"The writer discusses the concept of kitsch. Having reviewed a variety of approaches to kitsch, he posits an historical conception of it, connecting it to modernity and defining it as a coping-mechanism for modernity. He thus suggests that kitsch is best understood as a tool in the struggle against the particular stresses of the modern world and that it uses materials at hand, fashioning from them some sort of stability largely through projecting images of nature, stasis, and continuity. (...) He discusses the relation of kitsch to fine art, arguing that fine art also has as its primary function a counter-movement to modernity. He suggests that the main difference between fine art and kitsch is that fine art, as well as its emotional function, also involves a reception context that allows it to assume an intellectual task. Among the writer's conclusions, he finds that positing a stark or absolute contrast between kitsch and fine art is unjustifiable as both have the same roots and objectives." [WilsonWeb]. (shrink)
This article is focused on some conditions in today’s world of globalized media, which are producing either an uncritical acquiescence or fright in Muslim societies as a result of the interaction between these societies and the contemporary Western powers that represent modernity and postmodernity on the global stage. The rise of fundamentalism, a tendency toward returning to the roots and stringently insisting upon some pure and literal interpretation of them, in almost all the religions of the world is a (...) manifestation of this fright. The central concern of this article is to suggest that fundamentalism is neither the only nor the most reasonable response for Muslim societies in the face of contemporary modernity. Muslims need to adopt an independent and critical attitude toward modernity and reshape their societies in the light of the ethics of the Qur’an, keeping in view the historical link between Islam and science in as much as Islamic culture paved the way for emergence of modern science during European Renaissance. The necessity of a pluralistic or contextualized modernization of Muslim societies is discussed along with the need for the removal of cultural duplicity in the role of the West in relation to Muslim societies. All this leads to an overall proposal for modernization which is given towards the end. (shrink)
Orthodox Christianity has often been understood as not pertaining to Modernity due to its different historical and theological trajectory. This essay disputes such a view with regard to 20th century Orthodox thought, which it examines from the point of view of a sociology of Modernity in order to identify where Orthodox thinkers of the Russian Diaspora and in Russia today position themselves in relation to modern society and philosophy. Two essentially modern positions within Orthodoxy are singled out: an (...) institutional and an ontological response to the modernist paradigm. (shrink)
This paper discusses Jeffrey Stout's thesis that modern societies are "secular," not in the sense that religion has disappeared from them, but in a procedural sense having to do with what can properly be assumed by participants in moral or political discussion. I endorse this thesis, but argue that Stout employs a notion of justification (with regard to moral belief), which leans too far toward descriptivism or relativism. As an alternative account of the status of religion within "the hypercontext, (...) class='Hi'>modernity," I commend Kant's view of the religious attitude as a fundamentally ethical one, destined eventually to dispense with any "historical vehicle" in the form of revealed doctrine or supernaturalism. Stout's discussion is weakened by its retreat from commitment to the unity of practical reason, though it does pay illuminating tribute to the democratic values of civility and attentiveness. (shrink)
Unlike some western scholars who limit their interpretation of modernity and its source to conceptual, cultural, value, and psychological dimensions, Marx pointed out that modernity came mainly from modern production system. Starting from the historical context of his time, Marx explored various aspects of modernity and pointed out that modernity was inherent in the logic of capital, resided in the process of historical evolution, arose in social conflicts and segmentation, and presented itself in a global horizon. (...) The logic of capital, the historical viewpoint, the theory of contradiction and a global perspective are fundamental in Marx's analysis of the problems of modernity. Marx's ideas of modernity are methodologically significant to the construction of modernity in contemporary Chinese society. (shrink)
The normative figure in Western feminism remains the liberal autonomous individual of modernity. ‹Other’ women are those who have their freedom to choose restricted. Typically, ‹other’ women are those burdened by culture and hindered by their communities from entering modernity. If we remain in the terrain of thinking about women as vulnerable or imperilled, and some women as particularly imperilled, as we generally do of Muslim women, we remain squarely within the framework of patriarchy understood as abstracted from (...) all other systems. A modernity/premodernity distinction will continue to invade any projects intending to help Muslim women. This paper shows the persistence of the modernity/premodernity distinction in contemporary debates around applying Sharia law to the settlement of family law disputes under the Arbitration Act in Ontario, Canada. I argue below that in their concern to curtail conservative and patriarchal forces within the Muslim community, Canadian feminists (both Muslim and Non-Muslim) utilized frameworks that installed a secular/religious divide that functions as a colour line, marking the difference between the modern, enlightened West, and tribal, religious Muslims. I suggest that feminist responses might have helped to sustain a new form of governmentality, one in which the productive power of the imperilled Muslim woman functions to keep in line Muslim communities at the same time that it defuses more radical feminist and anti-racist critique of conservative religious forces. I end by exploring how this effect could have been restricted. (shrink)
This chapter discusses five closely intertwined aspects of the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor that are relevant to the traditions of hermeneutics: (i) their fundamental philosophical anthropology, (ii) their views on explanation and understanding in the human sciences, (iii) their analysis of modernity and the nature of contemporary late modern Western cultures, (iv) ethics, and (v) the question of rationally comparing and assessing rival traditions or cultures.
