Honi Soit1 and Tharunka2, on the one hand, and our present illiberal state government3, on the other, someone (and preferably someone of academic note) could have 'put the case' against censorship without needing to resort to an article published by John Anderson in 1928! ['Censorship', Schooling: 4th August 1928.] This article has been resurrected by certain of the students as being appropriate, and it is of course appropriate, to the present conflict; but I would have liked to have seen some professional academics carrying on the same tradition, instead of leaving the rebuttal to students -- students who had acquired so little critical ability themselves that they had to rely on work of John Anderson that was more than forty years old at the date of the original lecture!

Yet it is gratifying to have this present-day recognition by students of the timeless relevance and importance of some of John Anderson's work -- especially as immediately after his death, eight years ago, certain uncritical students showed themselves to be utterly illiterate by accusing him of advocating 'disengagement' (in the 'ivory tower' sense). Obviously, their studies in English had been inadequate, in that they could not distinguish 'disinterestedness' (the point of view advocated by John Anderson) from 'uninterestedness', and the latter from 'disengagement'! Nevertheless, in spite of the neglect by some local students and professionals, it appears that John Anderson's philosophical importance is beginning to be recognised in some overseas publications.

It does, however, still seem surprising that 'the prophet hath little honour in his own country' -- especially if that country be an adopted one.4

In saying this, I do not intend to reflect on the Sydney Philosophy Club. This club, together with the W.E.A., has always supported John Anderson, even if, I fear, it has not always understood him. I have been told that the late Mr Voltaire Molesworth was a material force in the formation of the club, and may even have been an instigator of 'The John Anderson Memorial Lecture' [the chairman (Mr W. H. C. Eddy) could not confirm the latter].

Now, as far as the Club is concerned, I feel that it should be possible for expert speakers to present philosophical matters (as Sir Humphry Davy did for chemistry in the early 19th century) in such a way that those who have no training in philosophy (especially in its 'jargon') could understand them. In this respect, John Anderson rejected any concept of philosophy as esoteric; but always held that if one's conclusions contradicted observed reality, it was high time to look at one's premises! Technical expressions may at times be economical; but they should not be allowed to appear as a substitute for thought (cf. Ernest Jones's protests about the proliferation of jargon which so often substitutes for originality in the presentation of psychological theories as 'new'!).

I was myself extremely pleased, a few years ago, when (about the middle of the academic year), a student came to me and said: 'You know, this Ethics course of yours, Sandy -- it actually applies to one's life!' I was gratified (if somewhat astonished) by this recognition; for I feel that all philosophical material -- indeed the material of all studies -- should 'apply to one's life'. But I am also astonished at this fact being recognised, especially in these days when students seem to be encouraged to think: 'Learn the jargon by rote, and you'll "get through"'!

This, then, is what I believe philosophy should strive for: (1) not to contradict reality, and (2) to be understandable (or at least explainable) to the 'uninitiated'.

Now, it cannot have escaped the attention of most of you that present-day 'philosophy' is trying to hide in an ivory tower of impenetrable jargon. But I hope that it has also not escaped your attention that no one has either adequately criticised the position of John Anderson, nor shown (at least publicly) how any part of it might be developed or clarified.

Indeed, if you look to John Anderson's students, you would be hard put to it to show (by their works) that they have ever been his students. [In this, of course, I condemn myself, for I have never published in 'journals' any criticism or advance in theory of the position of John Anderson. I have, of course, incorporated some considerable criticism and development of his position in lectures to my students.]

Now, it would be interesting to consider why it appears to be so impossibly hard for those who disagree with John Anderson's philosophy to provide much more than a flat negation; and so hard for those who agree with him to extricate themselves from what appears to be a paralysing morass of 'dogma' -- and make some positive contribution to realist philosophy.

It could be said that the bases of these faults lie largely at John Anderson's own door.

He never published a basic treatise on his general philosophic position; and, in particular, he never published his logic in its entirety let alone in one coherent work.

However, he did indicate, through a multitude of lectures to a multitude of students, his essential philosophic position, viz. that the proposition is the fundamental measure of reality -- that you cannot know less than a proposition; and if you claim to know 'more', then that 'more' is a complex of propositions.

In the Australasian Journal of Philosophy, December 1962, John Mackie said:

"Both the essential strength and the characteristic faults [my emphasis] of Anderson's philosophy are bound up with his love of generality and system -- features that he admired even in Hegel."5

I do not understand why Mackie should consider a search for system and generality to be a 'fault' -- nor of what class of faults such a search is 'characteristic'. In his expression of his position, John Anderson exhibits some serious weaknesses (some of which I discuss later); but these do not arise from systematisation -- rather they arise from lack of consistent regard for system!

