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Introduction

Infrastructures of Certainty and Doubt

Matthew Carey and Morten Axel Pedersen

This special section explores the various ways in which states of certainty and doubt are generated and sustained, focusing on what we call the ‘infrastructures’ that undergird, enable or develop alongside them. The articles in this collection build on the growing literature on these topics, notably the very extensive recent work on doubt, uncertainty and opacity, and they extend it further by directing attention not to the consequences of these states or people’s responses to them, but instead to the various semiotic, material and social forms that make possible the assertion or recognition of certainty or doubt. We use the idea of ‘infrastructure’ as a heuristic device to explore these processes.

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Jeremy Ekberg

Because Sartre's theatre is one of representation and authenticity, plays like The Victors offer Sartrean philosophical explorations of subjects pushed to the limits of existence by torture and oppressive social edicts. It is in extreme situations that a subject most clearly exercises or fails to exercise his freedom and therefore his authenticity. But Sartre's interest in a complete explication of this process wanes before he fully outlines his project of self formation, which leaves the present paper to prove: (1) the unattainability of any final or permanent authenticity, since each subject represents itself alternately in authentic and inauthentic ways and because the representations of a single subject are constantly in flux; (2) the primacy of representation as the force by which the self is formed and authenticity achieved or avoided; and (3) the criteria for the assessment of authenticity levels and how these processes come to light in plays like The Victors.

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Introduction

Anthropological Knowledge Making, the Reflexive Feedback Loop, and Conceptualizations of the Soul

Katherine Swancutt and Mireille Mazard

In this introduction, we propose a new approach to anthropological knowledge making that would observe the ‘hyper-reflexive’ quality of ethnographic exchanges. We show that anthropological ideas infiltrate themselves into the discourse of native thinkers, even as native ideas regenerate anthropological theory. Our starting point is ‘animism’, a key concept of anthropological theory. We suggest that anthropologists and their interlocutors jointly reinvent animistic ideas through a process we describe as the ‘reflexive feedback loop’, in which abstract ideas about practice and belief are appropriated and recirculated by research participants. By way of conclusion, we reflect on how anthropologists and their collaborators ‘animate’ soul concepts through diverse forms of agency such as metamorphosis, doubling, autobiographical narrative, hidden jokes, and even technological animism.

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Tending to Suspension

Abstraction and Apparatuses of Atmospheric Attunement in Matsutake Worlds

Timothy Choy

Scenes from mushroom technosciences illuminate forms, practices, and temporalities of atmospheric attunement. This article reanimates moments from scientific literature where chemists and mycologists chase elusive smells and spores, explicating how scientists’ experimental apparatuses of attunement arrange conditions for matsutake to be reduced and concentrated toward the goal of sensibility. Reduction and concentration do more than translate atmospheric elusiveness into specification; achieved through grinding, evaporating, and remixing, they condition a ‘tending to suspension’. Tending to suspension amplifies qualities and throws subjects and sensorial attention into the middle of volumes and durations. ‘Tending’ implies care as well as a ‘tending toward’—the sense that something may develop a tendency. Experimental apparatuses of atmospheric attunement, tending to such tendings, model a method for anthropological study of diffuse objects.

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Introduction

For an Anthropology of Cognitive Disability

Patrick McKearney and Tyler Zoanni

How can we study significant cognitive differences within social groups anthropologically? Attempting to do so challenges some of the discipline’s most cherished methodological, analytical and ethical commitments, raising questions about how we understand difference, both between and within societies. Such challenges both explain the neglect of the topic up until now and suggest its scholarly potential. In this article, we move to lay the groundwork for an anthropology that takes seriously cognitive differences (such as autism, dementia and intellectual disability), as well as their potentially disabling consequences. We ask: what kind of cross-cultural reality does cognitive variation have, and how problematic are such differences for those who live with them? We spell out at greater length some of the difficulties involved in developing this conversation, attempt to address these issues, and delineate some of the important benefits that follow from doing so.

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Gabriele Shenar

Focusing on the aesthetic, moral, and affective economies of one-day multisite pilgrimage tours of Indian-Jewish Israelis to the tombs of tzaddikim (“righteous persons”) as well as venerated sites of biblical figures in Israel, the article explores how the neoliberal idea of entrepreneurial competitiveness assists in mobilizing and sustaining culturally valued moral and aesthetic inclinations. Furthermore, it foregrounds the “multisensoriality” of religiously defined practice, emotion, and belief and their role in the production of an Indian-Jewish ambiance and the narratives that it elicits. Clearly, throughout their pilgrimage, Indian-Jewish Israelis carve out their own spaces in which they author the sacred sites and cultural landscapes that they visit through aesthetic engagement, embodied ritual, and, more generally, sensory enactment. However, in order to achieve the desired ambiance, Indian-Jewish pilgrims must to some extent become entrepreneurs or consumers in Israel’s flourishing market of folk veneration both with regard to homegrown and imported saintly Jewish figures.

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Michelle Darnell

The importance of freedom in Sartre’s philosophy cannot be overestimated, and the understanding of Sartre’s account of freedom is necessary for the understanding of Sartre’s philosophy as a whole. In this article, I will show that there are two distinct, but related, notions of freedom used in Being and Nothingness, and will suggest that a clarification of the two notions will open the possibility of grounding Sartre’s demand that each individual should promote the freedom of all Others.

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Eric James Morelli

I am not interested in examining the development of Sartre’s view of pure reflection or in extracting a general notion of pure or purifying reflection from Sartre’s entire corpus. Instead, I am interested in understanding with Sartre’s help an experience that his account of pure reflection in the second chapter of Being and Nothingness, ‘Temporality’, concerns, namely the experience of founding a phenomenological theory.

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT A

2,234 Descriptions of Democracy: An Update to Democracy’s Ontological Pluralism

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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT B

2,234 Descriptions of Democracy: An Update to Democracy’s Ontological Pluralism