Ken Clay (editor)

Format 6" x 9"  170 pages

Texts extracted from the www.marxists.org/archive/jackson-ta/index.htm

In 1879, a talented son was born into the family of a skilled compositor, a Radical named Thomas Blackwell Jackson, in Clerkenwell in the East End of London. At the age of seven, he began to attend the local School Board school in Upper Holloway. Here he learnt not only the standard elementary subjects, but also Darwinism and general science. He left school at the age of thirteen, becoming a printer's reader and then an apprentice. But his heart was elsewhere: in a 'passion for book collecting and devouring' which, he recalled later, 'was so inordinate that I used to embezzle my dinner money to buy books'. He decided to acquire and read the entire series of cheap editions of the classics known as 'Sir John Lubbock's Hundred Books', and one Christmas Eve he discovered a copy of G. H. Lewes's Biographical History of Philosophy in a second-hand furniture shop. He beat the price down to sixpence. Reading Lewes over Christmas 'changed my mental orientation for life', he wrote, and 'opened before me an entirely new world of adventure. . . . Thereafter', said Jackson, I wallowed in philosophy.' During the years of his apprenticeship, T. A. Jackson worked his way through Plato, Aristotle, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel; and when he reached his majority in 1900, he was a shy, gangling, short-sighted book-worm, a Radical like his father but with a head full of philosophical jargon, and his young feelings hurtling vertiginously from joy to despair as he contemplated the appalling eminence of the Great Men in the philosophical pantheon. Years later, he criticized these attitudes: The trouble was that all these books masterpieces though they might be belonged to the Past, both in their origin and in their mode of expression. Insensibly, preoccupation with these 'classics' treated as a single category the Best caused a student to slip into regarding Culture as a fixed Mind-world in which one either ascended with the geniuses to supreme heights or sank with the dullards and the dunces to the uncultured slime.

Jonathan Ree - The Proletarian Philosophers
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