Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA, and London, UK: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007), ISBN-13:978-0674- 02676-6; 874pp. This review essay concentrates on Charles Taylor's image of modernity.
The aim of this paper is to examine two turns towards the idea of the creative imagination in contemporary critical theory in the works of Axel Honneth and Cornelius Castoriadis. Honneth's work subsumes the idea of the creative imagination under the paradigm of mutual recognition. Castoriadis constructs the idea of the creative imagination from an ontological perspective. However, Castoriadis' idea of the primary autism of the creative imagination can be thrown into relief by Hegel's Jena Lectures. Hegel's and Castoriadis' work (...) opens onto a subjectivity in tension, that is, a subjectivity that is forged out of a combination of subjective interiority, as well as the patterns of interaction that are multidimensional in their scope and create social spaces that force the subject beyond an initial closure. (shrink)
In this essay, Durkheim's work is approached from a double vantage point. One vantage point looks at Durkheim's work with a post-classical attitude that intersects the ontological recasting of the social in the work of Castoriadis. It is in the context of social opening that I will concentrate on Durkheim's work as it presents a model of reflexivity that concentrates on the historical development of the modern period. Durkheim's model of reflexivity also opens onto the other vantage point of political (...) modernity, which is viewed as a particular constellation of the circulation of power, especially in nation-states, open forms of reflexivity, and democracy, in contrast to another political modernity that revolves around closed socially reflexive forms of totalitarianism and terrorism. Durkheim's work can be a fruitful point of departure for an analysis of political modernity because his theorisation occurs in a way that opens onto the historical development of its mode of reflexivity. (shrink)
There is an opening in Castoriadis’ work for a notion of cruelty, and it emerges in the way in which he develops his idea of heteronomy, as a human world that is blinded or deflected away from human self-creation. This essay is an attempt to locate cruelty constitutively or ontologically in a post-metaphysical register, as an act of creativity that can be given form as a very particular act of singularity, that is, without regard for the other. Acts of human (...) cruelty are acts of imaginary, creative activity among others that themselves are form , that is, expressed in physically embodied, objectivated, linguistic or symbolic form, and often become highly stylized, and when socially instituted, have their own spatial and temporal dimensions. In this way, it is distinct from relations of power. (shrink)
This article develops three interconnected arguments concerning the image of modernity as a revolutionary epoch and the way in which this image has been understood and theorized. These three lines of conceptualization, which can only be sketched in less rather than greater detail here, concern the constellation or figuration of modernity, its democratic dimension, and in reference to each, the work of Max Weber, especially The City. More specifically, the article argues that modern democracy is revolutionary when viewed as an (...) open and self-instituting articulation of political power. Its modern revolutionary impulse begins in the Italian Renaissance city-states, the German `free' cities, and the Swiss federation where urban autonomy was matched by the creation of elected forms of rulership and the development of federated circulations of power. (shrink)
This article deploys a double conceptual framework. One frame is positioned through the ideas of absolute strangers and outsiders. The other frame develops out of, though is distinct from, the first, and refers to the disaggregated forms of modern citizenship. The citizen-as-absolute-stranger in addition to accruing political rights may also accrue social, economic or identity rights, or traverse wider relations between him or herself and other absolute strangers in either national or international settings. It is in this context that outsiders (...) are configured - aliens who have no national-juridical status. (shrink)
Current changes in the intimate sphere are denoted by an expansion of emotional vocabularies, of freedom in sex and sexual preference, and the extension of sexual life with neither inhibition, nor obligation, nor marriage for both women and men. This reading of the works of Jean-Claude Kaufmann and Niklas Luhmann suggests that the result of this current revolution of the intimate sphere is mixed. A new differentiated form of the intimate sphere has developed with an internal distinction between sex qua (...) leisure and committed love-relationality. Although sex qua leisure is mediated by the new communications technology, this technological mediation is not what is important here. Rather, the actions are configured and mediated by the neo-liberal paradigm by all participants. Leisure-sex is simply a game that combines autonomy, leisure, power and rational choice – a combination that is open to men and women alike. But there is still love, and in ways that enable it to be expressed beyond traditional forms. From the position of committed love-relationality, rather than marriage, love is between people – but it is a different between to the one of leisure sex. Love is double-sided: whilst heightening a sense of self-orientation, one is also focused on an other. Love involves all kinds of complexity in the everyday because it involves the well-being of an other or others – with joys and heartaches, responsibilities and conflicts. (shrink)