Maurice Cowling, who died in August, just short of eighty, was a politics and history Fellow of Peterhouse in Cambridge. Some university teachers are significant because they use their university as a base from which to address the world. Cowling, by contrast, was the most parochial of men, one of whose main amusements was making mischief in College politics. His range barely extended as far as Oxford and London, and his first book, The Nature and Significance of Political Science, scandalized his colleagues, because he referred to many of the thinkers he criticized in terms of their current position as the Rector of this college or the Master of that. Most readers had no idea of the people being referred to. An Oxford professor later told him that the book made him feel ashamed of British political science, a judgment that delighted Cowling, and his delight in it gives us the first clue about what made Cowling so remarkable.

Popular Right Now