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Law in Theory, Law in Practice

Legal Orientalism and French Jesuit Knowledge Production in India

Danna Agmon

Letters written by early modern missionaries played an important role in the development of global intellectual networks and inquiry into religion, language, cartography, and science. But the historical ethnography of law has not recognized the role that Jesuits played in creating the field of comparative law. This article examines the writings on law in India by the French Jesuit Jean-Venant Bouchet, who was an important source for Enlightenment philosophes and later Orientalists. It considers Bouchet’s systemic accounts of Indian law alongside his more ethnographic description of his legal encounters in South India, and argues that the practice of conversion and experiences in local legal fora determined and shaped Bouchet’s interpretation of Indian law. In other words, legal scholarship was produced in spiritual, religious, and political contexts, and cannot be abstracted from them.

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Bryan L. Moore

Early science fiction (SF) is noted for, among other things, its conservatism and lack of interest in ecology. Brian Stableford, a well-known SF writer and critic, writes that "there are very few early stories with ecological themes" (1993, 395). This article shows that, in fact, many early SF works (those written between the Enlightenment and World War II) employ ecological themes, especially as applied to questioning our anthropocentrism. These works suggest that humans are but one species among many, that we are not the end of nature/history, that the natural world may be better off without us, and, in some cases, that humanity is fated to go extinct, the result of its own hubris. Such views are undoubtedly pessimistic, yet these works may also be read as warnings for humans to seek a more humble view of ourselves as members of what Aldo Leopold calls the land community.

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Jonathan Magonet, Esther Seidel, and Evelyn Friedlander

Abraham: A Symbol of Hope for Jews, Christians and Muslims, Karl-Joseph Kuschel, London, SCM Press Ltd, 1995, £14.95. ISBN 0826408087

Moses Mendelssohn Gesammelte Schriften, Jubiläumsausgabe Bd. 22: Dokumente 1, bearbeitet v. Michael Albrecht, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstadt, F. Frommann Verlag/G. Holzboog, 1995, 374 pages, DM 234, ISBN 3-7728-1519-7

Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment, David Sorkin, London, Peter Halban Publ., 1996, 214 pages, £20, ISBN 1870015 27 4

The Goldapple Guide to Jewish Berlin, Andrew Roth/Michael Frajman, Goldapple Publishing, 1998, 181 pages, ISBN 3-9806356-0-0

Alfred Wiener and the Making of the Holocaust Library, Ben Barkow, London, Vallentine Mitchell, 1997, 211 pages, Cloth £35.00/Paper £17.50, ISBN 0 85303 329 3

Moses Mendelssohn, Porträts und Bilddokumente, Gisbert Porstmann, 1997, 401 pages, DM145, ISBN 3-7728-1521-9.

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Dark Night of the Early Modern Soul

Humanists, Clashing Cartesians, Jesuits, and the New Physiology

Jeffrey D. Burson

During the sixteenth century, Jesuit renovations of medieval Aristotelian conceptions of the soul afforded an important discursive field for René Descartes to craft a notion of the soul as a substance distinct from the body and defined by thought. Cartesianism, however, augmented rather than diminished the skeptical crisis over the soul and the mind–body union. This article explores the work of a Jesuit intellectual, René-Joseph Tournemine, whose attempt to navigate between Malebranche’s Cartesianism and the metaphysics of Leibniz proved influential during the eighteenth century in ways that intersect with the development of Enlightenment biological science. Tournemine’s theologically motivated conjectures about the nature of the mind–body union reinforced an important shift away from considering the soul as a metaphysical substance in favor of seeing it as a pervasive motive force or vital principle animating the human organism.

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Collective Singulars

A Reinterpretation

Nikolay Koposov

The article proposes a semantic theory of collective singulars, or singular collective names, designating basic historical concepts, which came into being in the period of the Enlightenment. Their logical structure seems to be internally contradictory, for they refer at the same time to universal values and ideas and to concrete historical occurrences. They also entail two different principles of category-formation—the logic of general names and that of proper names. The two logics are equally rooted in our cognitive makeup; however, different cultures favor either one or the other. The article examines the transformation of the balance of the two logics in European thought from the Middle Ages to the present. The formation of the idea of universal history has brought about an equilibrium of the two logics, while the contemporary "crisis of the future" is accompanied by the rise of the logic of proper names.