Strauss championed a philosophy of history according to which philosophers characteristically hide their actual beliefs when writing about ethics and politics. This paper begins by suggesting that an esoteric philosophy of history encourages a set of specific biases when writing histories of philosophy. Proponents of esotericism are liable to be far too ready to conclude that philosophers intended to hide their beliefs; they are likely to be insufficiently attuned to the varied contexts in which philosophers write; and they are likely (...) to be too ready to assimilate the beliefs of philosophers to a norm. Thereafter the paper considers the presence of these biases in Strauss's account of modernity. Strauss allows for waves of modernity but he defines these waves as part of a single, monolithic project that is defined in contrast to the esoteric character of ancient philosophy and that leads inexorably to nihilism. Once we correct for the biases mentioned above, however, modernity appears as a series of projects located in specific contexts and confronting particular dilemmas. Again, where Strauss presents our own era as one of crisis, this revised account of modernity suggests that we merely confront the more local issue of how to forge a community out of self-governing individuals. (shrink)
When is it ethically acceptable to use artificial agents in health care? This article articulates some criteria for good care and then discusses whether machines as artificial agents that take over care tasks meet these criteria. Particular attention is paid to intuitions about the meaning of ‘care’, ‘agency’, and ‘taking over’, but also to the care process as a labour process in a modern organizational and financial-economic context. It is argued that while there is in principle no objection to using (...) machines in medicine and health care, the idea of them functioning and appearing as ‘artificial agents’ is problematic and attends us to problems in human care which were already present before visions of machine care entered the stage. It is recommended that the discussion about care machines be connected to a broader discussion about the impact of technology on human relations in the context of modernity. (shrink)
The paper considers the possibility of detecting points of contact between Michel Foucault’s theory of power and the theory of communicative agency formed by Jurgen Habermas. In the beginning, the development of the philosophical discourse of modernity, which Habermas analyzes in his work bearing the same title, is laid out, with the aim to gain insight into the nature of Habermas’s critique of Foucault. After having reviewed some of the basis of Foucault’s theory, the author points out Habermas’s depiction (...) of the theory of power as the pinnacle of Nietzschean, anti - modernist stream of the philosophical discourse. The critique is based on Habermas’s assumption that Foucault’s analyses of power fails to comprehend the complexity of modernity. Foucault, according to Habermas, over - emphasizes one dimension of the process of modernization - gradual strengthening of the disciplinatory power based on the "control of the spirit". The author, however, wishes to point out the importance the theory of power ascribes to the preservation of insight into the complexity of history. Through the insight into multiple and divergent nature of historical processes that are responsible for the formation of modern society, the individual becomes historically self - conscious and able to step out of the paradigm of self - relating subject. As the theory of communicative agency also tends to transcend the "limits of the subject - philosophy", the author concludes that Foucault’s work is, to the same extent as Habermas’s, imbued with the idea of "modernity as an unrealized undertaking". Towards the end of the paper the author analyzes Foucault’s relation to Enlightenment, in order to show the essentially modern nature of his thought. (shrink)
As a grand narrative of progress, the utopian project of modernity is primarily concerned with notions of rationalism, universalism, and the development of a metalanguage. The triumph of the Moderate Enlightenment has seen logics of domination, accumulation and individualism incorporated into the project of modernity, with these logics giving rise to globalised capitalism as the metalanguage of modernity and neoliberal economics as the grand narrative of rational progress. The project of modernity is all but complete, requiring (...) only the formality of an end. However, rather than utopia, the foreseeable endpoint of modernity is environmental collapse, with neoliberal economics also serving as a grand narrative of environmental destruction. As an anti-modern response, postmodernism has been a triumphant failure. While there is much to be gained from the postmodern critique of modernity, its incredulity towards metanarratives has left it incapable of forming an adequate response to modernity, especially in regards to action on climate change. Postmodernism is better characterized as a crisis located within modernity itself and it will be argued that rather than the pursuit of the modern or the post-modern, we need to re-imagine ourselves as proto- historical to overcome the impasse of late-capitalism. (shrink)
