Based on the notion of legal responsibility, the article establishes a connection between the social conditions of production of literature and the ethical principles that founded the commitment of writers as intellectuals in France from the nineteenth century to the post-World War II period. While the penal responsibility of the author is imbued with a belief in the power of words, the trials were in turn often the occasion for writers like Flaubert and Baudelaire to define their own ethics of responsibility against the values of conventional morality and political conformity through which their work was liable to condemnation. Articulating these ethical principles affirmed the writer's independence from political and religious authorities and contributed to the emergence of an autonomous literary field, as defined by Pierre Bourdieu. The figure of the writer as a public intellectual best embodied by Zola and Sartre emerged on the basis of this code of ethics.
From Flaubert to Sartre
On the mainstream liberal view it is both possible and desirable to separate out political and economic power from prescriptive normative views of how life ought to be led—at least beyond a relatively restricted ‘overlapping consensus’ about what constitutes the right process for resolving disputes about political leadership, justice and the economy. This is said to establish a public realm where claims to resources and recognition are framed in universal terms, and a private realm where particular beliefs about God, family and culture reside. Only by compromising views of politics justified by particular visions of the good life can we who value freedom and equality co-exist peacefully and prosperously, especially in an increasingly multi-cultural and socio-economically diverse world. In various ways the articles in this edition challenge this view, and offer more complex portrayals of the theoretical and empirical relationships between democracy, morality and discipline.
The Private, the Public and the Political
This article investigates the connection between the phenomenon of moral conflict and the concepts of the private, the public and the political. In the first part of the article, as a way of locating my pluralistic position within the tradition of authors such as Isaiah Berlin and Steven Lukes, I develop a brief overview of modern meta-ethics and argue that monistic and relativistic explanations of morality are the cause of many of the antinomies that trouble human conduct. In the second part of the article, I make the central contention that moral pluralism is particularly useful in clarifying the concepts of the private, the public and the political as distinct domains of activity. I argue that we should treat moral conflict differently in each of these three domains and conclude that the moral significance and peculiarity of politics has been undeservedly underestimated in contemporary times.
Three Rosh Hashanah Sermons of 1914
This article examines in depth sermons of Rabbi Julius Jelski of the Reform Gemeinde in Berlin, Rabbi Samuel Korb of Nantes and Rabbi Israel Mattuck of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS) in London, preached on Rosh Hashanah 1914. Through consideration of the language and structure of their sermons, the extent to which the war is a motif in the sermons, their use of national literature, mottoes and ideas and their use of Biblical and rabbinic literature it develops an analysis of how the rabbis situated themselves and their communities in their countries of residence, and of their ideas on the morality of war and of this particular war. While all three rabbis appeal to Jewish texts and moral principles, the continental rabbis reach significantly different conclusions from those reached by Mattuck.
Can Levinas’ Beloved Be Queer?
Emmanuel Levinas’ teachings with regard to the other, the erotic and fecundity can speak powerfully to questions of Queer politics, morality and justice. Levinas’ insistence on the inalienability of human rights which supersede the bourgeois social contract, the interpersonal as the locus of goodness and his interest in the moral possibilities of the affectional and erotic offer stirring possibilities. So does his insistence that each person is a unique event in being, irreducible to genus (or gender). But what about Levinas’ formulations which appear to reinscribe heteronormative and patriarchal ideas about gender and family? Levinas scholars disagree about how to read these texts. This article provides a close reading of one of Levinas’ more provocative texts to derive a queer reading that honours the teacher.
Immigrant Bachelors, French Bureaucrats, and the Conjugal Politics of Naturalization in the Third Republic
This article illuminates the conjugal politics of French naturalization bureaucrats during the Third Republic. Against the background of a severe depopulation crisis that heightened anti-bachelor sentiment, unmarried immigrant men came to be seen as a grave threat to the stability of the French nation. In the context of massive immigration, officials endorsed the institution of marriage as an effective means of policing the morality, mobility and sexuality of the foreign-born. Thus, this article demonstrates how French officials used marriage as a disciplinary tool to contain the mobile and moral threat posed by immigrant bachelors rapidly pooling on French soil from 1880 onward. In the process, this article is the first to highlight the gendered and sexual policing ing logic of the modern French state towards immigrant men while bringing to light the mutually reinforcing histories of immigration, heterosexuality, and marriage in modern France.
Reviving the Grammar of Islamic Humanism
This article states an intercivilisational conflict between Europe and Islam and argues that it can be resolved through cross-cultural bridging and sharing grammars of humanism in the pursuit of an international morality. The plea for a revival of the suppressed tradition of Islamic humanism, and of the rationalist thought of al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd among others, acknowledges that today there is no one uniform Islam. Today, the global competition between humanism and absolutism in Islam is also pertinent to the future of European identity, given Europe's proximity to the Islamic neighbourhood and the global migration emanating therefrom. While greater civilisational identity politics can be a source of conflict, such conflict can be overcome through a dialogue based on a common humanist heritage, and by bridging the international system of states to an international society, people of different civilisations can be brought closer to one another.
In this article, I motivate for the view that the best account of the foundations of morality in the African tradition should be grounded on some relevant spiritual property – a view that I call 'ethical supernaturalism'. In contrast to this position, the literature has been dominated by humanism as the best interpretation of African ethics, which typically is accompanied by a direct rejection of 'ethical supernaturalism' and a veiled rejection of non-naturalism (Gyekye 1995: 129–43; Metz 2007: 328; Wiredu 1992: 194–6). Here primarily, by appeal to methods of analytic philosophy, which privileges analysis and (moral) argumentation, I set out to challenge and repudiate humanism as the best interpretation of African ethics; I leave it for a future project to develop a fully fledged African spiritual meta-ethical theory.
Recently several political theorists have argued that mainstream political theory, exemplified by John Rawls’ political liberalism, is based on such idealist and moralist presuppositions, that it cannot be relevant for real politics. This article aims to show that the criticism of these ‘realists’, as these critics are referred to, is based on an incorrect reading of Rawls’ work. The article explains that there are three ways in which his political liberalism can be said to offer a realist understanding of politics: (a) political liberalism interprets the morality inherent in engaging in politics; (b) it acknowledges reasonable disagreement about justice; and (c) it develops standards of public reason, with which to assess the legitimacy of political compromises. The article recovers the realism of political liberalism and indicates new sites of discussion between political liberals and political realists.
Euro Competence and the Refiguring of Value in Greece
Thomas M. Malaby
The rollout of the euro as a hard currency involved unprecedented logistical organization oriented toward security; yet just as central to its success was the pedagogical project of enlisting those within the euro-zone to be competent with the new currency. This paper explores two forms of euro competence in Greece: the accurate recognition and use of the currency, and the learned refiguring of the values of everyday products. These competencies were, however, only partially anticipated and targeted by the institutions involved in the rollout; in key respects these competencies were generated by the rollout event itself. These competencies can furthermore be seen as epistemic practices; they came to serve as the grounds for truths about the monetary system itself, about Greeks as Europeans, and about the morality of economic transactions.