Our Changing World-View

Ten Lectures on Recent Movements of Thought in Science, Economics, Education, Literature and Philosophy

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  • Publication Date: August 2021
  • Dimensions and Pages: 229 x 152mm Extent: 272pp
  • Paperback EAN: 978-1-77614-555-3
  • eBook EAN: 978-1-77614-557-7
  • PDF EAN: 978-1-77614-556-0
  • Rights: World
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 385.00
  • Recommended Price (USD): 30.00

This publication is republished in the WITS PRESS RE/PRESENTS series. Wits University
Press celebrates its centenary in 2022. Since its inception, the Press has been
curating and publishing innovative research that informs debate to drive
impactful change in society. Drawing on an extensive backlist dating from 1922,
WITS PRESS RE/PRESENTS is a new series that makes important research
accessible to readers once again. While much of the content demonstrates its
historical provenance, it remains of interest to researchers and students, and
is re-published with new introductions in e-book and print-on-demand formats.


With a new introduction by Saul Dubow

Johannesburg was still a brash mining town, better known for the production of wealth than knowledge, and the University of the Witwatersrand a mere ten years old when, in 1932, these ten lectures were delivered under the auspices of the University Philosophical Society. They portrayed the ideas of the university’s leading academics of the day, and the programme of lectures reveals a studied effort to introduce an element of bipartisan political representation between English and Afrikaner in South Africa by including Wits’ first principal, Jan Hofmeyr, and politician, D.F. Malan, as discussion chairs. Yet, no black intellectuals were represented and, indeed, the politics of racial segregation bursts through the text only in a few of the contributions. For the most part, race is alluded to only in passing.

As Saul Dubow explains in his new introduction to this re-issue of the lectures, Our Changing World-View was an occasion for Wits’ leading faculty members to position the young university as a mature institution with a leadership role in public affairs. Above all, it was a means to project the university as a research as well as a teaching institution, led by a vigorous and ambitious cohort of liberal-minded intellectuals. That all were male and white will be immediately apparent to readers of this reissued volume.

Ranging from economics, psychology, a spurious rebuttal of evolution to a substantial revisionist history, and the perils of the ‘machine age’, the ten lectures (originally published in 1932) includes leading academics of the day, government officials and politicians notably Jan Smuts, D.F. Malan and Jan Hofmeyr, and is a sombre reflection of intellectual history and the academy’s role in promulgating political and social divisions in South Africa.

Keywords: South Africa, University of the Witwatersrand, early years, liberal politics, holistic, evolutionary theory; intellectuals,
JC Smuts; Cultural anthropology, Wits University centenary, 1922-2022, History of Education

Introduction – Saul Dubow
Preface – H. R. Raikes
Chapter 1 Some Recent Scientific Advances in their Bearing on Philosophy – Lieut.-General the Right Honourable J. C. Smuts
Chapter 2 The Material World—Yesterday and Today – Professor J. P. Dalton
Chapter 3 Evolution—Design or Accident? – Dr. Robert Broom
Chapter 4 Man at the Crossroads – Professor John F. V. Phillips
Chapter 5 Psychology in Perspective – Mr. I. D. MacCrone
Chapter 6 Literature in the Machine Age – Professor J. Y. T. Greig
Chapter 7 The Holistic Attitude in Education – Professor T. J. Haarhoff
Chapter 8 Our Changing Economic World – Professor C. S. Richards
Chapter 9 Africa in the Re-Making – Professor S. H. Frankel
Chapter 10 Old Truths and New Discoveries – Professor R. F. Alfred Hoernlé

Jan Christian Smuts (1870–1950) was a South African politician, military leader and philosopher. He served as prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919–1924 and 1939–1948.
John Dalton (1886-1965) was a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and was professor of mathematics at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg until his retirement in 1946.
Robert Broom (1866–1951) was one of South Africa’s most distinguished scientists, and discovered Paranthropus robustus, nicknamed ‘Mrs Ples’, with John Robinson in 1947.
John Frederick Vicars Phillips (1899–1987) was a pioneer botanist and ecologist, and the first to study fi re ecology in Africa. From 1931 to 1948, he was Professor of Botany at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. He subsequently became a consultant and advisor to the World Bank and United Nations.
Ian D MacCrone was head of the Psychology Department and subsequently served as Rector of the University of the Witwatersrand,
Johannesburg. He was a prolific researcher and wrote the seminal work, Race attitudes in South Africa: Historical, experimental and psychological studies.
John Young Thomson Greig (1891-1963) was a literary scholar, biographer and novelist. He served as the chair of the English Department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg for several years since 1932.
Theodorus Johannes Haarhoff (1892-1971) was a writer and lecturer in classical literature, serving as professor at the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Haarhoff was a committee member of the Voortrekker Youth Festival (1938) and served on the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation during this time.
Cecil Sydney Richards (1896-1974) was Professor of Economics at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and was instrumental in establishing the Business School of the University of the Witwatersrand. He served as the Managing Editor of the Journal of the Economic Society of South Africa for almost 40 years.
Sally Herbert Frankel (1903-1996) was head of the Economics department at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, where he served as an advisor to Jan Hofmeyer and Jan Smuts amongst others. He was appointed Professor of Colonial Economic Affairs, and later the Economics of Underdeveloped Countries at Oxford University in the late 1940s.
Reinhold Frederick Alfred Hoernlé (1880-1943) was a philosopher and was professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg from 1920 to 1943. Hoernlé served as Chairman and as member of the Council of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

A new introduction by Saul Dubow
Saul Dubow is Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History and a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. He is Chair of the Board of the Journal of Southern African Studies.advisor to the World Bank and United Nations.

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