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Ben Campbell

Cosmopolitanism has become a rediscovered conceptual frontier within the social sciences. It has emerged in the space for relational thinking about contemporary movements of people and ideas beyond old societal boundaries, as an alternative to the homogenizing implications carried by globalization. It forefronts new cross-territorial contexts of encounter attending to samenesses and differences among people, places, and the nonhuman, presenting new kinds of translocal issues for anthropologists of the environment. While cosmopolitanism draws historically on aspects of Enlightenment universalist rationalism, current applications of the term forefront an empathy and respect for other people’s cultures and values. This is frequently drawn into a distinction between “normative” and “cultural” cosmopolitanisms. The first Kantian sense involves a context-transcendent level of ethical principles with general validity, while the second is about taking cognizance of difference and invokes some positive tolerance of multiplicity and appreciation of others. In both cases there is a sense of a projected “ethical horizon” (Werbner 2008).

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Robert Roswell Palmer

A Transatlantic Journey of American Liberalism

John Layton Harvey

To study how American scholars have written about the history of France over the course of the last hundred years is, in certain ways, to appraise the evolving contours of American liberalism. For American historians who specialize in the past of France, its empire, or its wider continental context, the twentieth century saw a steady growth of institutional optimism. Although conservative suspicion against popular sovereignty and universal Enlightenment reason once markedly influenced the profession, since the late 1950s the American study of France has been increasingly associated with an advancement of progressive-minded ideals. Yet, reflections over the past thirty years on the development of French history in American universities have been curiously silent on the nature or evolution of liberalism within their field. Its contours and challenges over the course of the twentieth century, as a distinct intellectual focus within the wider American Academy, remain in some ways terra incognita.

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Introduction and Prefaces to the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe

(Basic Concepts in History: A Historical Dictionary of Political and Social Language in Germany)

Reinhart Koselleck and Michaela Richter

This is the first English translation of Reinhart Koselleck's "Introduction" to the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe (GG, Basic Concepts in History: A Historical Dictionary of Political and Social Language in Germany), which charts how in German-speaking Europe the accelerated changes occurring between the Enlightenment, the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution were perceived, conceptualized and incorporated into political and social language, registering the transition from a hierarchy of orders to modern societies. The "Introduction" presents the problematic and method formulated in 1972 by Koselleck for writing the history of concepts (Begriffsgeschichte). During the twenty-five years needed to complete the GG, he continued to revise and develop this method. In prefaces written for subsequent volumes, he replied to criticisms of its choice of basic concepts and findings. In these prefaces Koselleck both summarized the great contribution to our historical knowledge of political and social terms that this work and its index volumes had made, and suggested further research projects to build upon its achievements.

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Dale K. Van Kley

Robert R. Palmer wrote his first book, Catholics and Unbelievers in Eighteenth Century France, under the influence of his mentor at Cornell University, Carl L. Becker. Whereas Becker had claimed that the "enlightened" French philosophes were more indebted to Christianity than they recognized, Palmer argued that French Catholic apologists in the eighteenth century were also more "enlightened" than they knew. The two theses are complementary sides of Becker's wider point that beneath an intellectual debate in the public sphere there lay certain shared assumptions that make discussion possible, or what Alfred Whitehead had called a common "climate of opinion." Devoted to the subsequent historiography of Palmer's subject, this article argues that although research has since vindicated aspects of Palmer's portrait of French "enlightened" Jesuits, it has also altered Palmer's picture of French Jansenists as being globally unenlightened. This development in historiography enlarges Palmer's own notion of a "climate of opinion," while challenging the coherence of recent notions of a single "Catholic Enlightenment."

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Iain Sinclair

Warfare was widespread in classical India. Although the Buddhists of India abhorred killing, they could not evade or ignore war altogether. From the seventh century to the thirteenth century, various types of war magic, together with justifications for their use, developed in tantric Buddhist communities. Defensive types of war magic adhered to pacifist ethics and aimed to avoid, halt, or disperse armies. Harmful war magic was applied in the context of the transcendent ethics of enlightenment. Even when warfare was fully incorporated into Buddhist soteriology, non-violence remained a paramount virtue, and the scope of a just war was very limited. The present survey of tantric sources shows that tantric Buddhist war magic emerged as a reaction to the inevitability of war and was applied in the hope of mitigating warfare's excesses.