Volume III Number 2

Ottawa, Canada

Fall 1991

Message from the President

Francis Peddle


This issue contains pieces by Ian Lambert and James Lowry. Mr. Lambert, who is currently an attorney in the Cayman Islands with Maples and Calder, writes on the relationship between free will and causation as conceptualized by Henry George and Ludwig Von Mises. Traditionally, free will and causation have been looked upon as mutually exclusive; causation thus negating and eliminating free will; free will disrupting and rendering unintelligible cause and effect relationships. George and Von Mises demonstrate that it is conceptually incoherent to think of free will apart from cause and effect relations. It is only insofar as the will creates cause and effect relations that those relations become intelligible to us. Equally, a sequence of causes and effects only have meaning insofar as we relate them to our will acting independently and causally upon the external world. Understanding free will and causation as aspects of the same concept is to think speculatively about their complementarity and interrelation.

Lowry’s article Psyche and Cosmos will be serialized over the next three instalments of ELEUTHERIA. This monograph is a systematic examination of the circular and linear referents buried in the paradox of causation and the desire to return to origins. Dr. Lowry shows how in the very life of thought uncertainty demands certainty, ambiguity determinateness and subjectivity objectivity. This article speculatively interrelates a broad range of dichotomies that, in modern philosophy, are generally looked upon as delimiters to conceptual liberation. Dr. Lowry’s work is therefore as much an answer to the problematics of modern philosophy as it is a going beyond that philosophy in its explicit characterization of philosophy as such.

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In May of this year the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada decided that “private scholars” would no longer be eligible to apply for research grants. This decision discriminates against a significant and viable sector of the Canadian research community. The arguments stated in the Council’s letter, dated June 20, 1991, to the Presidents of Learned Societies to support revoking the eligibility of private scholars for research grants are seriously flawed.

The Council makes a comparison with the policies of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Medical Research Council which is inappropriate. The research programs of the other federal granting councils require a much stronger institutional context, both with respect to the procurement of equipment and to the teamwork necessary to carry out scientific empirical research. By contrast, a significant proportion of the research in the human and social sciences takes place outside of the university. This is evidenced by the fact that university-based researchers generally leave the university setting when they go on sabbatical or obtain research time stipends and research grants.

The Council states that the university environment is the only one which “provides opportunities to combine research with teaching and training opportunities”. This is parochial in the modern context where many scholars work and flourish in non-university based institutes and research centres. It is private scholars and nonuniversity based inquiry which add diversity, imagination and vitality to many of the disciplines which the Council supports.

The decision of the Council was taken without any prior consultations with either private scholars or the academic community in general. Many scholars thought that the days of “executive federalism” and decision-making in a void had passed.

The Council is in effect discriminating against perfectly qualified scholars and researchers, who do not want university positions becauseit is not the most favourable environment for the pursuit of their research, or who for reasons usually beyond their control cannot get university positions. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council was created by Parliament to “promote and assistresearch and scholarship in the social sciences and humanities”. The Council best fulfils this mandate by concentrating on excellence in scholarship irrespective of the academic or social status of the author. This mandate is severely weakened by Council’s move to drop support for all research conducted solely by non-university based scholars.

The Council should review and revoke this decision. It diminishes support for the Council’s efforts amongst its very own clientele. This support is not something that can be overlooked with impunity, especially in a fiscal and constitutional climate where there is discussion of possibly disbanding the three federal granting councils or devolving their mandate to the provinces.