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HUMANITIES 123 tieth centuries and shows how respective elites, including the cultural establishments, from the national awakeners to the communists, mobilized and manipulated culture to shape the national identity, the Czechness, of the Czechs in their own image; that is, to serve their particular political and national, and in the case of the communists, ideological aims. Sayer argues convincingly that with the notable exception of the modernists, a total preoccupation with Czechness was the norm, and its natural result was the cultural marginalization, if not exclusion, of 'the other.' In the preindependence , Habsburg, period this meant the Germans of the Czech lands and those Jews who chose to remain in the German linguistic and hence cultural orbit; in the post-independence years, the various and numerous non-Czech national minorities; and, after the communist takeover in 1948, all ideological opponents and sceptics as well. The "Czechization,' this homogenization ofcultural life, naturally tended to sap its vitality, deprived the culture of the Czech lands of the potential contribution of 'the other,' and culminated in the indiscriminate expulSion of the Germans (a third of the population of the Czech lands) at the end of the Second World Was, and the establishment of commtmist rule. The author touches on, but does not devote as much attention to, the 'why.' Why was there such a preoccupation, indeed, obsession, with national identity, with Czeclmess? This question could be legitimately raised about virtually all the 'small peoples' ofEastern Europe who formed into nations at more or less the same time. One could argue that before the Czechs achieved independence, itwas a function ofthe insecurity of a small people in the process of building a nation and engaged in what its elite perceived was a struggle for national survival with a dominant powerful opponent - the Germans. For the elite of interwar Czechoslovakia, it was a struggle for the survival of the state in an unstable Europe, surrounded by enemy states, to which many of its own lathers' would have preferred to belong. The identification of commtmism with Czechness after 1948 is, of course, another and more complex issue. Sayer has written a fascinating work. It will be of great value not only to those interested in the Czechs, their history and their contribution to European culture, but also to all those who seek a better understanding of nationalism and the shaping and reshaping ofnational identities,especially among the peoples of Eastern Europe. (ANDREW ROSSOS) Andre Kukla. Studies in Scientific Realism Oxford University Press. xii, 176. $72.00 Do electrons really exist? Or are they just a convenient intellectual construct, a jafon de parler, a place-holder in an algorithm for calculating predictions? In other words, what is science actually about? Can we expect 124 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 science to provide us with an aCCOllllt of what Hume called the hidden Jsprings and principles' of the world, or are any such accounts merely the mythological trappings in which we dress our records ofthe regularities we have observed? Andre Kukla does not answer this question in this book (although he expresses a strong preference for the first position), but he does elaborate an admirably thorough prolegomenon to the study of it. He begins with a meticulous taxonomy of the mainvarieties ofrealism and antirealism, with the intention of isolating his area of study: the tension between epistemic realism - the view that we can come to know that theoretical entities exist - and constructive empiricism - the view that we are never justified in inferring to the unobservable. Kukla works his way patiently through the main stages of this longrmming debate, sympatheticallyexplaining, but often finnly criticizing, the views of Fine, Friedman, Laudan, Fodor, van Fraassen, and other recent philosophers of science. To get a flavour of the issues, let us linger briefly over the argument for realism from the success of science. The notion is that successful scientific theories (theories that give good predictions) must he true because that is the only way to explain their success. This is intuitively appealing, of course; if a theory makes accurate predictions about electrons, we are inclined to say that at least some of that theory's claims about electrons are true, and it would...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 123-125
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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