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Jeffrey M. Zacks, Trevor Ponech, Jane Stadler, and Malcolm Turvey

Gallese, Vittorio, and Michele Guerra. The Empathic Screen: Cinema and Neuroscience. Trans. Frances Anderson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, 272 pp., $45.00, ISBN: 9780198793533.

Rawls, Christina, Diana Neiva, and Steven S. Gouveia, eds. Philosophy and Film: Bridging Divides. New York: Routledge, 2019, 389 pp., $160 (hardback), ISBN: 978-1-138-35169-1.

Moss-Wellington, Wyatt. Narrative Humanism: Kindness and Complexity in Fiction and Film. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019, 256 pp., $29.95 (paperback), ISBN: 9781474454322.

Perez, Gilberto. The Eloquent Screen. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019, 448 pp., $29.95, ISBN: 978-0-8166-4133-8.

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Rikki Dean, Jean-Paul Gagnon, and Hans Asenbaum

What is democratic theory? The question is surprisingly infrequently posed. Indeed, the last time this precise question appears in the academic archive was exactly forty years ago, in James Alfred Pennock’s (1979) book Democratic Political Theory. This is an odd discursive silence not observable in other closely aligned fields of thought such as political theory, political science, social theory, philosophy, economic theory, and public policy/administration – each of which have asked the “what is” question of themselves on regular occasion. The premise of this special issue is, therefore, to pose the question anew and break this forty-year silence.

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Derek Robbins

The title rightly suggests that I shall be attempting to give a view of Bourdieu’s perception of Durkheim. I shall not try to judge whether Bourdieu’s perception of Durkheim was correct, nor shall I seek to compare the validity of the positions adopted by Durkheim and Bourdieu. Instead, I shall concentrate on the general context of Bourdieu’s view of Durkheim and focus on Bourdieu’s references to Durkheim in two important texts – the first is an article entitled ‘Sociology and Philosophy in France since 1945: death and resurrection of a philosophy without subject’, published in Social Research in 1967, and the second a book published in 1968 with the title: Le métier de sociologue. It should also be noted that the article was written in collaboration with Jean-Claude Passeron and the book was written in collaboration with Jean-Claude Chamboredon as well as Jean-Claude Passeron (referred to throughout as Bourdieu et al.). I focus on Bourdieu’s view of Durkheim’s work, but one of the points which will become clear is that Bourdieu found it difficult to dissociate his judgement of Durkheim’s intellectual endeavour from his view of Durkheim’s social significance and from his view of the adverse influence of the Durkheimians. I shall make two asides which will suggest ways in which it is clear that the development of Bourdieu’s thinking and career was affected by the consequences of Durkheim’s influence rather more than by the substance of his writing.

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Paul Voice

Political philosophy has been under the sway of a certain picture since Rawls’s A Theory of Justice was published in 1971. This picture combines the idea that the problem of justice should be approached from the direction of ideal normative theory, and that there are some anchoring ideas that secure the justificatory role of a hypothetical agreement. I think this picture and the hold it has over political philosophy is beginning to fragment. This fragmentation I think is most evident in the skepticism that has become a routine response to the Kantian idea that ‘we’ can ‘discover’ the terms of an agreement that has both a categorical force and a universal scope. But as the picture fragments we are still left with the framework and vocabulary of Rawls’s difficult and elaborate theory. The major difficulty confronting the Rawlsian project (the problem of pluralism as I will argue below) is itself defined in terms of Rawls’s conceptual language. And this serves only to obscure the real challenge and keep us ‘bewitched’ by Rawls’s narrow way of seeing issues. In being bewitched in this way we do not see that the problem of pluralism confronts Rawls’s project as a whole, rather than requiring adjustments and accommodations.

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Amanda Golby, Laura Janner Klausner, Charles Middleburgh, Jeff Newman, Walter Rothschild, Michael Shire, and Daniel J. Lasker

Langham, Raphael, 250 Years of Convention and Contention: a History of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1760-2010, London, Vallentine Mitchell, 2010, 320 pp., ISBN 978-0853039822.

Kahn-Harris, Keith and Gidley, Ben, Turbulent Times: the British Jewish community today, London, Continuum, 2011, 248 pp., ISBN 978-1847144768.

Blue, Lionel, The Godseeker’s Guide, London, New York, Continuum, 2010, 186 pp., ISBN 978-1847-06418-9.

Gryn, Naomi (ed.), Three Minutes of Hope. Hugo Gryn on the God Slot, London, New York, Continuum, 2010, 270 pp., ISBN 978-1-4411-4035-7.

Hoelting, Kurt, The Circumference of Home: One Man’s Yearlong Quest for a Radically Local Life, Cambridge MA, Da Capo Press, 2010, 356pp., ISBN 978-1458758880.