This article draws on results from a long-term research program carried out by the Science Centre Berlin for Social Research (WZB) and the Swedish Collegium of Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (SCASSS) on the history and sociology of the social sciences. The transformations of the discourses on society is outlined in the three major periods of transformations that have occurred in the age of modernity in Europe since the late 18th century. These three transformations have all involved a (...) fundamental restructuring of the key political, economic and discursive institutions. The article outlines these institutional transformation and their mutual linkages and social embeddedness with special reference to problems of societal knowledge, technology and identity. (shrink)
Starting from a suggestion of Stephen Toulmin and through an interpretation of the criticism to which Neurath, one of the founders of the Vienna Circle, submits Descartes’ views on science, the paper attempts to outline a pattern of modernity opposed to the Cartesian one, that has been obtaining over the last four centuries. In particular, it is argued that a new alliance has to be established between science and education, overcoming Descartes’ banishment against education. In a Neurathian perspective education (...) is a key-moment of the scientific enterprise without which science itself is in danger of going astray and no scientific outlook is promoted in the society at large. Such an anti-Cartesian attitude is a leitmotiv of the whole Neurath’s production and characterizes his fundamental approach to the sense of modernity. For this reasons, despite all its shortcomings, Neurath’s proposal represents a very promising option for a new agenda of the modernity away from Descartes’ spell. By elaborating on Neurath’s (and Dewey’s) insights, the paper puts forward the idea that philosophy of science (such as it was originated by neopositivism in its Reichenbachian version) should give way to an educational philosophy of science which could allow us “to bring the genuine modern into existence”. (shrink)
In this essay, I critically examine Habermas’ approach to fundamentalism, a question that explicitly and implicitly alike bears influence on the formation of his postsecular thesis. The overview of his theory is followed by a combined analysis, depending on Torkel Brekke’s sociological study on fundamentalism, on the one hand, and a joint study by Adam Seligman and others in the field of anthropology and social theory. In this regard, questions of sincerity and authenticity are in the focus of my examination, (...) underlying that philosophical relevance of the question. On the basis of this combined analysis I argue that fundamentalism can be best analysed as an essential though specific element of modernity. I state that despite its critical attitude towards many developments of modernity, fundamentalism is not only reactively but, in its attitudinal core, a proactively modern phenomenon, and needs be interpreted accordingly as part of the evolving postsecular scenario. (shrink)
The human quest for the meaning of life is an unending one marked by undulating landscapes. In order to confront the flux of experience generated by this quest for meaning, the human embraces science, morality, politics and religion. Religion is said to provide the basis for transcendental values which give humans succour after the physical and material struggles have ended. At the same time, religion also uses the observable social world as the starting point for the embrace of transcendental values. (...) In this essay, an attempt is made to examine the interconnectedness of modernity, Islam and an African culture. The essay is basically an exercise in analysis whereby the readers are made to draw some compelling inferences. Keywords : Modernity, Islam, African culture, Values, Human happiness. (shrink)
This article will explore how “tradition” has changed in the process of modernity, with reference to the history and current state of Chinese ethnicities. By employing inevitable relationships in researching “tradition,” such as tradition and the past, tradition and its “original form,” old tradition and new tradition, and the reconstruction and neo-construction of tradition, this article reveals a dynamic but stable essential relationship among them. Whereas both the historical nihilism that completely repudiates tradition and the historical conservatism that completely (...) affirms it are one-sided and untrue, my analysis indicates that the modern development of a Chinese nationality is, in some sense, the history of “the growth of the modern and the invention of tradition.”. (shrink)
If modernity is manifested as essentialism, postmodernity is manifested as anti-essentialism. Modernity is, in essence, human beings’ discovery of their own power, and is based on rational knowledge that has grasped the essence of things. In fact, in the discourse system of modernity, the various concepts of “essence” connote nothing but people’s imaginative constructions and rational conjectures about objects. In the past, our order, be it internal or external, was in essence guaranteed by God. Afterwards, all “essences”, (...) as essences, must rationally prove the reason for their existence. In the postmodern context and discourse system, God, and also the “human being” who has created essence, has “died”. We should not simply resume the belief in traditional essence, but should reconstruct, on the basis of a full understanding of the intellectual meaning of postmodernity’s challenges, some historicity, practicality, and the concept of essence that accords with the historical as well as communicative rationality. We must realize that the essence of things is the essence of particular things in a particular stage of development, internally containing infinite differences and variety. Only things with postmodern traits contain modernity, and only the concept of essence that conceives difference accords with time. (shrink)
