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Comic Perspectives on Democracy and Freedom
Comedy, from social ridicule to the unruly laughter of the carnival, provides effective tools for reinforcing social patterns of domination as well as weapons for emancipation. In Irony in the Age of Empire, Cynthia Willett asks: What could embody liberation better than laughter? Why do the oppressed laugh? What vision does the comic world prescribe? For Willett, the comic trumps standard liberal accounts of freedom by drawing attention to bodies, affects, and intimate relationships, topics which are usually neglected by political philosophy. Willett's philosophical reflection on comedy issues a powerful challenge to standard conceptions of freedom by proposing a new kind of freedom that is unapologetically feminist, queer, and multiracial. This book provides a wide-ranging, original, thoughtful, and expansive discussion of citizenship, social manners, and political freedom in our world today.
Celebrations and Attacks
Reflections on the Canadian Identity
In this book Rose illuminates the extraordinary creativity of Jewish intellectuals as they reevaluated Judaism with the tools of a German philosophical tradition fast emerging as central to modern intellectual life. While previous work emphasizes the “subversive” dimensions of German-Jewish thought or the “inner antisemitism” of the German philosophical tradition, Rose shows convincingly the tremendous resources German philosophy offered contemporary Jews for thinking about the place of Jews in the wider polity. Offering a fundamental reevaluation of seminal figures and key texts, Rose emphasizes the productive encounter between Jewish intellectuals and German philosophy. He brings to light both the complexity and the ambivalence of reflecting on Jewish identity and politics from within a German tradition that invested tremendous faith in the political efficacy of philosophical thought itself.
Jewishness and the Human Dimension is a leading scholar's progress report on an effort to bring Jewishness broadly construed into dialogue with a wide range of thought in contemporary criticism, while linking those themes in turn to the question of planetary crisis.Each chapter emerges from and addresses the circumstances of its composition; a talk to New Jersey undergraduates inviting them to contemplate their lifespans vis--vis the life history of the species; a meeting to contemplate Jewish memory outside Europe and after 1945; an inaugural address as the author sought to make sense of leaving his home on the Lower East Side and making a new one in Kansas. Two chapters on research and teaching in Jewish cultural studies as academic practice develop the notion of Jewish studies as a human science and examine how Jewish historiography, once a deeply conservative discipline, has integrated insights from anthropology and literary cultural studies. Boyarin also shares a dialogue withthe Jerusalem-based physicist Martin Land on physical and cultural ideas of futurity and redemption. The book ends with a stark challenge to those who work in the contemporary humanities and social sciences: in order to be able to contribute to the possibility of sustained human life on Earth, we need to interrogate rigorously now the status of human differences. Neither ethnography (though it relishes the particular), memoir (though a personal voice is readily audible), nor criticism (though the work and figures of Jacques Derrida and especially Walter Benjamin are indispensable to its project), this book attempts to put in place words of the late Moishe Fogel, vice president of the Eighth Street Shul, that have long stood as a watchword for the author's writing: Everything what you know you gotta use!
In the past ten years, theorists from Elaine Scarry to Roger Scruton have devoted renewed attention to the aesthetic of beauty. Part of their discussions claim that beauty—because it arises from a sense of proportion, symmetry, or reciprocity—provides a model for justice. Justice, Dissent, and the Sublime makes a significant departure from this mode of thinking. Mark Canuel argues that the emphasis on beauty unwittingly reinforces, in the name of justice, the constraints of uniformity and conventionality. He calls for a more flexible and inclusive connection between aesthetics and justice, one founded on the Kantian concept of the sublime. The sublime captures the roles that asymmetry, complaint, and disagreement play in a complete understanding of a just society—a point, the author maintains, that was appreciated by a number of Romantic writers, including Mary Shelley. Canuel draws interesting connections between the debate about beauty and justice and issues in cosmopolitanism, queer theory, and animal studies.
