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William Irwin Thompson on The Horizons of Planetary Culture
William Irwin Thompson on The Horizons of Planetary Culture
Published: 2014/07/10
Channel: Michael Garfield
William Hasker: Pastors, Philosophers, and Evil
William Hasker: Pastors, Philosophers, and Evil
Published: 2013/09/05
Channel: BiolaUniversity
Cathode Ray Tube
Cathode Ray Tube
Published: 2008/10/01
Channel: dchummer
William B. Irvine: Older and Wiser: Ancient Advice on Aging Well
William B. Irvine: Older and Wiser: Ancient Advice on Aging Well
Published: 2011/12/07
Channel: Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology
The Unity of Unconsciousness
The Unity of Unconsciousness
Published: 2017/06/08
Channel: Philosophical Overdose
Dr. Evan Thompson: "Waking, Dreaming, Being" | Talks at Google
Dr. Evan Thompson: "Waking, Dreaming, Being" | Talks at Google
Published: 2016/06/28
Channel: Talks at Google
Richard Wagamese - My Dog the Philosopher
Richard Wagamese - My Dog the Philosopher
Published: 2015/03/11
Channel: Keynote Speakers Canada
William Irwin Thompson 1975 x Burning Man 2013 through Google Glass
William Irwin Thompson 1975 x Burning Man 2013 through Google Glass
Published: 2014/02/13
Channel: Michael Garfield
The Trolley Problem
The Trolley Problem
Published: 2014/11/18
Channel: BBC Radio 4
Pir Zia Inayat Khan 9-2-2007 Dialogue With William Irwin Thompson
Pir Zia Inayat Khan 9-2-2007 Dialogue With William Irwin Thompson
Published: 2015/04/29
Channel: Gail C Copeland
Do Tables & Chairs Really Exist? Controversy Over Ordinary Objects
Do Tables & Chairs Really Exist? Controversy Over Ordinary Objects
Published: 2013/12/30
Channel: Philosophical Overdose
Karl Marx & Conflict Theory: Crash Course Sociology #6
Karl Marx & Conflict Theory: Crash Course Sociology #6
Published: 2017/04/17
Channel: CrashCourse
William James and Josiah Royce - Moral Holidays
William James and Josiah Royce - Moral Holidays
Published: 2014/05/29
Channel: Harvard Divinity School
Bible Science 1000s of years ahead of science(Make SURE to see notes)
Bible Science 1000s of years ahead of science(Make SURE to see notes)
Published: 2011/06/24
Channel: TruthIsLife7
Philosophical Faith: towards an Enactive/Organic Realism
Philosophical Faith: towards an Enactive/Organic Realism
Published: 2011/06/25
Channel: 0ThouArtThat0
Hope & Optimism: Lessons from Austen and Hume
Hope & Optimism: Lessons from Austen and Hume
Published: 2016/03/31
Channel: Lady Philosophy
Lord of the Flies: Crash Course Literature 305
Lord of the Flies: Crash Course Literature 305
Published: 2016/08/04
Channel: CrashCourse
Christian Pastor Destroys Gay Pastor | Robert Jeffress vs Neil Cazares-Thomas
Christian Pastor Destroys Gay Pastor | Robert Jeffress vs Neil Cazares-Thomas
Published: 2015/07/09
Channel: Theology, Philosophy and Science
What is OWENISM? What does OWENISM mean? OWENISM meaning, definition & explanation
What is OWENISM? What does OWENISM mean? OWENISM meaning, definition & explanation
Published: 2016/10/16
Channel: The Audiopedia
USA Inc: William Thompson, New York City Comptroller
USA Inc: William Thompson, New York City Comptroller
Published: 2011/06/09
Channel: cunytv75
Mindfunda interview Evan Thompson Waking, Dreaming, Being
Mindfunda interview Evan Thompson Waking, Dreaming, Being
Published: 2015/09/25
Channel: Mindfunda
Jessica Wilson, Philosophy, and the Metaphysics of Science
Jessica Wilson, Philosophy, and the Metaphysics of Science
Published: 2015/03/10
Channel: Colin Bested
The Thinking Ape: The Enigma of Human Consciousness
The Thinking Ape: The Enigma of Human Consciousness
Published: 2012/10/19
Channel: NourFoundation
Eastern Philosophers vs Western Philosophers.  Epic Rap Battles of History Season 4.
Eastern Philosophers vs Western Philosophers. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 4.
Published: 2015/07/06
Channel: ERB
There is No Place for the Confederate Flag in the Conservative Tent
There is No Place for the Confederate Flag in the Conservative Tent
Published: 2014/11/25
Channel: PJ Media
Bill Murray gives a surprising and meaningful answer you might not expect.
Bill Murray gives a surprising and meaningful answer you might not expect.
Published: 2015/01/02
Channel: Rustbukkit J.
Howard Richards: How to Create a More Viable World - The Theory of Growth Points
