The Routledge Guides to the Great Books: A Compilation · 2020-03-23 · Books therefore provide students everywhere with complete introductions to the most significant books of all - [PDF Document] (2024)

  • The Routledge Guides to the Great Books: A Compilation


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    01:: Aristotle's Life and Work, from The Routledge Guidebook toAristotle's Nicomachean Ethics

    02:: Einstein's Life, from The Routledge Guidebook to Einstein'sRelativity

    03:: Gramsci Before the Prison Notebooks, f rom The RoutledgeGuidebook to Gramsci's Prison Notebooks

    04:: The Phenomenology in Context, pages 1-30, from TheRoutledge Guidebook to Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

    05:: Mill and the Liberty, pages28-45, from The RoutledgeGuidebook to Mill's On Liberty

    06:: Plato and the Republic, f rom The Routledge Guidebook toPlato's Republic

    07:: Style and Method, from The Routledge Guidebook toWittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations

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    The Routledge Guides to the Great Books provide idealintroductions to the texts which have shaped Western Civilization.The Guidebooks explore the arguments and ideas contained in themost influential works from some of the most brill iant thinkerswho have ever lived, from Aristotle to Marx and Newton toWollstonecraft. Each Guidebook opens with a short introduction tothe author of the great book and the context within which they wereworking and concludes with an examination of the lastingsignificance of the book. The Routledge Guides to the Great Bookstherefore provide students everywhere with complete introductionsto the most significant books of all time.

    In this Freebook you will find a selection of chapters from anumber of the titles in the series, allowing you the chance to geta sneak peek into each book and to learn a little bit more aboutthe approach the series takes.

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    Aristotle's Life and Work, from The Routledge Guidebook toAristotle's Nicomachean Ethics


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    01:: Aristotle's Life and Work, from The Routledge Guidebook toAristotle's Nicomachean Ethics


    Aristotle came to Athens in 367 BCE at the age of 17, to go touniversity. ?University? in this case meant the Academy, thephilosophical school founded by the great Plato, who himself hadbeen a disciple of Socrates. Athens was the cultural centre of theMediterranean, and its citizens might have had two reasons for notbeing immediately impressed by the young Aristotle. He came fromthe far north of Greece, from the city of Stagira in Macedonia; acountry boy, then, doubtless lacking in cultural refinement. Inthis, the Athenian prejudice would have been misleading. BothAristotle?s parents came from families with a long tradition of thepractice of medicine, and his father was court physician to kingAmyntas III of Macedon. Court circles in Macedon were notuncivilized, and the value they placed upon education isdemonstrated by the very fact of their sending Aristotle to Athens.There was, however, a second reason Athenians would have had fornot welcoming Aristotle with wholly open arms. He was connectedwith the royal family of Macedon, and Macedon had militaryambitions. Amyntas? son Philip II embarked on a programme ofmilitarist expansion which, much to the resentment of manyprominent Athenians, led to his domination over much of Greece, andeventually to the subjugation of Athens itself.

    Still, for 20 years Aristotle remained at the Academy, studying,debating, writing and teaching. Unfortunately, most of his writingsfrom that time have been lost, and we are able to do little morethan make educated guesses about precisely what he studied, andwhere his own interests lay. But as those years went by, thepolitical situation brought about by the policies of Philip ofMacedon rapidly worsened, and the climate in Athens became more andmore nervous and hostile. Against this background, Aristotle, whoselegal status in Athens was that of a resident alien, found himselfregarded with suspicion. Finally, the crisis came. Philip batteredthe city of Olynthus, one of Athens? close allies, into submission;and, a few months later, in 347, Plato died.

    Aristotle was thus doubly isolated. Speusippus, a nephew ofPlato, took over as head of the Academy. Would Aristotle have hopedthat he himself might have got the job? Did his not getting itdepend upon the fact that Speusippus was a relative of Plato, or onthe fact that to appoint Aristotle would have been impossible inthe prevailing political climate? Or was it perhaps thatAristotle?s own philosophical views were by this time somewhat outof tune with the prevailing tone in the Academy? Whatever theacademic reasons may have been, Aristotle thought it prudent,especially given the hostile political situation, to leave Athensand the Academy. He went to join a group of Platonists at Assos, acity on the north Aegean coast of what is now Turkey. The localmonarch, Hermias, was himself interested in philosophy, and thephilosophers encouraged him to fulfil the Platonic ideal ofbecoming a philosopher-king. Aristotle was later to write a hymnlamenting his untimely death (he was murdered) and praising hispersonal qualities ?for which he will be raised by the Muses toimmortality?.

    Before that, though, Aristotle had himself married Pythias, andthey were again on the move. Philip II invited him to return toMacedonia to become tutor to his son Alexander. Alexander later wasto become known as ?the Great? because of his amazing conquestswhich extended the Macedonian Empire across what is now Turkey,Egypt, much of Western Asia, and on into India. Perhaps Aristotlehoped to inculcate Plato?s ideals in the young heir to the throne,but in the

    The following is excerpted from The Routledge Guidebook toAristotle's Nicomachean Ethics by Gerard J. Hughes. © 2013 Taylor& Francis Group. All rights reserved.

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    l ight of the brutality of some of Alexander?s campaigningtactics, one may wonder just how complete Aristotle?s influence onhis pupil was.

    Alexander left for his campaigns in the east, and Aristotle onceagain returned to Athens, in 334, under the protection ofAntipater, the regent whom Alexander had appointed, and who was oneof Aristotle?s closest friends. At some point during his time inMacedonia, Aristotle?s daughter, called Pythia after her mother,was born, but, tragically, his wife died, perhaps in childbirth. Itwas probably to help with looking after his infant daughter thatAristotle either married, or lived with (the ancient sources differon the point), Herpyllis. Whatever his legal relationship with herwas, in his will Aristotle was to speak warmly of her devotion tohim, and to make careful provision for her support. She also becamethe mother of his second child, this time a son, whom he calledNicomachus.

    Upon his arrival back in Athens, Aristotle founded his ownphilosophical school in a public exercise park called the Lyceum.The students there became known as ?peripatetics? from their customof walking up and down (in Greek, peripatein) as they discussedtheir philosophical researches. Here in his Lyceum Aristotle taughtand pursued his own research happily for the next 11 years. It wasthe most productive period of his life, and the time of his mostenduring achievements. Once again, though, political disasterstruck. Alexander died suddenly at the young age of 32. TheAthenians at once saw their chance to rid themselves of theMacedonian regent. In a wave of anti-Macedonian feeling, theycharged Aristotle with ?impiety?, the same catch-all offence whichhad led to Socrates? execution two generations earlier. Once againAristotle had to leave, remarking, it is said, that he did so ?lestthe Athenians commit a second sin against philosophy?. He survivedonly a year in exile, and died at the age of 62, in 322.


    The two great influences on Aristotle?s philosophy were Platoand his own research into biology, especially the biology ofanimals.

    Plato must have been a hard act to follow. He had developed andtransformed the philosophical method of Socrates and applied it toan amazingly wide range of problems, including the immortality ofthe soul, the nature of virtue, the meaning of justice and thetheory of truth. He had attempted to give a theoreticaljustification for what he regarded as the right way to live both asan individual and as a member of the city-state. In so doing, hehad been forced to seek for the foundations of ethics and politicsby developing highly original views in metaphysics and in thetheory of knowledge. The very scope and style of philosophy itselfwere those which had become established in Plato?s Academy. Theframework was to all appearances firmly established. Was there anyroom for genuine originality?

    Recall that Aristotle studied and debated in Plato?s Academy for20 years, from the age of 17 until he was 37. He must surely havebeen enormously influenced not merely by Plato?s method and by theconclusions which Plato and his students believed to be beyonddispute, but also by the places at which Plato?s arguments wererecognized as deficient, often by Plato himself. It is still amatter of dispute whether the young Aristotle started off by beingmore in agreement with Plato and ended up being much more critical;or whether he was more critical in his earlier years and only laterbegan to see that there was perhaps somewhat more to be said forhis old

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    teacher?s views than he used to think. It may also be true thatthe brill iant young pupil influenced his teacher, and that thisinfluence shows up in some of Plato?s later works. Still, at leastsome things are reasonably clear. Aristotle retained Plato?sinterests in ethics and politics, and like Plato agreed that ethicsand politics had ultimately to rest on more general considerationsof epistemology and metaphysics. There are also some similaritiesin method. Plato, following Socrates, often starts his dialogues byeliciting the views of one of his students, and then going on tosee how far those views will stand up to criticism. Somewhatsimilarly, Aristotle habitually takes as his starting pointsendoxa, ?received opinions?. By this term Aristotle means toinclude views which are held by everyone, or at least by mostpeople, as well as those held by the wise. We should start, then,with what common sense might suggest, or with what earlierphilosophers have thought, and then subject those views to criticalassessment. Aristotle is more sympathetic than Plato to the thoughtthat most people cannot be wholly mistaken.

