File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1996/96-05-20.182, message 162

Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 08:55:40 +0200 SAST
Subject: Re: Bhaskar and Bad Writing...

Hi all.

Both Colin and Tim seem determined to defend Bhaskar's literary 
dignity, but I think that his strength lies in the fact that he got 
the ideas expressed in, say, RTS, down at all, in the face of 
considerable opposition to the received wisdom on the subject.  As 
far as his (particularly later) writing style is concerned, I think 
that there is a level of clarity in philosophical discourse which 
should have more contributed to it by the author than by the reader, 
which Bhaskar, both despite and because of the depth of his ideas, 
does not always achieve.

I think also that Bhaskar's clarity of exposition is further 
compromised by the fact that he is serving (at least) two masters.  
One is the "underlabouring" programme which (it appears) is directed 
in support of some more or less orthodox version of Marxist dialectical 
materialism.  This is occasionally at odds with the other programme 
which is to achieve a clear understanding of what it is to theorise 
against the model of science.  I hope to point out instances, as we 
go through RTS where clarity would be better served by following the 
later programme unreservedly and leaving the former in abeyance.

Finally (and not separately), as can be seen in the examples provided 
by Newton and Galileo, it is often difficult for the developers of 
ground-breaking ideas to view their achievements from a point of view 
which is consistent with them, so that such authors are often guilty 
of "field errors" in the exegesis of their works.  I believe that 
this occurs also in RTS in places, and that Bhaskar has on occasion 
succumbed to the temptation to fudge over the difficulties which 
arise in this way with opaque prose.

Despite these criticisms, I hope it is clear that, in RTS at least, I 
consider the difficulties experienced by the reader to be well worth 
the trouble, and I am continually amazed at the extent to which 
Bhaskar's work has been apparently ignored by the British Analytical 



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