8R. Harrod to J. D. Woodruff, 5 July 1920 [a] , [1]

The exchange continues at 10 R. Harrod expounds his problems with H. B. W. Joseph: "I come to Oxford as a professed philosopher, and find my tutor so cunning indeed, but a man with whom I radically disagree." On the one hand, Harrod hopes that in becoming intimate with Joseph he would eventually "be able to imitate his cunning ways". On the other hand, he fears that he could "become devout", thereby severing the continuity of his own philosophy. Since "there is patently no way of weighing these pros and cons", Harrod concludes that he can only "trust to luck. Dont waste time". [2]

  1. 1. This letter was written from the hospital where Harrod laid as a consequence of a nervous breakdown; this is explicitly stated in letter 10 R (the relevant passages, however, are not reported in the summary). On the causes of the breakdown see note 2 to letter 29 R, and for a reference to it see W. Hayter, Spooner. A Biography, London: Allen, 1977, p. 130.

    2. Harrod's disputes with Joseph as an undergraduate are described as follows by C. M. Bowra (Memories 1898-1939, 1966, p. 111):

    • At Westminster [Harrod] had read some philosophy and formed views of an English empirical kind, which was beginning to have a new lease of life under Bertrand Russell, but was not at all liked by Joseph, who was a latter-day schoolman with a touch of Neo-Platonist and temperamentally opposed to empirical views. Roy was able to stand up to him, but the struggle took too much of his time and prevented him from developing his own ideas as he would have liked. He was depressed to think that this was what Oxford philosophy had become. He would have chosen to make philosophy his profession, but he felt that his training did not really fit him for it.

    Some episodes were later recollected in correspondence: see Joseph's letter 543 of 13 April 1936, [jump to page] .

    1. a. From the Princess Alice Memorial Hospital, Eastbourne, eight pages ALI, in DWP Folder 23.


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