Howard Richards: How to Create a More Viable World - The Theory of Growth Points
Published: 2012/04/23
Channel: Evelin Lindner
Intern Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism
Intern Debate: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism
Published: 2015/07/30
Channel: The Heritage Foundation
Professor Rozena Maart - on PHILOSOPHY BORN OF STRUGGLE
Professor Rozena Maart - on PHILOSOPHY BORN OF STRUGGLE
Published: 2016/11/28
Channel: mediaforjustice
Comments: Anime, Fanservice, X Men, & Violent Protests
Comments: Anime, Fanservice, X Men, & Violent Protests
Published: 2016/08/12
Channel: Philosophy Tube
A Christian Physicist and an Agnostic Philosopher Discuss Our Place in the Universe
A Christian Physicist and an Agnostic Philosopher Discuss Our Place in the Universe
Published: 2016/05/12
Channel: The Veritas Forum
Comments: Politics, Brains, & Logic
Comments: Politics, Brains, & Logic
Published: 2016/09/09
Channel: Philosophy Tube
Comments: Crowdfunding & Children
Comments: Crowdfunding & Children
Published: 2016/10/07
Channel: Philosophy Tube
The Thompson Memorial Library at Ohio State
The Thompson Memorial Library at Ohio State
Published: 2009/10/28
Channel: OSUAA
Your Comments: Bernie Sanders, Hillary, & Brexit
Your Comments: Bernie Sanders, Hillary, & Brexit
Published: 2016/07/08
Channel: Philosophy Tube
William Morris & John Ruskin. The Art of Gothic Documentary clip
William Morris & John Ruskin. The Art of Gothic Documentary clip
Published: 2016/01/13
Channel: artandfilm21
Creation from the Void: Crash Course Mythology #2
Creation from the Void: Crash Course Mythology #2
Published: 2017/03/04
Channel: CrashCourse
Robert Frost: Biography, Poems, Quotes, The Road Not Taken, Education (1999)
Robert Frost: Biography, Poems, Quotes, The Road Not Taken, Education (1999)
Published: 2016/05/08
Channel: Way Back
Theories of Myth: Crash Course Mythology #12
Theories of Myth: Crash Course Mythology #12
Published: 2017/05/22
Channel: CrashCourse
Conservatism vs. Liberalism: William F. Buckley, Jr. vs. George McGovern Debate (1997)
Conservatism vs. Liberalism: William F. Buckley, Jr. vs. George McGovern Debate (1997)
Published: 2013/05/07
Channel: The Film Archives
Bill Cooper - Mystery Babylon Hours 1 - 5 #29 #30 #31 #32 #33
Bill Cooper - Mystery Babylon Hours 1 - 5 #29 #30 #31 #32 #33
Published: 2013/06/15
Channel: A Graceful Watchman
Hadley Wickham, RStudio Scientist & open source pioneer, on data, stats, & philosophy
Hadley Wickham, RStudio Scientist & open source pioneer, on data, stats, & philosophy
Published: 2016/03/31
Channel: This Week In Startups
Will Brennan - Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview
Will Brennan - Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview
Published: 2016/07/04
Channel: BuddhaAtTheGasPump
William Irwin Thompson on A.I., Angels, & Mass Extinctions
William Irwin Thompson on A.I., Angels, & Mass Extinctions
Published: 2012/03/06
Channel: Michael Garfield
Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 3.
Sir Isaac Newton vs Bill Nye. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 3.
Published: 2014/06/16
Channel: ERB
Brett Wilcox, author of JABBED, presents on Vaccine Industry Corruption
Brett Wilcox, author of JABBED, presents on Vaccine Industry Corruption
Published: 2016/10/15
Channel: RunningTheCountry
ZEN DOG - Official Trailer (HD) Kyle Gallner, Alan Watts
ZEN DOG - Official Trailer (HD) Kyle Gallner, Alan Watts
Published: 2016/09/13
Channel: ZEN DOG
Zac Efron, Tom Felton, William Moseley, Josh Peck or Drake Bell
Zac Efron, Tom Felton, William Moseley, Josh Peck or Drake Bell
Published: 2010/11/12
Channel: pasotilla7
A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field - Video Learning - WizScience.com
A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field - Video Learning - WizScience.com
Published: 2015/09/24
Channel: Wiz Science™
There was  a man who had a noble dream
There was a man who had a noble dream
Published: 2010/07/29
Channel: Bobby Denis
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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William Thompson
Chinnery Thompson.jpg
Portrait of W. Thompson by George Chinnery, c. 1830
Born (1775-06-30)30 June 1775
Cork, Ireland
Died 28 March 1833(1833-03-28) (aged 57)
Rosscarbery, County Cork, Ireland
Era Modern philosophy
Region Western philosophy

