Category Archives: received wisdom

More liberal times than our own

Glancing at the April 1940 edition of the Adelphi, Dalrymple observes:

It is true that the war had not yet entered its most cataclysmic stage, but it is a tribute to the liberalism of the times that, in such a moment of national emergency, people should have been able to argue for a policy [pacifism] directly contra that of the government, without hindrance or persecution.

He points out that today,

there are many subjects on which intellectuals would face more persecution, especially in universities, if they challenged received opinions, than Max Plowman [the then editor] faced from the government in the midst of a war.

The Adelphi published many Orwell essays such as ‘Not counting niggers‘ (July 1939; shown in the contents above)

What is courage?

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 01.36.15Courage is ‘to go against received wisdom and act upon it’, says Dalrymple.

This is a (possibly unconscious) restatement or reworking of Confucius:


The Master said: ‘For a man to sacrifice to a spirit which does not belong to him is flattery. To see what is right and not to do it, is want of courage.’

(Analects, Book II, Ch. XXIV, 1,2; Legge tr.)