Which philosophers were behind sixties counter-culture and protests?

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Deckard
 
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 09:32 pm
I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of the widespread riots and protests that culminated in the important year of 1968 not just in America but in France and other parts of the western world.

I am interested in the intellectuals that influenced the sixties counter-culture. However, the only philosopher that comes to mind that I am sure about at the moment is Herbert Marcuse. I am aware of many other philosophers of the 20th century but I am having trouble placing them in the time-line and thus I am having a difficult time assessing their influence on the sixties counter-culture. I am interested to hear what other names are associated with the philosophical underpinnings of the sixties counter-culture both in America and around the world. Marcuse was being passed around on college campuses but what else were they reading?

I am sure there are many names to mention and I am interested to hear what other members of the forum will know about this chapter in our history.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 11:06 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;113395 wrote:
I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of the widespread riots and protests that culminated in the important year of 1968 not just in America but in France and other parts of the western world.

I am interested in the intellectuals that influenced the sixties counter-culture. However, the only philosopher that comes to mind that I am sure about at the moment is Herbert Marcuse. I am aware of many other philosophers of the 20th century but I am having trouble placing them in the time-line and thus I am having a difficult time assessing their influence on the sixties counter-culture. I am interested to hear what other names are associated with the philosophical underpinnings of the sixties counter-culture both in America and around the world. Marcuse was being passed around on college campuses but what else were they reading?

I am sure there are many names to mention and I am interested to hear what other members of the forum will know about this chapter in our history.


I do know that John Searle was important in trying to bring some rationality to the Berkeley campus. With varying success. Some of the radicals were philosophy majors and graduate students. But, as far as I recall, professional philosophers tried to behave sensibly.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Mon 21 Dec, 2009 11:52 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113427 wrote:
I do know that John Searle was important in trying to bring some rationality to the Berkeley campus. With varying success. Some of the radicals were philosophy majors and graduate students. But, as far as I recall, professional philosophers tried to behave sensibly.


Just looking at Searle's bio on Wiki. Says he was "the first tenured professor to join the Free Speech Movement" which was a student protest to "lift bans on on-campus political activities" among other things. I have no doubt that he would have been a voice of reason amidst that confusion.

I also see that Searle wrote a book called "The Campus War: A Sympathetic Look at the University in Agony." I have not read more than a synopsis but the title refers to the institution of the University not just UC Berkley. I have noticed this elsewhere (in Baudrillard's Simulacra and what I've read of Alastair McIntyre's Three Rival Versions); when these philosophers talk about the importance of the sixties and the riots of 1968 it is almost always with reference to the institution of the University.

Point being, I have usually thought of the 1960's University campus as the stage for changes in music, politics, Vietnam, hippies and free love but the University itself was also changed. Since I haven't much of an idea of what the University was before, I'm having a difficult time figuring out exactly what kind of change this was and how important it was.
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 12:38 am
@Deckard,
Well, first off, Noam Chomsky's start in politics came during the 60's counter culture, and got many of the admins' panties in a bunch at MIT. Alan Watts was also big in bringing the ideas of Eastern culture to western thought that influence the counter culture.

Then there was people like Timothy Leary that could be considered a philosopher in the sense of what he was doing with LSD.
 
Deckard
 
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2009 01:05 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;113459 wrote:
Well, first off, Noam Chomsky's start in politics came during the 60's counter culture, and got many of the admins' panties in a bunch at MIT. Alan Watts was also big in bringing the ideas of Eastern culture to western thought that influence the counter culture.

Then there was people like Timothy Leary that could be considered a philosopher in the sense of what he was doing with LSD.


I do want to distinguish between children of the sixties and parents of the sixties. Chomsky and Leary I'll call children. Watts I'll call a parent.

Here are two parents that came to mind:

Aldous Huxley:
Brave New World (1932)
Doors of Perception (1954)

Hannah Arendt:
Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963)
On Revolution (1963)

John Kenneth Galbraith
The Affluent Society (1958)
 
Klingsor phil
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 04:48 am
@Deckard,
A very important philosopher not only in France was Jean-Paul Sartre.

