International Society for Philosophers

International Society for Philosophers

Wisdom begins with wonder

PHILOSOPHY PATHWAYS                   ISSN 2043-0728


Issue number 87 27th June 2004


I. 'Three Axioms of Democracy' by Raoul Nakhmanson

II. 'Some Remarks on Mind and Spirit' by Hubertus Fremerey

III. Obituary for Stuart Hampshire



In this issue, Dr Raoul Nakhmanson from Frankfurt, Germany develops an original and intuitively plausible method for reaching democratic decisions, aimed at overcoming what John Stuart Mill in On Liberty called the "tyranny of the majority".

Hubertus Fremerey in his latest contribution argues for a revitalised understanding of the notion of 'spirit', which extends beyond the confines of religious practice and ritual.

Stuart Hampshire, who died on 13 June, was one of the 'grand old men' of British philosophy. He is best known for his book Thought and Action. The obituary from The Times newspaper was posted on the Philos-L list by Jeremy Bowman.

Geoffrey Klempner



Logical democracy includes randomization of decisions. Is quantum world an example of such a democracy?
Newspapers, radio, and television inform us frequently about the difficulties to find compromise decisions of disputable issues. Due to the working out a constitution for the European Union (EU) this problem is now very acute for Europe. In the EU there is no consensus relating to the number of representatives in EU Parliament, commissions, and other institutions, and there is no consensus relating to decision procedures as well. "Small countries" prefer the equality of countries (one country - one vote), "big countries" call for privileges, e.g. because they have more people, and because they contribute more money to the common budget. The negotiations are proceedings on all levels (heads of governments, foreign ministers, conferences, commissions, etc.) but the results are disappointing and the agreements do not look solid. This is not surprising because negotiations have not been set up on agreed rules but rather on traditions differing in various countries and societies. The procedures used e.g. "Majority", "Majority as 2/3 or more", "Unanimity", "Veto" lack a clear logical base.

The root of this problem is that the word on duty - "Democracy" - and its derivatives up to now have no axiomatic base and logical structure accepted by all participants of discussions. Each participant treats the notion "Democracy" his own way and for his interest.

Is it possible to improve something here? I think YES. As an example I will try to show what can be done with above mentioned key procedure - the procedure of decision.

1. As the first axiom of "Democracy" we can take equality of all people under the laws. This axiom is in the constitutions of all countries calling themselves as "democratic" ones. That of course does not mean the equality of possibilities.

2. The word "Democracy" was born in ancient Greece and means government by people. As it seems this formula can be taken as the second axiom of "Democracy" if we specify the notion "government by people". In "democratic" countries it is now realized directly by referendums and indirectly by voting of representatives e.g. in parliaments. The accordance with the first axiom is declared through the accordance "one person - one vote". But this is not enough! "Government by people" together with "equality of all people under the laws" demands more: In a referendum each person should have the same opportunity as the others to realize his own decision of the problem being under discussion. The same principle must apply e.g. in parliaments such that each member represents the same number of voters. In such a redaction the formula can be really accepted as a second axiom of "Democracy".

3. Today's existing decision procedures violate our second axiom. For example a decision made following "Majority" is a dictatorship of majority against minority. Majority is conservative and retrograde, it can be manipulated. Majority leads to dictatorship. Decisions always following "Majority" lead to a deadlock. They would bring us quickly on the top of a near hill, but we would stay there forever looking at distant mountains with envy. New ideas (including good ones) are created firstly by a minority, and we have to give the minority (and the rest also) a chance to prove these ideas in practice. But how?

The decision is not far, it is in our environment and in ourselves. It is worked out during the evolution of inanimate and animate matter. We have to include in a competition all alternatives with coefficients reflecting the numbers of their supporters and make a final choice randomly. The evolution has given its creatures - from quantum objects to people - random number generators. In their turn people are trying to endow computers with the ability to evolve by including in their programs trial-and-error methods and random number generators.

Using their random number generators hidden in their subconsciousnesses people search all alternatives including unlikely and dangerous. We sympathize such an irrationality bordering with foolhardiness. Let us remember fairy tales where the hero stands at a crossroad reading a signpost with such a text: "If you go right you will be rich, if you go straight you will marry a princess, if you go left you will be killed". The heroes go left!

     "Case is a God of inventions" - Alexander Pushkin.
     "Uncertainty is the very essence of romance" - Oscar Wilde.

Many faithful people think toss-up shows them God's will.

Lotteries, sweepstakes, roulette, etc. exist only thanks to the attraction of a "positive" case. Insurance companies exist only thanks to the fear from a "negative" accident.