    The view most popularly ascribed to Aristotle is that herejected Plato?s ?Theory of Forms?. Certainly at one time Plato didbelieve that, if words like ?beauty? or ?courage? or ?equality? or?good? were to have any meaning, they must point to thecorresponding forms ? really existing, perfect, instances of theseproperties. Only if there are such forms as Beauty itself, orGoodness itself, will there be any satisfactory explanation of theway in which we understand the beauty and goodness of this-worldlythings, imperfect as they are. Only if these perfect forms existwill there be any solid basis for morality, or indeed for knowledgeitself. So, the popular view has it, Aristotle had no time for suchmetaphysical speculations, and made a radical break with Plato.This view is a gross oversimplification. First, Plato himself laterin his life at least considerably modified the Theory of Forms, ifby that is meant the kind of views advanced in the Phaedo. Besides,Aristotle is perfectly willing to talk about forms, and on someinterpretations even ended up by holding a view of forms not whollyunlike Plato?s. Still, there is an important truth behind theoversimplification. The clue lies in Aristotle?s interest inbiology, which perhaps had been first aroused by his parents withtheir medical background and practice. Much of the research done byAristotle and his students consisted in the meticulous examinationand classification of animals, fish and insects, and in the attemptto explain why they were as they were, and why they behaved as theybehaved. Aristotle was convinced that the explanations were to befound not in some super-sensible world of Platonic Forms, but inthe internal organization of the organisms themselves. Theirpatterns of growth, development and behaviour were directed by aninbuilt purposiveness, different for each species, the nature ofwhich could be called the ?form? of that organism, and could bediscovered by patient study and inquiry. More generally, perhapsthe nature of every kind of thing could be discovered in a similarway. This quest for the natures of things ? for the phusis of eachkind of thing ? is what Aristotle called Physics; and the furtherunderlying truths about explanation in general, upon which suchinquiries ultimately rested, were what he discussed in hisMetaphysics.

    Here, then, is the original contribution which Aristotlebelieved he could make towards handling the questions which Platohad raised. Instead of looking to an abstract discipline such asmathematics to provide the ultimate explanation of things, as didthe Platonists in the Academy, Aristotle proposed to study indetail the world around him, and to deal with the philosophicalimplications of that study in an integrated way. What, he asks,must be the

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    fundamental characteristics of a world if inquiry into thenatures of things in that world is to be possible at all? LikePlato, then, Aristotle seeks to know the ultimate explanations ofthings; unlike Plato, he thinks that questions about ultimateexplanations must arise out of, rather than dispense with, mundanequestions about how we are to explain the shapes and movements andgrowth of animals, and the regular behaviour of the inanimate partsof nature. In particular, looking at how the different species oforganism are by nature impelled to pursue what is good for them, wecan begin to see how values are central to the behaviour of livingthings. Once we learn to look at ourselves as animals, and tounderstand how animals function, we can begin to glimpse howbiology, with its inbuilt values, can in the case of thinkinganimals like ourselves make a fundamental contribution to ethics,without in any way seeking to reduce ethics to some version ofbiology.

    Aristotle would have thought it astonishing if thinking animalslike ourselves had no way of expressing to themselves what was goodfor them. So, at many points in the Ethics, he starts byconsidering what people usually or frequently think about variousquestions connected with morality, on the assumption that theirviews must either be right or at least contain some considerablekernel of truth which would explain why people hold them. But isthis assumption a reasonable one to make? Might an entire societynot be blind to the rights of women, or accept racist beliefs quiteuncritically? Quite in general, does Aristotle?s method not amountto little more than repeating the prejudices and unquestionedassumptions of his own culture? Aristotle might reply to this thathe has no intention of merely repeating the views of the ordinaryperson, nor of the wise, without criticizing and assessing them. Ifone asks how this criticism is to proceed, Aristotle would replythat a good first step would be to bring into the open any hiddeninconsistencies in common beliefs, and try to sort those out. But,the critic might press the point, even if that results in acoherent account, mere coherence doesn?t guarantee truth. A personmight be consistently racist or sexist and still be simplymistaken, surely? Aristotle might reply to this that even if it iscomparatively easy to be consistent within a limited area of one?sbeliefs (say, about the rights of women), it is much harder to beconsistent across a wide spectrum of one?s beliefs. One would haveto integrate ethics and psychology, physiology, sociology and therest; and once one tries to do this, at some point the hiddeninconsistencies will reappear. Achieving an overall ?fit? betweenone?s experience and one?s beliefs is not at all easy; and when ithas been achieved, that is as close as one is ever likely to cometo the truth. This is a very complex issue, and we shall have tosee as we go along whether Aristotle?s method seems likely todeliver what he is looking for.

    For the moment, at least this much can be said: like Plato,Aristotle is concerned to get behind what people might happen tothink in order to assess their views, and to examine theirfoundations and their justification. Like Plato, Aristotle isconcerned with how individuals ought to live, and how they ought tocontribute to their communities. He, too, is concerned with thenature of moral virtues, justice, personal responsibility and moralweakness. Like Plato, he believes that ethics must be rooted in aview of the human soul. But unlike Plato, his conception of what asoul is derives in the first instance from biology, rather thanfrom religious views about the incarnation and reincarnation of adisembodied true self. And this difference has profoundimplications for morality.

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    Einstein's Life, from The Routledge Guidebook to Einstein'sRelativity


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    02:: Einstein's Life, from The Routledge Guidebook to Einstein'sRelativity

    'If my theory of relativity is proven successful, Germany willclaim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen ofthe world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will

    say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew.' - Albert Einstein, 1922

    'If the dismissal of Jewish scientists means the annihilation ofcontemporary German science, then we shall do without science for afew years!' - Adolf Hitler to Max Planck, 1933

    Albert Einstein was born on March 15, 1879 in the town of Ulm,and no, he didn?t flunk high school math. The town is now part ofGermany, but had only joined the newly created German empire in1871, having been part of the Kingdom of W?rttemburg before that.His parents, Hermann and Pauline, were what would be called todaymembers of the upper middle class. His father was involved inmanufacturing, a partner in a firm that produced feather beds atthe time of Albert?s birth.

    The family were assimilated Jews, as is evidenced by the factthat they did not give their son a biblical name. Thus, Albert grewup in a liberal atmosphere as far as religion was concerned(although he did go through an adolescent period ofhyper-religiosity). He apparently had a happy childhood. Hisfather, an easy-going man, frequently read to the family and hismother was an accomplished pianist. In addition, Albert became veryclose to his younger sister Maria (he called her Maja) whose 1924memoir remains our main source of information about his earlylife.

    He apparently was slow to start speaking. Later on he wouldwrite that at the age of two or three he decided that he wanted tospeak in complete sentences, which may explain the delay. (There isan old joke to the effect that his first words, at the age ofthree, were ?Father, there is something terribly wrong with thestate of thermodynamics.?)

    Unfortunately, the feather-bed business did not prosper, and in1880 the family moved to Munich where Hermann, in partnership withhis younger brother, set up a business manufacturing electricalequipment. It was in Munich that, at the age of six, Albert startedhis formal schooling. Contrary to popular legend, he was a goodstudent? there is a letter from his mother to his grandmotherbragging that he was first in his class, for example. It was duringthis period that he began the study of the violin, a pastime thatwould play an important role in his public image later in life. In1888 he moved on to a Gymnasium, where he would remain until he was15. Again, contrary to the popular legend, he always received highmarks in mathematics.

    Although he was generally a good student, he was notparticularly happy with the rigid, authoritarian teaching stylethat was the norm in Germany at the time. He also made few friends,showing an early inclination to become what his biographer AbrahamPais termed ?a man apart?. His most important educationalexperience, as he recounted later in life, was reading a book onEuclidean geometry and finding there an order and logicalconsistency that opened his mind. (I should point out that Euclidhas played that same role in the lives of many boys who went on tobecome theoretical physicists, the author included.)

    In 1894, the family business began to fail, and, leaving16-year-old Albert behind to finish

    The following is excerpted from The Routledge Guidebook toEinstein's Relativity by James Tref il. © 2015 Taylor & FrancisGroup. All rights reserved.

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    Gymnasium, the family moved to Italy, eventually settling inPavia. Alone, depressed, and worried about compulsory militaryservice, the young man left school and joined his family in Italy,planning to study on his own for the entrance exam to theEidgen?ssiche Technische Hochshule (ETH) in Zurich, then as now oneof the world?s most prestigious technical universities. Although hedid well in physics and math, he did not pass the exam, whichincluded subjects like literary history and drawing. Consequentlyhe took an alternate path to admission, enrolling at a school inAarau to obtain a Matura (essentially a high school diploma). In1896 he enrolled at the ETH and renounced his German citizenship(he became a Swiss citizen in 1901 and an American citizen in1940).