In Germany the philosophers behind the sixties counter-culture were Theodor W. Adorno ("parent") and J.Habermas ("children"-generation).

And two older thinkers should be mentioned here: Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Everybody was reading their books in this years.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 05:01 am
@Deckard,
Philosophers and also some novels that were influential

Theodore Roszak The Making of a Counterculture and Where the Wasteland Ends
Timothy Leary The Politics of Ecstacy
John Fowles The Magus
W. Y. Evans Wentz The Tibetan Book of the Dead
Herman Hesse Steppenwolf

Also check out Cults and Cosmic Consciousnessby Camille Paglia

---------- Post added 12-23-2009 at 10:02 PM ----------

I don't know for sure, but strongly suspect, that SEARLE NEVER TRIPPED
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 06:23 am
@Klingsor phil,
Klingsor;113723 wrote:
A very important philosopher not only in France was Jean-Paul Sartre.

In Germany the philosophers behind the sixties counter-culture were Theodor W. Adorno ("parent") and J.Habermas ("children"-generation).

And two older thinkers should be mentioned here: Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Everybody was reading their books in this years.


One booklet that everyone was swaying with -particularly at european universities- was Moa Tse Tung's Little Red Book. But perhaps this was a bit too dogmatic to be called philosophy...
 
jgweed
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 07:56 am
@Deckard,
Having been there and done that, as the saying goes, it seems that (looking backwards into my youth) there were no direct philosophical influences, but more of a general consensus amongst college (but not confined to academe) youth that it was up to them to change a world gone terribly wrong, and assert once more the dignity of the individual. A confluence of philosophical influences from Existentialism to Martin Luther King called us to action to demand free speech and support academic freedom within the university and civil rights without, not to forget the anti-war movement that was tearing the nation apart. The brutal repression of student protests that culminated in the Kent State massacre (1970), solidified and generalised the movement throughout American campuses.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 08:02 am
@Deckard,
There was that scruffy looking grad. school philosopher, Mario Savio (sounds like a sauce for pasta) at Columbia. And then there was that woman, Angela someone-or-other, who, I think, eventually went to jail for a bit, in California, and who is still hanging around (I think). All sterling characters.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 09:01 am
@kennethamy,
I was thinking the same thing jgweed said. I think the "generation gap" was the natural outworking of events.

In some ways philosophy was influenced by the times... not the other way around. Like rejection of structuralism came from the need of people to feel free to redefine humanity. Considerig that they lived under the threat of global nuclear war and mind-bending definitions of humanity coming out of WWII, they had no choice but to demand that freedom.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 09:04 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;113761 wrote:
I was thinking the same thing jgweed said. I think the "generation gap" was the natural outworking of events.

In some ways philosophy was influenced by the times... not the other way around. Like rejection of structuralism came from the need of people to feel free to redefine humanity. Considerig that they lived under the threat of global nuclear war and mind-bending definitions of humanity coming out of WWII, they had no choice but to demand that freedom.


No generation gap here. I always thought that Mario was scruffy, and that Angela richly deserved jail. What do you mean, no choice? And, how about the choice of the way they behaved?
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 09:39 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;113764 wrote:
No generation gap here. I always thought that Mario was scruffy, and that Angela richly deserved jail. What do you mean, no choice? And, how about the choice of the way they behaved?
Hi!
Who are Mario and Angela?

Yes, robots have no choice. If there is some fundamental structure to humanity that limits our actions and thoughts, then we can't really change. Or so it would seem.