William Thompson (1775 – 28 March 1833) was an Irish political and philosophical writer and social reformer, developing from utilitarianism into an early critic of capitalist exploitation whose ideas influenced the Cooperative, Trade Union and Chartist movements as well as Karl Marx. Born into the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy of wealthy landowners and merchants of Cork society, his attempt to will his estate to the cooperative movement after his death sparked a long court case as his family fought successfully to have the will annulled.[1] According to E. T. Craig, this decision to will his estate to the cooperative movement was taken after a visit to the pioneering Ralahine Commune. Marxist James Connolly described him as the "first Irish socialist" and a forerunner to Marx.

Life[edit]

Born in Cork, William was the son and heir of one of the most prosperous merchants of that city, Alderman John Thompson, who held, amongst other offices, that of Mayor in 1794. William inherited the small trading fleet and landed estate near Glandore, West Cork after his father's death in 1814. Rejecting the role of absentee landlord commonly led by those of a similar situation, William based his living quarters on the estate and despite many travels, invested much time with the tenants on the estate introducing agricultural innovations, services and education for children aimed at improving the welfare and prosperity of the families present.

Victim of weak health from an early age, Thompson became a non-smoker, teetotaller and vegetarian for the last 13 years of his life. These abstemious habits, he explained, helped him to concentrate on his reading and writing. Nonetheless, by the 1830s, he was suffering from a chest affliction that finally killed him on 28 March 1833. He had never married and left no direct heir.

Thompson was an atheist.[2]

Ideas[edit]

An enthusiastic student of the writers and ideas of the Enlightenment, particularly Condorcet, Thompson became a convinced egalitarian and democrat. His support for the French Revolution earned him the label of "Red Republican" from Cork society and his support for advocates of Catholic emancipation in elections further alienated him from the rest of his wealthy Protestant kith and kin.

Thompson was greatly impressed by the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham, with whom he corresponded and established a friendship, later staying at the English philosopher's house for several months in 1821–22 while visiting London. As well as Bentham, Thompson read and corresponded with other utilitarian contemporaries such as James Mill, and was influenced, both positively and negatively, by William Godwin and Thomas Malthus. His desire to overcome the limitations of Godwin's "intellectual speculations" and Malthus's "mechanical speculations" led him to propose a new synthesis: social science – Thompson was the first to introduce this term – which would combine political economy's concern with scientific materialism with utilitarianism's concern with rational morality.

Contribution to political economy[edit]

It was the contrasting ideas of Godwin and Malthus that spurred Thompson into the project of research into the role of distribution in political economy that led him to London and, in 1824, the publication of "An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth..." (see biblio. for full title).[3] Thompson had also become acquainted with the work of the French utopian socialists including Charles Fourier, Henri Saint-Simon, and the economist Sismondi.

In the Inquiry, Thompson follows the line of the labour theory of value put forward by Adam Smith. However he characterizes the appropriation of the lion's share of surplus value by the capitalist owner of the tools of production as exploitation. He rejects the Malthus/Mill proposition that any increase in the wage of the workers can only result in their further immiseration, noting the self-serving nature of this theory for capitalists pressing for legislation to outlaw workers efforts to raise their wages. By applying the utilitarian principle of "the greatest good for the greatest number" to the existing and possible alternative schemes of distribution, Thompson comes down on the side of an egalitarian distribution of the product.

One of Thompson's colleagues in the Cooperative movement, John Minter Morgan, made the observation that he was the first to coin the term competitive to describe the existing economic system. The case for the originality of this work is further made by Max Nettlau who states: "[Thompson's] book, however, discloses his own evolution; having started with a demand for the full product of labour as well as the regulation of distribution, he ended up with his own conversion to communism, that is, unlimited distribution."

In 1827 fellow "Ricardian socialist" Thomas Hodgskin published Labour Defended which also characterised the appropriation of the lion's share of the fruits of production by landlord and capitalist as exploitation defrauding the worker of the full product of their labour. However, Hodgskin proposed that the road to economic justice for the labourer was through a reformed competitive system. Thompson replied with Labor Rewarded defending cooperative communism against Hodgskin's unequal wages.

