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Durkheim's 'Dualism of Human Nature'

Personal Identity and Social Links

Giovanni Paoletti

Durkheim's 'Dualism of Human Nature' (1914) is the last scientific work by him published in his lifetime. This circumstance, and the subject of the essay, can suggest it is the definitive exposition of his philosophical view of human nature as homo duplex. But readers do not agree about the description of this view. What kind of dualism has he in mind, and is he consistent about it throughout his work? The problem is that his essay gives different meanings to the doubleness of human nature and combines them in a complex model of explanation. Reconstructing this model can throw new light on what is really at stake in Durkheim's text and on the nature of the dualism he upheld at the end of his career.

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Society as Representation

Durkheim, Psychology and the 'Dualism of Human Nature'

Simonetta Falasca-Zamponi

Against readings that have emphasized Durkheim's sociological realism and reductionism, this article examines the role of individuality and psychology in his theory. In particular, Durkheim's approach to representations is the proof of the crucial importance he assigned to mental processes in the construction of social life. Durkheim showed the relation of representations to the collectivity – how ideas promote the sense of community – and in this context he emphasized their epistemological ramifications. Specifically, he pointed to a series of dualisms that remained unexplained by psychological analysis, including the one posing rational against affective logic. While arguing for the preeminence of ideas in Durkheim's view of society, the article also recognizes the limitations that marred his efforts at reconciling the individual with society. Most notably, his genetic approach and his account of the central role of affect in the creation of the social made Durkheim vulnerable to criticism. Even his late essay on the dualism of human nature, which testifies to his lifelong confrontations with psychology, left a whole set of questions unanswered about his theory's applicability to historical forms of institutionalization of the social, especially in modernity.

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The Inner Conflict

How Palestinian Students in Israel React to the Dual Narrative Approach Concerning the Events of 1948

Neveen Eid

This article addresses the Dual Narrative Approach (DNA) as applied to a sample group of Palestinian students in Israel. This approach is implemented in the dual narrative textbook developed by the Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME). The textbook was originally developed for history teaching in both the state of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. The particular situation of Palestinians living in Israel raises an important question of the implementation of this approach in Palestinian-Israeli schools. This sample group is particularly interesting as within the State of Israel only the Jewish-Israeli historical narrative is officially taught in schools, even in the Arab-Palestinian schools. For many of the students tested in this study, this textbook was their first exposure to their own narrative. This article is an empirical study that uses the "mixed methods approach," investigating the students' reactions to the dual narrative textbook with specific regard to the narrative of the events of 1948, one of the most contentious periods for these two nations.

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Dione Mifsud

This article explores the decision by two universities, the University of Malta and the University of Maryland, College Park, U.S.A., to create a dual master's degree in transcultural counselling. The difficulties encountered by the two universities in creating a harmonised system encompassing tuition, assessment, accreditation and regulatory procedures will be discussed, as well as the complexities of learning and teaching and the opportunities for intercultural learning. The article explores the experiences of the students and academics as they grapple with two different philosophical and academic systems, but also with their own personal and professional differences as narrated, composed and received in their different contexts – interactional, historical, institutional and discursive. Through the narratives of the research participants a powerful tool for course evaluation was created.

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Irène Eulriet and William Watts Miller

‘The Dualism of Human Nature’ was made available some time ago in English, and this undoubtedly helped to stimulate the mass of commentary that has grown around the essay and made it well-known. But it is time to replace the old translation, since it is so inadequate and fault-ridden. For example, it involves a systematic impulse to change a Durkheimian collective noun such as our will into English individualized plurals, such as ‘our wills’. Or it often cuts things out. Thus it eliminates Durkheim’s key talk of creative effervescence, which merely becomes ‘creativity’. An opposite tendency is to add things in.

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George Ross

The "events" around Dominique de Villepin's abortive promotion of the CPE in spring 2006 were seen by many as a great popular victory in the defense of France's social model and another, albeit modest, version of May 1968. Others, particularly Anglophone neoliberals, saw them as proof that the French were incapable of reform. Both conclusions were wrong. The events and defeat of the CPE may have been enjoyable for many involved, but they resolved none of France's underlying and debilitating economic problems. On the other hand, the neoliberal view that the French are averse to real social policy reform is incorrect. Instead, the unresolved dilemmas surrounding the CPE episode are in large part the product of a particular strategy of reform, the "social management of unemployment," that has nourished and intensified dangerous—unavowed—social dualism in France. The present problem, illustrated indirectly by the events, is that political actors and social partners are unable to cooperate sufficiently to confront this dualism.

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Mario Slugan

This article argues against the standard readings of Bazin’s seminal essay “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” which are based on Charles S. Peirce’s account of indexicality but for reasons distinct from recent influential criticism of this approach in film studies. The article also moves beyond the accounts of Bazin in the analytic tradition, by building on a rare analysis that takes Bazin’s notion of identity between the photographic image and the model seriously. Whereas Jonathan Friday proposes identity to be construed as psychological, the article argues that, under the dual theory of light available to Bazin at the time, identity between the photographic images and object photographed literally holds for some photographs—namely, negatives of objects which emit light. The article concludes with an explanation of why Bazin thought the identity holds for all photographs.

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Cosmogony Today

Counter-Cosmogony, Perspectivism, and the Return of Anti-biblical Polemic

Michael W. Scott

In this article I review critical thought about cosmogony in the social sciences and explore the current status of this concept. The latter agenda entails three components. First, I argue that, even where cosmogony is not mentioned, contemporary anthropological projects that reject the essentialist ontology they ascribe to Western modernity in favor of analytical versions of relational non-dualism thereby posit a 'counter-cosmogony' of eternal relational becoming. Second, I show how Viveiros de Castro has made Amazonian cosmogonic myth—understood as counter-cosmogony—iconic of the relational non-dualist ontology he terms 'perspectival multinaturalism'. Observing that this counter-cosmogony now stands in opposition to biblical cosmogony, I conclude by considering the consequences for the study of cosmogony when it becomes a register of what it is about—when it becomes, that is, a form of polemical debate about competing models of cosmogony and the practical implications that they are perceived to entail.

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Strawberry fields forever?

Bulgarian and Romanian student workers in the UK

Mariya Ivancheva

This article is based on fieldwork conducted among Romanian and Bulgarian students working under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme in the UK. It shows how a public discourse on the benefits of and for immigrant seasonal workers silences the voices of these workers. It also discusses how a hidden transcript of the student workers shows they are deeply frustrated about their exploitation in terms of wages, living conditions, and the fact that they have come to the UK on false promises of cultural exchange and learning. The confinement of Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants—such as these student workers—to the unskilled and underpaid labor sector in the UK, which continues despite Romania and Bulgaria's recent accession to the EU, not only reproduces the dual labor market in the UK itself but it also reduces Romania and Bulgaria to 'second-hand' EU members states.

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William Watts Miller

Emile Durkheim, Il dualismo della natura umana e le sue condizione sociali, a cura di Giovanni Paoletti, Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2009, 85 pp. [with introduction, notes and a critical edition, on parallel pages, of the original French text]