This article provides an ontological reconsideration of time, which anthropological theory has typically presumed as a given. It does so by ‘comparing’ two truth claims: that of native activists in Fiji, who worked to actualize their leader’s prediction and ‘His Time’, and that of physics, the sturdiest of the scientific disciplines. The aim of this thought experiment is to expand our understanding of natives’ claims but also to question our perception of time and how our technological environment preserves its reality. The article argues for an understanding where the levels of qualia and quanta cease to be disconnected, thereby confirming the significance of ontological approaches in anthropology today.
Time in Physics and Fiji
Markus Schlecker and Kirsten W. Endres
During the Vietnam War, unprecedented numbers of dead soldiers were buried in unmarked graves and remain missing today. Starting in the mid-1990s, the services of psychics came into high demand, prompting the establishment of a state-approved Center for Research into Human Capabilities that continues to offer grave-finding assistance for the general public. This article discusses the cases of two well-known female psychics. As the case studies demonstrate, such research programs have established a niche for psychics on the perimeters of the official discursive nexus of truth, science, and visuality. They also highlight the variability of social and semantic proc esses by which different psychics are positioned in relation to recognized distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate knowledge practices and truth claims.
A Psychoanalytic Exploration
In this paper I would like to explore the subject of truth and lies, and to ask the question: who is a true prophet? My intention is to use the text of Jeremiah together with my psychoanalytic framework of thought to show an interesting interplay of ideas between the two sources which may stimulate discussion and reflection on the subject.
On the Precariousness of Life and Narrative in The Last of the Just
This article explores André Schwarz-Bart's famous novel, The Last of the Just, as the expression of twin crises in literary and religious representation. Ernie Levy's words, 'there is no room for truth here', spoken on the transport to Auschwitz as he cradles and comforts a dying child with stories of an idyllic afterlife, become the point of departure for a reading of the novel in terms of the loss of just this 'room for truth'. The article considers the novel's reimagining of the legend of the Lamed Vav in the light of Gershom Scholem's criticism that Schwarz-Bart compromises the legend's 'moral anarchy' before casting the novel in the light of Freud's remarks on traumatic dreams in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, as well as Emmanuel Levinas' ideas on 'useless suffering'. The last part of the article reads the novel's anguished theological motifs alongside Paul Celan's poem 'Psalm'.
Durkheim and the Critique of Pragmatism
Sue Stedman Jones
Durkheim's lecture course Pragmatisme et sociologie was given in 1913-14, and thus counts amongst the last of his works. It is interesting, not just for this reason, but because here we encounter Durkheim, less in his characteristic empirical sociological mode and more as a philosopher. Here we find him engaging in a logical attack on what was then a popular movement of philosophy and debating the logical issues arising out of pragmatism. William James and the movement of pragmatism had a huge prestige on the European continent and a great influence after the turn of the century and shared a cult of admiration with Bergson (Stuart Hughes 1958:112). Durkheim challenged this on a philosophical level and found what he held to be its weakest point—the question of truth.
The thesis I consider in this essay takes the form of a chiasmus. Just as Heidegger’s Nazism requires us to re-evaluate his 1943 interpretation of Nietzsche as an instance of what Michel Foucault, in a 1978 interview, called a “regime of truth” (Foucault 1980: 133), so too does Foucault’s 1983 claim that a Heideggerian reading of Nietzsche determined his philosophical development (Foucault 1996: 430) call for us to inquire into the “unthought” of Foucault’s philosophical project. To re-read Heidegger by way of Foucault, I submit, is also to re-read Foucault by way of Heidegger. At stake in this thesis is how to understand Foucault’s concept of “power”. Or, more to the point, at stake is how to understand the twist with which Foucault closes that same 1978 interview: “The political question, to sum up, is not error, illusion, alienated consciousness or ideology; it is truth itself. Hence the importance of Nietzsche” (Foucault 1980: 133).
Museums, Power, Knowledge
Michel Foucault argues that truth is not to be emancipated from power. Given that museums have played a central role in these “regimes of truth,” Foucault’s work was a reference point for the debates around “the new museology” in the 1980s and remains so for contemporary debates in the field. In this introduction to a new volume of selected essays, the use of Foucault’s work in my previous research is considered in terms of the relations between museums, heritage, anthropology, and government. In addition, concepts from Pierre Bourdieu, science and technology studies, Actor Network Theory, assemblage theory, and the post-Foucaultian literature on governmentality are employed to examine various topics, including the complex situation of Indigenous people in contemporary Australia.
The article deals with Mohandas K. Gandhi's theory of democracy and its related civic practices. It indicates the relation between Gandhi's idea of civic duty and his idea of democracy, and argues that few would dispute that Gandhi was one of the most original and transformative thinkers of democracy. The article maintains that among his many notable contributions, Gandhi is rightly credited with emphasizing on the ideas of citizenship duty, truth in politics, genuine self-rule, and ethically enlightened democracy. In addition to advocating self-sustaining villages and communal cooperation, Gandhi developed an idea of non-liberal democracy reducing individualism, economic greed, and laissez-faire by insisting on a duty oriented and spiritually empowered participative democracy. Nearly seven decades after his death, Gandhi stands as one of the most significant and relevant non-Western theorist of democracy.
Propaganda’s Role in Liberal Democratic Societies
Jason Stanley and John B. Min
Stanley and Min discuss how propaganda works in liberal democratic societies. Stanley observes that the inability to address the crisis of liberal democracies can be partially explained by contemporary political philosophy’s penchant for idealized theorizing about norms of justice over transitions from injustice to justice. Whereas ancient and modern political philosophers took seriously propaganda and demagoguery of the elites and populists, contemporary political philosophers have tended to theorize about the idealized structures of justice. This leads to a lack of theoretical constructs and explanatory tools by which we can theorize about real-life political problems, such as mass incarceration. Starting with this premise, Stanley provides an explanation of how propaganda works and the mechanisms that enable propaganda. Stanley further theorizes the pernicious effects that elitism, populism, authoritarianism, and “post-truth” have on democratic politics.
Mathijs Pelkmans and Rhys Machold
This article aims to reinvigorate analytical debates on conspiracy theories. It argues that definitional attempts to set conspiracy theories apart from other theories are flawed. Blinded by the “irrational” reputation of conspiracy theories and deluded by the workings of institutionalized power such approaches fail to recognize that there are no inherent differences between the two categories. We argue that assessments of conspiracy theories should focus not on the epistemological qualities of these theories but on their interactions with the socio-political fields through which they travel. Because “conspiracy theory” is not a neutral term but a powerful label, attention to processes of labeling highlights these larger fields of power, while the theories’ trajectories illuminate the mechanisms by which truth and untruth are created. As such, this article offers a way forward for assessing both the truth and use value of conspiracy theories in the contemporary world.