Therefore the third axiom of "Democracy": If there are different suggestions the decision must be chosen using a random number generator and giving each person (or each representative) a chance. If the suggestions come from representatives e.g. in a parliament then each representative must represent the same number of people.

Let us consider a simple example. Suppose there is the year 3004, the era of Great Democracy and Great Ecology. All machines producing poisons are out of use. Ten strong men from Greenpeace have to transport a heavy log on their shoulders from village A to village B into a nature museum.

Between the villages A and B there is a marsh (ecologists do not drain off marshes, on the contrary, they like and cultivate marshes). The marsh can be sidestepped from right as well as from left. "Who prefers right?" - seven hands go up. Who prefers left?" - three hands go up. The men cannot saw up the log and have to find a decision. To choose "on majority" as in old ages is forbidden. How does it go on?

Each man takes a piece of paper, seven men write on their pieces "RIGHT", three men write "LEFT", respectively. After that all pieces are put into a hat and are mixed. A man pulls at random one piece from the hat and reads the answer, "RIGHT" or "LEFT". The first is most likely but the second is also possible. It is important that each man has the same chance as the others to realize his intention.

Such a practice on all levels, from sport clubs up to parliaments and the United Nations, preserves us not only from dictatorship of majority and stagnation but also from corruption and struggle for a 50 per cent plus 1 vote. At the random choice the small difference is inessential, 49 per cent and 51 per cent are equivalent to each other. Coalitions to have a domination fall off as useless. For example let us imagine a parliament including 100 representatives. 45 of them belong to party ALPHA, 35 belong to party BETA, and the rest of 20 belong to party GAMMA. Nowadays (old "Democracy") the parties BETA (35) and GAMMA (20) can come together in a coalition to have a majority (55) and stop all suggestions of party ALPHA. With the new rules such a coalition is meaningless: The suggestions of the party ALPHA would be accepted in 45 per cent of cases with or without joining of BETA with GAMMA.

Let us return to the third millennium. Even Europe - the inventor of today's Democracy (which, as it is explain above, is not a "governed by people") - is not ready for such new Democracy. This is true for other continents too. I do not wish to speculate there would happen if the new Democracy falls suddenly today on our immature heads. Perhaps there would be a terrible chaos followed by a terrible dictatorship. Therefore the transition to the new Democracy must be smooth with small reversible steps. It is useful to speak about new Democracy since now as a so-called "point Omega" to which we must evolve. This accelerates its coming.

But do we really need such a new Democracy? Let us write our opinions on pieces of paper, put them in a hat, and pull one at random.

Good luck!

(c) Raoul Nakhmanson 2004

Phone: +49 (0)69 442917 Fax: +49 (0)69 438884, E-mail:



This text was provoked by my discovery, that if you ask on the internet for "philosophy of spirit" you either are led to modern "analytical philosophy of mind" (e.g. Dennett or Searle or Putnam) or you are led to some commentary on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, including Marxist models of ideologies and collective awareness, while neither of these results leads to what I was looking for: A true "philosophy of spirit" where "spirit" is understood in the traditional way as a special capability of the mind - but surely not IDENTICAL to the mind! - enabling the mind "to see spiritual things" as in mysticism and religion. Even before Socrates there was always the conviction that there are truly spiritual things not accessible to the "normal" mind but sometimes even in need of "grace" to be seen or grasped. Those modes of insight are essential to the mystic and to "awakening experiences" and "peak experiences" and very different from mere "insight" or "feeling" or "awareness" as in the everyday world. The whole realm of esoterics is concerned with spiritual things too, but this again should not be mixed up: Esoterics is NOT religion, while spirituality is known to both in different forms.

Of course I am aware of the dangers and pitfalls of the concept of spirituality. Should we call "taste" and "sensitivity" as in appreciation of art or music or the sublime etc. "spiritual"? But in any case sensitivity is an important ability! I always fight the mix-up of "holiness" with "good behaviour" or of "sanctity" with "sanity". When we call somebody like Simone Weil "spiritual" we do not address "intelligence" nor "morals", but definitely a special appreciation of things that are "holy", and we find this same sensitivity of the "holy" in Dostoevsky and Bernanos and Claudel and others. What I fight with all might is this arrogance of ignorant people who redefine a realm of study by excluding something they do not understand from the agenda. This reminds me of the loss of experiences in many modern contexts.E.g., it has become nearly impossible today to find a truly ripe and aromatic apple on any fruit market. But this does not change the fact that those apples do indeed exist in some old gardens. The danger in this case - as in the spiritual one - results from the possibility that people who have never tasted the true thing redefine what an apple is by their own ignorance. In all their ignorant innocence they declare "an apple is what we know it to be" - but they don't know really and they not even know that they don't. There is much of wisdom lost today by the ignorant arrogance of scientists explaining experiences away by their reductionist theories.

