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“Is there today another question of religion?”

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Caputo’s eulogy Derrida’s religion, Mark Taylor on Derrida,

“Derrida’s impressions of l’actualité have left their mark around the globe. Situating himself as one who lives between two worlds, a world citizen who is Jewish-French but also Algerian he argues for a philosophy from a cosmopolitico view point where transmission and alterité become the centre. In international conferences spanning three decades with diverse groups: arabo-islamic intellectuals, UNESCO, the Société Internationale d’Histoire de la Psychanalyse or at John Hopkins University, he challenges complacency and complicity. He reveals how philosophy is not shackled by an exclusive, solitary memory or language: it is stereoscopic, polyglot, multi-linear even bastardized, crossbred and spliced. He calls for a new role for philosophy, one in which a rereading of Plato, for example, becomes as urgent a task as new scientific results. (Derrida 1996b) He adds a third space to columns of binary opposites: a space of tension, of sparks generated from divergent viewpoints. (1981:73). Derrida speaks and writes in a ‘scriptless’ hypertext, where intertextualitity can either enrich or confuse (http://http-server.carleton.ca/~mflynnbu/archives/plaintext.htm).”

1990s Caputo described Derrida’s work in the 1990s as a “religion without religion.”[2]

1985 Jacques Derrida’s essay entitled “Des tours de Babel” was  translated by Joseph F. Graham. The article was published in Difference in Translation , (Ed Joseph F. Graham) by Cornell University Press. Cited by 561 – Related articles

Maurice de Gandillac translated the work of German-Jewish literary critic, philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) from German to French.

Derrida, Jacques. 1985. “Des Tours de Babel.” in Difference in Translation. Graham, Joseph F. Ed. Cornell University Press. (édition bilingue)

Derrida, Jacques. 1985. “L’art des confins.” Mélanges offerts à Maurice de Gandillac, PUF.

1985 Sociologist, Peter L. Berger, founded the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (CURA)  at Boston University is a world-leading center for research, education, and public scholarship on religion and world affairs.  It is dedicated to the examination of some of the most important questions of our age: How do religion and values affect political, economic, and public ethical developments around the world? Defying earlier forecasts, why have religious actors and ideas become more rather than less globally powerful in recent years? In a world of increasing religious and ethical diversity, what are the implications of the revival of public religion for citizenship, democracy, and civil coexistence?

1970s Revival of interest in Hegel’s systematic thought.

1925-1933 Walter Benjamin earned a meagre living as translator and literary critic. He was a friend of Bertolt Brecht. They shared a suspicion of dialectics.

1921 Walter Benjamin wrote “Capitalism as Religion” which informs the current religious turn in dialectical theology.

1858 Critique of Hegel’s, Philosophy of Right pp. 23, 24, 39, 40, 92. In a letter to Engels of the 14th of January, 1858

1821 Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) published his book entitled Elements of the Philosophy of Right as a textbook to accompany his lectures at the University of Berlin. Elements of the Philosophy of Right corresponds to a more developed version of the section on “Objective Spirit” in the Philosophy of Spirit. In his work in general Hegel (1770–1831)  attempted to elaborate “a comprehensive and systematic ontology from a “logical” starting point. He is perhaps most well-known for his teleological account of history (SEP).

Hegel’s idealistic dialectics

1764 Voltaire’s  Dictionnaire philosophique was published.

Babel: “Je ne sais pas pourquoi il est dit dans la Genèse que Babel signifie confusion; car Ba signifie père dans les langues orientales, et Bel signifie Dieu; Babel signifie la ville de Dieu, la ville sainte. Les Anciens donnaient ce nom à toutes leurs capitales. Mais il est incontestable que Babel veut dire confusion, soit parce que les architectes furent confondus après avoir élevé leur ouvrage jusqu’à quatre-vingt et un mille pieds juifs, soit parce que les langues se confondirent; et c’est évidemment depuis ce temps-là que les Allemands n’entendent plus les Chinois; car il est clair, selon le savant Bochart, que le chinois est originairement la même langue que le haut-allemand (Voltaire. 1764. Dictionnaire philosophique, Volume 2:274-8).” 

Selected webliography and bibliography
Derrida, Jacques. Anidjar, Gil. 2002.  Acts of religion. Routledge. 436 pp. ISBN 0415924014, 9780415924016

Raschke, Carl. 2002. “Loosening Philosophy’s Tongue: A Conversation with Jack Caputo


Bateke Mask, Icicles, Full-Moon He is a young doctor literally without borders who chose to work with AIDS patients. When he was forced to leave his own strife-torn country as refugee he left behind his family including the woman he hopes to marry. She too is a doctor and because of his political situation, she was forced to leave her country recently as well. At the time she left, the safest African country seemed to be Kenya.

