Author: Clemens Deparade, Deutch philosopher and an independent language and German teacher
„Homines enim sunt hac lege generati, qui
tuerentur illum globum, quem in hoc templo
medium vides, quae terra dicitur, [...]“
(„All men are born bound by this law:
They should be the guardians of
that globe which you see in the middle of
this temple and which is called Earth.)
Cicero, „De re publica“, VI, 15
If „World Philosophy Network“ and the e-magazine „Philosophical Views“ are announcing one essay contest on the topic „Politics and Philosophy“ in support of the initiative of the UNESCO to celebrate the World Philosophy Day while defining the English language I don't practise to philosophize therein as the default one, I herewith will take the opportunity to be evocative of one traditional Anglo- Saxon term commonly used to distinguish our subject matter of human reflection from the empirical natural sciences, which is called 'the humanities'.
Author: Matthew Lampert (PhD)- assistant professor of philosophy at Wheeling Jesuit University. His recent and forthcoming publications include essays on ideology theory, business ethics, and the work of Louis Althusser and Jacques Rancière.
Plato’s Republic begins with a scene down by Piraeus (the port where the Thirty Tyrants and their supporters were defeated in 403 bce): Socrates and his friends (including Glaucon, the older brother of Plato) have gone down to see a festival, and are now trying to return to the city. However, they are overtaken by a group of men, led by Polemarchus. Polemarchus has apparently caught up to Socrates in order to invite the latter and his companions over for dinner; but the ostensibly friendly invitation plays out like so:
Polemarchus: It looks to me, Socrates, as if you two are hurrying to get away to town.
Socrates: That isn’t a bad guess.
Polemarchus: But do you see how many we are?
Polemarchus: Well, then, either you must prove yourself stronger than all these people or you will have to stay here.
Socrates: Isn’t there another alternative still: that we persuade you that you should let us go?
Polemarchus: But could you persuade us, if we won’t listen?
Glaucon: There is no way we could.
Polemarchus: Well, we won’t listen; you had better make up your mind to that. (1-2)
Here, at the very beginning of the first major work of political philosophy in the Western tradition, we have a kind of primal scene of politics. Politics is what happens when we try and persuade one another; without politics—when we cannot, or will not listen to one another—there is nothing left but the brute rule of the larger, stronger faction.
Some years later, in his Politics, Aristotle writes that “a human being is by nature a political animal,” and that this is clear because humans have λόγος, which means both “speech” and “reason” (4). Speech is how human beings perceive and make clear to one another what is just and unjust, and Aristotle writes that “it is community in these that makes a household and a city-state” (ibid.). A community is a shared λόγος, a reasoning-together about what is just and unjust; such communities are our natural state, for we are by nature “political animals.” When we stop reasoning together about such things—by speaking together, and attempting to persuade one another—we dissolve (or at least alienate) these bonds; we are a community in communication, or we are animals thrown back upon violence.
To see just how strained these bonds are in daily life, look no further than the dinner table. One is not supposed to discuss politics at dinner. And why not? Because it leads to arguments. But is this not the way things are meant to go? Is politics not supposed to take the form of arguments—the giving and exchanging of reasons, in the attempt to convince one another? These “productive arguments,” however, are not at all what we get; rather, by “argument” we mean “screaming matches,” where neither party is willing to concede they are wrong, and as a consequence we neither give nor receive reasons. But could you persuade us, if we won’t listen? What’s going on here? The problem seems to lie in the fact that we don’t think about these things. We don’t form political beliefs on the basis of reasons; rather, we tend to search our feelings on the matter. And so my “political beliefs” are not rational stances open to mutual interrogation; rather, they are my feelings about the issues. And when I show you my feelings, and you attack them (or even disagree with them), you hurt my feelings. And when you hurt my feelings (Just when I was opening up to you! And while we were having such a nice dinner!), I naturally want to hurt yours right back. Hence—a screaming match.
When I have a belief, I also believe that I am correct. This would seem to follow naturally—after all, if I didn’t believe that my belief was correct, then I would already be one step into the process of changing my belief. However, as reflective beings, we are also capable of questioning our beliefs—I can ask myself, “But is this belief really correct?” While I need not always take this mental step backwards—there are plenty of times in life where the world will not force me to question the validity of my beliefs—I am always capable of doing so. To be reflective is in this way simply to be able to think critically about beliefs, motives, and perceptions. When I do take up this critical position, however, I run into a problem: For just because I ask myself, “Is my thinking really correct?” is not to say that I can automatically tell whether or not I have made any mistakes! Indeed, thinking always has blind spots; if having a belief also means believing that we are correct to have that belief, then a corollary of this would seem to be that being wrong involves not knowing that you are wrong. This is a version of that paradox so long ago described by Plato in his dialogue Meno: If you don’t already know the right answer, then how will you know when you find the right answer?