In this brief response to Herbert De Vriese’s The Charm of Disenchantment, his attempt to link secularism and modernity is questioned. Criticism is leveled at De Vriese’s use of the correspondence between Voltaire and Frederick the Great without reference to the historical context, notably the confessional states that existed between roughly 1650 and 1800 in Europe. De Vriese’s apology for disenchantment and modernity is also questioned in the light of both modern religious and secular responses to modernity (...) as exemplified by the Dalai Lama and Bernard Stiegler. (shrink)
The crisis of modernity as the crisis of the political is seen by the author primarily as a crisis of the "measure" of the criterion of political decision making and action. This crisis is understood in the first place as a crisis of self-awareness and practice of the ethos. Machiavelli was the first to attempt a solution to this problem by introducing the concept of virtus, which became the fundamental principle of modern political philosophy. However, many modern and contemporary (...) interpreters of Machiavelli's thought often ignore the social and political context in which the political doctrine of the Florentine thinker arose. Namely, Machiavelli's effort to find an authentic form of the political act that would make possible a harmonization and stabilization of the dramatic political circumstances then prevailing in Italian cities required a reliable diagnosis and adequate means for a successful therapy of the sick organism of the community. The epochal novelty in Machiavelli's political theory was the shift from the ancient theorization of virtue to its modern operationalization. Nevertheless, this shift is often interpreted as a radical opposing of the Greek concept of arete to the Roman virtus, which is crudely and simplistically reduced to bravery and strength necessary for taking and keeping political power. Hegel in his political philosophy travels an important part of the road - unconsciously rather than consciously - along with Machiavelli and Shelling. This particularly holds for his understanding of the necessity of strength and bravery in the process of operationalizing the spirit of freedom in history through the mediation of "negation" as "the power of evil". The mediation of subjectivity and substantiality, according to Hegel, takes place in the state by the brutal bridling of the world spirit where not just individuals but whole peoples are sacrificed - toward freedom, i.e. its realization in the community of the ethos. The "trouble of the times" is a consequence of the separation between I and the world and stems from a reduced political reason which lacks the criterion of the ethical totality for political action and decision making. By the separation of the ethos this reason get routinized and political action is reduced to naked technique of winning and keeping political power. In the concluding segment of the paper the author points to some global consequences of the crisis of political decision making in the historical reality at the end of 20th century. (shrink)
A tendência de uma sociologia do catolicismo contemporâneo no país nestes últimos anos foi de reduzi-lo a uma instituição política e social movida por interesses de poder no campo religioso e no espaço público, dispensando a mediação de sua cosmologia como pano de fundo de sua atuação. A partir do livro pioneiro de Roberto Romano (1976) que resgata o papel da cosmologia católica na sua intervenção pública, e seguindo os estudos de Sanchis (1994) e Steil (1996) que chamam a atenção (...) para o seu perfil de “estrutura de longa duração” que se (re)combina com os estilos das épocas que atravessa, a intenção deste texto é detectar numa hermenêutica de aspectos cruciais da Teologia católica e em dimensões estruturais de sua configuração, condutas e comportamentos pelo qual o catolicismo se faz presente na modernidade. Neste particular, a cosmologia não vai engendrar um comportamento holista-tradicional mas vai expressar-se traduzida para os códigos contemporâneos seja do individualismo, da subjetividade, da cultura psi, da auto-ajuda e da expresividade emocional e corporal. Palavras chave : Catolicismo. Cosmologia. Modernidade.: The trend in contemporary sociology of Catholicism in Brazil has been to reduce Catholicism to a political and social institution moved by the interests of power in religious as well as public spheres, ignoring the intervening role of its cosmology as a background for its actions and postures. The article takes as a starting point Roberto Romano’s (1976) pioneer work in the field, where the author reinstates the role of catholic cosmology in processes of institutional public intervention. It has equally drawn inspiration from Sanchis (1994) and Steil’s (1996) studies stressing on Catholicism’s institutional profile as a ‘structure of long duration’ that interacts with the various ways of living of different times and spaces. Accordingly, the main goal of the article is to identify in a hermeneutics of crucial aspects of Catholic theology and in structural dimensions of its configuration, the attitudes and behaviors that inform Catholicism’s presence in modernity. In this way, cosmology doesn’t underpins any traditional holistic behavior but finds expression in translations of contemporary codes like those of individualism, subjectivity, psy culture, self-help and emotional and bodily expressions. Key-words : Catholicism. Cosmology. Modernity. (shrink)