In John Mackie's article there is at least the implication that 'all systems' were derived from 'system-makers', of which John Anderson was one who forced upon 'reality' his own version of system and generality -- which were not objectively there! Mackie appears not to consider the possibility -- indeed, the necessity -- of discovering an 'objective' (real) system, and so on his view John Anderson's attempts must involve forcing a system upon the 'intractable facts'.

If this was in fact what John Mackie believed about John Anderson's philosophy, then he ignored many of the latter's arguments necessitating the logical 'oneness' of the universe. John Anderson argued for the position that is implicit in what might be termed the 'Milesian Revolution' (inaugurated by Thales), viz. that the philosophic problem is to find the 'common denominator' of all things -- to find what is the nature of any existence whatever, and what are the conditions of that existence. In the meaning of Heraclitus (though not of Parmenides) the sense in which we must 'confess that all things are one.'6

Parmenides took the problem as being that of a search for a fundamental substance, and in many ways the physical scientists have taken this to be the problem ever since -- a position admirably criticised by Prof. J. B. Thornton in his article 'Scientific Entities'.7 But John Anderson followed Heraclitus in searching for one way of being -- one level of reality -- and, more particularly, he followed Socrates in the view expressed in the Phaedo that we must concern ourselves with what we say about things, with the proposition; i.e., we must recognise that for a thing to exist and be spoken about coherently, it must exist as a location of a certain description, and when we make a meaningful assertion about anything, we assert that a certain specified space throughout a certain time has (or has not) a certain distinguishing character.

But it is not merely a question of 'pure' existence. The concept of 'existence' must involve the possibility and the actuality of interaction between 'existences' -- to exist, more than to be a location distinguished by character, is to be active and, thus, necessarily complex. So 'The thought by which all things are steered through all things', as Heraclitus puts it8, was the logical basis of the Philosophy course at Sydney University throughout the thirty-two years of John Anderson's incumbency. Indeed he argued that one level of reality was necessary not merely that we should be able to give an account of things and their interactions; but that it should be possible for things to exist and interact at all. And fundamentally, philosophy is the study of the nature of this 'level'.

However, not merely do we find the influence and works of John Anderson being ignored by many of his students (e.g. Professor J. A. Passmore could well have referred to him in A Hundred Years of Philosophy as a culmination of the Realist Movement; but he did not grant him more than a short footnote). We find, in fact, departures of all degrees from the basic philosophic position he outlined and argued for -- up to and including the student of whom he said: 'He thinks he can make a philosophy by combining the contradictories of such of my philosophic tenets as he can remember!'. In a less drastic, but perhaps more insidious way, we have the present rejection in Sydney University of the study of traditional formal logic (ignoring the arguments by which John Anderson established this position) and the substitution of 'symbolic' logic -- where any imprecision or ambiguity in the premises will be retained in the conclusion (quite apart from the unexamined presuppositions in such theories, such as the validity of 'proving' the validity of certain arguments, e.g. in ignoring the argumentative presuppositions of the method of 'substitution').

Of course, it is very convenient, if one wishes to reject any part of John Anderson's philosophy, to regard him as a 'system builder' who has forced his structure on reality. One can then excuse the dropping of unappetising features as 'forced'; but this is no substitute for criticism, nor does it absolve the rejector from observing the requirements of consistency.

Quite apart from strictly philosophic matters, we find an ignoring or rejection of conclusions that result from philosophic criticism in what are strictly scientific fields, e.g. Professor D. M. Armstrong in his Challis Chair inaugural address on 'The Nature of Mind' nowhere mentions John Anderson's 'Mind as Feeling'9, or any of his other works -- and this after paying tribute to Anderson as his teacher. Again, A. J. Baker in 'Morals - the Libertarian View' states that 'the word "good" has no descriptive content whatever' without any reference to, let alone criticism of, Anderson's many articles arguing for a positive qualitative ethics as the only theory that can be consistently presented.

These are merely examples; but it might well be asked why Anderson appears to have so few actual followers and so many detractors amongst those whom one might have expected to continue and develop his theories, viz. his students -- especially as even his detractors generally concede some greatness to him.