    At the ETH he made friends with fellow student Marcel Grossman,who would be important in his later life. Unfortunately, heapparently rubbed his professor, Heinrich Weber, the wrong way.Weber felt that Einstein, though bright, was too reluctant to takeadvice from others? not an uncommon failing in college students. Inany case, when Einstein graduated in 1900 he was not offered aposition as a teaching assistant at the ETH.

    The next few years were difficult ones. Between periods ofunemployment he had a couple of temporary teaching positions atwhat were essentially private high schools. This drought ended whenMarcel Grossman?s father brought him to the attention of the headof the Swiss patent office, with the result that in 1902 he wasappointed as a patent examiner third class, his first permanentposition and one that has lived on in the folklore of science.Shortly thereafter he married Mileva Mari?, a woman who had been afellow student in Zurich, and their first son was born in 1904.

    Throughout this period Einstein found time to write a steadystream of physics papers, mostly about statistical mechanics. Itwas in 1905, however, a year often referred to as the annusmirabilis (year of wonders) in physics that he really came into hisown. In that year he published four papers, any one of which couldhave earned him the Nobel Prize. Two of them, dealing with specialrelativity and mass?energy equivalence, will be discussed in laterchapters. It is, I think, worthwhile to take a short detour todiscuss the other two.

    The photoelectric effect is a phenomenon that occurs when light(usually ultraviolet) is shone on a metal. As soon as the light isturned on, electrons start being ejected from the metal, and theenergy of the electrons depends on the frequency (color) of thelight? the higher the frequency the more energetic theelectrons.

    According to classical electrodynamics, there is no reason whyelectrons shouldn?t be ejected because of the action of the light.Light, after all, consists partly of an electric field which canexert a force on electrons. The problem is that in the classicalpicture the effect should be analogous to 4 Einstein?s life surfwashing a piece of driftwood ashore? it should happen slowly andshould not depend on the frequency of the light.

    Building on Max Planck?s introduction of the idea ofquantization, which will be discussed in the next chapter, Einsteinsuggested that light actually came in quanta as well? we now callthese bundles of light ?photons?. (Planck had been unwilling to beso radical, and had only suggested that atoms absorbed and emittedlight at specific frequencies while remaining agnostic as to thenature of light itself.) In this picture, the interaction betweenlight and

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    electrons is more like the collision between two billiard ballsthan surf washing driftwood ashore. In addition, the rules ofquantization required that the higher the frequency of the light,the more energy the photon has and the more energy it can transmitto the electron. Thus, the introduction of the photon explainedwhat is observed in the photoelectric effect.

    This paper was one of the foundations of the developing field ofquantum mechanics. In addition, it was the basis for the awardingof the Nobel Prize to Einstein in 1921? apparently relativity wasstill considered a bit too far out for the award at that time.

    The other paper concerned a phenomenon known as Brownian motion.In 1827 the British botanist Robert Brown noticed that when a smallparticle like a pollen grain was suspended in a liquid and observedunder a microscope, it jiggled around in an erratic kind of motion.Einstein realized that this obscure effect might be the solution toa long-standing debate about the nature of atoms. Throughout thenineteenth century, a debate had gone back and forth on thequestion of whether atoms were real, physical objects or whethermatter just behaved as if it were made of atoms. In the lattercase, of course, atoms would simply be mental constructs. Einsteinrealized that if atoms were real, when one bounced off a pollengrain it would exert a tiny force? if the atom bounced to the rightthe grain would recoil to the left, for example. On average, asmany atoms will hit on the left as on the right, so these forceswould cancel out over time.

    Einstein noted, however, that at any given moment there could bemore atoms hitting on one side of the grain than the other. Thus,the pollen grain would be subject to shifting forces, producingjust the kind of erratic motion Brown had observed. Since mentalconstructs can?t exert physical forces, this result was crucial inresolving the old debate.

    In 1905, as well, Einstein completed his thesis (on molecularsizes) and was awarded a PhD at the University of Zurich. Not a badoutput for a single year!

    His reputation growing, Einstein started to move into academe.In 1908 he was appointed as a privatdocent at the University ofBern. This position allowed him to teach, but paid so little thathe had to keep his day job at the patent office. It wasn?t until1909 that he obtained his first real faculty position? an associateprofessorship in theoretical physics at the University of Zurich.(We have records of faculty debates in which his future colleaguesargue, in effect, that he was such a good scientist that the factthat he was Jewish should be ignored.) The position, of course,allowed him to resign from the patent office. Shortly thereafter,in 1910, his second son was born.

    At Zurich, Einstein continued to publish papers in theoreticalphysics (11 papers in two years? an impressive output) and dabbledin experimental physics. Then, in a move that still puzzles hisbiographers, in 1911 he accepted a professorship at Karl FerdinandUniversity, a German language institution in Prague. He stayedthere only a little over a year, and in 1912 he was back in Zurich,this time with a senior appointment at the ETH. It is clear that bythis time Einstein had developed a growing reputation in the worldof physics, and he received numerous inquiries from universitiesthroughout Europe, garnering enthusiastic letters of support fromluminaries like Max Planck and Marie Curie. Throughout this period,Einstein was also slowly working his way through the concepts thatwould result in the theory of general relativity, which

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    we will discuss in Chapter 9.

    This rapid hopping around between institutions was somewhatatypical of career paths in European universities at the time. Itwas much more common for people to enter a university as anundergraduate and remain at the same place, holding positions ingraduate school, the junior faculty, and, eventually, the seniorfaculty. Today, however, Einstein?s career track wouldn?t lookunusual at all. Physics students are routinely encouraged to applyfor graduate training away from their undergraduate institutionsand then, as often as not, will do post-doctoral fellowships atseveral other places before finally settling down. This kind ofvaried experience makes sense in a world in which all branches ofscience are becoming increasingly international.

    In any case, after just three semesters in Zurich, Einstein leftto take up a prestigious appointment in Berlin. The details of thatappointment illustrate what a hot prospect the young theorist hadbecome. His primary appointment was as a member of the PrussianAcademy, but he was also made a professor at the University ofBerlin, where he could 6 Einstein?s life teach if he wanted to, andpromised the directorship of a new research lab. In fact, thepromised new physics institute was created in the Kaiser WilhelmGessellschaft, a major research institute, in 1917. Even today, anappointment like this would be quite a plum. Einstein wrote to afriend ?I could not resist the temptation to accept a positionwhich frees me of all obligations so that I can devote myselffreely to thinking?.

    Einstein would stay in Berlin until 1932. Unfortunately, soonafter his arrival there he and Mileva separated, and she returnedto Zurich with the boys. His professional life flourished, however.In 1915 he presented the field equations that make up the heart ofgeneral relativity to the Prussian Academy (the paper was publishedin 1916). Throughout the war years he continued to publishimportant papers. He also became involved with pacifist, and, to alesser extent, Zionist organizations? political activities thatwould remain important throughout the rest of his life. Also, in1919 he divorced Mileva (the divorce agreement stipulated that shewould receive his Nobel Prize money, should it be awarded). He thenmarried his distant cousin, Elsa Einstein L?wenthal, whom he hadknown since childhood.

    During this period he also began what would be a lifelongproject to present the results of his theories to the generalpublic. In 1917, the publishers Vieweg in Braunschweig, Germany,published his popular book On the Special and General Theories ofRelativity, a book that was to go through multiple expansions astime went on. The book was translated into English by Methuenpublishers in London in 1920, and later brought out by Holt (nowHolt, Rinehart, and Winston) in the United States. In 1993,Routledge brought the book out in its classic series, and thiscompanion volume will be part of that long history.

    The early Berlin years were full of what can only be describedas professional administrative duties. In 1916 Einstein succeededMax Planck as president of the German Physical Society (DeutschePhysikalische Gessellschaft), the society of professionalphysicists. He also served on boards of various scientificinstitutions in Germany and Holland. Then as now, these are thesorts of things you would expect for a man who was nearing the topof his profession. But as the war wound down, events were in motionthat would change Einstein?s life forever.

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    As we shall discuss in Chapter 13, general relativity makespredictions that can be verified experimentally. Einstein showedthat the theory could explain a small but troubling anomaly in theorbit of Mercury, but, more importantly, he predicted that lightpassing near a massive body like the sun would be bent by aspecified amount. The bending itself wasn?t new? Newton had made asimilar prediction? but the amount of predicted bending was(basically, relativity predicted twice as much deflection as didNewton). In those days, the only way this prediction could beverified was to observe stars near the sun during an eclipse. Thewar prevented several eclipse expeditions from being undertaken,but in 1919 the British astronomer (later Sir) Arthur Eddington wasable to mount one. The details will be discussed in Chapter 13, butthe result was stunning. Einstein?s predictions were verified.