Feminism[edit]

Although he rejected the political and economic implications of Malthus' essay on population, Thompson recognised that, particularly in Ireland, unrestrained population growth did pose the threat of rising poverty. As such he was like Bentham and Francis Place an advocate of the benefits of contraception. Thompson's development of a critique of the contemporary status of women was most strongly influenced by his long-term close friendship with Anna Wheeler. He had met Wheeler while staying with Bentham and they moved in those utilitarian circles that included James Mill. It was the publication of the latter's "On Government" which called for the vote for men only, that aroused the fervent opposition of both Wheeler and Thompson and to the rebuttal in Appeal of One Half the Human Race... (see Bibliography for full title).[3]

Influence on cooperative movement[edit]

Opposition to Robert Owen[edit]

Thompson and others of the Cooperative movement have tended to be somewhat unfairly subsumed under the political label of Owenism. In fact, although his writings and social experiments at New Lanark had helped to bring the cooperative movement together, many, Thompson included, were critical of Owen's authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies. Thompson further distrusted Owen's courtship of rich and powerful patrons, believing that the rich as a class could never be expected to be in favour of any project of emancipation for the labouring poor as this would threaten their privilege. He also believed in the necessity of the workers in any co-operative community having eventual security of ownership of the community's land and capital property. He gained a considerable following within the cooperative movement for these positions and it was to distinguish themselves from Owen's positions that this wing of the movement began to adopt the label of "socialist or communionist" (Letter to "The Cooperative Magazine", London, November 1827, cited by OED as first documented use of socialist) rather than "Owenist".

These differences led to open confrontation between Thompson and Owen at the Third Cooperative Congress held in 1832 in London. Owen, perhaps discouraged by the failure of his attempted community at New Harmony, maintained that it was necessary to wait for Government and Stock Exchange support and investment into large scale communities. Thompson and his supporters contended that they must move towards establishing independent small scale communities based on the movement's own resources. The argument was not resolved at that congress and by the following one Thompson was unable to attend probably as a result of the illness that was to lead to his death in another five months.

Influence on Karl Marx[edit]

Karl Marx had come across Thompson's work on a visit to Manchester in 1845, and cites it in passing in The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), and also in Capital itself.[4]

See also[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Thompson, William, State of the Education in the South of Ireland, 1818.
  • Thompson, William, An Inquiry into the Principles of the Distribution of Wealth Most Conducive to Human Happiness; applied to the Newly Proposed System of Voluntary Equality of Wealth, (Longman, Hurst Rees, Orme, Brown & Green: London), 1824.
  • Thompson, William, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political, and thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery, (Longman, Hurst Rees, Orme, Brown & Green: London), 1825.
  • Thompson, William, Labor Rewarded. The Claims of Labor and Capital Conciliated: or, How to Secure to Labor the Whole Products of Its Exertions, (Hunt and Clarke: London), 1827.
  • Thompson, William, Practical Directions for the Speedy and Economical Establishment of Communities on the Principles of Mutual Co-operation, United Possessions and Equality of Exertions and the Means of Enjoyments, (Strange and E. Wilson: London), 1830.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fintan Lane, ‘William Thompson, bankruptcy and the west Cork estate, 1808-1834′, in Irish Historical Studies, vol. xxxix, no. 153 (May 2014), pp 24–39.
  2. ^ "Such actions established among the Catholic population of the area a long-lived reputation for kindness and fair dealing which persisted despite his professed atheism." Noel Thompson, 'Thompson, William (1775–1833)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (accessed May 6, 2008).
  3. ^ a b Lee 1901.
  4. ^ Marx & pp. 397–399.

References[edit]

  • Connolly, James, 'The first Irish socialist: A forerunner of Marx' in Labour in Irish History, (Dublin, 1910; London, 1987)
  • Dooley, Dolores, Equality in Community: Sexual Equality in the Writings of William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler, (Cork University Press, Cork), 1996.
  • Dooley, Dolores (Ed.), William Thompson: Appeal of One Half of the Human Race, (Cork University Press, Cork), 1997.
  • Marx, Karl Capital: A critique of Political Economy, Volume 2, trans. David Fernbach, London: Penguin / New Left Review [Originally: Pelican Books], 1992 [1978]: 397–399.
  • Pankhurst, Richard, William Thompson (1775–1833) Pioneer Socialist, (Pluto Press, London), 1991.
  • Lane, Fintan, 'William Thompson, class and his Irish context, 1775–1833', in Fintan Lane (ed.), Politics, Society and the Middle Class in Modern Ireland, pp. 21–47 (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke), 2010.
  • Lane, Fintan, ‘William Thompson, bankruptcy and the west Cork estate, 1808-1834′, in Irish Historical Studies, vol. xxxix, no. 153 (May 2014), pp 24–39.
  •  Sidney Lee, ed. (1901). "Thompson, William (1785?-1833)". Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement​. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 
  • Thompson, Noel W., The People's Science: the popular political economy of exploitation and crisis, 1816–34, (Cambridge University Press), 1984.

External links[edit]

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