To not be misunderstood: I am not mystifying here! As long as people fall in love and read love-novels and see love stories in the cinema, I don't care whether scientists call all this a mere matter of hormones and molecules and instincts. But the holy is as real and important an experience as love is, only not that common. And in this case the danger that a whole realm of experiences gets lost by scientific ignorance is quite real. The churches and what is left of religions elsewhere are fighting this tendency, but they may be lost on this. The realm of the holy may get replaced more and more by mere esoterics in a similar way as the realm of true love could be replaced by mere sexual things. In this respect the comparison to the first rate apples replaced by second rate ones is to the point. If the definition of reality is left to the scientists and technicians, we will be lost.

May I add that I am personally no true believer of any religion. I am not defending any creed or religion here. What I am defending here is a special experience of reality, and get it back to the philosophical study. As philosophers we have to understand what "this spiritual thing" implies for the philosophical mind when studying the human condition. This and nothing else is my point.


On the foregoing see:

and see:

Some addenda for reflection:

(c) Hubertus Fremerey 2004




Sir Stuart Hampshire

Oxford philosopher whose interest in psychology, aesthetics and literature made for a rich brand of humanism

The philosopher Stuart Hampshire did not generate a coherent doctrine so much as formulate disturbing questions and indicate the wide, sometimes unlimited, range of considerations that arose from them. He was not one of the dominant philosophers of his age, and was often found lacking in incisiveness, rigour and clarity, but he moved in a wider intellectual world and was aware of implications of systems of thought which more dogmatic thinkers of greater power tended to ignore.

He was fascinated by metaphysical questions but rejected tidy answers such as utilitarianism or positivism. Instead, his thinking was tentative, literary. He valued "a certain kind of confusion", taking into account the tragedy, individualism and responsibilities of life. For much of his career he put great faith in socialism, as did most of the elite coterie in which he spun, yet he was never a doctrinaire Marxist. In essence he was a late-Enlightenment humanist, whose belief in the importance of a way of life established over generations could have come directly from Edmund Burke.

Perhaps he understood too much to have the ruthlessness required for parricide that marks great pioneers in thought. Yet he was one of the most charming, gifted and civilised Englishmen of his time, a natural member of the intelligentsia, and a central figure in the humanisation of empiricism which gave "Oxford philosophy" its special quality.

He was a fresh, subtle, imaginative and psychologically sensitive thinker, and his best work ranged from ethics and aesthetics to psychology and the philosophy of mind. His articles on philosophical topics in professional journals were notable for a rich suggestiveness which at times stimulated readers more than better formulated arguments by others. And Hampshire, with his many literary and artistic friends - from W. H. Auden to Anthony Blunt - had much the wider influence.

The least parochial and insular of essayists, he also wrote a good deal on literature and other topics for The Times Literary Supplement (anonymously at first) and elsewhere. He was an excellent critic - his review of Dr Zhivago, for instance, was praised by Pasternak as the best account of his book in English - and his literary articles in The Listener, The Observer , the New Statesman and The New York Review of Books were much admired, most notably those on Henry James, Joyce, Wittgenstein, Forster and Virginia Woolf.

He was also a contributor to Encounter, and after the disclosure in 1967 that it had received funds indirectly from the CIA, he was one of a group of friends, including Isaiah Berlin and Richard Wollheim, who discussed establishing a similar monthly magazine. Although nothing came of those plans, after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Hampshire joined another group - including Stephen Spender, David Astor and Lord Gardiner - to form the trust which published Index on Censorship.

Stuart Newton Hampshire was born in 1914 and educated at Repton School, where Geoffrey Fisher, later Archbishop of Canterbury, was headmaster. Fisher began every morning, Hampshire recalled, not in prayer but studying his stocks and shares.

At school Hampshire was trained as a modern historian, and in particular the two books by Namier on 18th-century politics in England made a profound and lifelong impression on him. He won a history scholarship at Balliol in 1933, but there abandoned history for Greats, in which he obtained an outstandingly good first in 1936.

His mental gifts, personal distinction and striking good looks marked him out from the beginning; he was one of the most admired Oxford undergraduates of the day, at once a leading intellectual, and a man of exceptional charm, natural goodness, and a degree of moral integrity that gave him a good deal of natural authority among his contemporaries.

During his undergraduate years he displayed both originality and sensibility as a student of the arts, particularly painting and literature, which influenced his thought in later life. His intellectual development probably owed less to his tutors or to established academic figures than to highly gifted contemporaries, mainly at Balliol, and contact with two or three dons a few years older than himself, such as A. J. Ayer and J. L. Austin. Introduced to Isaiah Berlin in 1935 to talk about Kafka, he continued the conversation - as he recalled in his eulogy in 1998 - for 62 years.