    It?s hard to overstate the effect this turn of events had on thelife of someone the New York Times called ?the suddenly famous DrEinstein?. Headlines blared ?Revolution in Science: NewtonOverthrown?, and Einstein became a household name all around theworld. Historians have speculated about why this unusual?canonization? occurred. Coming as it did at the end of World WarI, the news broke on a populace that was weary, searching for asign of hope. To people who had seen an entire generation of youngmen slaughtered senselessly in the trenches, the sudden appearanceof a man who seemed to paint a new picture of the universe musthave seemed little short of miraculous.

    In addition, there seemed to be something almost magical aboutrelativity? the legend that only a dozen men in the worldunderstood it was born about this time. Given the outpouring oftheoretical papers after 1919, that legend certainly wasn?t truethen, and it certainly isn?t true today. Special relativity isroutinely taught to tens of thousands of undergraduates every year,and the general theory to hundreds of graduate students. Humanbeings always need to sense a distance between themselves and theirheroes, and the mathematical difficulty of general relativityseemed to provide just that sort of separation. Einstein?saccomplishments seemed otherwordly, clouded in mystery. Populardescriptions of the man pictured him almost as a priest rather thana scientist. One biographer suggested that he was seen as a ?newMoses?, bringing the word of God to humanity. In our modern worldwe can see a bit of this sort of attitude in the treatment ofcosmologist Stephen Hawking.

    Einstein was not only admired, but loved. A good illustration ofthis is an essay written by humorist Robert Benchley in 1936.Titled ?Taking up Cudgels?, it can be found in his book My TenYears in a Quandary. It is a hilarious ?defense? of generalrelativity against a competing theory, and concludes with thesewords addressed to the author of that theory:

    Who asked you to butt in on this? We were gett ing along verynicely with Prof . Einstein, who has proven himself to be anextremely pleasant gent leman? He also plays the violin. What doyou play?

    This veneration of Einstein culminated in 1999 when TimeMagazine named him the ?person of the century?, calling him ?theembodiment of pure intellect?.

    In any case, Einstein enjoyed, but was not overwhelmed by, hisnewfound fame. Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s he traveledextensively, visiting the United States, South America, and Japan,among other places. As we shall see in Chapter 4, the visit toJapan has come to play

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    a part in a minor scholarly debate about the genesis of specialrelativity. It was while he was en route to Japan, in fact, that hewas notified that he would be awarded the Nobel Prize.

    As we mentioned above, the Prize was not given for relativity,his most important contribution to science, but for his explanationof the photoelectric effect, one of the founding documents of thenew field of quantum mechanics. This new science grew in stages. In1913 the Danish physicist Niels Bohr (1885?1962) explained thebehavior of the hydrogen atoms in quantum terms, and in the yearsthat followed what is now known as the ?old? quantum theory wasdeveloped. We don?t have the space to go into this in detail, butthe central point was that it described the world inside the atomas a place where everything came in little bundles (quanta), but inwhich things like electrons could be thought of as something likeminiature billiard balls in comforting analogy to the Newtonianworld view. In 1925, however, the young German physicist WernerHeisenberg (1901?1976), joined later by the Austrian physicistErwin Schrodinger (1887?1961), developed the modern version ofquantum mechanics. The central differences between this new way ofdescribing the world and the old, comfortable classical physics,were that (1) in the new quantum mechanics it is impossible to knowtwo things about some pairs of quantities that describe a particle(its position and velocity, for example) with infinite precision,and (2) the properties of a particle (such as its position) canonly be described in probabilistic terms. In other words, the oldNewtonian idea that you can describe a billiard ball as being in aspecific place and moving at a specific speed doesn?t work in thequantum world. We have to say that the quantum billiard ball has acertain probability of being in various places and moving atvarious speeds. It was this proposition that caused Einstein to getoff the quantum mechanics train.

    It has always been something of a curiosity that a man who wasone of the founders of quantum mechanics became one of its severestcritics. These criticisms were played out dramatically in debateswith Niels Bohr at what were called the Solvay conferences. (Theconferences, held in Brussels starting in 1911, were sponsored bychemical manufacturer Ernest Solvay. They are still going ontoday.) It was at the 1927 Solvay Conference that Einsteindelivered his famous ?God does not play dice? statement, astatement that expressed his dismay with the probabilisticinterpretation of quantum mechanics described above. Less famous isBohr?s response? ?Albert, stop telling God what to do.? This kindof playful badinage illustrates the fact that the two men were goodfriends and had a deep respect for each other.

    The debate took on a stylized form. Einstein would propose athought experiment that seemed to show that, for example, theposition and velocity of a quantum particle could be determinedsimultaneously, despite the dictates of the new quantum mechanics.Bohr would go off and ponder the proposal and then come back toshow why the experiment wouldn?t work as Einstein predicted. In theend, Bohr usually prevailed and Einstein went back to the drawingboard to try again.

    In 1935, however, Einstein and his colleagues Boris Podolsky andNathan Rosen published a paper that would have profound effects onthe way people thought about quantum phenomena. The so-called EPRpaper struck at one of the core principles of quantum mechanics?the idea that if a particle is not being measured it must bedescribed as a probabilistic combination of all the states it couldbe in. For example, a quantum mechanical glove would have to bedescribed

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    as the sum of a certain probability of being right handed andanother probability of being left handed.

    The EPR argument was simple. Suppose (to use the above example)we knew that a particular system emitted two quantum mechanicalgloves, and that there was some law that told us that if one glovewas right handed the other had to be left handed. Suppose furtherthat the system emitted two gloves, one going north and one goingsouth, and we waited until the gloves were so far apart that lightcould not travel from one to the other in the time taken up by theexperiment. Now suppose we measure the northward moving glove andfind it is right handed. Then, EPR argued, 10 Einstein?s life wewould know that the southward moving glove was left handed eventhough we hadn?t measured it. EPR argued that this showed thatthere was a more complete description of the state than that givenby quantum mechanics. This idea? that we could get back to aNewtonian picture if we could find the right description of thequantum state? came to be called the ?hidden variable? theory.

    For a while EPR remained one of those unsolved puzzles thatexist in every science. Then, in 1964, the Irish physicist JohnBell (1928?1990) showed that there were experiments that would givedifferent results if particles were described in terms ofprobabilities, as required by quantum mechanics, or described interms of hidden variables (i.e. as having a definite state eventhough not being measured). In the 1970s several experimentalgroups actually carried out these experiments and the results wereunequivocal; quantum mechanics was right and hidden variable theorywas wrong.

    The reason for this turn of affairs was that there is anunspoken assumption in the hidden variable argument presentedabove, and that is the assumption that the act of measurement is?local?. In other words, we assume that making a measurement on thenorthward moving glove cannot affect the southward moving glove ifthey are separated as stated. It turns out that this assumption iswrong. When two particles (such as our gloves) are once describedby a single probability distribution (as they are at the time ofemission) they never stop being described that way. We say thatthey become ?entangled?, so that measuring the northward movingglove does indeed affect the southward moving glove, even though nosignal passes between them.

    The concept of entanglement has generated what some authors calla ?second quantum mechanical revolution?. It is actually beingdeveloped to play a major role in cryptography and communicationsecurity. We can only wonder what Einstein would have made of this,but the concept of entanglement implicit in the EPR argument mayhave been his most important contribution to quantum mechanics.

    Meanwhile, as all of this travel and work in physics went on,storm clouds were gathering in Germany. As early as 1920 uglyanti-Semitic incidents began to intrude on public and scientificdiscussions of relativity, to the point where some scientificmeetings Einstein attended had to be guarded by the police.Nevertheless, during the 1920s Einstein enjoyed his life in Berlin,purchasing a summer cottage outside of the city and pursuing hishobby of sailing. In 1930 to 1932, he made two extended visits tothe United States, spending his time at the California Institute ofTechnology in Pasadena. Because of his fame, he was frequently inthe company of prominent scientists like Edwin Hubble as well asHollywood personalities? he struck up a

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    friendship with Charlie Chaplin, for example. There is awonderful photograph of Einstein and his wife at the world premiereof City Lights, with Chaplin sitting between them.

    The Nazis took over the Reichstag in July of 1932, and by thistime Einstein had already realized that he would have to leaveGermany. In December of that year the Einsteins left for theirsecond trip to Cal. Tech. When they left their country home,Einstein is supposed to have stopped his wife and said ?Turnaround. You will never see it again.? Indeed, he never again setfoot in Germany.

    The minute it became clear that Einstein was available, offersof professorships poured in from universities all over the world.There was a short period of travel, including stays in America,England, and Belgium (where the government had to supply him with asecurity detail because of the fear of Nazi assassins). While inthe United States he be began a series of conversations withAbraham Flexner, who was in the process of creating the Institutefor Advanced Studies at Princeton, and eventually Einstein decidedto make Princeton his home. When he started salary negotiations, heis supposed to have named a low salary, asking Flexner if he couldlive on less. Flexner is supposed to have replied ?Oh, I think wecan do better than that.? Einstein?s starting salary at theInstitute was $15,000, which comes to about $2,500,000 in 2013dollars, an amount matched in academe today only by universitypresidents and football coaches.

