This article is a contribution to the revival of `virtue ethics'. If we regard human rights as a crucial development in the establishment of global institutions of justice and equality, then we need to explore the obligations that correspond to such rights. It is argued that cosmopolitan virtue a respect for other cultures and an ironic stance towards one's own culture spells out this obligation side of the human rights movement. Cosmopolitanism of course can assume very different forms. The article (...) traces various cosmopolitan ethics from the Greeks, Roman Stoics and Christian philosophers. Contemporary cosmopolitanism needs to be ironic to function usefully in hybrid global cultures, but it is open to the charge of being culturally `flat' and elitist. These criticisms are examined through the confrontation between Maurizio Viroli and Martha Nussbaum. While American patriotism is not a promising foundation for ironic cosmopolitanism, the republican tradition of virtue does offer a viable method of developing cosmopolitanism. Ironic cosmopolitan care for other cultures is founded on the commonalities of social existence, of which there are two central components: ontological vulnerability and political precariousness. (shrink)
This volume explores the sociological legacy of the late Pierre Bourdieu through an examination of the intellectual division between his reception in the world of French social sciences and his reception in the Anglophone world.
The Huntington thesis of the clash of cultures and American foreign policy analysis are both aspects of the legacy of Carl Schmitt's distinction between friend and foe. This article explores Schmitt's political theology as the theoretical basis of modern politics in terms of the concepts of state sovereignty and the idea of a permanent emergency. Within this Schmittian framework, the analysis of Islam as presented by writers such as Huntington, Fukuyama and Barber is critically analysed. Their analysis of fundamentalism and (...) political Islam fails to grasp the complexity and diversity of modern Islam. The article concludes by examining a number of social and economic processes that make the political division between friend and foe untenable. (shrink)
In recent years, sociologists have been much concerned with the nature of communication and its consequences, but little attention, even in the sociology of religion, has been given to the idea of communication between human society and other worlds. Divine communication is sociologically interesting as a communication puzzle: authentic religious communication tends to be ineffable and hence it requires considerable intellectual work by experts to translate it into the effable domain. The ineffability of religious inspiration is associated with hierarchical structures (...) in societies with high illiteracy, because the untutored laity cannot readily interpret such messages expertly. The arrival of an information society and extensive literacy presupposes some degree of democratization and in particular an emphasis on — to conjure up a word strangely missing from modern English — effability. This transition from the hierarchical/ineffable to the horizontal/ effable implies a profound change in systems of authority in society and hence a transformation of the relationships between formal and popular religion. (shrink)
A global transformation of modes of religious authority has been taking place at an increasing pace in recent years. The social and political implications of the growing dominance of neo-scripturalist discourses on Islam have been particularly noticeable after 11 September 2001. This evolution of religiosity, which is mediated by mass media and new media technology, creates the conditions of existence of a post-Weberian and post-Durkheimian order. In this new social context, legitimacy can be more easily disconnected from the institutionalized framework (...) of religious and political authority. Both in Muslim countries and in Western democracies, the attempt by Islamic activists to make the Shari’a relevant in contemporary settings creates new opportunities and challenges for legal pluralism. At the same time, the multiplication of Muslim voices claiming to be able to interpret the sacred texts, particularly in virtual communities, creates an increasingly inchoate ‘noise’ about Islamic orthodoxy. In the context of an exponential increase in the global possibilities for religious identification and expression, the growth of neo-scripturalist interpretations of Islam reflects a quest for parsimony and stability. (shrink)
Jean-Francois Lyotard is often considered to be the father of postmodernism. Here leading experts in the field of cultural and philosophical studies, including Barry Smart, John O' Neill and Victor J. Seidler, tackle many of the questions still being asked about this controversial figure.
Religion was one of the most important issues for early sociology, as is amply demonstrated by the work of Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. This set draws together the formative works on this subject, including key works in social anthropology. The collection includes a volume of important early essays, and an original introduction by the editor.