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Filling in the cracks

Improving on crumbling democratic practices

Victoria Graham

A. Stepan (ed.). (2009). Democracies in danger. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

L. Diamond and M.F. Plattner (eds.). (2009). Democracy: A reader. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

A. Jeeves and G. Cuthbertson (eds.). (2008). Fragile freedom: South African democracy 1994–2004. Pretoria: University of South Africa Press.

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Educational Films

A Historical Review of Media Innovation in Schools

Eckhardt Fuchs, Anne Bruch and Michael Annegarn-Gläß

Instructional media serve multiple functions in a school setting. They can disseminate knowledge and skills while also informing and stimulating discussion. They not only convey information and support learning but also foster communication between teachers and pupils and between classmates and groups. However, despite the significant role of teaching media other than textbooks in the classroom, educational and media historians have largely ignored them. This is all the more remarkable because the current media revolution has made the media themselves particularly topical. “Contact with and access to media,” states Jelko Peters “presents a significant and fundamental problem of our time, which is closely linked with values such as freedom of communication and individual freedoms, pluralism, access to education as well as involvement in culture and participation in politics.”

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Daniel O'Shiel

Sartrean conceptions of the Ego, emotions, language, and the imaginary provide a comprehensive account of "magic" that could ultimately give rise to a new philosophical psychology. By focusing upon only one of these here—the imaginary—we see that through its irrealizing capabilities consciousness contaminates the world and bewitches itself in a manner that defies simple deterministic explication. We highlight this with an explication of what Sartre means by "nihilation" and the "analogon," and introduce a concrete example of nostalgia, hoping to lay the scene for a detailed study into the dynamic between our ontological freedom and its constitution and experience of phenomena as enchanting and bewitching. "Magical being" must therefore involve a deep, Sartrean analysis that explicates ontological freedom as becoming concretely engaged in both the real and irreal alike, whereby the imaginary as magic can lead to the most insane, as well as the most artistic, incantations.

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John Gillespie

This overview of Sartre's theater within the context of the symposium focuses on the inherent ambiguities of his theory and practice. His plays, as committed literature, are not always successful in their pedagogical intention of changing the minds of his audiences. On the one hand, he seeks to provide universal situations with which everyone can collectively identify, and on the other he wishes to convince them of the value of freedom and confront them with problems and conflicts they must resolve for themselves. These spectators then exercise that freedom by taking ideological viewpoints that are in conflict with those of the plays. Moreover, the plays are often complex and ambiguous, and set far from a contemporary French context, thus demanding a certain sophistication of interpretation. Sartre's skill as a dramatist is to write plays that engage the public in debates about the key questions of the day, even though, because of his open approach, he does not always succeed in changing their minds.

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Daniel O'Shiel

By introducing 'drives' into a Sartrean framework, 'being-in-itself' is interpreted as 'Nature as such', wherein instincts dominate. Being-for-itself, on the contrary, has an ontological nature diametrically opposed to this former - indeed, in the latter realm, through a fundamental process of 'nihilation' (Sartre's 'freedom') consciousness perpetually flees itself by transcending towards the world. However, a kernel of (our) nihilated Nature is left at the heart of this process, in the form of 'original facticity' that we here name drives. Drives are the original feelings and urges of a freed Nature that simply are there; they are the fundamental forces that consciousness qua freedom always has to deal with. Drives, in addition, can be nihilated in their own turn, onto a reflective, irreal plane, whereby they take the form of value. This means Sartre's notion of ontological desire is always made up of two necessary components: drives and value.

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Ronald Aronson and Andrew Dobson

Sartre is left out of this commentary on Sartre. As students of Sartre, should we not ground ourselves in what Sartre actually said, in an appreciation of what he was up to, as well as in a willingness to engage the scholarship about his work? Given the richness both of Sartre’s writing and the interpretative literature, an article discussing Sartre’s notion of freedom and criticising his views on morality can fairly be taxed if it lacks these attentions. Of course Andrew Dobson is entitled to argue against Sartre, or against our various interpretations of Sartre, and to show why an anti-Sartrean ethical understanding such as his own is warranted. But what he gives us is misleading, because above all he ignores Sartre’s own evolving conception of freedom, and Sartre’s own changing purposes.

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David Chidester

In 2003, after more than 10 years of policy debate and public controversy, the South African minister of education announced a new policy for religion and education that distinguished between religious interests, which are best served by religious communities, and educational objectives for teaching and learning about religion, religions, and religious diversity that should be served by the curriculum of public schools. This article locates South Africa's new policy for religion and education in relation to attempts to redefine the role of the state in the transition from apartheid to democracy. The policy emerged within a new constitutional framework, which ensured freedom for religious expression and freedom from religious discrimination, but also within the context of state initiatives to affirm cultural diversity and mobilize unifying resources for social transformation. Accordingly, this article examines South Africa's policy for religion and public education as an index for understanding post-apartheid efforts in redefining the state as a constitutional, cultural, and transformative state.

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The End of Arrogance, the Advent of Persuasion

Public Art in a Multicultural Society

Henri Beunders

In Western societies, the boundaries of the freedom of expression had traditionally been expanding, while the boundaries of religion and 'good morals' had been receding. Since the last decade however, this expansion has slowed down, come to a halt, and ultimately reversed. In Europe, anxiety over the expression of protest through violent means has steadily caused governments to abandon the traditional, seemingly limitless adherence to freedom of expression. Political fear over controversy has come to dominate the climate of commissioning public art. In a polarized world, the debate on what is tolerable has taken on an acute urgency. The art world itself no longer has an answer. After a half-century of autonomy, it has succeeded in demolishing its own authority by ridiculing every aspect of external criticism. The only solution now will be a new form of dialogue with all stakeholders involved.

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Gathering Up Mutual Help

Relational Freedoms of Tanzanian Market-Women

Daivi Rodima-Taylor

This article offers a relational perspective on the discussion of obligations and freedoms in Kuria women's voluntary associations in Tanzania and explores the impacts of these activities on sociality and public spaces. The constitution of a successful businesswoman is dependent on her membership in various cooperative groups, and her new rights and freedoms reside in the ambiguity between her sovereignty and group belonging. Historically an important means for self-extension, cooperative work remains pertinent in regulating the impacts of new resources. Diverse mediators and conversions have played a key role in building the Kuria person, making available a range of transformative options and revealing the possibilities for mixed forms. It is suggested that an engagement between Melanesian and African perspectives on personhood can contribute to a dynamic and temporally situated study of a social construction of mutuality.

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Theory Versus Practice

History Says That Practice Makes Perfect (And That Judges Are Better Too)

Scott Merriman

Theory argues that rights-based judicial review fails because it does not have popular support. However, examining actual events in battles over freedom of speech, privacy and civil rights demonstrates that this theory often fails when applied. Those arrested during the First World War in America often only received redress through administrative agencies. Civil rights protestors' experiences prove that the federal courts were the only ones generally to protect their rights, and that the legislatures failed to act. Similarly, judicial review increased the freedom of the press during the 1960s, which in turn boosted the civil rights movement. Finally, it was the courts which helped Americans to realize their right to privacy. Included in that right to privacy was the right for people to marry regardless of their race. Overall, courts and administrative agencies, particularly at the federal level, do a better job at protecting rights than legislatures.