Addendum on My Intellectual Life at UCLA, and a Note on the New Class

Further to my post below on the passing of Philippa Foot.  In addition to the philosophers whom Larry Solum lists as having great intellectual impact on us as undergraduates, for myself and in my own intellectual trajectory at UCLA, I have to add to Larry’s list from outside the philosophy department – the great political theorist of political violence and terrorism, David Rapoport, with whom I still work on the Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence.

And also the great philosopher of law, literature, and psychoanalysis, Herbert Morris, of the law school and philosophy department.  Lest one think that the philosophy of psychoanalysis is merely a historical footnote or detour, consider that Herbert Morris has written more profoundly on the ‘culture of therapy’ than perhaps anyone.  Writing in a deceptively modest tone of Anglo-American analytic philosophy, he is part of the small number of social theorists and philosophers with something deep to say about therapeutic culture.  It includes, writing in quite different traditions of social theory, Philip Rieff and Christopher Lasch and Paul Piccone and Russell Berman and the editors of Telos.

In today’s blossoming debate over elites and the composition and role of the global New Class, of elite managerialism rather than leadership of a polity, of the “wholly administered society” that Telos’ Moishe Gonzales warned against, the culture of therapy and its implied authoritarianism are at the center of discussion, or will be soon.  When Glenn Reynolds is remarking on Christopher Lasch’s Revolt of the Elites, which I reviewed in the TLS many, many years ago, well, something is afoot within the army of davids.  But no single piece of writing – and written in the revolutionary days of hedonic personal freedom of the 60s, no less – so presciently captures the transition from a culture of personal responsibility to the culture of therapeutic authoritarianism as Herbert Morris’s elegant and understated Persons and Punishment.

Comments are closed.