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In Encountering Ability, Scott DeShong considers how ability and its correlative, disability, come into existence. Besides being articulated as physical, social, aesthetic, political, and specifically human, ability signifies and is signified such that signification itself is always in question. Thus the language of ability and the ability of language constitute discourse that undermines foundations, including any foundation for discourse or ability. Drawing on Gilles Deleuze’s theory of primary differentiation and Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of ethical relationality, Encountering Ability finds implications of music, theology, and cursing in the signification of ability, and also examines various literary texts, including works by Amiri Baraka and Marguerite Duras.
Mysticism, scepticism, Buddhism, art and poetry
Through an analysis of many different examples, Danvers articulates a new way of thinking about mysticism and scepticism, not as opposite poles of the philosophical spectrum, but as two fields of enquiry with overlapping aims and methods. Prompted by a deep sense of wonder at being alive, many mystics and sceptics, like the Buddha, practice disciplines of doubt in order to become free of attachment to fixed appearances, essences and viewpoints, and in doing so they find peace and equanimity. They develop ways of living with impermanence and the unexpected by letting go of adherence to dogmatic beliefs and by suspending judgement. In common with many artists and poets they act as agents of uncertainty, actively disturbing the routines and habits of day-to-day thought and behaviour in order to demonstrate how to maintain a sense of balance and spontaneity in the midst of life’s difficulties. Topics explored include: being and self as process; mysticism and language; scepticism and dogmatism; Buddhism, interdependence and emptiness; Daoism and impermanence; dialectics of doubt in art and poetry. Written in a lively and accessible style, accompanied by drawings and photographs by the author, this volume is aimed at scholars, artists, teachers, and anyone interested in philosophy, religion, art, poetry and ways of being.
Constructing Images of Violence and Genocide
This volume offers new and fascinating insights into some of the most urgent and relevant dimensions of violence in our time. Specialists from a broad range of disciplines explore some of the reasons and ways in which humans choose to harm one another. The two sections of the book engage a common theme, namely how ideological constructions influence, facilitate, and shape the understanding of our own involvement in violence. Whilst the first section focuses on one specific form of violence, namely genocide, the second explores our construction of violent images: verbally, visually, aurally, legally, socially, imaginally. This book should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the multi-faceted and complex dimensions of violence in our contemporary, global world.
Editor: Nancy Billias
The essays in this volume provide rich fodder for reflection on topics that are of urgent interest to all thinking people. Each one suggests new ways to contemplate our own role(s) in the production and promotion of evil. The authors encourage the reader to be challenged, outraged, and disturbed by what you read here. The eighth gathering of Global Perspectives on Evil and Human Wickedness, which took place in Salzburg in March 2007, provided a look at evil past, present, and future, from a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives. Papers were presented on the Holocaust, genocide, violence, sadism, pædophilia, physical, verbal, and visual weapons of mass destruction, and on the effects of a variety of media on our apperception of and responses to evil. One of the overarching themes that emerged was the ethical role of the observer or witness to evil, the sense that all of our writings are, in an echo of Thomas Merton’s salient phrase, the conjectures of guilty bystanders. The notion of complicity was examined from a number of angles, and imbued the gathering with a sense of urgency: that our common goal was to engender change by raising awareness of the countless and ubiquitous ways in which evil can be actively or passively carried on and promoted. The papers selected for this volume provide a representative sample of the lively, provocative, and often disturbing discussions that took place over the course of that conference. This volume also contains a few papers from a sister conference, Cultures of Violence, which was held in Oxford in 2004. These papers have been included here because of their striking relevance to the themes that emerged in the Evil conference of 2007.
In this book, Camila Loew analyzes four women’s testimonial literary writings on the Holocaust to examine and question some of the tenets of the fields of Holocaust studies, gender studies, and testimony. Through a close reading of the works of Charlotte Delbo, Margarete Buber-Neumann, Ruth Klüger, and Marguerite Duras, Loew foregrounds these authors’ search for a written form to engage with their experiences of the extreme. Although each chapter contains its individual focus and features, the book possesses a unity in intention, concerns, and consequences. In the theoretical introduction that unites the four chapters, Loew eschews essentialism and revises the emergence of the field of Women and Holocaust studies from the early 1980s on, and signals some of its shortcomings. In response, and in accordance with a recent turn in various disciplines of the Humanities, Loew highlights the ethical dimension of testimony and its responsible commitment to the other. In dealing with the texts as literary testimonies—a complex genre, between literature and history—, testimony is freed from the obligation to respond to the requirements of factual truth, and becomes a privileged form to voice the traumatic event, and to symbolically explore the role of excess.
