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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 40, No. 4 (Winter 1973)

Arien Mack, Editor

Aron Gurwitsch, professor Emeritus of Philosophy at The Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science, The New School for Social Research, died after a brief illness on June 25 in Zurich, Switzerland, where he had gone for medical treatment.

This is an age which belittles the conventional holders of power, as well as the conventional routes for attaining power, but which at the same time eulogizes power itself. Indeed, a major impetus to group formation and cohesion in our time is the shared feeling of powerlessness among founding members and subsequent recruits.

In writing about regicide, it is important not to “tell sad stories of the deaths of kings.” There are stories enough to tell, brutal tales of deposition, imprisonment, and murder, moving legends of the last days on this or that ruler. It is no doubt a central feature of kingship that kings are so prone to be killed. But the sad stories are of no help in this proposed study -of European monarchy and its fall, or rather, of how monarchy was destroyed in the persons of two of its leading representatives, Charles I of England and Louis XVI of France. But why did the premature deaths of so many kings have so little effect upon the magic and even upon the magic and even upon the everyday effectiveness of kingship?

The expression “late capitalism” implicitly asserts that, even in state-regulated capitalism, social developments are still passing through “contradictions” or crises. The author begins by elucidating the concept of crisis in relation to late capitalism.

Within the last 25 years a remarkable literature has come into being: all the forms of testimony which survivors give—diaries, novels, firsthand accounts—about the nature of survival in extremity and of the evil thus endured. These works describe the horror of concentration camps, and in almost every case they focus on the struggle of ordinary men and women to preserve life and some remnant of active humanity amid the death and terror surrounding them.

Experiment and theory. Theory and experiment. The authors explains that his colleagues have seen the relation as more tenuous and subtle -though not less important- than the dominant perception of this matter within modern philosophy of science. They have joined in a line of thought, recently (and variously) exemplified by Polanyi, Dirac, and Kuhn, which places primary emphasis on aesthetic and other intrinsic value-engendering properties of theoretical conception in determining its genesis, elaboration, productiveness, reception, and fate.

The article inquires on the basis of an examination of Plato and Hobbes, whether it is possible to create a consistent ideal political system. I contend that those who create ideal systems usually confuse the reality of their times with their ideal assumptions. This is especially likely for those theorists who, like Plato and Hobbes, admit that their ideal states are probably impossible of realization and, even if constructed, doomed eventually to degenerate.

A Book Review of Daniel Bell’s The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic Books, 1973. 507 pp.

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