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Alexis Chabot

Translator : Ârash Aminian Tabrizi

Abstract

Atheism is at the heart of Sartre’s philosophy but also of his reflections on writing and the choice of the imaginary. Nonetheless, atheism for him is not a matter of an acquired and self-assured spiritual option. It is a struggle against the temptation of faith, a struggle which is nothing else than the aspiration to Being, to a justified existence, to the surpassing of contingency. This is why Sartre can qualify atheism as ‘cruel’. To be victorious against the illusions of necessity, against the confusion of literature and religion, atheism is a never-ending process of liquidation of the very idea of ‘Salvation’.

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Assumptions matter

Reflections on the Kanbur typology

Paul Shaffer

In contradistinction to Ravi Kanbur's (2003) summarization of a recent conference on qualitative and quantitative poverty analysis in which he proposed a typology of differences between 'qual and quant' approaches, I argue that key elements in this typology are derivative of more basic distinctions in the philosophy of social science between three research programs: empiricism/positivism, hermeneutics, and critical theory/critical hermeneutics. The point is not simply of academic interest but has practical implications for aspects of poverty analysis, including numeric transformation of data, assessment of the validity of empirical findings, and inferring policy implications from research results.

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David Rose

Sartre’s account of freedom is still widely understood as a version of metaphysical libertarianism, a doctrine which asserts that the human being is completely and unconditionally free. This prevalent reading is largely due to the influence still held by Mary Warnock’s interpretation of his early texts and her privileging of the role of anguish in his thought. The true doctrine of Sartrean philosophy is, according to this position, the idea that man is absolutely and unconditionally free and that determinism is false.

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Oili Pulkkinen

Newtonian science and mechanics left an important imprint on the Scottish Enlightenment. Even though the usage of mechanical metaphors, especially that of a “state machine” per se, were rare in Scottish philosophy, its conception of the human, animal and political bodies as mechanisms that function according to regular principles, or laws, helped to shape many of the theories that have now become popular in various fields of Scottish studies. Most research in these fields focus on the conceptions of history related to theories of economic advancement. In this article the author suggests that the theories produced in the Scottish Enlightenment were also nuanced attempts to describe how historical mechanisms operate.

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Colin Davis

‘What can one know about a man, today?’ When Sartre poses this question on the opening page of the first volume of L’Idiot de la famille, he encapsulates a huge project with teasing casualness. He brings together two of the four fundamental questions of philosophy formulated by Kant, ‘What can I know’ and ‘What is the human being’; and whilst the final word, today, indicates that our knowledge of others is bound to our own historical moment, for Sartre understanding others also necessarily entails attempting to under- stand their relation to history.

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Konstanze Baron

‘C’est dans la connaissance des conditions authentiques de notre vie qu’il nous faut puiser la force de vivre et des raisons d’agir’ states Simone de Beauvoir at the outset of her plea for an existentialist ethics in Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté. Surely, very few philosophers would disagree with her. A correct understanding of the ‘human condition’ has always been held indispensable to the formulation of any moral philosophy, and it seems all the more necessary in the context of an existentialist theory which, in denying the existence of a common human nature, places all the emphasis on the self-made aspect of human life.

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Keith Crawford

This article offers a critical exploration of social studies textbooks and allied curriculum materials used in New South Wales primary schools between 1930 and 1960, and of the way in which these texts positioned, discussed, and assessed Aboriginal Australians. With reference to European commitments to Enlightenment philosophies and social Darwinian views of race and culture, the author argues that Aboriginal peoples were essentialized via a discourse of paternalism and cultural and biological inferiority. Thus othered in narratives of Australian identity and national progress, Aboriginal Australians were ascribed a role as marginalized spectators or as a primitive and disappearing anachronism.

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Combining Intellectual History and the History of the Book

A Case Study on the Concept of Folk in Popular Literature in the Nineteenth Century

Lone Kølle Martinsen

In this article I discuss how intellectual history can be fused with the history of the book. I base this on a case study of the concept of folk (the people) in a Scandinavian, but mainly Danish context in the popular literature written between 1822 and 1836 by the Danish author B.S. Ingemann. The main argument of the article is that in studying the history of political concepts we should include not only sources of politics and philosophy (canonical works) but broadly read work (including fiction) as sources, too, along with observations about the spread and circulation of these texts.

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The Fate of Mutation

Shift , Spread, and Disjunction in a Conceptual Trajectory

Jörg Thomas Richter

Hugo de Vries’s Mutation Theory (1901–1903) fell on fertile ground in the evolutionary sciences around the year 1900. Aside from the impact it had on biology, the concept of mutation also spread into a variety of non-biological discourses, including philosophy, sociology, historiography, and philology. The article follows the trajectory of de Vries’s concept through the discursive landscapes of the early 1900s and the 1960s. From its inception in the 1900s, the cultural imagination of mutation marks a field of conceptual crossing over rather than a mere takeover from biology.

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The Grammars of 'Power'

Between Contestation and Mediation

Mark Rigstad

In light of the pragmatic aspirations of ordinary language philosophy, this essay critically examines the competing grammatical strictures that are often set forth within the theoretical discourse of 'power'. It repudiates both categorically appraisive employments of 'power' and the antithetical urge to fully operationalize the concept. It offers an attenuated defense of the thesis that 'power' is an essentially contestable concept, but rejects the notion that this linguistic fact stems from conflict between antipodal ideological paradigms. Careful attention to the ordinary pragmatics of power-language evinces the prospects for integrating various context-specific aspects of power and mediating between traditionally divergent theoretical frameworks.