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Pascal on Happiness

Diversion, Pleasure and the Good

Michael Moriarty

Abstract

Pascal sees happiness (bonheur) as the ultimate goal of all human activity, but argues that experience shows it to be unattainable; our underlying condition is unhappiness. In the immediate, he argues, human activities are forms of diversion or distraction, by which we seek to screen from ourselves our unhappiness and mortality and to gratify our vanity. This analysis omits the role of pleasure, which he elsewhere identifies as the motive force of all volition. In order to reconcile this anomaly, we need to distinguish between the motive of our actions, the ultimate end they have in view, and the Supreme Good. The motive of our actions is pleasure, their ultimate end happiness, and the Supreme Good God, in union with whom authentic happiness consists.

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Lena Steveker

Abstract

In this article, I discuss Richard Brome's tragicomedy The Queen and Concubine (1635–1636), focusing on how the play reflects the iconography of Charles I as well as Stuart ideals of statecraft. I argue that the play's representation of a royal ruler in a pastoral setting draws on Van Dyck's portraiture and on Charles I's masques, as well as on Lipsius's political concept of ‘love’. I claim that the play promotes a ‘politics of happiness’ which affirms the Caroline ideology of royal rule. My reading of Brome's play aims at furthering the critical understanding of the cultural and political concerns shared by court drama and drama written for the commercial theatre in the Caroline period.

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‘At the Mercy of the German Eagle’

Images of London in Dissolution in the Novels of William Le Queux

Antony Taylor

Abstract

In the years before 1914 the novels of William Le Queux provided a catalyst for British debates about the economic, military and political failures of the empire and featured plots that embodied fears about new national and imperial rivals. For Le Queux, the capture of London was integral to German military occupation. Representative of the nation's will to resist, or its inability to withstand attack, the vitality of London was always at issue in his novels. Drawing on contemporary fears about the capital and its decay, this article considers the moral panics about London and Londoners and their relationship to Britain's martial decline reflected in his stories. Engaging with images of anarchist and foreign terrorism, and drawing on fears of covert espionage rings operating in government circles, this article probes the ways in which Le Queux's fiction expressed concerns about London as a degenerate metropolis in the process of social and moral collapse.

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Ronald E. Santoni

Abstract

I have two aims: to analyze Jonathan Webber's analysis of bad faith and compare it to my own, traditional, account and to show that Webber's focus on character, as a set of dispositions or character traits that incline but do not determine us to view the world and behave in certain ways, contributes further to understanding Sartre's ‘bad faith’. Most Sartre scholars have ignored any emphasis on ‘character’. What is distinctive and emphatic in Webber's interpretation is his insistence ‘on bad faith’ as a ‘social disease’ distorting the way one views, interprets, and even thinks about the world. (Matt Eshleman also moves in this direction). But, again, this pattern is not deterministic. Early in his work, Webber tells us that Sartre does not claim that we have bad faith by ‘ascribing character traits where there are none but by pretending to ourselves that we have ‘fixed natures’ that e.g. preclude the behaviour or character trait of which one is being accused.

Though hardly disagreeing radically with Webber (or he with me) I do offer critical considerations. While Webber focuses on character, I focus on Sartre's contention that the ‘most basic’ or ‘first act’ of bad faith is ‘to flee from what [the human being] cannot flee, from what it is’, specifically human freedom. And I disagree partially with Webber's articulation of the ‘spirit of seriousness’, and strongly with both Sartre's and his supporting claim that bad faith cannot be cynical. I also demur from Webber's overemphasis on the ‘social’. For me, the root of all bad faith is our primitive ontological condition; namely, that at its very ‘upsurge’, human reality, anguished by its ‘reflective apprehension’ of its freedom and lack of Being, is disposed to flee from its nothingness in pursuit of identity, substantiality - in short, Being.

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Liesbeth Schoonheim

Kate Kirkpatrick, Becoming Beauvoir: A Life (London: Bloomsbury, 2019), xiv +476 pp. ISBN: 9781–350–04717–4

Simone de Beauvoir, Diary of a Philosophy Student: Volume 2, 1928–29. The Beauvoir Series. Edited by Barbara Klaw, Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir, Margaret Simons, and Marybeth Timmerman; translated by Barbara Klaw; series edited by Margaret Simons and Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019), xii +374 pp. ISBN: 978–0-252–04254–6

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Book Reviews

On 20th Century Revolutionary Socialism, from Poland to Peru and beyond

Jean-Numa Ducange, Camila Vergara, Talat Ahmed, and Christian Høgsbjerg

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Kyle Michael James Shuttleworth and Nik Farrell Fox

George Pattison and Kate Kirkpatrick, The Mystical Sources of Existentialist Thought: Being, Nothingness, Love (New York: Routledge, 2019) 228 pp., ISBN-13: 978-1138092372 (hardback)

Oliver Davis and Colin Davis, eds, Freedom and the Subject of Theory: Essays in Honour of Christina Howells (Cambridge: Legenda, 2019) vii +216 pp. ISBN: 978-178188-7332 (hardback)

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Decolonising Borders

Re-imagining Strangeness and Spaces

John Sodiq Sanni

Abstract

This paper seeks to address the problem of strangeness within the context of migration in Africa. I draw on historical realities that inform existing international and African discourses on migration. I hope to show that most African countries have unconsciously bought into international arguments that drive the legitimacy of building walls, visible and invisible, and the promotion of stringent migration policies that minimise the influx of African immigrants. I draw on political and philosophical positions of African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, among others, in my theorisation of strangeness and the need to dispel the potential negative conception of strangeness within Africa's migration policies. I juxtapose these positions with Western political theories with the hope of emphasizing African humanism as a key conception worth considering when decolonising borders.

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John Gillespie and Katherine Morris

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Gauging the Propagandist's Talents

William Le Queux's Dubious Place in Literary History: Part Two

A. Michael Matin

Abstract

Shortly after the outbreak of World War One, Charles Masterman was appointed by Prime Minister Asquith to oversee a covert literary propaganda campaign in support of the British war effort. Although William Le Queux had been one of the most prominent British anti-German writers during the prewar years, he was not recruited for this governmental endeavour that included many of the nation's best-known writers. Nonetheless, he continued on his own to publish anti-German propaganda throughout the war. These two articles assess Le Queux's national security-oriented writings within that broader context, and they offer a methodology for gauging the potential efficacy of such texts based on recent developments in the field of risk-perception studies. Part One (published in Part I of this issue) provides a historical and methodological foundation for both articles and assesses a number of Le Queux's pre-1914 works. Part Two examines Le Queux's career and writings from 1914 through to his death in 1927.