Maurice Cornforth
William Blake vs. the Fetishism of Language

But this role of abstract words, this “tyranny of words,” is no new discovery of semantics. It has been recognised for a long time, and eloquently expressed by many progressive writers—by William Blake, for example, when he wrote:

In every cry of every man,
In every infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forged manacles I hear.

But whence these “mind-forged manacles,” and to what do they owe their power? Is it because of the improper use of language and men’s ignorance of semantics? Blake was a poet who never gave a thought to semantics, but he already knew better than that. These “mind-forged manacles” are the reflection in men's consciousness of the material conditions of their social existence. And the “manacles” which Blake was writing about, and which still attract the attention of Stuart Chase and others in the United States of America, were produced by and owe their influence to—as Blake knew, and expressed in some of his poems—the exploitation of man by man.

SOURCE: Cornforth, Maurice. Science Versus Idealism: In Defence of Philosophy Against Positivism and Pragmatism (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1975), p. 309. (Reprint of 1962 ed., originally published 1955.)

And fourth, if we are indeed, as the poet Blake once put it, imposed upon in our social living by “mind-forged manacles” and by institutional prescriptions and prohibitions, that is only because people have imposed them upon people—they are not objective “realities” which, being there independently of anything “real active men” have done, impose themselves upon us.

SOURCE: Cornforth, Maurice. Communism and Philosophy: Contemporary Dogmas and Revisions of Marxism (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1980), Part Three: Contemporary Revisions of Marxism; Chapter 2: Scientific Analysis and Abstract Thinking; section 3: Ideology and ideological “apparatuses”; p. 186.

Maurice Cornforth on William Blake
on imagination vs. the fetish of facts

Maurice Cornforth on William Blake, Marx, & Machines

Science versus Idealism by Maurice Cornforth

Logical Empiricism by Maurice Cornforth

Materialism and the Dialectical Method by Maurice Cornforth

Marxism and the Linguistic Philosophy by Maurice Cornforth

The Open Philosophy and the Open Society:
A Reply to Dr. Karl Popper’s Refutations of Marxism

by Maurice Cornforth

Science and Evaluation by Maurice Cornforth

Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work by Maurice Cornforth

Maurice Cornforth on Partisanship and Objectivity by Ralph Dumain

Communism and Philosophy: Contemporary Dogmas and Revisions of Marxism
by Maurice Cornforth

William Blake vs Rationalist Linguistics (Excerpt) by Robert N. Essick

Introduction & Afterword to William Blake and the Language of Adam by Robert N. Essick

Maurice Cornforth (1909-1980) Study Guide

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

Vienna Circle, Karl Popper, Frankfurt School, Marxism, McCarthyism & American Philosophy: Selected Bibliography

Positivism vs Life Philosophy (Lebensphilosophie) Study Guide

William Blake Study Guide

Offsite links:

Partisanship and Objectivity in Theoretical Work by Maurice Cornforth
(also on The Autodidact Project web site

"Maurice Cornforth's Contribution to Marxist Metaethics" by Renzo Llorente

On Reappraising Maurice Cornforth” by Edwin A. Roberts

Origins of the Private Language Argument by Jan Dejnozka

Maurice Cornforth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (minimal information)

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