John Anderson (philosopher)

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John Anderson (1 November 1893 – 6 July 1962) was a Scottish-born Australian philosopher who occupied the post of Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University in the years 1927-1958. He founded the empirical brand of philosophy known as Australian realism. His promotion of 'free thought' in all subjects, including politics and morality, was controversial and brought him into constant conflict with the august senate of the university. However, he is credited with educating a generation of influential 'Andersonian' thinkers and activists—some of whom helped to place Sydney in the forefront of the worldwide 'sexual revolution' of the 1950s and 1960s. To Anderson, an acceptable philosophy must have significant 'sweep' and be capable of challenging and moulding ideas in every aspect of intellect and society.


Early life

Anderson was born in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire, Scotland and educated at the former Hamilton Academy from which school he won a bursary to attend the University of Glasgow in the university's Bursary Competition of 1911. [1] [2] Anderson was listed among notable former pupils of Hamilton Academy in a 1950 magazine article on the school.[3]

Graduating MA from Glasgow University in 1917, Anderson lectured at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (Cardiff) (1917–19), the University of Glasgow (1919–20) and at the University of Edinburgh (1920–26).

Social theory

After arriving in Sydney in 1927 he associated with the Communist Party of Australia and contributed to their journals, sometimes under a nom de plume[1] but, by about 1932 he began to realise that communism under Stalin in the Soviet Union was a dictatorship with no room for workers' control or participation. He then became aligned with the Trotskyist movement for a period of time. But "[h]e could not put up any longer with dialectical materialism or with the servile state which he saw was being imposed by the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[1]

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