Post-structuralism: "A loss of faith, most marked since 1968, in the entire family of social and political explanations, including Saussurian linguistics, dialectical materialism, neoclassical economics, and neorealist international relations theory, held by post-structuralists to have obscured the world by privileging continuity over change, social structure over human agency, and generalization over detail." -- Charles Jones
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 09:49 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;113776 wrote:
Hi!
Who are Mario and Angela?

s



Post #10.......................
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 10:01 am
@kennethamy,
Arjuna;113776 wrote:


Post-structuralism: "A loss of faith, most marked since 1968, in the entire family of social and political explanations, including Saussurian linguistics, dialectical materialism, neoclassical economics, and neorealist international relations theory, held by post-structuralists to have obscured the world by privileging continuity over change, social structure over human agency, and generalization over detail." -- Charles Jones


Ah, very good. For some reason I have been thinking of post-structuralism as preceding the sixties. Time-line adjusted.

Is postmodernism also a sixties/post-sixties thing? The word was used with reference to the arts before the sixties but the philosophical meaning could also be considered a development of the sixties. This was probably obvious to everyone else but I never made this connection.

We could almost say post-sixties-modernism.
[CENTER]
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I just ran across the "Port Huron Statement" (1962). This had to have some impact though I'm not sure how much. Adding Tom Hayden to the list. Given the timing, more parent than child I think. Though maybe the parent child thing isn't working given that jgweed and arjuna have emphasized the spontaneity of the events. Was this being passed around college campuses?

http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/huron.html
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 10:01 am
@kennethamy,
Oops! Oh, thanks. Hey are you Mario? How much of your activity was chemically enhanced? Better living through chemistry.

Looks like an earlier poster pointed to that question: what was the significance of drugs to the ideology of the counter culture?

---
Deckard: Hi! Thanks for posting the Huron thing.

Just thoughts: the youngsters, or g-g-generation of the sixties lived at a time of profound change that we continue to explore. As hinted at in that document, a significant part of the story is the change in economic status of the average American. For the first time, a people with the legacy of living by the rule: "It is necessary to survive." had the time to ask why?

They didn't create it, they inherited it. Look at the Human Potential Movement... it was typical of what was really a global perception of change. In fact the 20th century started with global feelings of foreboding about the image of a dead-end being reached. Our best friends, the Russians, had been living with the idea and turning their society into a giant insane asylum prior to the 60's.

There was a book called "The Transformation" by George Leonard that points to the feeling of intellectuals mid-20th century. He compares the change he saw developing to the the shift from stone-age to agriculture. By the way, there's a popular movie called X-men, which depicts mutants. This theme came from 50's and 60's as a reflection of the experience of change. It shows two opposing attitudes to change: positive and negative.

Post-modernism seems to roll on from one generation to the next. A lot of the music of the present generation is so self-conscious that it exhausts me: coming more from the scream your head off generation... generation X.
 
Catchabula
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 11:05 am
@Deckard,
Ah yes, and the liberation theology in South America, dom Helder Camara and bishop Romero (the martyr). But that was for the post Vaticanum II worker-priests. Ah, those were the days, my friends...
 
Deckard
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 11:36 am
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;113783 wrote:


Post-modernism seems to roll on from one generation to the next. A lot of the music of the present generation is so self-conscious that it exhausts me: coming more from the scream your head off generation... generation X.


Hey that's my generation you're talking about there. There was a lot more going on there than just screaming our heads off. We had to digest all of your generation's broken dreams. But its all good.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 01:04 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;113814 wrote:
Hey that's my generation you're talking about there. There was a lot more going on there than just screaming our heads off. We had to digest all of your generation's broken dreams. But its all good.
I'm not really in either generation... kind of the literal continuity between them. Kind of interesting how broken dreams become more human than human, huh?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2009 01:17 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;113848 wrote:
I'm not really in either generation... kind of the literal continuity between them. Kind of interesting how broken dreams become more human than human, huh?


But broken dreams of what? The term, "coercive utopianism" springs to mind. Especially now that we are undergoing another spasm of it in government. And with a vengeance! They just have slightly new slogans. "Hope and Change" for instance. And, "the fierce urgency of now!". Here we go again.

The nature of Coercive Utopians.
 
 

 
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