Modernity, a focal point of interest in our time, means the cultural schemata and mechanisms of social action stemming from the Enlightenment and the modernization process. It is a set of new and "man-made" rationalized mechanisms and rules for human societies that naturally grow beyond geographical boundaries. The interrelated dimensions of modernity may be roughly grouped into "intellectual" and "institutional" categories including subjectivity and individual self-consciousness, a spirit of rationalized and contracting public culture, modernity in sociohistorical narratives (...) as an ideology, rationalization of economic operations, bureaucracy in administrative management, autonomy of the public sphere, and the democratization and contraction of public power. Modernity is inherently contradictory and risky, yet until now there has been no sign of an end in sight. It remains to be the major support and dynamic in keeping human society running. Let us beware of superficial judgment when reflecting upon theoretical critiques of modernity and try to grasp the great challenges and opportunities of globalization-essentially a process of modernity. (shrink)
This introduction suggests a set of connections between the understanding of modernity and the opening up of a new understanding of politics as cosmopolitics. It argues that the modern understanding of the political has suffered a set of displacements both in regard to understanding cosmology and in the place of the human in relation to technology.
The article analyzes the interaction of Orthodoxy and the state and its role in asserting national identity in the context ofRomania’s modernization process. I have developed the concept of tendential modernity for studying the distinctive nature of Romanian modernityModernity in Romania focused primarily on national and geostrategic problems, due to the absence of a state encompassing all Romanians. The Orthodox Church had been recognized as a symbol of national identity, therefore it was included among the basic (...) institutions that would support the national project, in order to serve the new purposes imposed by modernity. In the context of the modernization process undergone by Romanian society, the church is not separated from the state, but becomes a church of the state, a church whose prerogatives are established by the secular power; thus the church is defined as an institution that is embedded in the process of modern change decided by the state. As a matter of fact, modernity itself was ambivalent and ambiguous, which influenced decisively the role of Orthodoxy in the assertion of Romanian identity. (shrink)
The powerful impact which Christianity has had on the distinct culture of the Occident can hardly be overstated. Indeed, its tremendous influence in virtually every single aspect of the European existence is ultimately recognisable in many secular quarters. In order to understand the link between the project of modernity and European Christendom and its state in the present, it is necessary to trace the development of several key features. Thus, the paper consists of two major parts dealing with: 1) (...) the Joachimist tertius status 2) aspects of the Löwith-Blumenberg debate and 3) depicting the connections – at times, the concordance – between eschatology, utopianism and totalism, and their role in the triumph, decline and transformation of European Christianity. (shrink)
Written for the people shearing the same reality, the same mental world of Modernity, this paper starts from the premise that we, as human beings, are not always consciously aware of the world we live in, of its constantly changing characteristics or attributes. It has already been demonstrated that our knowledge is contextual and limited. Thus, in order to accurately depict at least some of the attributes of Modernity, and consequently, to observe the major paradigm shift towards an (...) age of dialogue, entailed by this expending-modernity, it became necessary to describe the values promoted by Modernity. In this paper we aim at discussing notions such as freedom, critical-thinking, history and the increasing need to be in dialogue with those who think differently from us, values which guide us mentally and determine our actions through Modernity. (shrink)
A critical discussion of Toula Nicolacopoulos' 'The Radical Critique of Liberalism'. I analyse her methodology of 'critical reconstructionism' and argue that considerations about the epistemic status of the inquiring practices leading to the formulation of liberal political theory need not affect the viability and desirability of liberal political practice, especially if we adopt a historically-informed realist account of the foundations of liberalism.
