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Cat Moir

This article argues that G. E. Lessing should be viewed as one of the German Enlightenment’s foremost thinkers of peace alongside his contemporary Immanuel Kant, whose contribution to thinking peace in the eighteenth century is already well recognised. It makes this case by examining two of Lessing’s late works: the 1779 drama Nathan the Wise and the 1780 essay The Education of the Human Race. The dialogue between faith and reason characteristic of Enlightenment discourse is at the heart of both texts, but here it is argued that peace is a crucial third moment. While in Nathan Lessing asserts the need to find peace between the forces of faith and reason in a literary register, in the Education essay he does so in a more explicitly theoretical mode.

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From Security to Peace and Concord

The Building of a Free Commonwealth in Spinoza's <em>Political Treatise</em>

Stefano Visentin

The aim of this article is to discuss how Spinoza’s Theological- Political Treatise and Political Treatise deal with the development of a free and pacific commonwealth, taking into account both a comparison with the irenic tradition of Erasmus and the original position of Spinoza’s republicanism within the Dutch context of that period. To approach this issue, comparing Spinoza’s idea of security with the Hobbesian one can also be useful in order to demonstrate that security and freedom are not antithetical in Spinoza (differently from Hobbes) but rather support each other. Consequently, the role of peace and concord within the Political Treatise shall be considered the result of a collective self-emendation process of social interactions and political institutions. In this perspective, Spinoza’s concept of peace seems a very original attempt to build a free political community, where democratic institutions are both the cause and effect of pacific (i.e., rational and harmonious, although not necessarily irenic) relationships among citizens.

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Richard A. Lee Jr.

In Defensor Pacis Marsilius of Padua grounds the legitimacy of the kingdom, or the state (civitas), on the peace that rule provides the citizens. Looking at Aristotle’s claim that the civitas strives to be like an animal in which all parts in the right proportion for the sake of health, Marsilius argues that ‘the parts of the kingdom or state will be well disposed for the sake of peace [tranquilitas].’ Marsilius goes on to define peace as the agreeable ‘belonging together’ of all members of the kingdom or the state. In this way, Marsilius moves away from a theological ground of the legitimacy of the state towards one that is entirely secular. However, the ground is an unstable one in that it acknowledges the fact that the ‘members’ of the body politic are characterised by difference. As such, the ground of legitimate authority will be characterised as much by force as by peace or by the relation of force to peace.

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Andrew Benjamin and Francesco Borghesi

This special issue arose from a workshop on “Peace and Concord from Plato to Lessing”, organised by the editors and which took place at the University of Sydney on 18 and 19 September 2017. Central to the work of both the editors is the relationship between the concepts of ‘concord’, ‘peace’ and ‘dignity’ within a setting created by a concern with the development of a philological anthropology. Their work combines both intellectual history and philosophy, a combination that is reflected in the contents of the special issue of Theoria. The importance of these terms is that they allow for another interpretation of the ethical and the political. Central to both is the location of human being within a larger cultural context. That context demands an approach in which philosophy does not exclude history, and history recognises that it is already informed philosophically. If there is a unifying term, it is ‘culture’. The approach taken within the larger project starts with the centrality of culture as that which demands to be thought. And yet culture is neither tranquil nor unified. As Walter Benjamin argued, there ‘is no document of culture which is not at the same time a document of barbarism’. Allowing for culture’s centrality entails a reconfiguration of both philosophy and intellectual history.

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Daniel Canaris

A persistent feature in Jesuit reports about the late Ming and early Qing was the notion that an enduring peace and concord pervaded the Chinese political system. Although the Jesuits did not invent this association, which was rooted in Greco-Roman historiography, the Jesuit encyclopaedist Antonio Possevino (1533–1611) was the first to link the ‘perpetual peace’ (perpetua pax) and ‘supreme concord’ (summa concordia) of the Chinese state to the Confucian intellectual tradition. As the Jesuits’ missionary strategy developed under the tutelage of Matteo Ricci (1552–1610), ‘public peace’ (pax publica) and ‘the calm of the Republic’ (Republica quies) came to be perceived as the ultimate purpose of the Confucian precepts and one of the hinges on which the aims of Christianity, Confucianism and natural law can be reconciled. The supreme expression of the link between Confucianism and peace can be found in the Confucius Sinarum philosophus (1687), which presented for the first time an accessible translation of three of the four Confucian classics. Yet while retaining the view that pre-Qin Confucianism espoused peace as a central political aim, the Confucius Sinarum philosophus challenged the view that contemporary China could be regarded as a utopic actualization of Confucian peace. This paper will discuss this shift as an attempt to coopt the Chinese political experience as an argument against the pragmatic political philosophy known as ‘reason of state’, which was perceived by Jesuit thinkers as atheistic and immoral.