For awhile he accepted what his newly adopted country offered him as work: he joined the ranks of over-qualified African-Canadian security guards. While living through the horrors of everyday violence in his home country, he was able to sleep at night because his family and friends provided an almost impermeable sense of social cohesion. Alone in Canada, working at a job that offered no future, exiting the role of professional health care worker, his sense of self, of his identity was profoundly shaken. Then the nightmares began. Why is it that trauma as mental illnesses is integral to a western medical system yet depression, PTSD are not a prominent part of the medical profession in Africa where people are faced with struggle for the most basic human needs, such as freedom from violence, minimal nutrition and even water?

As he follows the violent eruptions in Kenya his first concern is finding a way to secure safety for his life partner. He feels that if she were here beside him in Canada that the two of them together could survive.

Meanwhile he has found another job. It seems ironic yet fitting that he works with the most at-risk Canadian populations, the urban homeless. He is learning rapidly that most of those living on the streets are mentally ill. Of this group how many are First Nations and Inuit? How many are women? These are the groups who are most vulnerable to social exclusion and who will not find the health care they need in the public system but who will never be able to access a private system.

As I read about the public/private health care debates I cannot help but think of those who are excluded. Even as a newly arrived immigrant, I want to believe that he will not be of those. I have met so many immigrants particularly from Africa who remain underemployed for their entire work lives in Canada. Will our desparate need for doctors faciliate the process for him and his partner? Perhaps even their perspective will transform in some small way, a system that has come to depend on market solutions for all social problems.

How would I present this topic as a part of a robust conversation where divergent voices could be heard including First Nations, Inuit and immigrant students to enhance their understanding of social history in Canada and comparative social histories (particularly with other OECD nations)? How can I share the relevance of Derrida’s urgent call for a need for philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view? What tools can I develop to enhance cross- and interdisciplinary readings without sacrificing legitimacy (academic capital) based on a system of closed disciplines?

tag cloud: Open Source, memory palace, memory work, sociological imagination, governance, Derrida, cosmopolitical, democracy, liberal democracy, social democracy, economics, elite studies, vertical mosaic revisited, Jeffrey Sachs, Stephen Harper’s relation to the Calgary School, wealth disparities will intensify, vulnerability to social exclusion, human rights, judiciary, Canadian elite studies, academia,

Concepts

Ccollective conscience as used in modern societies a way of describing how an entire community comes together to share similar values. French sociologist, Émile Durkheim (1893). Other forms of collective consciousness through a sociological imagination include solidarity attitudes, memes and extreme behaviors like groupthink, herd behavior. Herd behaviour through a political science lens is explored as a weakness in governance as in mob rule. Through a spiritual imagination collective consciousness is discussed as an outcome of meditation and self-realization.

Timeline of social history related to changing interpretations of the concepts of social consciousness, social cohesion, social inclusion, social exclusion in process . . .

1789 Thomas Jefferson in correspondence to James Madison argued that majority rights cannot exist if individual rights do not (Jefferson 1989).

1893 French sociologist, Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) published his first book The Division of Labor in Society in which he “argued that religion plays an important role in uniting members of segmentary (i.e., clan-based) societies through the creation of a common conscience or consciousness (conscience collective). The contents of each individual’s consciousness largely coincide with those of others, and such a society is therefore integrated by mechanical solidarity, or the mutual likeness of its members. As societies become more differentiated and individuated, the division of labor increasingly requires a new morality of specialized service. Organic solidarity, based on a “categorical imperative” of specialized, yet mutually supportive social performances, displaces the need for a collective consciousness (Swatos nd ).” (1893), and his third one, Suicide (1897), contain significant and mutually congruent analyses of religion in the context of a focus on other sociological problemsand guiding figure in the influential French or “Durkheim school” of sociology. Born to Jewish parents in Epinal, in the Eastern part of France, his father was a prominent rabbi in the region, while his grandfather and great-grandfather had been rabbis before him. As a youth, Durkheim himself was apparently destined for the rabbinate but instead entered on a course of secular education. At the École Normale Superieure in Paris, he concentrated on philosophy but also explored a wider range of political and social issues. Among his eminent classmates were Henri Bergson, Jean Jaurès, and Pierre Janet. After a year of study in Germany (1885-1886), Durkheim secured a position at Bordeaux in 1887. There he taught pedagogy and social sciences until 1902, when he was called to a professorship of education (later changed to include sociology) at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he remained until his death in 1917. Although he had already emerged to prominence at Bordeaux, Durkheim became a leading figure in French intellectual life during his years in Paris, and his work exercised a strong influence in official educational circles as well as the social sciences (Swatos nd).”1895 French sociologist, Émile Durkheim (1858-1917) published The Rules of Sociological Method which presents “Durkheim’s distinctive sociological approach, with its emphasis on the reality of society (versus the individual level), the need to study social facts as things (choses) , and the comparative, analytical method (Swatos nd ).”

