Displaying: 21-40 of 101 documents

0.09 sec

21. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Ingerid S. Straume Challenges of the Anthropocene: Between Critique and Creation
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The Anthropocene refers to the geological epoch where human activities have turned into a geological factor. The paper discusses some of the questions that emerge with this concept, related, especially, to antireductionism, transdisciplinarity and the modern notion of freedom. An important dimension is the eco-philosophical critique of modern knowledge systems and what is seen as exploitative and dominating forms of knowledge. In this literature, capitalist expansion, colonization and fossil fuel consumption are seen as historically connected and supported by scientific forms of rationality that have proven to be harmful. While sharing many of these eco-philosophical concerns, I argue that the sciences may still harbour the resources necessary to recreate themselves in response to contemporary challenges. One example is Terrence Deacon’s autogenic theory of life, where the relationship between life and non-life is seen as continuous and historical, not abstract and metaphysical. The notion of Anthropocene has also inspired many artists who work, sometimes together with scientists, at creating new forms and significations. Taking this as an opening for greater social transformations, the paper discusses how the Anthropocene can become part of a social movement while maintaining creativity, complexity and commitment to reason.
22. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Said Amir Arjomand State Formation In Early Modern Muslim Empires: Common Origin And Divergent Paths
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Chinggis Khan’s empire of conquest unified much of the Eurasian ecumene in the thirteenth century. A constitutional reading by sedentary Persian bureaucrats of the Mongol empire is used as the background for contrasting the divergent developmental paths of imperial autocracy in the three early modern Muslim successor empires. This developmental path was historically contingent upon the transformation of ascetic Sufism into a millenarian mass movement against Turko-Mongolian domination among the subject population of its compound societies. The paradoxical impact of popular Sufism on the legitimacy of kingship was also contingent upon either the success of the aspiring millenarian challengers, as was the case with the Safavid case, or the pre-emptive appropriation of the claim to the union between apparent and real monarchy by Turko-Mongolian rulers, as with the Timurids who ruled Mughal India, or, pre-emptive construction of a counter-model, as with the Ottomans.
23. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Peter Wagner World-Sociology: An Outline
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The objective of a world-sociology is to elaborate an understanding of the present socio-political constellation that is global in its outlook but sensitive to differences in specific spatio-temporal circumstances and that is based on insights into how this present constellation has been brought about through transformations of preceding socio-political constellations. This is a time-honoured task addressed in ‘classical’ historical sociology, but largely abandoned today because of theoretical and methodological criticism of earlier attempts. This article tries to show how a new approach to this task can be developed: by identifying the elements for such work in recent debates; by outlining the conceptual steps necessary for reconstruction; and finally by sketching the contours of such a new world-sociology in some substance.
24. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Aurea Mota Uncivilised Civilisations: Reflections On Brazil And Comparative History
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Drawing on archaeological findings about individuals of the archaic Brazilian ‘hunter-gatherer’ societies and on the life and work of a contemporary Brazilian artist, Paulo Nazareth, this paper argues for the use of a timeless history in which chronological historical time will be less important in sociological comparative analyses. There are processes that belong to a significant past which still inform how societies imagine themselves and which cannot be understood from the established perspective of a divided human and natural history. These processes can only be interpreted by overcoming disciplinary constraints and by assuming that history goes beyond the systematic organisation of the facts and historical evidence. There are aspects of American archaic history that are not only completely unknown to us, but they also inform societal practices and imaginary significations of the past, present and future in many New World societies. The paper critically discusses historical-sociological literature on Brazil. Based on a number of perspectives developed in the fields of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, and archaeology, it will be argued that the division of the world into ‘civilisation’ and ‘other simplistic social-historical-economical-cultural groups’ is incompatible with a comparative historical sociology that does not aim to hierarchise diff erent societal forms.
25. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Jakub Homolka Elaborating the Philosophical Dimensions: The Development of Historical-Comparative Sociology in Johann Pall Arnason’s Civilizational Analysis
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This article deals with the work of the Icelandic sociologist and philosopher Johann Pall Arnason (1940–) and with his concept of ‘civilizational analysis’. More precisely, I want to show that Arnason’s original interpretation of civilizational analysis goes beyond the mainstream understanding of historical sociology as a dialogue between history and sociology in favour of philosophical approaches. By outlining the three levels of Arnason’s civilizational analysis—(I.) the reconstruction of the concept of ‘civilization’, including its history, (II.) the link to philosophical sources and (III.) the theoretical development of Eisenstadt’s heritage—the article shows that, according to Arnason, the concept of ‘civilization’ is understood as amenable to the historical-sociological concepts of ‘culture’ (Max Weber, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt) on the one hand, and the philosophical concepts of the ‘world’ (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jan Patočka, Cornelius Castoriadis) on the other. Arnason thus, defining ‘culture’ as the so-called ‘interpretive articulation of the world’, emphasizes the motif of ‘cultural creativity’, which is present, yet theoretically underdeveloped, both in Weber’s and Eisenstadt’s work. In this light, the article finally focuses on Arnason’s most recent attempts to discuss Eisenstadt’s concept of the ‘civilizational dimension’ of modernity. It deals primarily with the terms ‘cultural ontology’ and ‘civilizational paradox’, in which the need to link historical sociology to philosophical perspectives is most evident. The civilizational approach is thus introduced as the crucial framework of Arnason’s elaboration of the philosophical dimensions in sociological analysis.
26. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Suzi Adams On Johann Arnason and the Religio-Political Nexus: Some Preliminary Reflections
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This essay focuses on Arnason’s most recent work, and reconstructs his developing account of the religio-political nexus. Arnason’s elaboration of the religio-political nexus aims to extend ‘the civilizational dimension’ beyond the Axial Age to archaic civilizations. He situates the religio-political nexus within the Durkheimian-Maussian current of civilizational thought, and fortifies it through engagement with debates in historical anthropology (Gauchet, Clastres, Godelier) and Castoriadis’s notion of power and religion. The second part of the essay discusses Arnason’s articulation of the sacred, and argues that consideration of Ricoeur’s work on the ‘symbolic function’, in dialogue with Castoriadis and Arnason, would enrich our understanding of the interplay between the imaginary, symbolic, and the sacred.
27. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Jacob Dlamini Shame and the Imaginary Institution of Society
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
This essay is about the role of shame in the institution of society. Drawing on the work of Cornelius Castoriadis and Louis Hartz, I argue for the presence and importance of shame in even the most racially violent and stratified of societies. Using an example of extreme racial violence from apartheid South Africa, I also argue that shame mediates in profound ways the ideas and practices of the individuals who make up settler societies. This is because shame is by definition relational and social in its operation. For one to feel shame, there needs to be another or the consciousness of another. We feel ashamed in the world, even though our feeling of shame might feel like a primal, private emotion. This has a profound effect on how individuals act, even in racially stratified societies.
28. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Eduardo A. Rueda Anti-Antimodernity: Understanding Modern Narratives in (of ) Latin America
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Latin American narratives constitute ways of interpreting sociohistorical processes both in the past and the present. These narratives have appropriated either the normative aspirations which modernity opened two centuries ago or a critical perspective that opposes those aspirations by taking modernity itself as a source of domination. This article explores how these narratives indeed have interpreted current or past sociohistorical processes through the lens that normative accounts of modernity have provided and, against that background, it questions whether antimodern critiques of the modern normative core are acceptable or not and make a point against understanding ‘antimodern’ narratives as such. The idea that antimodern narratives reveal the ugly face of modernity itself is contested by showing how such narratives are also deeply seated in the modern aspiration to authenticity. This anti-antimodern treatment of antimodern narratives shows the extent to which modernization has failed in satisfying modern normative aspirations—authentic self-realization. Th e implications that this analysis might have for reshaping the framework in which emancipation is thought in Latin America are explained briefly in the last section of the article.
29. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Maxim Khomyakov Mastering Nature: A Russian Route into Modernity?
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
The paper is devoted to the analysis of Russian ‘experience and interpretation’ (P. Wagner) of the situation of modernity. The author considers the time of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century as especially important for understanding Russian modernity and chooses to demonstrate complexities and contradictions of this understanding by the example of Nikolay Fedorov’s Philosophy of Common Task. The paper starts with a characterisation of modernity (according to Castoriadis) as the double signification of autonomy and rational mastery of the world. Then it proceeds to the description of the circumstances of Russian society of the nineteenth century, which, according to the author, were defined by the opposition of ‘the people’ (narod) and ‘intelligentsia’. It is in this situation, he argues, Russian society had to autonomously interpret its position in the world. In the majority of the cases, according to the author, it chose precedence of the mastery and control over autonomy and freedom. The author analyses Fedorov’s projectivist philosophy of resurrection as one of the most striking interpretations ever given to the ideas of autonomy and rational mastery of the world. He argues that Philosophy of Common Tasks incorporated the trends and ideas inherent in Russian understanding of modernity. These features made it an ideology equally popular both among Orthodox Christian thinkers of the time and among communists of the 1920s.
30. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 2 > Issue: 2
Ken’ichi Mishima The Long Shadow of European Self-interpretation in Another Modernity
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
Despite their variety, most paradigms for theories of modernity have for a long time been convinced that European and American modernisation establish a standard. This is no longer acceptable. The situation we are theoretically facing is rather more adequately captured by terms such as ‘multiple’, ‘selective’ and ‘entangled’ modernities. The task is to precisely follow the dynamism of transnational influence and the interference of modernisation-related discourses, which are always selective and entangled. Proceeding from these assumptions, I discuss in this essay various aspects of the transnational entangledness of discourses, especially focusing on the long shadow which European self-interpretations of history, above all the Hegelian one, have cast over public discussions in Japan.
31. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Johann P. Arnason Hans Blumenberg: The Philosopher in the Middle of History
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
32. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
George H. Taylor Delineating Ricoeur’s Concept of Utopia
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
33. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Suzi Adams, Paul Blokker, Jeremy CA Smith Editorial
34. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Chiara Bottici From the Imagination to the Imaginal Politics, Spectacle and Post-Fordist Capitalism
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
35. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Elsje Fourie The Intersection of East Asian and African Modernities: Towards a New Research Agenda
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
36. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Erin Carlisle On the Possibilities of Political Action in-the-World: Pathways Through Arendt, Castoriadis and Wagner
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
37. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Natalie J Doyle The United States in the Work of Marcel Gauchet: A Critical Introduction to ‘Populism as Symptom’
38. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Marcel Gauchet, Natalie J. Doyle Populism as Symptom
39. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Mikhail Maslovskiy Brazil, Russia, and the Multiple Modernities Paradigm
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.
40. Social Imaginaries: Volume > 3 > Issue: 1
Paul Blokker The Imaginary Constitution of Constitutions
abstract | view |  rights & permissions
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.