Saturday, October 31, 2015

A request addressed to Balliol academics

Dear All,

Allow me to inform you that I have put on my website the 13th Book of Homer’s Iliad, read in the original. As I informed you in my ‘Celebrating with Homer – an invitation’ on April 15, I decided to put online my reading of Homer to celebrate the thirty fifth anniversary of the Master of Balliol’s visit in my philosophy seminar in Prague; on April 12, 1980 Dr Anthony Kenny was giving a lecture in my seminar on Aristotle’s Nicomachean and Eudemian Ethics; his lecture was interrupted by the police.

Allow me to address you with a request. An integral part of my recording Homer is my listening to the recordings. I am approaching my 77th birthday, my hearing is deteriorating and I need a hearing aid. I looked on Google, the prices on Hearing Direct vary from £169 - £599. My only income is a State Pension of £26.95 a week (see ‘It is all wrong- a letter to the Pension Service’ and ‘It has nothing to do with Oxford University’ posted on my blog on June 15 and 19 respectively). I asked OXFAM for help, but they can’t assist me, for their policy does not allow for loans or grants to individuals. Would you suggest to me a charitable foundation to which I could apply with some hope of success? If you know of any such foundation, would you support my request?

Why am I addressing this request to Balliol academics? I came to Balliol in 1980 at the invitation of the Master of Balliol. On 18 November 1989, just as the Velvet Revolution began to unfold in Prague, Nick Cohen wrote in ‘The Pub philosopher’ (published in The Independent Magazine): ‘Jonathan Barnes, Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford, impatiently brushed aside the suggestion that the Conservative’s reduction in funding for British philosophy since 1980 might explain why there was never an academic post for Tomin at Oxford. “That’s not the point at all,” he said. “He would not be accepted as a graduate here, let alone be given a teaching job.” Ten years later, Barbara Day wrote in The Velvet Philosophers (published in 1999 by The Claridge Press, p. 45): ‘his [i.e. Tomin’s] limited acquaintance with the breadth of western philosophy would have been unacceptable in any of the posts for which he diligently applied.’

This summer I held ‘Three days in Prague devoted to philosophy’. The first day was devoted to the relevance of neurophysiology to self-knowledge, the second day to Kant, the third to Plato and Aristotle. The preparatory entries devoted to Kant, Lock, and Berkeley on my blog amply demonstrate that my study of western philosophy has been extensive. Whenever I think of Barbara Day’s allegation, I can’t help thinking of my talk on Kant for the students of philosophy at the University of Leeds. I began with a request: ‘Kant’s turning to critical philosophy was profoundly influenced by David Hume. Could one of you give us a short outline of Hume’s scepticism?’ The group consisted of third year students; they told me: ‘We don’t know anything about Hume. Hume was not on the curriculum.’

You might wonder why I don’t try to find a lawyer and sue Balliol for blacklisting. For Barnes’ ‘Tomin would not be accepted as a graduate here, let alone be given a teaching job’, published in a respectable magazine and never publicly contradicted by any British academic, could be viewed as a reason why Tomin has been found unacceptable in any of the posts ‘for which he diligently applied’. Blacklisting ought to be as unacceptable in philosophy, as it has been found unacceptable in other areas of human activity.

The problem is that I did not diligently apply for academic posts, for my aims and ambitions were different, as I explained in my open letter to the 18th World Congress of Philosophy that took place in 1988 in Brighton. (See my recent ‘Appeal to the Master of Balliol’ posted on my blog on October 11 and again on October 25.)

Allow me to end by repeating my original request: Would you suggest to me a charitable foundation that might help me obtain a decent hearing aid? If you know of any such foundation, would you consider supporting my request?

I hope to be hearing from you soon.
Julius Tomin

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