One reason for such behaviour might well lie in the realm of psychopathology. John Anderson was the 'ideal father' -- the Freudian 'fairy godfather' -- who absolved many from guilt, not merely by agreeing with their 'revolutionary' thoughts; but by showing that these could be derived by consistent argument. Unfortunately, the relief afforded by such agreement, and the demonstration that their beliefs could be coherently derived, was enough for many. They did not really 'take unto themselves' the philosophical principles and logical method which showed these beliefs to be part of a coherent system: and so we find in old students' contributions on Anderson to the issue of The Bulletin, published about a week before he died, more or less thinly veiled complaints that he had not done all their thinking for them.10 Apparently they had not absorbed enough philosophy to apply to problems on which John Anderson had not 'pronounced'! Alternatively, we find at times a 'backlash' because Anderson (and a consistent application of his theory) did not agree with all the notions and purposes to which these students adhered11 -- and more than a suggestion of that irrational anger that arises when 'imperfections' are found in a 'fairy godfather'.

The antagonism of such disappointed neurotics, added to the antagonism John Anderson's beliefs aroused directly in many people, may well have inhibited students of his work who otherwise would have been disposed to follow him more closely, and even clarify his position, and develop further theories on the basis that he laid. Nevertheless, the apparent completeness of his position would have been daunting to many, and as an alternative to the hard work involved in absorbing it -- let alone absorbing it critically if they wished to criticise it -- they may have taken the simpler course of dismissing it as a system he was trying to force on reality, though how it could be recognised as a 'system' if reality were not itself systematic is a question that is conveniently overlooked! Further the apparent completeness of John Anderson's position could itself be a cause of resentment, as apparently leaving nothing further to be done but the humdrum task of maintaining the position.

Now, in a loose way, we could say that the bases of, say, physics or chemistry or mathematics have been 'fairly thoroughly worked out' ; and yet this does not prevent clarifications or further discoveries from being made. So it is with philosophy, even were it the case that John Anderson had finally laid the basis for this subject. Certainly there are no grounds for acting as if we must contradict at least part of Anderson's position to give us a subject for discussion and thus justify our existence as philosophers! Nor should we take such superficial views as are expressed in Professor Mackie's complaint that Anderson is not always immediately comprehensible and is indeed sometimes ambiguous, e.g. when he criticises certain positions as being 'unspeakable'. (This particular criticism is, of course, to be understood as 'shorthand' for a more detailed argument that the position criticised is self-contradictory -- that in order to propound it, you must use material that implies its contradictory.)

My general contention is, then, that as a result of despair or resentment, of various origins, John Anderson has remarkably few followers -- certainly remarkably few vocal followers.

As far as resenters are concerned, I have nothing to say except that they should examine their own motives. Of course, when John Anderson was alive, he had the unfortunate habit of minimising enthusiasms he did not share -- and wanting to do the job himself when he was enthusiastic! This is reminiscent of Sigmund Freud; and there is a further similarity between the Psychoanalytic movement and 'Andersonianism' -- both have been regarded as 'sects' (furnished with the appropriate inerrant dogma), though Freud and the Psychoanalytic Movement have been far more vigorous in the excommunication of detected heretics than Anderson ever was. Nevertheless, the failure to penetrate to a realistic meaning behind what they regarded as 'the dogma of a sect' has furnished a further excuse for those who wish to try to abandon or ignore Anderson. However, such considerations should not now be a cause either of resentment or despair: for there is plenty to be done by those who will strive to 'penetrate the dogma' in an attempt to 'follow John Anderson' -- as there is for those who wish to 'follow Freud' intelligibly and undogmatically (not to mention Marx!).

I have always contended that the condensation achieved by John Anderson in his articles was astounding. For anyone else, most of his paragraphs would have served as the basis for an article, and each article, a book. This compression certainly facilitates the reduction of his position to a system of dogmata; but at the same time, it opens the way for the elaboration and clarification that is much needed for the presentation of his position in its full force.

For example, his concept of a 'social movement' (and how its 'vehicles' become so) needs more precise and detailed specification. Again, 'responsibility' is dealt with only in one exceedingly condensed and somewhat ambiguous paragraph in S.E.P.

Further, while he spent much time lecturing and writing on verification and falsification, it is clear from his detailed discussion in lectures on definition, and the 'predicables' generally, that he considered that basically 'Scientific Method' is the theory of classificatory systems -- and indeed that it is from classificatory systems that the conditions for validity in argument are recognised. Even here, he himself notes that the notion of a single principle of division needs more precise specification; and I consider that perhaps this could be done by elaborating his theory of 'virtual opposites' , i.e. 'logical opposites within a field.'