1989 Sanford Levinson published Constitutional Faith in which he argued (1989:60) Note that the US Constitution states that unlike a pure democracy, in a constitutional republic, citizens in the US are not governed by the majority of the people but by the rule of law (Levinson 1989 ).”Constitutional Republics are a deliberate attempt to diminish the threat of mobocracy thereby protecting minority groups from the tyranny of the majority by placing checks on the power of the majority of the population. The power of the majority of the people is checked by limiting that power to electing representatives who govern within limits of overarching constitutional law rather than the popular vote or government having power to deny any inalienable right.[41] Moreover, the power of elected representatives is also checked by prohibitions against any single individual having legislative, judicial, and executive powers so that basic constitutional law is extremely difficult to change. John Adams defined a constitutional republic as “a government of laws, and not of men.” (wiki)”

Webliography and Bibliography

Jefferson, Thomas in correspodence to James Madison. ME 7:455, Papers 15:393.

Levinson, Sanford. Constitutional Faith. Princeton University Press, 1989, p. 60

Swatos, William H. Jr. Ed. “Durkheim.” Encyclopedia of Religion and Social Science. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Hartford, CT. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/ency/durkheim.htm

to be continued . . .

CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “Collective consciousness, social cohesion, social inclusion and social exclusion” January 13, 2008.

See also

CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2008. “What is Being Done in the Name of Social Cohesion?” << Speechless. March 12, 2008.


Ontological certitude has been embedded in influential pockets of academic disciplines that operate within a persistent and pervasive assumption of realism (Beck, 1992: 4). See Bauman (1994). There is a marked impatient, dismissal and neglect of highly relevant and useful contemporary theory which unsettles the notion that we can access raw chunks of reality as facts. But this is crucial in order to open up forums for debate between differing view points in a highly pluralistic society.

Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman who became increasingly influential in the late 1980s (1973) argued that sociology needed to questions its own troubled self-annihilating historiography and recognise that cultural praxis is the unique domain of humans. Rather than focus on on the production of professional technocrats, sociologists need to come into direct contact with the human praxis. While Bauman (1993) claims that the human subject produced by modern management is stripped of moral purpose, he also argues that humans are uniquely situated and capable of challenging our own reality individually and collectively in order to investigate deeper meanings of justice, ethics, freedom (1973?).

In the period post-1989 has witnessed an ethical turn in the social sciences informed in part by philosophy (Mikhael Bakhtin) and political philosophy as found in the work of Paul Ricoeur, Charles Taylor, Emmanuel Levinas and the more recent works of Jacques Derrida.

Bauman (2001) discusses the complex dilemma of the stranger, the unfamiliar other in the social landscape as the European Union materialized.

He described political classes diverted the public’s “deepest cause of anxiety, that is the experience of individual insecurity, to the popular concern with (already misplaced) threats to collective identity. ” This resulted in a heightened coldness and even aggression towards the stranger next door. He compared two scenarios: Girard’s scenario for dealing with difference was to join together to create common enemies which Bauman considers to be “not just cruel and inhuman it is also ineffective.” John Rex (1995) presents one of the “public political culture and a political society ased upon the idea of equality of opportunity, but often also on a conception of at least a minimum of social rights for all, i.e. equality of outcome”.

If this is the case, then the choice between Girard’s and Rex’s scenarios is far from being just a matter of an academic interest. It involves the value which our civilisation rightly considered to be the main, perhaps even the only, title to its glory. Its past readiness to recognise sense and dignity in alternative ways of life, to seek and to find grounds for peaceful and solidary coexistence which are not dependent on compliance with one, homogenous and uncontested pattern of life. The choice between scenarios is also a deeply ethical choice; what depends on that choice, is whether the form of life the chosen strategy is meant to preserve is worth defending in the first place. The future of Europe and every part of it depends on our ability and willingness to learn to live with cultural diversity (Bauman 2001).

Slow world interrupted . . . to be continued [. . .]