Sznaider, Natan, Jewish Memory and the Cosmopolitan Order, Cambridge, Polity Press, 2011, 205 pp., ISBN 978-0-7456-4796-8.

Gigliotti, Simione, The Train Journey, New York and Oxford, Berghahn Books, 2009, 244 pp., ISBN 978-1-57181-268-1.

Jospe, Raphael, Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Boston, Academic Studies Press, 2009, $65/$33, 620 pp., ISBN 978-1-934843-09-3/978-1-934843-27-7.

Rynhold, Daniel, An Introduction to Medieval Jewish Philosophy, London/ New York, I.B. Tauris, 2009, £49.50/£16.99, 272 pp., ISBN 978-1-845117- 47-4/978-1-845117-48-1.

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Hollie MacKenzie and Iain MacKanzie

In this article we focus on the potential for an alignment of certain feminist artistic practices and poststructuralist conceptions of critique that may enable ways of theorizing practices of resistance and engender ways of practicing resistance in theory, without the lurch back into masculinist forms of dogmatism. It will be claimed that an ontological conception of art, considered as that which makes a difference in the world, can not only challenge the primacy of the dogmatic and masculine ‘subject who judges’, but also instill ways of thinking about, and ways of enacting, feminist artistic encounters with the capacity to resist dogmatism. The theoretical stakes of this claim are elaborated through complimentary readings of Deleuze and Guattari’s constructivist account of philosophy and Irigaray’s feminist explorations of what it means to think from within the 'labial', rather than from the position of the dominant phallic symbolic order. We argue that this creative conjunction between Irigaray, Deleuze, and Guattari provides the resources for a conceptualisation of both feminist artistic practice and the critical practice of poststructuralist philosophy as forms of resistance to the dominant patriarchal order, in ways that can avoid the collapse back into masculinist forms of dogmatism. Revel’s discussion of the role of constituent rather than constituted forms of resistance is employed to draw out the implications of this position for contentious politics. It is concluded that constituent practices of resistance can be understood as a challenge to the phallogocentric symbolic order to the extent that they are practices of a labial art-politics.

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Promises Unspoken

A Wittgensteinian Response to the Very Idea of a Social Contract

Anthony Holiday

In the ordinary way, we all know very well what a contract is. It is a mutual undertaking or promise by two or more parties to do or refrain from doing something or another. Such promises may be made verbally, by means of gestures, or expressed in writing, but they must be expressed or else the contract is not merely null and void, but nonexistent. There is no such thing as an inaudible and invisible contract. To think otherwise is to mistake metaphorical for literal language. Yet the history of political philosophy from the 17th century until the present day has been dominated by the idea of a contract to which no persons living or dead ever affixed a signature or so much as nodded assent; a promise binding on the whole of civilised humankind, on which are thought to rest the complementary edifices of civil society and the state.

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Carolyn Nordstrom

An explosion in a war zone, no matter how localized and remote to the rest of the world, constitutes a crisis that has dangerous global repercussions. Using Alain Badiou's philosophy of multiplicities to track these repercussions, this article explores international profiteering and extra-legal commodities transfers; forced labor and enforced inequalities; dereliction in providing social, civil, and humanitarian services; and institutionalized injustices that coalesce in war and radiate worldwide. While the politics and economics of these systems of inequality seem to confer power on those who control them (generally, cosmopolitan industrial centers), this article suggests these are loci of vulnerability—`fracture zones'—that, under pressure (e.g., conflict, market crashes, natural disasters), leave even peacetime countries susceptible to collapse.

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The first issue of volume four of Sartre Studies International exemplifies the full range of Sartre’s intellectual output: literary, philosophical and political. Three articles by Colin Davis, Edward Greenwood and Paul Reed are centred on the multiple interactions in Sartre’s work between philosophy and literature. In a penetrating analysis of Sartre’s Le Mur, Colin Davis explores the complex relationship between ethics and fiction, between Moral Law and jouissance. ‘The lie of Sartre’s narrator in “Le Mur”’, contends Davis, ‘represents a way of sharing the pain of his/her powerlessness and mortality’, and is coincidental with ‘an assault through fiction on the reader whose power to judge and comprehend is wrested away’.

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Sonia R. Kruks

“I think that to watch others in their solitude grappling with what comes to them, making it into themselves, and giving it back to the world as something that was not there before is to see the very image of what each of us is. It is to experience the least common denominator of our inwardness” (xvi). These observations, drawn from the “apologia” with which Hazel Barnes begins her venture, encapsulate her vision of existentialism, as well as her views on the purposes of autobiography and literature more broadly. Her vision is, of course, indebted to the philosophy of Sartre, but is not identical to his. For Barnes gives Sartre’s existentialism back to the world with her own distinctive mark on it, as less agonistic and more concerned with human connectivity.