GOVERNMENT AND MIND by Joseph Tussman

GOVERNMENT AND MIND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Should the state play an active role in the formation of its citizens' thoughts? Tussman, who teaches philosophy at Berkeley, answers this question with an emphatic ""yes."" Arguing that the distinction between a public realm, in which the state's coercive power is legitimate, and a private sphere, which includes intangible thoughts and which lies beyond the power of the state, is a spurious separation of overlapping elements, he concludes that the state has a right to assert itself in all areas that contribute to public consciousness. Tussman reduces the state's role in relation to mind to three areas; education, art and science (the ""cognitive professions""), and communications. He shows that in each case, the area under consideration is already influenced by external factors, and that the state could play a more positive role if the myth of autonomy were discarded. But Tussman, fearing attacks from the Left, is hesitant--his purpose is to show that the government has a proper interest in the institutions of the mind, not to determine how much interference is too much; he leaves open the question of scale. Restricting his discussion to the US, Tussman never critically examines the nature of American political institutions themselves; he simply accepts them as given and assumes they are capable of playing the expanded role he advocates. This assumption gives his argument a quality which is at once conservative and abstract, and leaves his work incomplete.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1977
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press