    Before we go on to discuss Einstein?s career at Princeton it isprobably worthwhile to spend a few minutes contemplating thecolossal stupidity of the Nazi regime in its treatment of science.Germany had spent several centuries creating the greatestuniversity system the world had ever known. Anyone in the world whoaspired to intellectual or scientific prominence had to spend timein Germany. The country?s universities had much the same scientificstatus as American universities do today. And then, in a few years,the Nazis destroyed the entire system. When Max Planck, the seniorscientific spokesman in the country, met with Hitler to warn himabout the consequences of his policies, the reply he got was thequote at the beginning of this chapter.

    One of the more bizarre manifestations of anti-Semitism in thatcountry was the so-called Deutsche Physik movement. (Technically,this should be translated as ?German Physics?, but is more oftencalled ?Aryan Physics?.) The Aryan Physics movement wasn?t somewacko fringe group. It was led by two Nobel Laureates, PhilippLenard and Johannes Stark. Reading their manifestos is a strangeexperience? it?s something like reading a physics textbook writtenby Richard Wagner. They really weren?t for anything, as far as Ican tell, but were clearly opposed to relativity, Einstein, andwhat they called ?Jewish physics?. I suppose it could beinterpreted as a sort of left-handed compliment to Einstein that anentire movement was created to oppose his ideas.

    At the scientific level, the movement was completelyunsuccessful in its attempts to suppress relativity. Perhaps thebest evocation of the men in this movement can be found inhistorian Russell McCormmach?s novel Night Thoughts of a ClassicalPhysicist. The novel explores the feelings of an older physicist inthe early twentieth century, a man unable to understand thefundamental changes going on in his field or the younger men whowere driving them. It?s not

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    hard to see that a physicist who had spent his career in thecomfortable Newtonian world, surrounded by the luminiferous ether,would resent these newfangled ideas couched in complex mathematicscoming from some punk kid at the patent office. I sometimes wonderwhether some of my colleagues feel that way about stringtheory.

    In any case, by 1933 Einstein was safely ensconced in Princeton,where he would spend the rest of his life. With the exception ofthe EPR paper discussed above, by this time his major contributionsto physics were behind him. He played a small role in initiatingthe Manhattan Project during World War II, as we will discuss inChapter 7, and was even offered the Presidency of the new state ofIsrael, which he wisely declined.

    The physics problem that was at the center of his attention inthose years is a deep one, and one that is still basicallyunsolved. I will state the problem here in its modern form anddiscuss it more fully in Chapter 14. It concerns the unification offorces, or what has come to be called unified field theory.

    Today, physicists recognize four forces that are, singly or inconcert, responsible for everything that happens in the universe.They are the familiar forces of electromagnetism and gravity? whatI like to call the nineteenth-century forces? and the strong andweak forces, which operate only inside the nucleus? think of themas twentieth-century forces. The force you feel when you push onsomething, for example, is generated by the electrical forcesbetween atoms in your hand and the thing you?re pushing on. Thestrong force is what holds the nucleus together, while the weakforce is responsible for some types of radioactive decay. Thequestion is whether these forces are really distinct or whetherthey can be thought of as aspects of a single underlying unifiedforce.

    In the 1930s, the strong and weak forces were just starting tobe understood (remember that the existence of the neutron wasn?tproved until 1932), so Einstein concentrated his attention ongravity and electromagnetism. Despite repeated attempts to find asingle theory that unified these two forces, he was ultimatelyunsuccessful. In Chapter 14 we will see that modern unified fieldtheories do indeed unify three of the four forces? theelectromagnetic, strong, and weak forces? in the so-called StandardModel. We shall see, however, that this formulation is entirelystated in quantum terms. Gravity, for which our best theory remainsGeneral Relativity, is essentially a force that depends on thegeometry of space-time. As such, it has not yet been incorporatedinto a generally accepted theory with the other three forces. Thesplit between quantum mechanics and relativity remains animportant? some would say the important? unsolved problem intheoretical physics. As he did with the EPR paper, Einstein?s workpointed the way toward the future of physics.

    During the last years of his life, Einstein?s health began todeteriorate due to the growth of an abdominal aneurism. He died onApril 18, 1955. His statement to his doctors when he refusedtreatment near the end was simple: ?I have done my share; it istime to go. I will do it elegantly.?

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    Gramsci Before the Prison Notebooks, f rom The RoutledgeGuidebook to Gramsci's Prison Notebooks


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    03:: Gramsci Before the Prison Notebooks, f rom The RoutledgeGuidebook to Gramsci's Prison Notebooks

    Antonio Gramsci (1891?1937) was one of the original members ofthe Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista d?Italia, PCd?I),taking part in its founding congress in Livorno in January 1921.Before that, he had left his native Sardinia to study philology andlinguistics at the University of Turin, and had become engaged inthe politics of the Italian labour movement and joined the ItalianSocialist Party (Partito Socialista Italiano, PSI). Starting in theyears of the First World War he worked as a journalist and theatrecritic for the socialist press in Turin, and was an activeparticipant in the struggles of the working class of the city. Heplayed a leading role in the wave of strikes and occupations of theFiat car factories which took place in the so-called ?red twoyears? or biennio rosso of 1919?20. He saw the factory occupationsas the possible beginning of a socialist revolution in Italy,inspired by the revolution which the Russian Bolsheviks had made inOctober 1917. Along with other young socialist intellectualsGramsci founded the journal L?Ordine Nuovo (The new order) and hisarticles for that journal developed the idea of factory councils asthe institutions through which the workers could run the factoriesand which could be the basis of a new type of socialist state.Critical of the failure of both the PSI and of the trade unions todefend and extend the factory council movement, Gramsci joined thePCd?I at its foundation, became one of its leaders, and was sent toMoscow in May 1922 by the party as its delegate to the executivecommittee of the Communist International (Comintern). It was whilein Moscow, recovering his health in a sanatorium, that he met JuliaSchucht, who was to become his wife and mother of their twochildren. In November 1923 Gramsci left Moscow for Vienna, andreturned to Italy in May 1924, having been elected as a deputy(member of parliament) for the region of the Veneto in theelections of April 1924. Gramsci became secretary general of thePCd?I in August 1924. Since the March on Rome of October 1922 thefascists had taken power in Italy, and after having survived thecrisis provoked by the fascist assassination of the socialistdeputy Matteotti in April 1924, the fascists went on to consolidatetheir power through the violence of their armed gangs of squadristiand the intimidation of their opponents.

    Antonio Gramsci?s Prison Notebooks, or Quaderni del carcere togive them their title in the original Italian, are a series ofnotes and reflections written over a period of more than six yearsfrom 1929 to 1935, years spent in jail following the prisonsentence handed down to Gramsci by a tribunal (a Special Tribunalfor the Defence of the State) convened by the fascist governmentheaded by Benito Mussolini. After what was essentially a show trialin June 1928, having been arrested in November 1926 despite hisparliamentary immunity as a deputy elected to the Italianparliament, Gramsci was condemned to prison on trumped-up chargesof subversion for twenty years, four months and five days, andsimilar sentences were handed down to the other leaders of thePCd?I with whom Gramsci was put on trial. He started writing hisNotebooks in February 1929, as soon as he had been able to getpermission to write in prison, and filled twenty-nine notebooks(school exercise books) with his reflections on history, politics,philosophy and culture, as well as a further four notebooks filledwith translations from German, English and Russian texts, whichGramsci used as language exercises.

    Gramsci?s Prison Notebooks are an undoubted classic oftwentieth-century political thought, and they have had a hugeinfluence over all fields of social and political thought andcultural

    The following is excerpted from The Routledge Guidebook toGramsci's Prison Notebooks by John Schwarzmantel. © 2015 Taylor& Francis Group. All rights reserved.