This essay brings to bear insights from continental philosophers Michel Foucault and Judith Butler on the science of (homo)sexuality and, more importantly, the desire to use such science to resolve contemporary conflicts over homosexuality’s acceptability. So-called queer science remains deeply beholden to modern notions of sex, gender, and sexuality, the author argues, a schematic that its premodern (Christian) roots further denaturalize. The philosophical insights drawn from this analysis are then applied to the controversy over homosexuality within global Christianity that often (...) pits the backward former colonies against the modern west. (shrink)
Abstract Many have been struck by Hannah Arendt?s remarks on loneliness in the concluding pages of The Origins of Totalitarianism, but very few have attempted to deal with the remarks in any systematic way. What is especially striking about this state of affairs is that the remarks are crucial to the account contained therein, as they betray a view of agency that undergirds the rest of the account. This article develops Arendt?s thinking on loneliness throughout her corpus, showing how loneliness (...) is connected to thoughtlessness. In so doing, the article also suggests a connection between Arendt?s notion of loneliness and Stanley Cavell?s notion of skepticism. This connection, it is argued, allows us not only fully to answer a question Arendt leaves unaddressed (the cause loneliness), but also allows us to see how we, as agents and users of language, are perpetually prone to loneliness. (shrink)
Frente al modelo epistémico de la modernidad "ideas claras y distintas", "ordine geometrico", en el barroco español prevalece la expresión de los símbolos y la referencia a los valores, la nada, la vida, la temporalidad, os sueños y la sabiduría intuitiva y proyectiva: san Juan de la Cruz, Gracián, Quevedo, Calderón... También en el s. XX, el modo de entender "europeo" es diferente. Unamuno habla del "método de la pasión" y "sabiduría frente a la ciencia" ; Ortega de "la interpretación (...) española del mundo" y "la razón al servicio de la vida" ; el poeta A. Machado de "visiones cordiales u opiniones de sentido, en vez de definiciones conceptuales". Son diferentes modos de entender la modernidad . (shrink)
This paper means to demonstrate the theoretical-and- methodological potential of a particular pattern of thought about culture. Employing an end-means and absolute value plus concept of reality approach, the continuous model of culture aims to embrace from one holistic standpoint various concepts and debates of the modern human, social, and political sciences. The paper revisits the debates of fact versus value, nature versus culture, culture versus structure, agency versus structure, and economics versus politics and offers the concepts of the rule (...) of law, state capitalism, a dialectical model of progress, and interpretative qualitative research, as well as of cultural diffusion, autonomy, alienation, and individuality. This model distinguishes between the ideal-symbolical and the instrumental functions of culture, sees culture as being sewn from universal binaries, and provides a certain understanding of the cognitive function of a value judgment, with positivism so far vague about the topic. It, too, suggests an extra method for investigating culture : the comparative literature study of culture enables social science to view literature as its potential in-depth interviewee— a case for arguing for a certain conception of interdisciplinarity as well. In addition, it predicts that cultural particularism or individuality remains an essential factor of human existence. Analyzing the issue of Eurocentrism in social science, the model finds modernity ’s concept of reality to be involved in ” methodological ” intellectualistic reductionism, characterizing it since the empiricism/ rationalism origination. Systematically confusing the universal oppositions in a Eurocentric manner, intellectualism becomes a contributing factor in unfolding post- modernity. (shrink)
The point of departure for this article is a comparative study of Adorno and Arendt on the question of evil and modernity. To be precise, I observe how Adorno and Arendt present us with very different ways of understanding radical evil as an expression of the modern project of acceleration. This divergence presents us with a problematic which does not fit easily into the framework of the contemporary post-metaphysical engagement with evil. The latter projects a relational, non-substantive concept of (...) evil addressed under the order of collective memory and against the background of a normatively neutralized order of history. Yet I show, by tracing the continuities and discontinuities which exist between Arendt and Adorno’s conceptualizing of radical evil, on the one hand, and the different elements of this contemporary engagement, on the other, how the initial problematic is symptomatic of a continuing investment in history and can only be addressed in terms of such an investment. This investment is the product of a dynamic between history and memory, informing the work of both thinkers, which partially intersects with the Hegelian strategy of theodicy. I thus conclude with a consideration of whether certain aspects of the latter should be rehabilitated. (shrink)