Moreover, his theory of 'Mind as Feeling' needs elaboration -- and I find it curious that John Anderson himself seems never to have elaborated one passage in his article on this subject. He says:

"... it may be that the relations which we can in the end recognise as knowing and striving are not peculiar to mind at all (cf. Alexander's account of knowing as ' compresence') , and that we have thought otherwise solely because we have thought into the mind's relations something of its own emotional quality."12

Now, while there might be some complication to an analysis of striving, it seems clear enough that there are many non-mental examples of the actual relation involved in knowing. It is simply the causal relation: and we distinguish it simply because it is a special case where the field acted on by the cause in question (i.e. by the thing known) is a mind of a certain appropriate emotional quality. I say 'appropriate' , for if the quality were not 'appropriate', we would not be 'interested', and so would not know, i.e. an object which could produce a change in some mental fields does not do so when there is some quality absent from the mind -- when it is of an inappropriate type or species.

These, then, are some of the matters referred to by John Anderson which could well be further elaborated; but there are also some confusions in his work that are in need of clarification.

For example, in his logic lectures, when introducing students to the expression 'term', he makes it quite clear that a 'term' is not a word or expression, but a 'kind of thing' (i.e. a location of a distinct description); but elsewhere (and even in the same logic course) he uses the expression 'term' to mean indifferently either a 'kind of thing' or a word or expression. Similarly, 'propositions' are initially supposed to be 'states of affairs', i.e. objective facts; but here the matter immediately becomes more complex by his advocacy of a certain form of words -- the 'propositional form' -- as most clearly and unambiguously indicating their meaning. Subsequently, 'proposition' is used apparently indifferently to indicate a form of facts or a form of words. Now, at most times this indifference to ambiguity of usage does not appear to matter; but at other times I fear it may matter greatly, though I have not myself analysed the material sufficiently to make a decision or propose a clarification.13

The critical elaboration of John Anderson's work on which I wish to expand is directed towards the elucidation of the apparent extensive relativism in his own work, especially in his articles on ethics. This apparent relativism may indeed explain why his ethical theory can scarcely be said to have been noticed, let alone 'followed' or developed, by his students (or others). At the same time, it is curious that his detractors knew so little about his position -- for he was an implacable foe of relativism -- that they never used this fact against him, himself.

Of course, relativism is a mainstay of 'cherished illusions', and to recognise it even in Anderson's own work would be to go a long way towards adopting the more consistent parts of his logical position. It may even be that his followers have left his ethics alone because they would have had to 'face' relativism generally, and so face other occasions of their own relativistic thinking. They have been taught (or trained) to recognise relativism in certain places (e.g. the Euthyphro); but they had enough illusions of their own that they wished to protect, and so they have not adopted the relevant theory as a general critical tool.14

Nevertheless, in respect of relativism, I feel that this is one logical confusion where a critical exposition may not be enough. Because of the masses of relativism embodied in our culture, it may be that here at least some psychotherapeutic procedures should be added to exposition, though I must admit that I cannot yet see how this could easily be done.

On the other hand, John Anderson's published exposition of relativism is itself defective in being incomplete and misleading (and even misled Anderson himself, for he had not been critical enough to make a clear distinction between the facts and his own preferences, viz. it is clear that he would have preferred a proliferation of the characters he distinguished as good, and so deluded himself into claiming that a particular good motive 'will always assist another of the same kind', and 'will sustain itself ... by providing materials for its continued operation' [p.223; S.E.P. -- my emphasis]). Perhaps such confusions have been vaguely sensed, and a consistent and rigid policy of critically adhering to a distinction between fact and preferred policy would render less necessary a psychotherapeutic approach to the presentation of objective ethical theory.

Professor J. L. Mackie, in 'The Philosophy of John Anderson' (A.J.P., December 1962), tries to weaken Anderson's criticism of relativism (presumably because Mackie himself wants to argue for a purely relational ethics) by arguing that Anderson meant many different errors by 'relativism'. Perhaps Mackie wishes to emulate Socrates's argument for 'the unity of virtue' (e.g., in the Protagoras) by arguing that the concept of relativism is incoherent if it means different errors at different times. But the differences he alludes to are strictly in terms of the additional criticisms which can be added to the general criticism in different species of relativism. What is common to all the cases he cites is the identification of a relation and a quality, or at least the treating of them as inherent in each other -- the quality X necessitates the relation r or the relation r necessitates the quality X -- or both. This is what I take to be the essence of relativism.

This, at any rate, appears to be what John Anderson called 'relativism', and he rejected it as logically untenable. But this was not to reject the fact that without certain qualities, certain relations could not occur. Although he never published this fact15, I had myself come to this conclusion, and, shortly before his death, I raised the matter with him. My father, in agreeing, brushed the matter aside as not requiring further discussion -- but it did, and the lack of it must have left his followers confused in their introduction to what to them was the formulation of a totally unheard of type of logical error!

