My aim in this presentation is to offer some reflections concerning the kind of public sphere that a vibrant democratic society requires. I want to scrutinize the dominant discourse which announces the “end of the adversarial model of politics” and the need to go beyond left and right towards a consensual politics of the centre. The thesis that I want to put forward is that, contrary to what its defenders argue, this type of discourse has very negative consequences for democratic politics. Indeed it has contributed to the weakening of the “democratic political public sphere”, and it has led to the increasing dominance of juridical and moral discourse, dominance which I take to be inimical to democracy. I submit that the increasing moralization and juridification of politics, far from being seen as progress, a further step in the development of democracy, should be envisaged as a threat for its future.
Climate action is conventionally framed in terms of overcoming epistemic and practical disagreement. An alternative view is to treat people’s understandings of climate change as fundamentally pluralistic and to conceive of climate action accordingly. This paper explores this latter perspective through a framework of philosophical psychology, in particular Bernard Williams’s distinction between internal and external reasons. This illuminates why the IPCC’s framework of ‘Reasons for Concern’ has an inefficacious relationship to people’s concerns and, hence, why additional reason giving is required. Accordingly, this paper recommends a model of truthful persuasion, which acknowledges the plurality of people’s motivations and sincerely strives to connect the facts of climate change to people’s subjective motivational sets.
Entangled Encounters of Europe and Islam in the Age of Enlightenment
The relationship of the European Enlightenment to Islam has usually been analyzed by collating “attitudes” toward a religion conceived as constitutively non-European. Enlightenment thinkers made use of Islam and other major revealed religions to relativize and to mock the claims of the Christian church. However, the notion of Islam as irredeemably “other” to Europe is a modern projection. Many eighteenth-century people passed back and forth between Europe and lands dominated by Islam, changing their identity, language, or religion, seeking refuge or a reversal of fortunes. One such figure was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father, Isaac. Rousseau was marked in multiple ways by the mobility between Europe and the Muslim world, and by the new ideas these crossings engendered. This study of Rousseau's treatment of Islam and the Islamic world in his life and work proposes another model for thinking about Europe and Islam in the Age of Enlightenment.
The Denial of Jewish Messianism in Freud and Durkheim
This essay presents a reading of the work of two central figures of modern social theory that locates their work within not simply mainstream Jewish thought, but a particular Hasidic tradition. Further, I argue that lying behind this, in a repressed form, is an even older tradition of Jewish alchemy. I make no claim to have evidence that either Freud or Durkheim were directly influenced by Hasidism or alchemy, but I examine the parallels between the structure of their thoughts and those of the two traditions. Both Freud and Durkheim display a social psychology that is analytically similar to the dualism of Hasidism's Tanya and the general transformational models of alchemy. This formal model is in opposition to the messianic tradition in Jewish thought and analyzes Freud and Durkheim as anti messianic social psychologists. Hasidism offers a template for modern theories of social psychology, social interaction and the relation between the social and the individual, that is, collective identity. This essay also considers more generally how modern social theory might make sense of contemporary social phenomena by opening itself to the messianic and mystical traditions in Jewish thought. I suggest that the social and structural transformation associated with the information or network society requires new analytic tools that allow us to explain social energy differently to the way Freud and Durkheim have guided social theory. Contemporary analyses of individualization, social movements and sacralization as forms of and reactions to alienation are inadequate. Instead, I ask whether we should not 'restore a messianic, truly utopian "lost unity", which the alchemical, secular gnosis of modern social science displaced, and so renew social theory?'
Democratic Experimentalism in the European Union
Although justification and implementation of human rights are typically dealt with as separate issues, the lines between them become particularly opaque when dealing with contested rights claims, particularly those made by immigrant groups. The relevant lessons from Europe seem to indicate that in these sorts of cases, questions of justification can become embedded in deliberative practices that lead to their greater institutional entrenchment. The heterogeneity of deliberative practices out of diverse Member State administrative contexts can be turned into an epistemic virtue when including additional perspectives that increase the likelihood of avoiding error and alleviating bias. With a focus on immigrant rights in the EU, I first give a stylized rendition of the shortcomings of three views—post-national rights theorists, liberal nationalists, and cosmopolitans. In contrast, experimentalists highlight the democratic potential of realizing rights on a pragmatic model of the Open Method of Coordination that better responds to regional problems not necessarily tied to a single site of sovereignty. Since immigrants in the EU are party to multiple overlapping political communities, the democratic justification of rights in contested cases can be directly tied to this novel institutional implementation, forging a modified social imaginary in the process for all affected actors.