In 1936 Hampshire won a scholarship at All Souls and decided on a career of teaching and research in philosophy. He began as a logical positivist and disciple of Ayer, but after a year or two he began to move in a different direction. While he remained a convinced naturalist, and was never touched by religious or transcendental thought, he became dissatisfied with what appeared to him to be the over-mechanical concepts and formulae of the British disciples of the then dominant Vienna school - in particular with the atomism of Russell and his followers, who appeared to him guilty of a radical misunderstanding of the function of philosophy. Part of the duty of moral philosophy, he came to believe, was to guide practice.

His first philosophical essay appeared in 1939, and gave evidence of unusual insight. His writing was not as precise or rigorous as that of his models, but at times it was a great deal more suggestive and responsive to a wide range of human activity, especially art, literature and psychology.

The outbreak of war found him at All Souls; he was a passionate socialist and a patriot, touched neither by pacifism nor by scepticism about the justice of his country's cause. After training in England he was given a commission and sent to Sierra Leone; later he was seconded to one of the intelligence units near London, working with Oxford colleagues such as Gilbert Ryle, Hugh Trevor-Roper, and Charles Stuart.

In 1945-46 he worked in the Foreign Office and then in the Ministry of Food, before being re-elected to his fellowship at All Souls. Within a year he was appointed a lecturer at University College London, and in 1950 he succeeded Berlin as philosophy tutor at New College. It was while there, in 1951, that he published his study of Spinoza, which remains one of the most sympathetic and illuminating philosophical studies in modern times of a classical thinker.

In 1955 Hampshire returned to All Souls as a research fellow and domestic bursar, an office he discharged with unexpected efficiency. Meanwhile he was working on what was to be his most important and innovative book, Thought and Action (1959), an extended essay on the philosophy of mind. At the heart of its argument lies an "intentionalist" theory about the shape and content of human experience and expression.

Attempting to profit from the in-sights of Hegel and Freud as well as those of Wittgenstein, the philosophers of intentionality and the linguistic analysts, it showed Hampshire's growing interest in psychoanalytic thought as well as his aesthetic preoccupations. This was widely recognised as an innovative work, and although elusive in places, and often disdainful of logical links, it had a wide influence on both sides of the Atlantic.

Hampshire succeeded Ayer in 1960 at London University as Grote Professor of Philosophy, but three years later he moved to Princeton, soon becoming known and respected among American philosophers. He remained, though, a thoroughly established member of Britain's great and good, and in 1965-66 he spent several months reviewing the cost-effectiveness of GCHQ.

In 1970 he returned to Oxford as Warden of Wadham, in succession to his friend Sir Maurice Bowra. Wadham had appointed college men to the post since the 17th century, and the election of an outsider was strongly contested but thoroughly beneficial. A phalanx of college officers resigned in protest - enabling a spring clean as younger dons took over with Hampshire.

His experience of student unrest in the US was useful as it spread to Oxford, and Hampshire, who was sensible and reliable as well as clear thinking, was soon being turned to for advice by formerly rebellious students and dons alike. He was a strong advocate of the admission of women, not only at his own college but throughout the university. Wadham became mixed in 1974, one of the first group to make the change.

Despite the demands of Oxford administration - "half dining club and half borough council", as he once described it to John Sparrow - Hampshire was as busy as ever intellectually and socially. He spent Christmas 1974, for instance, with the Annans, the Berlins and the Spenders in Jerusalem, and published and edited several books during his time as Warden. On retirement from Wadham in 1984 (when Sir Claus Moser took over), he accepted a chair at Stanford in California.

In 1989 he published Innocence and Experience, a work on political morality based to some extent on personal experience - the nearest to autobiography that he ever came. His last book, Justice is Conflict, appeared in 1999.

Hampshire was elected to the British Academy in 1960, and was honoured by several American learned societies. For some years he was head of the literary panel of the Arts Council. He was knighted in 1979.

Hampshire's first wife, Renee (who had previously been married to A. J. Ayer), died in 1980. Five years later he married Nancy Cartwright, a distinguished philosopher of science. She survives him, along with their two daughters and the son and daughter of his first marriage.

Professor Sir Stuart Hampshire, philosopher and Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, 1970-84, was born on October 1, 1914. He died on June 13, 2004, aged 89.,,60-1146540,00.html

[Posted on Philos-L by Jeremy Bowman 16.6.04. Email jeremiad@EIRCOM.NET]

© Geoffrey Klempner 2002–2020