If politics is communal decision-making, characterized by reasoning together about what is right, with the aim of convincing one another rather than resorting to force and violence, then philosophy might be said to lie at the very heart of politics. But the point is not simply that politics must take the form of a philosophical debate. The more important point is that, in its best and simplest form, the practice of philosophy teaches us how to have better conversations. The kind of philosophy I’m talking about here isn’t about publishing in academic journals or working in universities; it’s about thinking for yourself, thinking freely. This is the essential practice of philosophy—and it’s the practice at the very heart of what makes politics both possible and necessary for creatures like us. Possible because it is only by thinking clearly for ourselves that we can reason together (rather than simply resorting to the rule of the stronges); and necessary because it is only by reasoning together that we are fully human—indeed, it is only by reasoning together that we can truly reason at all.
All thinking has blind spots; as thinkers from Plato through Kant have readily seen, open dialogue is therefore an indispensable tool for critical thinking. “How much and how correctly would we think if we did not think as it were in community with others to whom we communicate our thoughts, and who communicate theirs with us,” asks Kant (12). If the goal of philosophy is free thinking, then the practice of philosophy is critical thinking in community with others. The tools of philosophy—developed over the last 2,500 years or so, side-by-side with politics—are all methods and procedures for enabling this communal, critical thought. These tools include the identification and analysis of roadblocks to free, critical thinking (the various Marxian theories of ideology; Sir Francis Bacon’s four “Idols”; Nietzsche’s and Foucault’s genealogies), as well as guidelines for critically interrogating our own beliefs and assumptions (Descartes’s methodological doubt; phenomenological reduction; dialectics). In this way, the practice of philosophy—and like any skill-set, it must be practiced—enables us to move our feelings into the realm of belief, where they can be critically interrogated in collaboration with others.
Seen in this way, “politics” isn’t simply an activity one engages in; it’s an achievement, something we can attain through sustained practice and effort (and, again: collectively, or not at all). It is the practice of mutually interrogating our most cherished beliefs and values, in cooperation with one another. It is a process of collaborative decision-making. And it is the very practice of community, the conversation between free and equal humans that we call “democracy.”
Plato. Republic, trans. CDC Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2004.
Aristotle. Politics, trans. CDC Reeve. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1998.
Kant, Immanuel. “What Does it Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” In Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings, trans. and ed. Allen Wood and George Di Giovanni. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
El Autor: Marcos Fabián Polisena, Alumno de Licenciatura en Filosofía. Alumno de Licenciatura en Letras Clásicas. Universidad Nacional de Córdoba. UNC. Argentina
A pesar de los dos mil cuatrocientos años que nos privan de ser testigos de las promenades philosophiques que acostumbraba dar Aristóteles por los jardines del Liceo acompañado de los peripatéticos, su pensamiento se encuentra a plena disposición para nuevas reflexiones y reinterpretaciones de valor inconmensurable.
El albur con el que corre este trabajo es el de hacer una breve consideración sobre las nociones de «μοῖρα», «τύχη» y «εὐδαιμονία» en la filosofía aristotélica. Arguyo que estos términos se encuentran vinculados con las ideas que expone el estagirita en sus obras: Ética Nicomaquea, Física y Metafísica porque, la visión eudaimonista de la realización del hombre que presenta es oportuna para explicar el desarrollo de las «ἀρεταί» del hombre virtuoso, según el establecimiento de la «ἕξις».
μοῖρα» /moira/: Destino. ἕξις» /héxis/. Hábito.
ἀρεταί» /aretai/. Virtudes. εὐδαιμονία /eudaimonía/: Felicidad.
τύχη /týkhe/: Azar.