Far from being a utopian, soft and ineffectual concept, Meyer shows that mercy already operates within the law in ways that we usually do not recognize.. . . Meyer's piercing insights and careful analysis bring the reader to think of law, justice, and mercy itself in a new and far more profound light. ---James Martel, San Francisco State University How can granting mercy be just if it gives a criminal less punishment than he "deserves" and treats his case differently from others like it? This ancient question has become central to debates over truth and reconciliation commissions, alternative dispute resolution, and other new forms of restorative justice. The traditional response has been to marginalize mercy and to cast doubt on its ability to coexist with forms of legal justice. Flipping the relationship between justice and mercy, Linda Meyer argues that our rule-bound and harsh system of punishment is deeply flawed and that mercy should be, not the crazy woman in the attic of the law, but the lady of the house. The book articulates a theory of punishment with mercy and illustrates the implications of that theory with legal examples drawn from criminal law doctrine, pardons, mercy in military justice, and fictional narratives of punishment and mercy. Linda Ross Meyer, Ph.D., J.D., is Carmen Tortora Professor of Law at Quinnipiac University School of Law and President of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and Humanities.
Advancing the Enlightenment in Contemporary Political Theory
How may progressive political theorists advance the Enlightenment after Darwin shifted the conversation about human nature in the 19th century, the Holocaust displayed barbarity at the historical center of the Enlightenment, and 9/11 showed the need to modify the ideals and strategies of the Enlightenment? Kantian Courage considers how several figures in contemporary political theory--including John Rawls, Gilles Deleuze, and Tariq Ramadan--do just this as they continue Immanuel Kant's legacy.Rather than advocate specific Kantian ideas, the book contends that political progressives should embody Kantian courage--a critical and creative disposition to invent new political theories to address the problems of the age. It illuminates Kant's legacy in contemporary intellectual debates; constructs a dialogue among Anglo-American, Continental, and Islamic political theorists; and shows how progressives may forge alliances across political and religious differences by inventing concepts such as the overlapping consensus, the rhizome, and the spaceof testimony. The book will interest students of the Enlightenment, contemporary political theorists and philosophers, and a general audience concerned about the future of the relationship between Islam and the West.
Interpretations and Applications
Kant’s writings on politics were seldom viewed as having much importance by past interpreters of his thought, especially in comparison with his writings on ethics, which received the lion’s share of attention (along with his major works, such as the Critique of Pure Reason). But in recent years a new generation of scholars has revived interest in what Kant had to say about politics. This volume of essays offers a comprehensive introduction to Kant’s often misunderstood political thought from a position of engagement with today’s most pressing questions. Covering the full range of sources of Kant’s political theory—including not only the Doctrine of Right, the Critiques, and the political essays but also Kant’s lectures and minor writings—the volume’s distinguished contributors demonstrate that Kant’s philosophy offers compelling positions that continue to inspire the best thinking on politics today. Aside from the editor, the contributors are Michaele Ferguson, Louis-Philippe Hodgson, Ian Hunter, John Christian Laursen, Mika LaVaque-Manty, Onora O’Neill, Thomas W. Pogge, Arthur Ripstein, and Robert S. Taylor.
Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding
Prejudice is often not a conscious attitude: because of ingrained habits in relating to the world, one may act in prejudiced ways toward others without explicitly understanding the meaning of one’s actions. Similarly, one may know how to do certain things, like ride a bicycle, without being able to articulate in words what that knowledge is. These are examples of what Alexis Shotwell discusses in Knowing Otherwise as phenomena of “implicit understanding.” Presenting a systematic analysis of this concept, she highlights how this kind of understanding may be used to ground positive political and social change, such as combating racism in its less overt and more deep-rooted forms. Shotwell begins by distinguishing four basic types of implicit understanding: nonpropositional, skill-based, or practical knowledge; embodied knowledge; potentially propositional knowledge; and affective knowledge. She then develops the notion of a racialized and gendered “common sense,” drawing on Gramsci and critical race theorists, and clarifies the idea of embodied knowledge by showing how it operates in the realm of aesthetics. She also examines the role that both negative affects, like shame, and positive affects, like sympathy, can play in moving us away from racism and toward political solidarity and social justice. Finally, Shotwell looks at the politicized experience of one’s body in feminist and transgender theories of liberation in order to elucidate the role of situated sensuous knowledge in bringing about social change and political transformation.