From a Transcendental-Semiotic Point of View, by Karl-Otto Apel (edited by Marianna Papastephanou). Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998. Reviewed by Iain MacKenzie
Neuropolitics: Thinking, Culture, Speed, by William E. Connolly. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002. Reviewed by Duncan S.A. Bell
Liberalism and Value Pluralism, by George Crowder. London: Continuum Publishers, 2002. Liberal Pluralism: The Implications of Value Pluralism for Political Theory and Practice, by William Galston. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Reviewed by Shaun Young
Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society, by Stephan Fuchs. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001 Reviewed by Roger Deacon
The Liberal Model and Africa: Elites against Democracy, by Kenneth Good. Basingstoke. Palgrave, 2002. Reviewed by Raymond Suttner
Life Support: The Environment and Human Health, (edited by Michael McNally). Boston: MIT Press, 2002. Reviewed by Julia de Kadt
Revolt, She Said, by Julia Kristeva (translated by Brian O’Keeffe). Cambridge, Mass.: Semiotext(e), 2002. Reviewed by Clayton Crockett
Frantz Fanon: A life, by David Macey. London: Granta, 2001. Reviewed by Derek Hook
On Belief, by Slavoj Zizek. London: Routledge, 2001. Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917, edited and with a commentary by Slavoj Zizek. New York: Verso, 2002. Welcome to the Desert of the Real, by Slavoj Zizek. New York: Verso, 2002. Reviewed by Derek Hook
Feminism, AIDS, and History
In this essay, I utilize the concept of the echo, as formulated in the historical and methodological work of Michel Foucault and Joan W. Scott, to help theorize the historical relationship between health feminism and AIDS activism. I trace the echoes between health feminism and AIDS activism in order to present a more complex history of both movements, and to try to think through the ways that the coming together of these two struggles in a particular place and time—New York City in the 1980s—created particular practices that might be effective in other times and places. The practice that I focus on here is one that I call 'doing queer love'. As I hope to show, 'doing queer love' both describes a particular history of health activism and opens up the possibility of bringing into being a different future than the one a conventional history of AIDS seems to predict. It is an historical echo that I believe we must try to hear now, not just in order to challenge a particular history of AIDS activism in the United States, but also in order to provide a model that can be useful for addressing the continuing problem of AIDS across the globe.
Deleuze, Badiou, Rancière and Tahrir Square, 2011
How should one make theoretical sense of what has been called 'the miracle of Tahrir Square' – the fact that the Egyptian people successfully ousted a dictator in a peaceful manner, where militant groups had failed to do so by force? In this article it is argued that Deleuze/Guattari's notion of the subject in terms of desiring-machines, flows, schizophrenic production and the 'body-without-organs', enables one to theorise human subjectivity as being in process, and not 'self-identical', as mainstream thinking would have it. Deleuze's thought on societies of control further suggests the concept of rhizomatic lines of subversion of hegemonic networks from within the latter. Further, Alain Badiou's consonant conception of the subject – as one of multiple 'emplacements' – represents a spatial perspective on individual subjects which similarly eschews the pitfalls of an abstract notion of human subjectivity in favour of one that conceives of the subject as inescapably 'placed' in multiple spatial coordinates, as it were. In addition, Jacques Rancière's radicalisation of 'politics' in terms of 'equality' and 'dissensus' enables one to grasp the fleeting events of Tahrir Square as paradigmatic of 'true' democracy. In this way these theoretical positions provide a model that is commensurate with evidence that the 2011 Egyptian uprising avoided the trap of hierarchical thinking and practice, pursuing the goal of political liberation and (radical) democratisation along non-hierarchical, 'leaderless', complex, rhizomatic communicational networks instead. This avoided the paralysing tendency to think and behave on the basis of oppositionally conceived, mutually exclusive adversarial agencies – the 'us' and 'them' syndrome. The article explores the implications of this complex notion of subjectivity, on the one hand, in relation to the radical democratic practice displayed in Tahrir Square, on the other.
Hegel associates 'subjective' freedom with various rights, all of which concern the subject's particularity, and with the demand that this particularity be accorded proper recognition within the modern state. I show that Hegel's account of subjective freedom can be assimilated to the 'positive' model of freedom that is often attributed to him because of the way in which the objective determinations of right (Recht) recognise the subject's particularity in the form of individual welfare. To this extent, the practical constraints to which individuals are subject in the modern state are not purely external ones, and the freedom which they enjoy within it is not merely subjective in kind. In exploring the role of certain practical forms of necessity in Hegel's account of civil society I show, however, that Hegel points to the existence of a group of people, the poor, who must be thought to lack subjective freedom, because they will experience the constraints to which they are subject as purely external ones. He also suggests the existence of a form of freedom that is merely subjective in kind, because it consists in a sense of absence of constraint that fails to reflect fully the practical forms of necessity that underlie civil society and constrain an individual's actions. The importance of the concept of necessity in Hegel's Philosophy of Right, as highlighted in the paper, demonstrates, moreover, that the emphasis on freedom found in recent interpretations of Hegel's social and political philosophy needs to be counterbalanced by greater recognition of the role played in it by this concept.
The Concept of Secular Philosophical Grounding
Jaan S. Islam
nonjustified ethical model refutes itself by its very nature of unjustifiability. Thus, for an ethical model to be a viable competitor to even the most strongly opposing ideologies, it must – whether explicitly or implicitly – claim to occupy a position of