    Learn more:

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    theory. Gramsci is one of the Italian thinkers who have beenmost translated and studied throughout the world, and the PrisonNotebooks have made concepts like hegemony familiar in a range ofintellectual disciplines. This influence was a long time coming.Gramsci died in 1937, and the Notebooks, retrieved from Gramsci?slast place of confinement by his sister-in-law Tatiana Schucht andsent by her to the Soviet Union, remained in an archive in Moscowuntil they were returned to Italy at the end of the Second WorldWar. Large sections of the Notebooks were first published inItalian in the years 1948 to 1951, while Gramsci?s letters fromprison first appeared in published form in 1947. But it was only in1975 that the first complete Italian edition of the Notebooksappeared, with full scholarly apparatus and identification of themany sources referred to in the course of more than 2,300 printedpages of Gramsci?s notes. For reasons more fully explained in thenext chapter, the Notebooks are not an easy text to read:constrained by the circ*mstances of his imprisonment, Gramsci wasoften forced to be allusive and cryptic in his references, and theNotebooks are composed of hundreds of separate sections ofparagraphs, some long, some short, which cover a massive range ofsubjects. Compared with other classic texts of political and socialtheory, it appears as an assemblage of fragmentary reflections, andcertainly not as a polished text revised for publication, with abeginning, middle and end of a coherent argument. A substantialEnglish-language edition of parts of the Prison Notebooks waspublished in 1971 entitled Selections from the Prison Notebooks ofAntonio Gramsci, edited and translated by Quintin Hoare andGeoffrey Nowell-Smith, and it is this edition which provides thestructure for the present guide. While approaching the Notebooksthrough this set of selections does impart a particular perspectiveto the analysis of Gramsci?s Notebooks (in a way privileging thepolitical, historical and philosophical aspects at the expense ofthe themes of culture and popular beliefs which are alsoimportant), the justification remains that the Hoare/Nowell-Smithedition is still the way in which most English-speaking readersinitially approach Gramsci?s Prison Notebooks. The present guide istherefore oriented to that set of selections, designed to helpreaders encountering the text through that edition, while makingreference also to the full text of the Notebooks in both the 1975Italian edition and to the as yet incomplete English translation,which at the moment (2014) covers only the first eight of thetwenty-nine Notebooks, as well as to other English-languagetranslations.

    The remainder of this introductory chapter seeks to explainbriefly Gramsci?s political career and writings before hisimprisonment. The next chapter gives an overview of the main themesof the Notebooks, and then discusses the structure and nature ofGramsci?s prison writings, explaining the way in which they werewritten and the periodization of their composition. After that, thesuccessive chapters of this guide follow the thematic ordering ofthe Selections from the Prison Notebooks (hereafter SPN), withchapters on intellectuals and education; history and modernity;politics and the state; and finally philosophy and Marxism. Theonly departure from the ordering of SPN is in the discussion ofGramsci?s views on Americanism and Fordism, which are dealt withhere in the chapter on history and modernity, whereas the SPN putsthese in the section dealing with politics. The aim of thefollowing chapters is mainly expository. It is hoped to give aclear explanation of Gramsci?s ideas, with the addition of somecritical analysis of how those ideas stand up in the conditions ofcontemporary twenty first- century politics. A concluding chapteroffers a brief and selective review of some of the ways in whichGramsci?s Prison Notebooks have influenced wider political andsocial analysis, and takes up the way in

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    which Gramsci presents the themes of the national and theglobal, the crisis of the nation-state, and his ideas ofcosmopolitanism, themes which have become ever more topical sincehis day. If the present guide helps to clarify Gramsci?s ideas andassists readers in their study of the Selections, and hopefullydirects them to the complete version of the Notebooks, then it willhave served its purpose. In the light of the discovery of newsources of documentation and helped by the work of scholars engagedin the preparation of the new (Italian) national edition ofGramsci?s works, and the cooling of Cold War passions anddistortions, it should be possible to arrive at a more balanced anddispassionate treatment of this classic of twentieth-centurypolitical and social thought.


    Understanding the content of the Prison Notebooks requires somegrasp of Gramsci?s own life and political career, so it isnecessary to give a short account of Gramsci?s development beforehe was imprisoned in 1926 by the fascist regime, which was to keephim in prison effectively for the rest of his life, until 1937.Gramsci was born in Sardinia in 1891, and came to Turin as astudent, to study (primarily) philology, though as his fellowstudent, and later leader of the PCd?I, Palmiro Togliatti observed,wherever there were lectures on interesting subjects, Gramsci wasto be found there: ?I would bump in to him?, Togliatti wrote,?wherever there was a Professor who enlightened us on a series ofessential problems'. Gramsci did not complete his studies at theUniversity of Turin, committing himself to a career as a socialistjournalist and organizer in the city of Turin, writing first forthe socialist paper Avanti! (Forward!) and then joining with agroup of other young comrades to set up the socialist paperL?Ordine Nuovo, which proclaimed its mission to be an organ ofworking-class culture and education, with those involved in itknown as the ordinovisti, the ?new order people'. The core ideas ofthe ordinovisti are important for understanding the ideas of thePrison Notebooks, since there is continuity between the earlyGramsci and the late Gramsci, in the same way, it can be argued, asthere is continuity between the young Marx of the 1844 ParisManuscripts and the later Marx of Capital (Das Kapital). In hisearly writings in the period of L?Ordine Nuovo Gramsci wasconcerned to articulate the idea that the working class couldexpress and develop its own culture, and that Marxism did notrepresent a form of economic determinism but expressed such a newculture. Just as the French Revolution had been preceded by a longperiod of intellectual critique and undermining of traditionalideas, so too the socialist revolution was bound up with a processof intellectual renewal and transformation. This is well illustrated in Gramsci?s article on ?Socialism and Culture?, writtenfor the socialist paper Il Grido del Popolo (The cry of the people)on 29 January 1916. In that article Gramsci wrote that ?everyrevolution has been preceded by a long process of intense criticalactivity, of new cultural insight and the spread of ideas throughgroups of men initially resistant to them, wrapped up in theprocess of solving their own, immediate economic and politicalproblems, and lacking any bonds of solidarity with others in thesame position? (PPW 10). He illustrated this with reference to theFrench Revolution and the ideas of Enlightenment figures likeD?Alembert and Diderot. For Gramsci, ?the Enlightenment was amagnificent revolution in itself ? it created a kind ofpan-European unified consciousness, a bourgeois International ofthe spirit? (PPW 10). But in the present situation of 1916, Gramsciwrote, a similar process was occurring, not a ?bourgeoisInternational? but a new socialist

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    consciousness: ?The same phenomenon is occurring again today,with socialism. It is through a critique of capitalist civilisationthat a unified proletarian consciousness has formed or is in theprocess of formation? (PPW 11). This article illustrates themeswhich were to be much more fully explored in the Prison Notebooks,namely the importance of ideas and forms of consciousness, and theneed to form a new intellectual perspective as a precondition forradical political change. There is also the idea of getting beyonda limited perspective concerned just with ?immediate economic andpolitical problems?, and the need to articulate a broaderphilosophy which rises above what Gramsci in the Prison Notebookswould refer to as the ?economic-corporate level?.

    One other theme was also raised in Gramsci?s early journalisticwritings which receives a far deeper and more extended analysis inthe Prison Notebooks, namely the idea of Marxism not as a form ofeconomism in which politics was determined by economics, but ofMarxism as precisely the expression of human will and creativeaction, encapsulated in the term which Gramsci developed in theNotebooks, ?the philosophy of praxis?. The most famous expressionof this idea in the pre-prison writings came in his article on theBolshevik Revolution, which he saluted as ?The Revolution againstCapital?. In that article Gramsci startlingly refers to Marx?sCapital as being ?more the book of the bourgeoisie than of theproletariat?, at least in the way in which it had been interpretedin Russia (PPW 39). Instead of just passively waiting for theunfolding of history along a path determined by the iron laws ofeconomics, with socialist revolution deferred until after thedevelopment of capitalism, or as Gramsci put it, in opposition tothe idea that ?a bourgeoisie had to develop, the capitalist era hadto get under way and civilisation on the Western model beintroduced, before the proletariat could even start thinking aboutit* own revolt, its own class demands, its own revolution?, theBolsheviks had shown a different path through their own actions(PPW 39). In Gramsci?s words, ?They are living out Marxist thought? the real, undying Marxist thought, which continues the heritageof German and Italian idealism, but which, in Marx, wascontaminated by positivist and naturalist incrustations? (PPW 40).Here again there is a core idea which received more extensivetreatment in the Notebooks, the idea of the importance of practiceand the rejection of the ?positivist and naturalist incrustations?which had, for Gramsci, distorted the nature of Marxism. It is truethat in these early writings of Gramsci his use of Marx and Marx?swritings was rather a polemical one, making an appeal to Marxism asa way of criticizing the passivity of Italian socialists and theirfailure to exploit the potentialities of the situation in the waythe Bolsheviks had done in Russia in 1917. A careful study byFrancesca Izzo of Gramsci?s various readings of Marx shows that itwas only with the Prison Notebooks that Gramsci engaged fully withsome of the core ideas of Marxism, above all with the philosophy ofMarxism (Izzo 2008). In his early journalistic and politicalwritings, Gramsci was using Marx as an intellectual weapon inpolemics against a range of political adversaries, in perhaps arather superficial way, using Marxist ideas against liberal,conservative and nationalist politicians, for example against theItalian Prime Minister Giolitti and his protectionist economicpolicies which aimed at sealing an alliance between northernindustrialists and southern landowners. Similarly Gramsci usedMarxist ideas in opposition to nationalists like Corradini whosought to transform the idea of class struggle into the nationalistframework of the struggle of nation-states against each other, withItaly as a ?proletarian nation?. As Izzo makes clear, it was onlyin the Notebooks that Gramsci made a ?true