To give a concrete example, if you have something with certain of the qualities of an axe, you can (if you wish) bring it into the relation of 'cutting down' to a tree; but it does not have to be in such a relation -- it may rust its whole life away as a paper-weight. On the other hand, if you do not have something with these relevant qualities -- if all you have, say, is an air-filled balloon -- you can not bring this object into the relation of cutting down to a tree, however much you desire this end.

Now, some of the relativism in John Anderson's ethics is what I have called 'reducible', in that it can be stated in a non-relativistic way without changing the essential meaning (except as to implied quantity). For example, when he says: 'inquiry is good', we can object that inquiry is a relation, and not to be characterised by 'good', if the qualitative nature of good is to be maintained. But relativism can here be easily avoided simply by saying that this is a 'slip-shod' way of saying: 'goods inquire' -- that this is one of the characteristic ways of goods behaving, and indeed, on Anderson's theory, a behaviour peculiar to them, though we need -- and indeed, must -- not go on to assert that it is common to them.

On the other hand, in John Anderson's statement of his ethics, we find also what I have called: 'irreducible relativism'. Such expressions cannot be restated without rejecting at least part of the content as false. However, I would argue that with the critical changes required by this rejection ethical theory is advanced.16

It is unfortunate that in The Ethical Foundations of Marxism17, Professor Eugene Kamenka, the most punctilious and unashamed of those who publicly have recognised a debt to John Anderson, should have chosen to quote uncritically a long passage from 'Determinism and Ethics' (S.E.P., pp.214ff) which is full of relativism, some of it 'irreducible' .

On p.223, as quoted by Kamenka, John Anderson takes his departure from a gloss on Socrates's statement in Republic I that justice supports justice and opposes injustice, while injustice opposes both justice and injustice. Since Socrates identifies the 'virtues', it is fair enough to substitute 'good' for 'justice' and 'bad' or 'evil' for 'injustice' -- and this result resembles many more superficial popular theories about the operations and effects of goods and evils in and on a community. Naturally, these 'popular' theories do not attempt a consistent classification of goods and evils; but to individual cases they may apply the 'rule of thumb' that 'goods are socially cohesive, whilst evils are socially divisive' -- and in these terms attempt to characterise a quiescent society. ('If everyone does what we say, there will be no trouble -- and that will be "good"'!)

Nevertheless, the popular convention overlooks distinctions that Socrates is trying to make, viz. that goods and evils are distinct classes, and may manifest 'divisiveness' when a member of one interacts with a member of the other -- though a struggle cannot determine which, if either, of the combatants is a good.

However, Socrates's criterion is still not satisfactory, though neither he nor Anderson nor Kamenka recognised that it is relativistically expressed (even if Socrates did, after all, convict Euthyphro of relativism). From his mental gymnastics at this point, it would seem that John Anderson was irritably aware that some problem remained unresolved. But not merely does he not escape from relativistic expressions; but to them he adds 'irreducible relativism' when he says (p.223: S.E.P.):

"We do not, of course, define goodness by means of that relation [the communication of goods], but if we decide, as I think we may, that it is common and peculiar to goods [my emphasis], then we can employ it as a criterion in particular cases."

Now, the allegation that the relation is 'common and peculiar to goods' is an allegation that it is co-extensive with them -- and this is an irreducibly relativistic position!

What, then, is to be done?

Firstly, we can point out that a good in Sydney could not be expected to support one in Timbuctoo -- or oppose an evil there, for that matter -- at any rate not by merely existing. I have argued elsewhere that goods and evils are mental qualities, and from this I would argue that without some form of contact (e.g. the telephone or radio in the case stated) they could not interact. Thus on this ground alone we can argue that the relation may be one of indifference. But further it could be argued in general that it is only under certain conditions (perhaps differing in respect of differing combinations of ethical qualities and their environment) that goods or evils will interact with one another. Thus we can reformulate the Socratic position, and avoid its relativism, by saying that goods can not oppose goods or support evils, while evils can not support goods or one another.

Now, arguing that goods and evils are mental qualities, we could go further and argue that evils in particular are the emotions that characteristically accompany the neuroses and psychoses. We could go further still and state that for a long time, psychotherapists have been talking about good and evil, and the conditions under which these arise and are destroyed -- even if they were unaware of this. In short, the practise they attempt is practical ethics.

