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Jean-Paul Gagnon

SUPPLEMENT C

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

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Yiwei Zheng

‘Pure reflection’ is an important concept that bridges Sartre’s ontology and ethics in his early philosophy. In Being and Nothingness, Sartre devoted a section (Part Two, Chapter Two, Section III) to a discussion of the ontological characteristics of pure reflection. In Notebooks for an Ethics,3 he explored the ethical implications of the ontological characteristics of pure reflection (that he had presented in Being and Nothingness) and he used pure reflection as an essential stage leading to an ethical life of ‘authenticity’.

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Maryon McDonald

There has been much debate about the ‘ontological turn’ in anthropology, to the point, some might say, of near intellectual numbness. However, in the opening article of this issue, by Aparecida Vilaça, we ask readers to think this through in a new way. Vilaça’s article examines whether one can talk literally and empirically of an ‘ontological turn’ amongst a group of people in Amazonia who have converted to Christianity. The argument employs more than one source of ‘ontology’ in anthropology and the answer is tantalising and instructive.

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Maryon McDonald

There has been a certain dizziness wrought by ‘turns’ in Social Anthropology of late – one of these being the ‘ontological turn’. In the first article of this issue, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro – perhaps the enfant terrible of the ontological turn – sets out what he sees as being at stake in this turn and tries to meet some of the critics head-on. In an article provocatively entitled ‘Who is Afraid of the Ontological Wolf?’, he outlines some of the complexities whilst suggesting to readers that anthropology ‘is always about sticking one’s neck out through the looking glass of ontological difference’. The article originated as the 2014 Annual Marilyn Strathern Lecture and the author acknowledges a debt to Strathern – one of ‘more fat pigs than I could ever hope to assemble.’

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Theodore Schatzki

An important issue in contemporary social theory is how social thought can systematically take materiality into account. This article suggests that one way social theory can do so is by working with an ontology that treats materiality as part of society. The article presents one such ontology, according to which social phenomena consist in nexuses of human practices and material arrangements. This ontology (1) recognizes three ways materiality is part of social phenomena, (2) holds that most social phenomena are intercalated constellations of practices, technology, and materiality, and (3) opens up consideration of relations between practices and material arrangements. A brief practice-material history of the Kentucky Bluegrass region where the author resides illustrates the idea that social phenomena evince changing material configurations over time.

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Damaging Environments

Land, Settler Colonialism, and Security for Indigenous Peoples

Wilfrid Greaves

This article theorizes why Indigenous peoples’ security claims fail to be accepted by government authorities or incorporated into the security policies and practices of settler states. By engaging the concepts of securitization and ontological security, I explain how Indigenous peoples are unable to successfully “speak” security to the state. I argue that nondominant societal groups are unable to gain authoritative acceptance for security issues that challenge the dominant national identity. In effect, indigeneity acts an inhibiting condition for successful securitization because, by identifying the state and dominant society as the source of their insecurity, Indigenous peoples’ security claims challenge the ontological security of settler societies. Given the incommensurability of Indigenous and settler claims to authority over land, and the ontological relationship to land that underpins Indigenous identities and worldviews, the inhibiting condition is especially relevant with respect to security claims based on damage to the natural environment.

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Matthew C. Eshleman, David Lethbridge, J. C. Berendzen and T Storm Heter

T Storm Heter, Sartre’s Ethics of Engagement Review by Matthew C. Eshleman

Jean-Paul Sartre, The Aftermath of War Review by David Lethbridge

David Sherman, Sartre and Adorno: The Dialectics of Subjectivity Review by J. C. Berendzen

Yiwei Zheng, Ontology and Ethics in Sartre’s Early Philosophy Review by T Storm Heter

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Jelena Tosic, Alberto Arce and Jeremy MacClancy

Bruce Kapferer (ed.), Oligarchs and oligopolies: New formations of global power by Jelena Tosic

John Clammer, Sylvie Poirier, and Eric Schwimmer. Figured worlds: Ontological obstacles in intercultural relations by Alberto Arce

Eric Venbrux, Pamela Sheffield Rosi, Robert L. Welsch (eds.), Exploring world art by Jeremy MacClancy

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Book Roundtable

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought.

Lasse Thomassen, Joe Hoover, David Owen, Paul Patton and Clayton Chin

Discussion text: Chin, C. 2018. The Practice of Political Theory: Rorty and Continental Thought. New York, Columbia University Press.

Respondents: Lasse Thomassen (Introduction), Joe Hoover (Reconstructing Rorty? Between Irony and Seriousness), David Owen (Practices of Political Theory), Paul Patton (Rorty’s ‘Continental’ Interlocutors), Clayton Chin (Rorty’s Pragmatic Political Theory: On Continental Thought and Ontology)

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Mark Rozahegy

The general impression that one gets from reading commentaries on Being and Nothingness – which was the same impression that I was left with after my own engagement with the text – is that it seems incredibly difficult for readers to totalize its content. Although the thesis of the text is straightforward enough – that one’s ontological structure, as being-for-itself, “is not to be what I am and to be what I am not” (BN 492), such that all aspects of the existence of the for-itself are reducible to this structure (i.e. the temporal nature of the for-itself, its orientation towards the future, is itself implied within that structure since what the for-self is is yet to come in the future – so the for-itself is what it is not (yet)) – Sartre insists on discussing various aspects of existence that, in the end, do not confirm or conform to his thesis. It is almost as if the ontological proof was an afterthought to his phenomenological insights since his rather simplistic and highly dualistic ontology is frequently at odds in the text with his phenomenological descriptions. For example, in his “Foreword” to Merleau-Ponty’s The Structure of Behavior, Alphonse de Waelhens explains the difficulty that one faces in trying to reconcile Sartre’s insights into corporeity with his ontological conclusions. On the one hand, Sartre’s theses concerning the nature of corporeity – “conceived essentially as a dialectic opposing the body-as-instrument (in a very particular sense) to the body-as-given-in-bare-fact (corps facticiteé) – appear to be exceptionally fruitful and capable of finally allowing us to understand how existing consciousness can be an inherence and a project at the same time” (SB xix). The problem arises when one tries to understand these theses about corporeity in the framework of Sartre’s ontological arguments: “What is unfortunate is that it is difficult to see how these theses can be understood or accepted as soon as one situates oneself, as one must, in the general framework of Sartrean ontology.