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Échange, don, réciprocité

l'acte de 'donner' chez Simmel et Durkheim

Luca Guizzardi and Luca Martignani

This focuses on a key topic for comparison of two masters of sociological thought, Georg Simmel and Émile Durkheim: the question of giving in the context of social exchange. Durkheim deals with the issue in introducing the concept of organic solidarity, based on the division of social labour and implying the interdependence of individuals. This representation of solidarity links with the interest in credit and debt relations in Simmel's philosophy of money and with a perspective in which reciprocity is conceived as one of the main sociological functions involved in the representation of social bonds. After a comparison of Durkheim and Simmel's theories of reciprocity, a specific case discussed is the mortgage, conceived as a paradigm of the shape assumed by the immaterial reality of reciprocity in institutional and everyday life.

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Matthieu Béra

This article explores the significance of recently discovered records of Durkheim's university library loans during his time at Bordeaux. After introducing and explaining the nature of these records, and presenting various quantitative and qualitative issues raised by them, the article concentrates on understanding Durkheim's loans through tracking the different main uses he made of them. This first involves their role in his publications, but is then above all a concern with how they fed into his lectures. Discussion starts with his courses in sociology, moves on to those in education and psychology, and finishes with his preparation of students for an examination in philosophy (the agrégation). Although a few of Durkheim's courses survive, his library loans are a way to throw light on lectures that mostly seem lost forever.

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Albert H. Friedlander

Dorothee Soelle was scheduled to speak at four events at the 2003 Ecumenical Kirchentag in Berlin. Sadly, she died shortly beforehand, in the midst of a lecture. It was hard to come to terms with a conference that did not include this Socratic gadfly who challenged all her contemporaries. In my London study, I collected books written by her from the various subject shelves – sixteen books, moving across theology, philosophy, social ethics, poetry and other categories. On occasions, she permitted me to publish (and translate) some of her writings in European Judaism. At the Leo Baeck College – Centre for Jewish Education, I find some of her books indispensable for the instruction of rabbis: Suffering, The Onward Journey, Dialogues of the Night in the Church, In the House of the Man-eater, Sympathy and others. But at least the books are here, in my library. Dorothee is not here, and that is a great loss in our lives.

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This edition of Theoria brings contributions that engage, provocatively, with an unusually wide range of issues. They include reflections on Wittgenstein’s Lecture on Ethics, an exploration of the concept of trust in Locke’s thought, an account of Ellen Meiksins Wood’s pioneering contribution to the recasting of political thought, and an essay concerned to revisit and re-assert the importance of Noam Chomsky’s thought with respect to the articulation of a principled socialist politics. They include, too, reflections on J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K and Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah, a critical examination of aspects of Nancy Cartwright’s seminal contributions to the philosophy of science, and conclude with a critique of the case made for ‘illiberal democracy’ in the context of economic modernisation.

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Truth and Social Relations

Durkheim and the Critique of Pragmatism

Sue Stedman Jones

Durkheim's lecture course Pragmatisme et sociologie was given in 1913-14, and thus counts amongst the last of his works. It is interesting, not just for this reason, but because here we encounter Durkheim, less in his characteristic empirical sociological mode and more as a philosopher. Here we find him engaging in a logical attack on what was then a popular movement of philosophy and debating the logical issues arising out of pragmatism. William James and the movement of pragmatism had a huge prestige on the European continent and a great influence after the turn of the century and shared a cult of admiration with Bergson (Stuart Hughes 1958:112). Durkheim challenged this on a philosophical level and found what he held to be its weakest point—the question of truth.

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Claire Sutherland

This special issue sets out to examine aspects of German politics, philosophy,

and society through the multifaceted lens of cosmopolitanism. A complex

and contested concept, cosmopolitanism has particularly important

implications for the study of contemporary nation-states, as conventional

understandings of bounded territory and sovereignty are reassessed in the

context of globalization, migration and transnationalism. Accordingly, this

introduction aims to outline several key strands of cosmopolitan thought

with reference both to contemporary Germany and the wider global conjuncture,

in order to provide a conceptual framework for the articles that

follow. It begins by briefly placing cosmopolitanism in the context of the

evolving concepts of German Heimat (homeland) and nation, because contemporary

cosmopolitanism can only be fully understood in relation to

nationalism. It then looks at the relevance of methodological, political and

ethical cosmopolitanism for the study of nation-states today, before introducing

the five articles in the special issue.

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Editorial

African Philosophy and Rights

Motsamai Molefe and Chris Allsobrook

A useful way to approach the discourse of rights in African philosophy is in terms of Kwasi Wiredu’s (1996) distinction between cultural particulars and universals. According to Wiredu, cultural particulars are contingent and context-dependent. They fail to hold in all circumstances and for everyone (Wiredu 2005). Cultural universals are transcultural or objective (Wiredu 2005). Examples of cultural particulars include dress styles, religious rituals, social etiquette and so on. One example of a cultural universal is the norm of truth. One may imagine a society with different methods of greeting, dress, and raising children, but one cannot imagine a robust society which rejects the norm of truth as the basis of social practices.

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Introduction

Anthropology and the radical philosophy of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt

Ara Wilson

The trilogy by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000), Multitude (2004), and Commonwealth (2009), is among the major works of political theory to emerge in this century, with specific relevance for anthropological analyses of global power. This introduction provides a synthetic overview of the conflicted encounter between anthropologists (John Kelly, Aihwa Ong, Anna Tsing, and Sylvia Yanagisako) and Hardt and Negri's vision that is staged in this thematic cluster of Focaal. It reviews the anthropologists' three main critiques of the Empire trilogy, the analysis of state and labor, the scale of analysis, and the ethics of global theorizing, which point to an apparent disciplinary rift between global ethnography and radical philosophy. This disciplinary rift is itself characterized differently by anthropologists and Michael Hardt, which I suggest results from different modalities for depicting social dynamics.

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Interpretation and Rationality

Developing Donald Davidson’s Ideas in International Political Theory

Nikolay Gudalov

Although influential in philosophy and relevant to international political theory’s (IPT) key concerns, Donald Davidson has not received commensurate attention in IPT. I aim here to commence filling this gap. I explore Davidson’s insights which fruitfully challenge established disciplinary views. The notions of rationality, objectivity and truth, and, on the other hand, those of intersubjectivity, language and interpretation are often needlessly separated and constricted by seemingly alternative approaches. Davidson firmly reconnects these notions. He helps rethink the realist, strong post-positivist, but also liberal, ‘thin’ constructivist and critical (not thoroughly contextualist) approaches. He bridges the normative cosmopolitan–communitarian distinction. Eventually, Davidson laid foundations for a perspective foregrounding possibilities for rational communication and agreement between very different contexts and also for the non-dogmatic, pluralist and dynamic nature of communication itself.

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Agency and the Anstoß

Max Planck Directors as Fichtean Subjects

Vita Peacock

One of the core assumptions in agency theory has been that agency is a primordial attribute of persons: an agent is 'the origin of causal events'. However, rather than situating agency at the origin, this article argues that we should a end to where agency, within a given context, itself originates. In Germany's Max Planck Society the departmental heads – so-called 'directors' – possess a significant degree of 'agency' in realizing their personal will. Yet they are not its authors. On the contrary their agency is a secondary product of the philosophies of German Idealism, which eulogize the subjectivity of a heroic intellectual. In this analysis, the agency of the directors is not a precondition of their humanity, but the off spring of a specific cultural inheritance which frames the organization's intramural life. Organizational theorists should thus pay close attention to the geo-cultural location of their object before drawing conclusions about agency.