We may, then, judge their success by using the suggested criterion, not as a co-extensive mark, but as an indication. We can reject as relativistic the contention that certain relations, e.g. communication, co-operation and inquiry, are common to goods; but accept that they are peculiar to goods, i.e. without such mental qualities the specified relations (and others) are impossible. If, then, we find the quality that can enter such relations, then we can know to be evil any mind opposed to this quality or its activities. It can be argued that goods tend to exhibit and encourage spontaneity, whilst directed against this is opposed the evil mental quality, which characteristically exhibits rigidity and compulsiveness -- and the removal of these characteristics measures the success of the psychotherapist.18

All this needs elaboration at much greater length, and even then many further problems must arise and remain to be solved. However, I hope I have shown how one may 'follow John Anderson' in a productive way, and that in spite of the immense scope of his work, the last word has by no means been said. Indeed, he himself would argue that, since things are infinitely complex, the 'last word' can never be said!

One final point.

It may be asked how John Anderson, with his known hatred of relativism, came to express himself with such a profusion of relativism. He himself had the answer to this: he said, in other connections, that in the effort to break new ground, a man frequently falls into errors which he himself has previously criticised.

I hope I have shown that the 'new ground' is still more fertile than might have been supposed.


1. Honi Soit is the Sydney University students' journal.

2. Tharunka is the journal of the students of the University of New South Wales.

3. The 'Liberal Party' governed N.S.W. at the time in question.

4. 1987: It has recently come to my notice that he has had great honour in the country of his birth by his effect on the teaching of logic there.

5. p.282, Australasian Journal of Philosophy (A.J.P.), Dec., 1962. [1987: In the paper on which his article was based, Mackie spoke of Anderson as a 'system builder' rather than a 'system discoverer' -- though the basis of Anderson's position was that there must be a universally coherent logical system, if philosophy (or any science) was to be a subject!

6. R.P. 40: Fragment 1, Early Greek Philosophy, J. Burnet.

7. A.J.P., May and August 1953.

8. R.P. 40: Fragment 19, E.G.P., J. Burnet.

9. Australasian Journal of Psychology and Philosophy, June 1934 (A.J.P.P.).

10. The Bulletin, featuring John Anderson in 'Forum', is dated 30th June 1962. John Anderson died in the very early morning of 6th July.

11. [1987: e.g. his opposition to the 1949 miners' strike; and his agreement (1949-50) with the refusal of Registrar Maze to register the 'Anti-Conscription Committee' as a student society on the ground that their 'programme' was a single topic -- and a negative one, at that!]

12. Studies in Empirical Philosophy, p.73.

13. [1987] In referring to the ambiguous usage of 'term' and 'proposition', I was not so much thinking of 'unreal terms' or 'false propositions', though those who regard certain 'terms' as unreal must regard them as a word or expression for which there is no objective 'kind of thing' for them to mean; and equally if a 'proposition' is regarded as false, this amounts to saying there is no objective 'state of affairs' or 'situation' for a certain grammatical form of words to mean. On the other hand, those who believe in the existence of what we would call 'unreal terms' believe that there is a location distinguished by a certain complex of characters, e.g. centaurs, mermaids and infinite numbers, and this commits them to a belief in certain propositions that we would call 'false', i.e. they believe that there are objective situations when 'Some beings with horses' bodies are beings with human torsoes', 'Some female torsoed are fishy tailed', 'Some numbers are infinite'.

The subjects and predicates are known to exist, and the false belief is expressed in a propositional form of words that asserts that in some locations of the subject-character, the predicate-character is to be found. They are simply putting in one location characters which are objectively found only in separate locations. Why they do so 'unwarrantably' can only be guessed at; but it is to be noted when the Spaniards attacked the Aztecs on an animal unknown to them, the latter were terrified that they were under attack by centaurs; and I have seen a drawing of a manatee which indicates that it carries its young in its 'forearms' and, like human beings and elephants, wears its nipples for'ard rather than aft. Admittedly, its 'ugly mug' could attract only a sailor in the last stages of sexual starvation! On the other hand, one of the Hebridean songs called 'The Seal Woman's Croon' collected by Marjorie Kennedy Frazer is accompanied by a note that suggests that male Gaels were not averse to a bit of animal husbandry! Similarly infinity can be approached either in terms of division or extension: if we divide a length, we can make a further division as close as we like to the previous division, and since the result has two ends, there will be a place between these ends where a further division can at least be conceived to be made in either of the two-ended products, and so indefinitely; but while at any stage, the cuts can be 'numbered', i.e. counted, this does not mean we can complete the cutting and so number the 'ultimate' cuts. Similarly, any extension can always be extended further; but this does mean we can complete the extensions, and so number them. 'Number' implies countability -- completion --; but 'infinite' implies incompletability -- and so contradicts the supposition that the division or extension can be counted.

