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Tony Fisher

The article develops Sartre's remarks on the paradox of the actor in two ways. Firstly, it derives from them an 'existential ontology' of mimetic performance - an 'onto-mimetology'. Secondly, it uses this reconstruction in order to put pressure on Sartre's analogy of the actor with bad faith. In grasping the problem of acting from a Sartrean perspective, I show that this analogy is not as clear cut as he assumes and that a crucial difference exists between the situation of the theatre and that of bad faith. To master the paradox of his own being I argue the actor's technique indeed utilizes the same 'non-persuasiveness-of-belief ' thesis identified by Sartre as the condition of possibility for bad faith, yet in the actor's case it need not necessitate the condition of bad faith. In conclusion, I propose that through the notion of play, the actor sheds intriguing light on Sartre's notion of freedom.

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The “Democracy-Politics Paradox”

The Dynamics of Political Alienation

Gerry Stoker and Mark Evans

Contemporary political scientists have observed a democratic paradox that has crystallized around the disconnection between how citizens imagine their democracy and how politics is practiced. Citizens continue to believe in the values of liberal democracy but are increasingly disillusioned with how their political systems work and the politics that are practiced in the name of democracy. This article revisits the root causes of political alienation to better understand this democratic paradox. It provides both a conceptual understanding of political alienation and its domain of action and insights into how the concept can be operationalized and measured in empirical research. It argues that while democracy itself may not be in crisis, the politics on which its operation rests is in peril.

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Paul Walker

This article explores interactions with difference, highlighting what I call the “generosity paradox,” a term that refers to how we suspend disbelief and certainty in favor of a constructed potentiality not limited by preexistent knowledge or categories of authenticity and legitimacy. Touching on overlapping concepts from rhetoric, philosophy, gender studies, disability studies, and queer theory, the discussion explicates fictional encounters with radical alterity in the film Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) to show that attempted respite from frustrating, confusing, and frightening interactions limits our voice, undermines difference, and favors a unifying persuasive intent, which more likely than not involves an attempt to change Others rather than allowing our mutual differences to generatively remain.

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The Swiss Paradox

Egalitarianism and Hierarchy in a Model Democracy

Marina Gold

The Swiss system of direct democracy is in many ways paradoxical. The federal structure counteracts the formation of centralizing state hierarchies and protects the egalitarian representation of local political interests. Simultaneously, local political structures can have hierarchical and exclusionary effects, especially when democratic processes are turned into values. This article considers the tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical values in Swiss democratic structures in the wake of the rise of anti-foreigner and anti-EU passions harnessed by extreme right-wing parties. These tensions are heightened in the context of global processes that are transforming the structures of the state, as corporate power undermines state apparatuses with the potential to subvert democratic practices.

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John H. Gillespie

This two-part article examines whether Sartre's final interviews, recorded in L'Espoir maintenant [Hope Now], indicate a final turn to belief through an overview of his engagement with the idea of God throughout his career. In Part 1 we examine Sartre's early atheism, but note the pervasive nature of secularised Christian metaphors and concepts in his religion of letters and the centrality of man's desire to be God in Being and Nothingness. His theoretical writings seek to refute the idea of God, but in doing so God is paradoxically both absent and present. In Part 2 we assess his anti-theism and consider his final encounter with theism in L'Espoir maintenant, arguing that it is part of Sartre's long-term engagement with the idea of God.

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John H. Gillespie

These two articles examine whether Sartre's final interviews, recorded in L'Espoir maintenant (Hope Now) indicate a final turn to God and religious belief through an overview of his engagement with the idea of God throughout his career. Part 1, published in Sartre Studies International 19, no. 1, examined Sartre's early atheism, but noted the pervasive nature of secularised Christian metaphors and concepts in his religion of letters and also the centrality of mankind's desire to be God in L'Etre et le néant (Being and Nothingness). Sartre's theoretical writings sought to refute the idea of God, but in doing so, made God paradoxically both absent and present. Part 2 considers Sartre's anti-theism and its implications for his involvement with the idea of God before examining in detail his final encounter with theism as outlined in L'Espoir maintenant, arguing that it is part of Sartre's long-term engagement with the divine, but refuting the idea that he became a theist at the end of his life.

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Paradoxes of transnational space and local activism

Iranians organizing across borders

Halleh Ghorashi and Nayereh Tavakoli

The Iranian revolution of 1979 promised to bring freedom and equality, but as soon as one group gained power, it turned out to be oppressive of both its political opposition and women. This resulted in the formation of a large Iranian diaspora bound together by its hatred for the Iranian regime. Years of suppression in the 1980s in Iran resulted in a deep gap between Iranians living inside and outside Iran. During the 1990s, however, cross-border relationships started to change as a result of two major factors: transnational activities and the influence of cyberspace. This paper focuses on the paradoxes of transnational connections in local protest with a focus on the women’s movement. We show both how transnational links have empowered women activists in Iran and how they have led to new dangers at the local level. We also reveal how support from the Iranian diaspora can be patronizing as well as supportive.

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Iurii P. Shabaev

Using recent sociological and demographic data, this article reviews the vibrancy of several ethnic minority groups in the European North of Russia. The article is framed in terms of three paradoxes. The first paradox is that the group thought to be the most vulnerable—the Samis of the Kola peninsula—have the strongest ability to preserve their identity. The second paradox is that the process of de-ethnicization, which refers to the assimilative pressure of urban settings, continues despite institutional structures designed to prevent it. The final paradox is that ethnic revival can be identified in unexpected places relatively independent of the structural factors of language and birthrate that are traditionally associated with ethnic reproduction.

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David Graeber

Terms such as 'fate' and 'luck' are ways of talking about the ambiguities and antinomies of temporal existence that all humans, even social theorists, have to confront in one form or another. Concepts that include mana, śakti, baraka, and orenda might best be considered as grappling with the exact same paradoxes. Nor should we assume that social scientific approaches are necessarily more sophisticated. Current discourse on 'performativity', for instance, seems in certain ways rather crude when compared to the Malagasy concept of hasina (usually translated as 'sacred power'), which takes on the same dilemma—what I call the 'paradox of performativity'—in a far more nuanced way.

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Thijs Schut

potential is, and what moral and ethical choices they need to make. Yet, these points need clarification, especially when we consider that—as I will show—educated young people's return to central Flores renders them subject to a paradox: they are both rural