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Displaying: 41-50 of 92 documents


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41. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Roger Savage Emancipatory Alternatives, Sites of Resistance: Social Subversion, Political Contestation, and Dystopic Imaginaries
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Social opposition to instituted policies and practices marks the sites of resistance that populate the contemporary political landscape. Animated by the prospects of a better and more just world, the emancipatory ambitions of social and political movements bring to the fore discrepancies between ideologically congealed power relations and habits of thought and the subversive function of utopian expectations. Paul Ricoeur reminds us that our participation in society is invariably punctuated by our experiences of reality’s noncongruence with imaginative alternatives we can project and upon which we can act. After explaining how literary fictions open spaces for reworking reality, I set out the imagination’s analogous power on the political plane. The struggles with which social and political movements are engaged seek to transform established conventions. Hence, like literary works, these movements aim at refashioning the existing order of reality from within. Protest movements attest to how struggles for recognition combat systemic injustices by holding out the prospect of a different and better future. Consequently, these movements exemplify the power that springs from individuals acting in consort, as evidenced by recent protests against the Trump administration. Conversely, violence destroys power. In view of the way that future expectations animate the force of the present, I therefore argue that dystopic representations of authoritarian regimes in Margret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s 1984 fulfill a critical, social function as apocalyptic harbingers of political corruption and deceit. As such, these dystopian novels intensify the force that the present has as a time of crisis and decision.
42. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 2
Chiara Bottici Who Is Afraid of The Myth of the State?: Remarks on Cassirer’s Unpublished Manuscript
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Now that we possess the Nachlass version, we can finally state it: Cassirer’s The Myth of the State has been massacred, large parts have been omitted; entire sections moved around, the fundamental thesis deeply altered. Instead of the neo-Enlightenment intellectual who, when faced with the Nazi’s recourse to myth, had started to question the very idea of a Western road from mythos to logos, the 1946 edition transmitted to us the text of a self-confident intellectual carrying the torch of the Enlightenment even in front of an event that could have potentially extinguished it forever. Why has the text been massacred? When? And by whom? The main suspect cannot but be Charles Hendel, who published it posthumously in 1946 by stating: ‘I hope I have not altered anything that would have mattered to him.’ By perhaps it was not a murder, but rather a suicide: perhaps Cassirer’s himself has killed his own self-criticism. In both cases, the motive could have been the desire to preserve Cassirer’s intellectual coherence, and thus reiterate that opposition of mythical versus rational consciousness upon which both Cassirer’s philosophy and philosophical self-narrative of the West ultimately rests. But if that is the case, then it does not matter who actually assassinated the text, because we are all, in a way or another, accomplices.
43. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Suzi Adams, Paul Blokker, Jeremy CA Smith Editorial
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articles
44. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Johann P. Arnason Hans Blumenberg: The Philosopher in the Middle of History
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This is the first of two papers on Hans Blumenberg’s work. The interpretation stresses its multi-faceted and unfinished character; Blumenberg combines a philosophical elucidation of history with anthropological reflection, a theory of culture and a project of ‘metaphorology’, dealing with the imaginary presuppositions of reason. Here an attempt is made to read Blumenberg with a view to implicit lessons for the comparative analysis of civilizations. Blumenberg did not venture into that field, and it can be shown that he failed to spell out civilizational connections even when they, in retrospect, seem very obvious. But some of his key themes, especially the problematic of epochs constituted by articulations of and attitudes to the world, overlap with those of civilizational analysts. The epochs most extensively discussed by Blumenberg are late antiquity, late medieval times, and early modernity; in all three cases, further debates must take note of changing emphases in historical scholarship. However, the complex and ambivalent notion of autonomy that is central to Blumenberg’s understanding of the modern age is a contribution of lasting value. In preparation for closer examination of philosophical issues in a sequel, this paper then concludes with a brief description of Blumenberg’s intellectual trajectory, from an early ethical project to pronounced scepticism about normative aspirations.
45. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
George H. Taylor Delineating Ricoeur’s Concept of Utopia
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This article elaborates the continuing significance of Ricoeur’s development of utopia. Ricoeur develops two not necessarily exclusive aspects of the utopia in its positive sense. First, it acts as an imaginative variation on existing reality, and second, it can act to ‘shatter’ and hence recast existing reality. While Ricoeur himself did not tend to distinguish rigorously between these two senses of the utopia, the article seeks to provide that delineation. Imaginative variation opens the sphere of human possibility but remains hypothetical, while the utopia as that which shatters can introduce a new reality into social existence. In the utopia that shatters, the social imagination can be constitutive of social life. The article situates Ricoeur’s discussion of utopia in his Lectures on Ideology and Utopia in relation to other relevant texts in his corpus, principally The Rule of Metaphor and the forthcoming Lectures on Imagination. The argument locates Ricoeur’s treatment of utopia within the broader field of his work on the symbolic structure of action and social imagination.
46. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Chiara Bottici From the Imagination to the Imaginal Politics, Spectacle and Post-Fordist Capitalism
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According to Rorty, philosophy is most of time the result of a contest between an entrenched vocabulary, which has become a nuisance, and half-formed new vocabulary which vaguely promises great things. In this paper, I will explore the contest between the entrenched vocabulary of imagination (and ‘the imaginary’ as its necessary counterpart) and a half-formed vocabulary that promises a lot of interesting things: the vocabulary of the ‘the imaginal’. After introducing the concept of the imaginal, I will move on to show its force and, in particular, the role it plays in contemporary politics and in so-called post-Fordist capitalism.
47. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Erin Carlisle On the Possibilities of Political Action in-the-World: Pathways Through Arendt, Castoriadis and Wagner
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This paper clears a path toward an understanding of political action in-the-world. It does so by reconstructing Hannah Arendt, Cornelius Castoriadis, and Peter Wagner’s respective political social theories with a view to the hermeneutic-phenomenological problematic of the world. The analysis begins from the recognition of the human condition as always-already situated in-the-world: both within meaningful and shared world contexts, and within an overarching yet underdetermined world horizon. Two inherently interconnected notions of political action emerge from the reconstruction. The first, as world-disclosing or world-interpreting doing, refers to the political critique that arises through the conflict of interpretations of the world, which reveals the world as a context of unity in a plurality. Connectedly, world-forming or world-making action relates to the introduction of novelty into the socio-cultural and historical field. From this view, political projects rearticulate the world following the interpretative critique of the instituted pattern of socio-cultural reality. As I argue, the openness of the underdetermined, overarching world-horizon provides the precondition for political projects that seek to critically reinterpret and rearticulate the socio-cultural institution of the world. Still, the approach to political action in-the-world offered in this paper remains open for development; the thematics of power and the temporality of doing are avenues for further consideration.
48. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Elsje Fourie The Intersection of East Asian and African Modernities: Towards a New Research Agenda
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This article identifies strands of literature across several disciplines that seek to explore the ideational impact of the proliferating linkages between East Asian and African societies. It argues that these debates could more fruitfully engage with one another if their common concern is understood to be the intersection of modernities—broadly defined as societal self-understandings that wish to provide answers to collective economic, political and epistemic problems. These discussions are well-placed to further explore these intersections by understanding how processes of policy transfer and policy assemblages link various East Asian and African modernities, while reflexive and transnational methodologies such as multi-sited ethnographies may provide innovative methodological tools. A case study of recent attempts to construct Chinese-inspired industrial parks across Ethiopia provides an example of intersecting modernities in practice.
49. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Mikhail Maslovskiy Brazil, Russia, and the Multiple Modernities Paradigm
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The article focuses on analyses of transformation processes in Brazil and Russia from the viewpoint of the multiple modernities theory. Shmuel Eisenstadt’s study of the Latin American version of modernity is characterised along with interpretations of his ideas in the works of contemporary sociologists. The peculiarities of modernisation in Brazil are singled out including the impact of orientation to external centres of liberal modernity. The modernising dynamics of Russian society are discussed on the basis of Johann Arnason’s sociological theory. It is argued that Arnason’s analysis of intercivilisational encounters and imperial modernisation is essential for understanding transformation processes in Russia. A comparative analysis of Brazil and Russia should take into consideration the impact of religious traditions and institutions on social and political changes, the unequal length and intensity of imperial experience and the degree of openness towards western liberal modernity. The legacy of the Soviet period is regarded as the main difference of contemporary Russia from Latin American societies.
50. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Paul Blokker The Imaginary Constitution of Constitutions
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The modern constitution is predominantly understood as a way of instituting and limiting power, and is expected to contribute to (societal) stability, certainty, and order. Constitutions are hence of clear sociological interest, but until recently they have received little sociological attention. I argue that this is unfortunate, as a sociological approach has much to offer in terms of a complex and historically sensitive understanding of constitutions and constitutionalism. Constitutional sociology has particular relevance in contemporary times, in which the meaning of constitutions and constitutionalism is uncertain, and subject to contestation, and possible transformation. The constitutional sociology developed here is phenomenologically inspired and stresses the importance of understandings of the modern constitution as ‘embedded’ in constitutional imaginaries. Rather than as a visible and rationally designed construct, constitutional sociology understands constitutionalism as ultimately a ‘field of knowledge’. The suggestion is that this field of knowledge or ‘modern constitutional horizon’ is characterized by a tension between two ultimate markers, in terms of what Castoriadis has identified as the social imaginary significations of mastery and autonomy. Mastery and autonomy form prominent constitutional orientations, historically taking the form of solidified, instituted meanings, identified here as the modernist and the democratic imaginaries. In the last section, the two instituted constitutional imaginaries will be ‘unpacked’ in specific components (state sovereignty, absoluteness, fabrication, endurance, and distrust regarding the modernist imaginary; indeterminacy, creativity, dynamism, self-government and popular sovereignty regarding the democratic one). In conclusion, I suggest that constitutional sociology might significantly help elucidating the potential losses and heteronomous tendencies that may result from the contemporary uncertainty and possible metamorphosis that affects the modern constitution.