My more serious point is whether there can be objective universal relations; and if so, the bearing of these on John Anderson's implacable opposition to relativism. Can the criticism of relativism be maintained in its simpler description, or must the concept be reformulated in a more precise way; and can such a reformulation provide a more precise account of a nature which is still logically objectionable?

My attention was drawn to this problem in John Anderson's lectures on Samuel Alexander, where he conspicuously drops the characterisation of predicates as qualities, characters or descriptions when he deals with 'relational predicates' -- though they are still referred to as 'predicates'. Now, grammatically they appear in formal statements to be predicates: the question arises of what precisely is their objective status. In terms of statements in 'propositional form', it would appear that 'relational predicates' can function as predicates in universal propositions -- and yet universality was at least a preliminary criticism of relativistic positions. For example, an X, or for that matter the class X, could conceivably come into existence 'to the right of Y' (from a certain fixed standpoint, of course), remain there throughout its existence, and be destroyed there, never to appear again anywhere. We would then be justified in asserting 'All X are things to the right of Y' -- and it would be true. Nevertheless, it would not qualify X any more than Euthyphro's 'being loved by gods' distinguishes or characterises piety or holiness --which Euthyphro has claimed is distinguished by an 'intrinsic' quality.

John Anderson distinguished an accident of a species as a qualitative distinction in relation to a genus of that species. He supposed it not to occur outside the genus, and might or might not cover the whole of the species; but must occur elsewhere in the genus (to distinguish it from a 'difference' or 'property' on the one hand, and a 'species' on the other). Aristotle appears to pay more attention to relations as accidents, apparently on the (anti-relativistic?) assumption that they are not found throughout the species (and presumably for Aristotle, qualitative accidents also would characterise only part of the species; but could occur in other unspecified places -- John Anderson's extensional distinction is more precise).

Mr W. R. B. Joseph (An Introduction to Logic, Oxford 1906, p.94f) seems to take the relational view in discussing the Porphyrean division of accidents into separable and inseparable -- the inseparable attaching only to 'individuals', e.g. a given man born in England must always have that relation; but it is not inseparable from the human class. The length of his hair is a separable accident, for he can be separated from it!

I contend that there can be universal relations of classes, and the question is whether and in what sense these might be regarded as accidents. For example, 'All human beings are subsequent to dinosaurs', and this is true (if you ignore the disputed claims of birds to dinosaur status). It is a distinction which enables the further distinction between human beings and trilobites, since the latter are truly prior to dinosaurs. In strict logical form:

(1) All events subsequent to the origin of human beings are events subsequent to the origin of dinosaurs;

(2) Some events subsequent to the origin of dinosaurs are not events subsequent to the origin of human beings;

(3) All events subsequent to the origin of dinosaurs are events subsequent to the origin of trilobites;

(4) Some events subsequent to the origin of trilobites are not events subsequent to the origin of dinosaurs.

Now, these are true; and there is more than enough information to prove a distinction between the origin of human beings and that of trilobites; but the terms combine relations with qualitative terms. Can these then be said to be subjects and predicates in more than a verbal sense? They certainly do not function as describing locations or characterising these in any qualitative way, and one needs to know what are trilobites, dinosaurs and human beings before one can determine whether the universal assertions about their temporal relations are true.

However, both these and the case of X being to the right of Y involve only relations in the strict sense -- purely spatio-temporal relations -- and since everything that exists must have such relations, at least they cannot be inherent in the specific qualities in question. It is a different matter when we deal with universal relations in the extended sense, since such relations have a qualitative element; and the relativistic criticism applies when the relation is supposed to be universally inherent in the quality in question. Now, we can agree that without a certain quality a certain relation is impossible, but it is an invalid inversion to say that with that quality a certain relation is necessary! Symbolically: All non-X are non(in relation r to Y) Therefore, X a rY.

The question still remains: is a 'predicate' to be regarded as such simply on the basis of verbal form, or is there an 'objective reality' for the function of predicate? If relational predicates are to be accepted, they cannot characterise or describe (as John Anderson appeared to insist); but they can still distinguish trilobites, dinosaurs and men. I would regard this as an objective distinction, and so it is perhaps the function of predication that needs more analysis, rather than the question of whether or not it is simply a form of words as distinct from a form of facts. Footnote 14 begins on present p.144, 8th line from bottom, as 'n14.' The 'n' should be deleted.