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Plato's Conception of Peace

A Preliminary Exploration

Rick Benitez

This article examines some of the ways in which Plato conveys a concern with peace and what conceptions of peace he has a concern with. I first consider Plato’s attitude to war (πόλεμος) and its conventional opposite, peace (εἰρήνη). In this context we find very little concern with peace at all and, by contrast, a somewhat disturbing emphasis on the importance of war. However, if we turn from war to a different type of conflict, faction (στάσις), we find a distinct difference. Plato considers faction unproductive because of the internal divisions it sustains. Yet Plato does not specifically call the opposite of faction ‘peace’; instead, he uses terms that have different extensions for us, such as δικαιοσύνη (‘justice’). Nevertheless, it is possible to outline a positive Platonic conception of peace by tabling a set a of peace-related terms. I distinguish three categories of terms that describe (1) conditions of peace (or negative peace), (2) dispositions of peacefulness, and (3) relations of peace, where such relations result from the expression of peaceful dispositions. My examination suggests that positive peace, for Plato, is founded on the unity and integrity of character. Only when individuals are at peace with themselves can peace within society be achieved.

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Rights and Duties in Menkiti

A Response to Masaka's Objection of Menkiti

Vitumbiko Nyirenda

Dennis Masaka argues that individuals have rights outside those conferred by the community. The argument is a critique to Ifeanyi Menkiti’s view of personhood. He argues that Menkiti uses the word person and personhood as synonymous. Masaka makes a distinction between the two, where person is an ontological concept, and personhood is a normative concept. For Masaka, individuals have rights by virtue of being persons and not personhood. My approach to the paper is therapeutic. I argue that Masaka misinterprets Menkiti’s views. I argue that Menkiti does not allocate rights in his idea of personhood and as something conferred by the community as proposed by Masaka. This implies that Masaka’s view is not radically different from Menkiti’s.

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Who Were the Faithful?

Nicholas of Cusa's <em>De Pace Fidei</em>

Andrew Benjamin

The aim of this paper, which more generally is a contribution to political theology, is to show in what way the conception of peace in Nicholas of Cusa’s De Pace Fidei is dependent upon a specific philosophical anthropology. Within it any link between human being and law is replaced by the subject of faith. Central to the argument is demonstrating the ways in which this anthropological position is necessarily interarticulated with the larger metaphysical positions that are advanced across a range of Cusanus’ texts.

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Bongani Nyoka

This article attempts a preliminary discussion of the three clusters of Archie Mafeje’s work. While Mafeje called for ‘non-disciplinarity’, as against ‘interdisciplinarity’ or ‘disciplinarity’, this article makes a case for why he should be read as a revolutionary sociologist. In so doing, the article pieces together some of the key elements of his oeuvre. The article consists of four main parts. The first part provides some background and contextualises this article. The second part deals with Mafeje’s programmatic critique of the discipline of anthropology and other social sciences. The third part discusses his work on land and agrarian issues in sub-Saharan Africa. The last section focuses on his work on revolutionary theory and politics, with specific reference to his assessment of the responsibility of the African intellectual.

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Samuel Kahn

In this article I defend the traditional interpretations of Kant’s Formula of a Law of Nature from recent attacks levelled by Faviola Rivera-Castro, James Furner, Ido Geiger, Pauline Kleingeld and Sven Nyholm. After a short introduction, the article is divided into four main sections. In the first, I set out the basics of the three traditional interpretations, the Logical Contradiction Interpretation, the Practical Contradiction Interpretation and the Teleological Contradiction Interpretation. In the second, I examine the work of Geiger, Kleingeld and Nyholm: these three commentators reject the traditional interpretations entirely, but I argue that this rejection is ill-founded. In the third and fourth, I take a detailed look at Furner’s work, work in which he seeks to revise (rather than reject) the traditional interpretations. I argue that, despite his more modest aims, Furner’s revision is also ill-founded.