In this chapter I show that it is possible to interpret an important group of postmodern texts as presenting intellectual and practical challenges with a specific focus that is worth the serious attention of everyone interested in politics. My interpretation shows that a certain strand of postmodern thought is not only consonant with a liberal democratic political morality, but also modifies and extends it in an eminently desirable direction. Such an interpretation has become possible because a significant consensus has emerged (...) from the writings of prominent commentators and participants in the debates about postmodernism. I reconstruct this emerging consensus by referring specifically to the contribution of these postmodern texts to politics, thus leaving aside its possible contribution to the arts and sciences. I start by giving an exposition of a new understanding of modernity that has been brought about by the debates on modernity / postmodernism. Then I characterize the postmodern political condition by describing those changes in contemporary modern societies that stimulate and facilitate the development and growth of postmodernism. The next section provides an interpretation of the political philosophy contained in the work of prominent postmodern thinkers such as Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard and Jencks. In this overview I show that an emphasis on the importance of heterogeneity and otherness unifies the diverse contributions of these postmodernists to political philosophy. I conclude the article by drawing some implications for politics in places like South Africa, from the insights I judge postmodernism provides to political philosophy in general. (shrink)
If personhood is the quality or condition of being an individual person, brainhood could name the quality or condition of being a brain. This ontological quality would define the `cerebral subject' that has, at least in industrialized and highly medicalized societies, gained numerous social inscriptions since the mid-20th century. This article explores the historical development of brainhood. It suggests that the brain is necessarily the location of the `modern self', and that, consequently, the cerebral subject is the anthropological figure inherent (...) to modernity (at least insofar as modernity gives supreme value to the individual as autonomous agent of choice and initiative). It further argues that the ideology of brainhood impelled neuroscientific investigation much more than it resulted from it, and sketches how an expanding constellation of neurocultural discourses and practices embodies and sustains that ideology. (shrink)
The first major reassessment of the Western Enlightenment for a generation. Continuing the story he began in Radical Enlightenment, Jonathan Israel now focuses on the first half of the eighteenth century. He traces to their roots the core principles of Western modernity: the primacy of reason, democracy, racial equality, feminism, religious toleration, sexual emancipation, and freedom of expression.
Exhuming the long-buried religious roots of our ostensibly godless age, Michael Allen Gillespie reveals in this landmark study that modernity is much less secular than conventional wisdom suggests. Taking as his starting point the collapse of the medieval world, Gillespie argues that from the very beginning moderns sought not to eliminate religion but to support a new view of religion and its place in human life—and that they did so not out of hostility but in order to sustain certain (...) religious beliefs. He goes on to explore the ideas of such figures as William of Ockham, Petrarch, Erasmus, Luther, Descartes, and Hobbes, showing that modernity is best understood as a series of attempts to formulate a new and coherent metaphysics or theology. We’re still trying, Gillespie contends, to resolve the tensions inherent in our ideas of God, man, and nature—tensions that arose in the late Middle Ages during a titanic struggle between contradictory elements within Christianity. In the end, Gillespie shows that understanding modernity’s continuing entanglement with Christian metaphysics is crucial to comprehending the hidden possibilities of our confrontation with radical Islam and with the dualistic elements of our own tradition. (shrink)
Kwame Gyekye offers a philosophical interpretation and critical analysis of the African cultural experience in modern times. Critically employing Western political and philosophical concepts to clear, comparative advantage, Gyekye addresses a wide range of concrete problems afflicting postcolonial African states, such as ethnicity and nation-building, the relationship of tradition to modernity, the nature of political authority and political legitimation, political corruption, and the threat to traditional moral and social values, practices, and institutions in the wake of rapid social change.