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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.
Illumination through Critical Prisms
Editors: Ian Morley and Mira Crouch
This book considers the place and value of knowledge in contemporary society. “Knowledge” is not a self-evident concept: both its denotations and connotations are historically situated. Since the Enlightenment, knowledge has been a matter of discovery through effort, and “knowledge for its own sake” a taken-for-granted ideal underwriting progressive education as a process which not only taught “for” and “about” something, but also ennobled the soul. While this ideal has not been explicitly rejected, in recent decades there has been a tacit move away from a strong emphasis on its centrality, even in Higher Education. The authors address the values that inform knowledge production in its present forms, and seek to identify social and cultural factors that support these values.
Against the background of increasingly restrictive conditions of academic work, the first section of this volume offers incisive critiques of Higher Education, with examples drawn from Australia and New Zealand. The second group of chapters considers how academics have viewed, and have tried to adapt to, present circumstances. The third section comprises papers that consider epistemological issues in the generation and promulgation of knowledge. The chapters in this volume are indicative of the work that needs to be done so that we can come to comprehend – and perhaps try and improve – our relationship to learning and knowledge in the 21st Century.
This timely book will be of particular interest to workers in higher education; it should also inform and challenge all those who have concerns for the future of the intellectual life of our civilization.
Hermeneutics, Values and Society
One of the prime issues that needs to be addressed in dialogical encounter between the three monotheistic faiths of the world is that concerning the authority and interpretation of Holy Writ, since Jews, Christians and Muslims alike consider their Scriptures to be divine revelation. It is incumbent upon each of these religions to apprise itself of the hermeneutical approach employed by the others in ascribing current meaning to ancient scriptural texts. This is not only important as a means for the enhancement of inter-religious understanding but is also of great interest to society at large. What role does the Jewish Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Qu'ran play in the thinking and the lives of contemporary Jews, Christians, and Muslims? How are these Holy Scriptures interpreted in terms of present-day circumstances? How much room do the three religions allow for bringing their basic messages and biblical-theological traditions into rapport with constantly changing social, political and economic conditions? Is the concept of hermeneutical space acceptable to these religions? If so, in what sense and at what level? Is it possible to identify the scopus of a text and then reconstitute it textually, as it were, in light of the social and ethical questions thrown up by new contextual developments? Can interpretive adjustments be made without jeopardizing the core message of the text involved? And do the three monotheistic religions stand open to one another for influence in this regard? Has one or another of them taken hermeneutical cues from the others? Is there room for mutual learning within the hermeneutical space mentioned above or is this a sacred space closed to all influence from other traditions? These are among the central questions raised and dealt with in this interreligious collection of essays, perhaps the only dialogical symposium to date to deal exclusively with the doctrine and hermeneutics of Holy Scripture in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.