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Alice Ormiston’s Love and Politics argues that modern politics is rooted not merely in the pursuit of power, but that it is essentially underpinned by the experience of love. Hegel understood love as a principle that unites reason and emotion, and self and other, and that provides the foundation for a deep sense of connectedness to the world and for genuine acts of autonomy. Through an original and highly accessible interpretation of Hegel’s works, Ormiston shows how the modern commitment to individual rights and freedoms can only be adequately understood by reference to the experience of love that lies at the foundation of the modern subject and its political expression in acts of conscience. Hegel’s thought thus joins forces with feminist arguments for an embodied theory of the subject and for a focus on empathy in political reasoning, with republican concerns about democracy and civic education, and with postmodern concerns about the otherness of certain experiences and forms of knowledge. Ormiston’s book offers a developed concept of the subject that can serve as a foundation for resistance to problems of our time, including atomism and instrumental rationality, the ills of an unfettered capitalism, and the reality of a radical evil.
Depicting Evil in the Modern Theatre
Messiahs and Machiavellians is an innovative exploration of “modern evil” in works of early- and late-modern theatre, raising issues about ethics, politics, religion, and aesthetics that speak to our present condition. Paul Corey examines how theatre—which expressed a key political dynamic both in the Renaissance and the twentieth century—lays open the impulses that instigated modernity and, ultimately, unparalleled levels of violence and destruction. Starting with Albert Camus’ Caligula and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, then turning to Machiavelli’s Mandragola and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Corey traces the emergence of two dominant, intertwining features of modern evil: an unrestrained pursuit of power and the utopian desire for perfection. Corey’s imaginative and convincing readings of these plays, based on detailed textual analysis, move beyond the accounts usually offered by literary critics. Drawing on political, theological, and philosophical sources—a combination as fertile as it is unusual—Corey’s methodology allows him to make keen and subtle arguments about the eschatological nature of modern politics.
Marx and the Prehistory of the Present
What is the relation between the economy, or the mode of production, and culture, beliefs, and desires? How is it possible to think of these relations without reducing one to the other, or effacing one for the sake of the other? To answer these questions, The Micro-Politics of Capital re-reads Marx in light of the contemporary critical interrogations of subjectivity in the works of Althusser, Deleuze, Guattari, Foucault, and Negri. Jason Read suggests that what characterizes contemporary capitalism is the intimate intersection of the production of commodities with the production of desire, beliefs, and knowledge.
Moral universalism, or the idea that some system of ethics applies to all people regardless of race, color, nationality, religion, or culture, must have a plurality over which to range a plurality of diverse persons, nations, jurisdictions, or localities over which morality asserts a universal authority. The contributors to Moral Universalism and Pluralism, the latest volume in the NOMOS series, investigate the idea that, far from denying the existence of such pluralities, moral universalism presupposes it. At the same time, the search for universally valid principles of morality is deeply challenged by diversity. The fact of pluralism presses us to explore how universalist principles interact with ethical, political, and social particularisms. These important essays refuse the answer that particularisms should simply be made to conform to universal principles, as if morality were a mold into which the diverse matter of human society and culture could be pressed. Rather, the authors bring philosophical, legal and political perspectives to bear on the core questions: Which forms of pluralism are conceptually compatible with moral universalism, and which ones can be accommodated in a politically stable way? Can pluralism generate innovations in understandings of moral duty? How is convergence on the validity of legal and moral authority possible in circumstances of pluralism? As the contributors to the book demonstrate in a wide variety of ways, these normative, conceptual, and political questions deeply intertwine.
Contributors: Kenneth Baynes, William A. Galston, Barbara Herman, F. M. Kamm, Benedict Kingsbury, Frank I. Michelman, William E. Scheuerman, Gopal Sreenivasan, Daniel Weinstock, and Robin West.
Exploring Kant, Hegel, and Marx
Multicultural Dynamics and the Ends of History provides a strikingly original reading of key texts in the philosophy of history by Kant, Hegel, and Marx, as well as strong arguments for why these texts are still relevant to understanding history today. Réal Fillion offers a critical exposition of the theses of these three authors on the dynamics and the ends of history, in order to provide an answer to the question: "Where are we headed?" Grounding his answer in the twin observations that the world is becoming increasingly multicultural and increasingly unified, Fillion reasserts the task of the speculative philosophy of history as it had been understood by German philosophy: the articulation and understanding the historical process as a developmental whole. Fillion's interpretation engages many recent strands of social and political thought in order to provide a new understanding of current events, and possible futures, grounded in the understanding of the dynamics of the past and the present provided by Kant, Hegel, and Marx. The result is a rich and timely answer to the question of where our world is headed today.
A Commentary on Book I of More’s Utopia Showing Its Relation to Plato’s Republic
Colin Starnes radical interpretation of the long-recognized affinity of Thomas More’s Utopia and Plato’s Republic confirms the intrinsic links between the two works. Through commentary on More’s own introduction to Book I, the author shows the Republic is everywhere present as the model of the “best commonwealth,” which More must first discredit as the root cause of the dreadful evils in the collapsing political situation of sixteenth-century Europe. Starnes demonstrates how More, once having shorn the Republic of what was applicable to a society that had for a thousand years accepted and been moved by the Christian revelation, then “Christianized” it to arrive at one of the earliest and most coherent accounts of the ideal modern state: the description of Utopia in Book II.
Knowing this radically new view of a long-recognized position may be questioned, the author has included a criticism and appreciation of the other major lines of interpretation concerning More’s Utopia.
A Perfectionist Basis for Non-Perfectionist Politics
How can we establish a political/legal order that in principle does not require the human flourishing of any person or group to be given structured preference over that of any other? Addressing this question as the central problem of political philosophy, Norms of Liberty offers a new conceptual foundation for political liberalism that takes protecting liberty, understood in terms of individual negative rights, as the primary aim of the political/legal order. Rasmussen and Den Uyl argue for construing individual rights as metanormative principles, directly tied to politics, that are used to establish the political/ legal conditions under which full moral conduct can take place. These they distinguish from normative principles, used to provide guidance for moral conduct within the ambit of normative ethics. This crucial distinction allows them to develop liberalism as a metanormative theory, not a guide for moral conduct. The moral universe need not be minimized or morality grounded in sentiment or contracts to support liberalism, they show. Rather, liberalism can be supported, and many of its internal tensions avoided, with an ethical framework of Aristotelian inspiration—one that understands human flourishing to be an objective, inclusive, individualized, agent-relative, social, and self-directed activity.