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    and real ?return to Marx??, grappling with issues of base andsuperstructure, and reformulating ?historical materialism? (not aterm Marx himself ever employed) as the philosophy of praxis. Inthe Notebooks he explored the philosophical implications of Marx?swork in ways which he did not do and could not do in those earlywritings, written as those journalistic articles were under thepressure of events, from day to day. It was with reference toMarx?s 1859 Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of PoliticalEconomy and The Poverty of Philosophy that these ideas weredeveloped. Those writings were the key texts on which Gramsci drewin the Notebooks and which ?constitute the source, the laboratoryon which Gramsci drew in his discussion of critics of thephilosophy of praxis, above all Croce?. While it is true that thismore profound engagement with Marx and Marxism comes only with thePrison Notebooks, the idea of freeing Marxism (and politicalanalysis generally) from the deterministic and economistic?incrustations? of pre-1914 Marxism, and seeing Lenin as theexample of such a voluntaristic and creative Marxism is one whichis certainly an important element in the Notebooks but also findssome expression in Gramsci?s early articles, such as ?TheRevolution against Capital? quoted above. In the early writings,Gramsci invokes the Marx of The Communist Manifesto and of The HolyFamily, using these writings as examples of an activist creativeperspective. In an article of 4 May 1918, also written for Il Gridodel Popolo, Gramsci wrote that ?Marx did not write some neat littledoctrine; he is not some Messiah who left us a string of parablesladen with categorical imperatives and absolute, unchallengeablenorms, lying outside the categories of time and space. His onlycategorical imperative, his only norm: ?Workers of the world,unite!?? (PPW 54).

    In his early journalistic writings, first for the periodical IlGrido del Popolo, then for the socialist newspaper Avanti! (whoseeditor at an earlier stage had been Mussolini), and finally for thejournal L?Ordine Nuovo (whose first issue appeared in March 1919),Gramsci gave an analysis of the events of the day, and in thosejournalistic writings certain themes appear which he was to developfurther in his Prison Notebooks. In his early writings Gramscideveloped a critique of Italian society and of the failure of theItalian bourgeoisie to be a truly modernizing force. In Gramsci?sanalysis, the true face of capitalist modernity was realizedthrough liberalism and a liberal society as represented by theAnglo-Saxon countries of England and the USA. In those societies atradition of individualism spread ideas of autonomy andself-reliance. A truly liberal society, marked by civil liberties,was most conducive to the development of capitalism, and henceprovided the best conditions for the growth and eventual victory ofsocialism. Gramsci?s Anglophilia even led him to praiseBaden-Powell?s Boy Scout movement for fostering qualities ofself-reliance and individualism. Evidently Gramsci neglected oroverlooked the imperialist ideology which the Boy Scout movementalso developed. The corollary of his positive view of liberalcapitalism as realized in Britain and the USA was his critique ofItaly and the Italian character. Gramsci contrasted the Italianlove of games of chance and the hope for fortune?s wheel to bring awindfall with the English belief that individuals had to work forand deserve any reward (clearly this was before the period of theNational Lottery in Britain). In Gramsci?s analysis, Italy had notbecome a properly liberal society. The politics of Giolitti (theItalian prime minister) were marked by compromise, by economicprotectionism rather than free trade, and by an endeavour to forman alliance of northern industrialists and southern landlords, withsome attempt to co-opt the reformist leaders of Italian socialisminto the alliance, and Gramsci saw this as the opposite of aprogressive liberalism which would foster capitalist development.In an

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    article written for Avanti! on 16 May 1918, Gramsci wrote ofliberalism as ?a precondition for socialism, both ideally andhistorically? (Rapone 2011, 352). So for him Italy was a backwardsociety in which the bourgeoisie was far from economicallyproductive and dynamic. The character of the Italian people wasmarked by sentimentalism rather than force of character, and whatwas needed was greater discipline and stress on work rather thanhoping for windfall gains from games of chance.

    It is also interesting to note in these early journalisticwritings of Gramsci his hostility to Jacobinism and to democracy,compared with his early praise for liberalism. In the PrisonNotebooks Jacobinism was praised as the politics which in theFrench Revolution had led the urban poor to support the demands ofthe peasantry, and which had pushed the revolution forward. In theearly writings, by contrast, Gramsci?s use of the term ?Jacobinism?is much more negative, seeing Jacobinism as the politics of anintolerant minority, imbued with abstract ideas which it wasfoisting on the population as a whole, so that ?Jacobin democracyis the negation of liberty and of autonomy?. He saw the Jacobins asthe typical leaders of a bourgeois revolution, not in tune with themasses, and imposing their own ideas in an authoritarian fashion.This was linked with a critique (by Gramsci) of ?democracy?, asseen as an abstract idea: he stated that ?democracy is our worstenemy?, because it tried to pacify or tone down ideas of classstruggle. Gramsci in these early writings was scornful of thedefenders of democracy, whom he saw as articulating abstract ideasin a sentimental way, invoking the ?sacred principles of 1789? andideals of justice, fraternity and liberty without seeing how thoseideas were historically formed and situated, so that they were notuniversal truths. The defenders of democracy had come to justifythe First World War, legitimizing it as a democratic war, andpreaching a gospel of democracy which elevated these vague idealsto the status of eternal truths. By contrast liberalism and thesociety it promoted were frankly capitalistic and bourgeois, andhence provided the ground for the development of socialism.

    However, Gramsci changed his ideas on these matters in responseto two crucial sets of events, the Russian revolutions of Februaryand October 1917, and the experience of the factory councils andwave of working-class action which culminated in the workers?takeover of the Turin factories in 1920. With regard to the Russianrevolutions, notably the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917,Gramsci stressed the need for leadership, and the need fordiscipline and order to be provided by a revolutionary state.Whereas his earlier stance had been to some degree an anti-statistone, in following events in Russia in and after 1917 he came toargue that ?society cannot live without the state?, and he stressedthe creative role of a revolutionary minority leading the masses,saluting Lenin as ?the greatest statesman of contemporary Europe?.Gone was his critique of Jacobinism seen as a tactic of minorityrevolution typical of bourgeois revolutions, to be replaced by anew emphasis on the need for a proletarian state, of a highlydisciplined kind: the need for ?a very strong socialist state? (unostato socialista saldissimo), with a necessarily militarycharacter. Gone too was his earlier more positive attitude toliberalism, which Gramsci now saw as in fundamental and possiblyterminal crisis, at any rate irrelevant to the challenge ofbuilding a new proletarian order which he thought had been put onthe agenda by the Bolshevik Revolution ? and which was of immediaterelevance to Italy. The Russian Revolution showed the need for anew type of state, the dictatorship of the proletariat,

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    and had indicated the institutional framework for realizing thatstate ? the organs of the soviets, councils of workers, soldiersand peasants. In the course of his engagement with the factorycouncils which had briefly taken over control of the factories inTurin in August 1920, Gramsci came to develop his idea of a newtype of state, with the factory councils (or internal commissions)as the organs of both anti-capitalist struggle and the nucleus of aform of state distinct from that of parliamentary democracy. Theimpact of these two events, Bolshevik Revolution and the bienniorosso of 1919?20, changed Gramsci?s perspective on liberalism,democracy and Jacobinism. Liberalism was now seen as irrelevant andoutmoded rather than a factor of capitalist development. Democracywas no longer seen as the worst enemy, but as something which couldbe realized, not in the form of parliamentary democracy but in anew type of state whose organs at the base were the factorycouncils, supplemented by organs of popular power in the locality,culminating in a ?National Congress of delegates of workers andpeasants?. This system of representation was based on the unit ofproduction, and as Rapone says this meant that ?in place of thegeneric citizen, bearer of equal rights, the point of reference wasman as worker [l?uomo quale specifico soggetto lavoratore], so thateconomic function coincided with political capacity?. Finally,Gramsci?s earlier anti-Jacobinism was replaced by a new concernwith the importance of political leadership, as manifested by theBolsheviks, showing the need for a political party to organize anddiscipline the mass movement which had arisen in the RussianRevolution and more widely in the crisis of post-war Europe.Through the control of production and mass mobilization witnessedin the red two years the working masses were developing the newculture and confidence which Gramsci saw as necessary for asocialist society. But this needed to be complemented by politicalleadership and organization of the mass movement, through theagency of the political party. These were all themes which thePrison Notebooks deal with in a wider historical and alsophilosophical perspective, but the later discussion cannot beunderstood without some knowledge of Gramsci?s practical andpolitical experiences prior to his imprisonment.

