Ralph Rowbottom – Later Writings, Philosophical & Other

The following papers are for people who are interested in ideas.

About The Papers

All but one of the papers listed above were written around the 1990s, that is, in roughly the seventh decade of my life. My previous writing had been of a different kind. The early years of my career were spent in industry as a manager and management consultant. In 1968 I became a Senior Research Fellow (later a Professorial Fellow) working with the outstanding social scientist Elliott Jaques, at Brunel University in West London. There I remained for the next twenty years, undertaking, mainly in the fields of various public services, the specific kind of work combining practical help and theory-development that Jaques, who had pioneered it, named ‘social analysis’ During this time I produced as sole- or principal- author, a number of books on the results of this work and its methods (see Appendix).

In 1986, at the age of 53, I turned away from this work in large organisations and founded with two partners a centre in Bath, England devoted to various forms of personal development. There I practiced as a psychotherapist for many years. I also entered a long period of weekly discussions with Nicholas Spicer, a friend and Jungian analyst. It was out of this last that the material in the papers listed above was largely conceived and developed. (As will be noted, Nicholas Spicer was author  of one and joint-author of a second.)

As to these papers themselves, the second one listed above, A Philosophy for Living, is the central and longest one. The five which follow – Outerness and Innerness: The Two Sides of Life, A World of Beings, Science and Religion: Chalk and Cheese, and The Hubris of Physics – simply expand and develop basic features of it. The one which precedes it – The Stages of Life – reflects a major thread that runs through the philosophical system offered; namely, a continual emphasis on the development of the human individual throughout life, from birth to death.

The last two papers are oddments. The first of the two, The Natural Hierarchy of Communities offers for discussion a view of the nature of communities which seems both important and (as far as I am aware) novel. The second, How Many Marks out of Ten?, based on my past experience as a part-time university teacher, is slighter; poking a little fun at some of our contemporary beliefs in the possibility of ‘objective’, ‘scientific’, grading and marking systems, and offering more useful alternatives.

All readers are welcome to use this material for what ever purposes they may have. When doing so, please attribute authorship.

Ralph Rowbottom July 2010, revised July 2012, 2015

2 Responses to Ralph Rowbottom – Later Writings, Philosophical & Other

  1. bastywebb says:

    Great collection of ideas Ralph!

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading these papers, especially the “Philosophy for Living” Paper. It gave me many things to ponder.

  2. RLR says:

    I’ve read “How Many Marks out of Ten?” and I’m very much in agreement with its contention that it is misguided to assign numbers as marks for essays. The point is well made that, in addition to what could be termed a “fallacy of false precision” there is a sort of “fallacy of interchangability of marks” whereby, as Ralph remarks, there is of course a great temptation to aggregate marks for discrete tasks. A proper representation of the situation “60% in exam A and 60%in exam B” – a very different situation to “90% in exam A and 30% in exam B”, which would give the same aggregate mark- is the ordered pair (60%, 60%); not the number 120. (The fact that “120%” is goobledegook should be a warning sign here to anyone tempted to aggregate in this way!). Better still would be the ordered pair (B,B) where the “B” is a pass grade. In other words, you just have to list the separate grades- though there’s probably no harm in totting up the number of discrete A or B grades that a student has achieved in a year. Thankyou Ralph Rowbottom for a refreshing and highly useful paper.

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