Amidst the cacophony of claims made about forgiveness, this book serves to aid in an effort to put “forgiveness in perspective.” Marieke Smit and Christopher R. Allers have collected here ten essays written by twelve authors from around the world and across the disciplinary spectrum including philosophers, practitioners, psychologists, literary theorists, and prison chaplains. All the essays offer a perspective on forgiveness and put forgiveness in perspective whether by tracing what forgiveness “is,” how this religious inheritance is worked out in our secularizing societies, how forgiveness works in our quotidian experience, or a particular manifestation in a particular context such as marriage, prison, or after an abortion, to name a few. The multi-disciplinary character of this book provides a multi-disciplinary appeal as well as a resource to enlarge one’s own perspective on this perplexing, enigmatic, and wonderfully complex concept of forgiveness.
The various Christian, Muslim, traditional (African), and secular (Western) ways of imagining and coping with evil collected in this volume have several things in common. The most crucial perhaps and certainly the most striking aspect is the problem of defining the nature or characteristics of evil as such. Some argue that evil has an essence that remains constant, whereas others say its interpretation depends on time and place.
However much religious and secular interpretations of evil may have changed, the human search for sense and meaning never ends. Questions of whom to blame and whom to address—God, the devil, fate, bad luck, or humans—remain at the center of our explanations and our strategies to comprehend, define, counter, or process the evil we do and the evil done to us by people, God, nature, or accident. Using approaches from cultural anthropology, religious studies, theology, philosophy, psychology, and history, the contributors to this volume analyze how several religious and secular traditions imagine and cope with evil.
Explorations of Human Iniquity
Minding Evil: Explorations of Human Iniquity brings together fifteen essays, versions of which were presented at the Fifth International Conference on Evil and Wickedness, held in Prague in 2004. The volume examines evil and wickedness from a variety of disciplines, including criminology, cultural studies, gender studies, law, literature, peace studies, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. In so doing Minding Evil keeps in play the doubled meaning of its title: on the one hand, to tend to evil, that is, to oversee, cultivate, and deploy it; on the other hand, to be bothered by evil and so, in learning to identify or recognise it, to try to understand its workings and thus contain or control it and, perhaps, repair or undo it. While the essays taken together work to show the difficulty and at times the travesty of not being able to distinguish between the two meanings, it is this second meaning that remains key. What are the individual and collective responsibilities entailed in minding - being troubled by - evil? This is the central question of this volume.
What is the relationship between texts and ethics? Who decides the ethics of a text, the writer or the reader? What happens to ethics in texts that portray dreams or psychoses? Is violence always inherently unethical? In dealing with others is violence to both them and oneself ever completely avoidable?
Textual Ethos Studies does not attempt to provide definitive answers to these questions so much as to be a springboard to the further discussion of ethics in relation to specific texts. The essays illustrate varying perspectives — ranging from the philosophical to the psychoanalytical to the linguistic — that can be used to localize how texts engage or invite an engagement with ethics.
Twenty scholars representing Asia, Europe, Israel, North America, and South Africa highlight the complex relationship between cultural context and ethics, and between the ethical and the unethical. Several essays deal with the study of atypical texts that represent different attitudes toward the violent, the disordered, the traumatized, the psychotic, and the sentimental in order to encourage — or provoke — further discussion of the relevance of these types of texts to ethics.
Editor: Richard Jackson
(Re)Constructing Cultures of Violence and Peace brings together eleven original essays that were presented at the Third Global Conference on Cultures of Violence held in August 2002 in Prague. Covering an array of violence-related subjects, and a range of methodologies—textual, historical, theoretical, quantitative—the resulting volume is a multifaceted exploration of how cultures of violence are constructed, and how they can be deconstructed and replaced with cultures of peace. In part one, the authors aim to map and describe some of the important cultures of violence in our modern world—interstate war, civil war, criminal punishment, religious conflict, hooliganism—as an initial step towards understanding violence as a cultural construction. Part two explores aspects of the (re)construction of culture of peace. Specifically, the challenges encountered in attempting to conceptualise, study, or transform cultures of violence are examined. A common theme throughout the book is that violence is a fluid social and cultural construct—it is made by individuals, groups, and social forces. The implications of this are more than simply ontological: if violence is made, it can also be unmade; if cultures of violence are socially and politically constructed, they can also be de-constructed.