Edgoose (1997) responded to Derrida in terms of ethical and legal judgment in the care/justice debate:

Derrida (1990) distinguishes between two types of justice: in French, droit and juste. Droit – “right,” “law” – resembles “justice” in the care/justice debate. It is universal and intelligible and can be written down and used to guide future judgment. But droit is not an idealization of the mechanism of law. It is not the case that droit represents the way in which unbiased and universal legal judgments are made – by the application of universal law and rights. Droit is, rather, the self-understanding that accompanies our sense of the law, but it is only a partial understanding.

Juste, on the other hand, has little to do with “justice” in the care/justice debate. But it has everything to do with the empirical openness to the Other which I have identified with Levinas and as the inspiration for the ethics of care. Yet for Derrida, as we shall see, the openness to the Other of care is involved in the process of ethical and legal judgment, and so the connotation of justice is still needed.

Like Levinas, Derrida believes that caring justice juste is born out of attention to many particular Others. It is defined by its very plurality. Derrida writes, for example, that “the condition of all possible caring justice juste” would be, “to address oneself to the Other in the language of the Other” (1990:949). But Derrida declares that in the language of the law, this is impossible, since in the law assumes a universality by which it can be applied to everyone.

Notes

Zygmunt Bauman is known throughout the world for works such as Legislators and Interpreters (1987), Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), Modernity and Ambivalence (1991) and Postmodern Ethics (1993), Liquid Modernity (2000), The Individualized Society (2001), Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman, with Keith Tester (2001), Society Under Siege (2002), and Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds (2003). See a brief biography.

In Modernity and the Holocaust (1989) sociologist Zygmunt Bauman argued that genocide was the logical conclusion of a misguided, strong version of the Enlightenment project ‘Every ingredient of the Holocaust… was normal… in the sense of being fully in keeping with everything we know about our civilisation, its guiding spirits, its priorities, its immanent vision of the world – and of the proper ways to pursue human happiness together with a perfect society (Bauman 1989:8).'”

Bibliography

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1973. Culture as Praxis, London and Boston, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1993. Postmodern Ethics.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1994. Alone Again – ethics after certainty. London, Demos.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Globalization the Human Consequences. Cambridge: Polity Press. See review.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 2001. “Europe of Strangers.” Transnational Communities Programme. October.

Beck, Ulrich. 1992.

Critchley, Simon. 1992. The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas . Oxford: Blackwell.

Derrida, Jacques. 1978. “Violence and Metaphysics.” Trans. Alan Bass, in Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago:79-153.

Derrida, Jacques. 1981. Positions. trans. Alan Bass. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Derrida, Jacques. 1990. “Force of Law: The Mystical Foundation of Authority.” Trans. Mary Quaintance, Cardozo Law Review. 11:919-1070.

Edgoose, Julian. “An Ethics of Hesitant Learning: The Caring Justice of Levinas and Derrida“. Philosophy of Education Society.

Honneth, Alex. 1995. “The Other of Justice: Habermas and the Ethical Challenge of Postmodernism,” in The Cambridge Companion to Habermas. Ed. Stephen K. White: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Luce Irigaray, Luce. 1993. An Ethics of Sexual Difference, trans. Carolyn Burke and Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Levinas, Emmanuel. 1969. Totality and Infinity. Trans. Alphonso Lingis: Pittsburgh: Duquesne.

Levinas, Emmanuel . 1991. Otherwise than Being, or Beyond Essence. Trans. Alphonso Lingis. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Noddings, Nel. 1984. Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Morality. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rex, John. 1995. “Ethnic Identity and the Nation State.” Social Identities. 1.


Originally uploaded from my Flickr account ocean.flynn.
I seemed to be disembodied, living through the digital images that appeared by magic on my Dell laptop screen. It was minus forty or fifty degrees. There was no taxi service so the town was shut down for me. Severe weather warnings were issued from Environment Canada. Suddenly a blinding sun broke through. I pulled on my army parka, leggings, mittens and Pangnirtung hat, grabbed my Kodak and headed outside to the breakwater. This image encapsulates the entire experience.

I attempted a number of reductions with this .png image but it created white noise. I tried an even smaller resolution and the noise is still there.

There were many painful things that I tried to forget but these images keep flashing into my mind and I am back there again. I am embarrassed that the loss of this silly lap top remains as such a crushing memory considering the suicides, the murder, the stories of everyday violences against human dignity. Having the laptop confiscated without warning is a metaphor for my inability to process the memories, a missing archives, a secret archives, an archives fever.

TOXIC

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “Afliction: Tempest in a Tea Pot.” Uploaded 2007/01/05. Creative Commons 2.5 BY-NC-SA.