Now, there is every, harm in such phraseology if you are trying to lead people away from relativism; and in any case, a defence against a charge of relativism should not itself be relativistic -- as the second last word, 'always', implies!

14. [1987] It is a fact that Mr A. D. Hope did detect John Anderson's relativistic expression of his position. However, in his reply (A.J.P.P. June 1943) to Anderson's 'The Meaning of Good' (A.J.P.P., September 1942), Hope does not try to penetrate the relativistic expression; but rather uses it to support his own cherished illusion that there can be no objective ethics -- only requirements relating to the furthering of different policies, even if Anderson's was an 'original' policy -- i.e. not propounded by any other ethical writers.

Anderson's rejoinder is rather sad. Taking 'the scientific spirit' to be the mental quality that inquires, he contends that once such a quality had been distinguished, 'there would be no harm in using the term "inquiry" to refer both to the possession of the quality and to the possession of those relations which such things always have.' (A.J.P.P., June 1943 or Studies in Empirical Philosophy, p.276f.)

15. [1987] He did indeed exemplify it in 'Realism and Some of its Critics' (p.43, S.E.P.), where he says:

"It should be obvious from my exposition that I do not deny, but assert, that only things of a certain sort have certain relations to other things, e.g. know certain mathematical theorems. But to say that they have these relations is not in the least to tell us what beings they are."

Well, the general theorem was not 'obvious' in any of his expositions of 'relativism' known to me, and for such an important part of his critical apparatus, it merited at least a couple of paragraphs (if not an article) of analytic exposition -- and even if they had seen the quotation indicated, his followers may well not have arrived at the logical error involved in at least one type of relativism (and which may be the basis for relativistic thinking in general -- though language, being 'frozen' relativism, may be another encouragement to perpetuate the erroneous form). The error is simply arguing from the true premise alluded to to the relativistic position by invalid inversion:

All non-(quality X) are non-(in the r relation to Y); therefore, All quality X are in the r relation to Y!

(Some examples might be more easily given a formal presentation with the 'relational term' as subject.)

16. [1987] There is a hint of 'irreducible relativism' in Anderson's more or less ambiguous remarks towards the end of at least four articles (pp.224, 236, 267 and 338; S.E.P.). These refer to 'necessary' struggle between goods and evils, and in one (p.338; S.E.P.) good appears to be regarded as constituted by a relation to a presumably absolute evil! He says: 'It is only in the struggle with evils that goods exist'! And he continues: 'the attempt to eliminate evils, as Croce points out ..., could lead, at its most successful, only to a drab existence which would be emphatically evil.' Apparently, a good that has not evil to struggle with becomes an evil -- but then must it not give opportunities for other goods to maintain themselves by struggle? But (granted that the absence of evil could be achieved), what is 'drab' about the co-operation amongst goods, and why can they not be sustained if 'a good motive will always assist another of the same kind, so that that particular good can be communicated to an indefinite extent within the field of human activities'? p.223; S.E.P.).

It may be a fact of life that evils will always exist and that given the appropriate conditions goods may have to 'struggle' with them, sometimes being defeated; but sometimes increasing their power (by their successful inquiry into the nature and conditions of evils and their activities). But equally, there will be conditions (at times absent) for the communication between goods, and in support of emerging goods.

I don't think Anderson would ever wish to say, as he appears to be saying, that goods and evils constitute each other out of the relations of struggle. If he is not prepared to elaborate on the nature and conditions of struggle, co-operation and communication, he should simply have noted that as our life is carried on, there will be goods and evils present in society (and even in a 'single' mind), and we must expect conditions to arise in which they will interact in terms of some of the above relation --and perhaps they will be strengthened by the encounter -- or weakened!

17. Eugene Kamenka; The Ethical Foundations of Marxism; 1952 and 1972; Routledge and Kegan Paul; London and Boston. My reference is to p.101 of this work.

18. [1987] It is perhaps worth noting that the conventional expression 'good for' implies the relation of support. If X is regarded as 'good for' Y, X is being said to be able to support or facilitate the functioning or maintenance of Y. Of course, as Anderson points out (p.223: S.E.P.): 'There is no question ... of founding ethics on abstract attitudes of assistance and resistance ...' The ethical qualities that can enter into such relations remain to be described, for 'good for' and 'bad for' can be used in many relations that have nothing to do with minds. It can even be used in situations antagonistic to qualitative goods (e.g., 'Censorship is "good for" a moral society'), or to conventional goods (e.g. 'Growing poppies is "good for" the heroin trade')!