    It was through his engagement in the factory councils movementof the biennio rosso of 1919?20, and through his membership, andthen leadership, of the newly formed (in January 1921, at theLivorno Congress) PCd?I (Partito Comunista d?Italia) that Gramsciacquired the political experience and knowledge on which hereflected in the Prison Notebooks, so that both of these episodesand formative experiences need at least a brief explanation inorder to understand the themes of the Prison Notebooks. The red twoyears of 1919?20 were years of worker militancy, marked by strikesand occupation of the factories, notably in Turin, which Gramscihimself had previously described as the city in which ?theproletariat has reached a point of development which is one of thehighest, if not the very highest, in Italy? (article of 18 December1917, quoted in Giasi 2008a, 154), where ?within an area of a fewthousand square metres there were concentrated tens and tens ofthousands of workers? as he wrote in that article. The factorycouncil movement developed in Turin towards the end of 1919, and itwas in Turin that a general strike broke out in April 1920, theso-called ?clockhands strike?, provoked by a dispute over theadoption of daylight saving time. In September 1920 the occupationof the factories in Turin began, and ?shortly thereafter nearly allItalian heavy industry was taken over?. Gramsci and his colleagueson L?Ordine Nuovo were actively involved in the workers? occupationof the factory, but above all sought in the pages of that journal,which in November 1920

  • 28

    became a daily newspaper, to theorize the movement of thefactory councils and explain its significance. In Gramsci?sarticles of the time he explains that the factory councils wereinstitutions different from the socialist political party and fromthe official trade unions, as indeed they were. The factorycouncils were open to all workers in the plant or factory, theyelected committees which were charged with the running of thefactories, defying the employers? attempts to shut the factoriesdown and stop production. The ordinovisti, in particular Gramsci,saw the factory councils as the manifestation of the workers?capacity to organize and maintain industrial production, thusshowing that the employers were superfluous, and production couldgo ahead without them. But Gramsci?s analysis of these factorycouncils went further: his articles of the time argue that thesecouncils were organizations of worker power which were, at leastpotentially, basic institutions of a new proletarian state. Theywere genuinely original institutions organized at the point ofproduction through which the working class could affirm its powerand its autonomy. Since this present text focuses on the PrisonNotebooks, there is not space to discuss fully Gramsci?s views, butsome quotations can illustrate the core of his ideas. The factorycouncils movement was part of the general militancy of workersthroughout Europe in the period after the War and the RussianRevolution, inspired by the idea of soviets (councils of workers,peasants and soldiers) to create a model of council communism, thedirect rule of the producers.

    In his articles in L?Ordine Nuovo on the factory councilsGramsci argued that the councils were institutions of a differenttype from the traditional institutions of working-class politics,party and union: ?Revolutionary organisations (the political partyand the trade union) grow up on the terrain of political libertyand bourgeois democracy?, Gramsci wrote, but ?we say that thepresent period is revolutionary?, since the working class was?beginning with all its energies (despite the errors, hesitationsand setbacks only natural in an oppressed class, with no historicalexperience behind it, which has to do everything for itself, fromscratch) to generate working-class institutions of a new type? (PPW165). The factory councils were the basis of a new type of state:?institutions devised to take over the role of the capitalist, inadministrating and running industry; and to guarantee the autonomyof the producer in the factory, on the shop-floor? (PPW 113).Gramsci?s articles during the biennio rosso expressed the beliefthat proletarian revolution was imminent, indeed actuallyoccurring, and that the factory councils could be the institutionsof a new type of state, based directly on the producers. He wroteof ?a determination on the part of the proletarian masses tointroduce proletarian order into the factory, to make the factorythe basic unit of the new State and to build the new State in a waythat reflects the industrial relations of the factory system? (PPW170). Against the reluctance of the PSI, the Italian SocialistParty, to give effective leadership to the factory councilmovement, and against the fear by union leaders that the factorycouncils were undermining union power, Gramsci saw the factorycouncil as ?the most appropriate organ for mutual education and forfostering the new social spirit that the proletariat has managed todistil out of its fruitful, living experience in the community oflabour? (PPW 118).

    However, the factory council movement ended in defeat, thoughthis was masked by an agreement in September 1920 which spoke ofworkers? control, though this was never realized, and two yearsafter the return to work came the March on Rome of October 1922,which brought

  • 29

    Mussolini and the fascists to power. As John Cammett, one of thefirst historians to bring Gramsci?s work to an English-speakingpublic, writes, ?The industrialists had lost their faith in the?liberal state?, and had become receptive to political expedientsof quite a different order ? The hour of fascism was at hand? .Gramsci?s Prison Notebooks contain some allusions to the Turinmovements and to L?Ordine Nuovo discussions, for example in thepassage where Gramsci discusses the need for a new type ofintellectual, ?closely bound to industrial labour?: he writes that?on this basis the weekly Ordine Nuovo worked to develop certainforms of new intellectualism and to determine its new concepts, andthis was not the least of the reasons for its success? (SPN 9; Q12,§3, 1551). It would not be correct to oppose the ?early? Gramsciwith his stress on factory councils to the ?later? Gramsci of thePrison Notebooks where the role of the political party is givenmuch greater attention. Gramsci?s criticisms of the political partyin the early writings were directed to the PSI because of itsfailure to see the potential of the factory council movement. Inhis writings on Gramsci, Palmiro Togliatti insisted on the factthat Gramsci?s writings on the factory councils did not mean thathe neglected or ignored the need for a political party. Indeed itwas Gramsci?s critique of the failure of the PSI to play a decisiverole in the years of the factory council movement that led him tocall for the ?renewal? of the PSI, in an article of 8 May 1920, andto take part in the Congress of Livorno of January 1921 in whichthe Italian Communist Party was formed (the PCd?I, PartitoComunista d?Italia ? it changed its name in 1944 to PCI, PartitoComunista Italiano). Nevertheless, one of the core themes of thePrison Notebooks is the reflection on the defeat of theworking-class movement and the subsequent victory of fascism, andthe implications of both for political action and the need for anew type of political party.

    The PCd?I formed in January 1921 was in its initial years markedby a radical intransigence and sectarianism, under the leadershipof Amadeo Bordiga. Bordiga?s stance was one of hostility toparliamentary politics, a form of ?ultra-leftism? which meant thathe was opposed to the politics of the United Front which theComintern proclaimed from 1921 on, when it first became clear thatthe wave of revolution stimulated by the Bolshevik Revolution hadreceded and that revolution in western Europe was no longer arealistic possibility. Here we can only give a brief outline ofGramsci?s political thought and activity in the years from 1921 tohis arrest in November 1926, highlighting those points importantfor understanding the issues handled in the Prison Notebooks. Frombeing in many respects a political ally of Bordiga, Gramsci changedto acceptance of the policy of the United Front, which was anattempt, carried out with varying degrees of enthusiasm by theparties of the Communist International (Comintern), to formalliances with the socialist parties of their respective countriesin an attempt to stave off the wave of reaction which in Italy tookthe form of fascism. Gramsci supported the policy of the?Bolshevization? of communist parties, namely the insistence thatcommunist parties everywhere had to accept the Bolshevik model ofdemocratic centralism and the ban on factions, which the Bolshevikparty itself had adopted after 1921. From 1922 to 1923 Gramsci wasin Moscow, as the delegate of the PCd?I to the Comintern. He leftTurin in May 1922 and once in Russia had to spend some time (indeedsix months) in a sanatorium on the outskirts of Moscow (SerebranyiBor, or Silver Wood) to recover from nervous exhaustion, and it wasthere that he met Julia Schucht, who was to become his wife. Recentresearch has suggested that before meeting Julia, Gramsci had comeinto contact with her elder sister Eugenia, who had been a patientin the

  • 30

    sanatorium for almost three years when Gramsci arrived there inJuly 1922. It seems that Gramsci had an amorous relationship withEugenia, and that several emotionally charged letters whichprevious researchers thought directed to Julia were in factaddressed to Eugenia, though this was not evident since the letterswere addressed to ?Dear Comrade? or ?Dearest? (Carissima). Thelatest research suggests that Gramsci transferred his affectionsfrom Eugenia to her younger sister Julia in the autumn of 1923,shortly before Gramsci left Moscow for Vienna. Their first child,Delio, was born on 10 August 1924.

    Gramsci was present in Moscow for the Fourth Congress of theComintern (held in November?December 1922). This Congress, as E. H.Carr says, ?marked an important point in the transformation andconsolidation of Soviet policy. It was the end of the dramaticperiod of the Communist International? and this Congress ?wasdriven still further along the road of retreat? (Carr 1966, 437).It urged that the PCd?I should fuse with the PSI (Italian SocialistParty) in order to implement the policy of the United Front (thoughthis fusion was never carried out). In June 1923 the Cominterndecided to create a new Executive Committee for the PCd?I, andBordiga resigned from the leadership of the party. In September1923 Gramsci, who had been expecting to return to Italy, wasordered initially to go to Berlin, but this was changed to Vienna,in the wake of arrests by the fascist police in Italy of theleaders of the PCd?I, so that Gramsci was effectively leader (inexile) of the Italian party. He arrived in Vienna on 3 December1923, remaining there until April 1924 when he was able to returnto Italy, having been elected as deputy (member of parliament) forthe regio

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