Author: Adam Lovasz (PhM), Co Founder of Absentology, Associate Editor of "Philosophical Views"
The challenge of writing a political philosophy is the challenge that faces all philosophy. What Georges Bataille writes of humankind could, arguably, be written of political philosophy and political theory in the early twenty first century: „maybe humankind’s a pinnacle, but only a disastrous one.” We would argue that political philosophy, in this day and age, can only constitute an exercize of self-discipline, an agonistic confrontation with its own limitations. In other words, political philosophy must become apolitical. This „pinnacle”, the sunset of the political, may only be achieved in the ecstasy of laughter, produced by a simplicity that cancels theory. Laughter, argues Joachim Ritter, is an „incongruity” that is fundamentally opposed to all forms of order, political or otherwise. A philosophy that does not fail to laugh at itself would be the ultimate transgression, a voiding of discursive seriousness. One of the fundamental problems of contemporary discussions relating to political affairs is the overwhelming lack of humor involved in such debates. As if – in the long run – philosophy were anything other than irredeemably incompetent. In the end, it is not human intentionality that has the final say in the world’s affairs. Social agency is far more complex, and comes in so many shapes and sizes that it is, to all intents and purposes, irreducible to human intentionality. Bearing this in mind, political philosophy must realize that its object perpetually eludes its grasp. No single conception of the political community can integrate all actants into its fold. Alas, without borders, without clear delineations, how could one hope to construe a clear cut political community? The very absurdity of such a project belies its impossibility. The sole object of any politics must be the impossible itself, as it manifests itself through laughter. Like the „dying person” described by Bataille, political philosophy, in the instant of its grotesque enlargement, must cease: „in that instant tears start to laugh, laughter weeps.” But should we shed any tears for political philosophy?
Judging by their track-record over the past century, the political sciences are manifestly undeserving of our tears. The simplicity that cancels out deathly temporality (the experience of death is impossible – how could one experience one’s own disappearance?) must be achieved by the one who is dying. In the case of political philosophy, the death of the political must entail the disappearance of community and a disastrous self-evacuation of meaning. Karl Hess, one of the first proponents of „anarchocapitalism”, called for the explicit destruction of all forms of state power in his influential 1969 article, „The Death of Politics”:
„Once the power of the community becomes in any sense normative, rather than merely protective, it is difficult to see where any lines may be drawn to limit further transgressions against individual freedom. In fact, the lines have not been drawn. They will never be drawn by political parties that argue merely the cost of programs or institutions founded on state power. Actually, the lines can be drawn only by a radical questioning of power itself, and by the libertarian vision that sees man as capable of moving on without the encumbering luggage of laws and politics...”
Whatever we may think of this provocative suggestion, one thing is certain: philosophy in general cannot continue to pursue its interests as if it were endowed with some kind of universal competence. The intellectual poverty of most politicians in the existing „liberal” democracies is already, in itself, a condemnation of political philosophy. Political philosophy, for the most part, fails to even enter into existing political and ethical debates; instead of ideas and theories, in the world of everyday practice, driven by what Niklas Luhmann has identified as the imperative of self-referential functional differentiation, what we have is the limitless transgression of all kinds of borders, the destruction of lifeworlds through ostensibly legal means, and the general banalisation of political discourse, among a myriad of other social pathologies. Instead of a further overproduction of words and sentences that have little connection with social praxis, what philosophy needs is a reckoning with its own impotence. Instead of viewing its own incompetence with shame, political philosophy needs to embrace the possibility represented by the apolitical. Indeed, Odo Marquard has recommended a general skepticism in philosophy, a recognition of the fact that „philosophy has absolutely no effect even if – and especially if – one believes in it.” However much we may believe that the creation of artificial hybrid embyros from human and animal stem-cells is wrong, however deeply we may cherish the cultural values of peoples and communities threatened by economic interests and imperatives, we shall achieve nothing by inventing new political philosophies. We may philosophize from dusk till dawn, that will not halt the manufacture of genetic freaks or the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built. Only a reflexive action that recognizes the need for communities to defend themselves, and the actual organization of such a defense, can lead to results.
Any theory that remains within the fold of political philosophy is doomed to impotence. Paradoxically, it must be recognized that awareness of of this impotence is the precondition of a theory that would translate itself into social change. For the libertarian, community self-defense is the sole form of acceptable violence. Yet Hess fails to define the borders of this violence, even while excoriating statists for their legitimation of government violence. In Hess’ view, anarchy is acceptable to social oppression and unquestioning obedience: „certainly my values would have a better chance of surviving – with a Watts, Chicago, Detroit, or Washington in flames than with an entire nation snug in a garrison.” In the eyes of the anarchocapitalist, even the uncomfortable predicament of being killed in the street is preferable to a regime of state-sponsored violence. A political theory, especially of the anarchist kind, is truly „on the verge of total incompetence.” Libertarian political theory does not seek after legitimacy: it is the self-defense of a community that actively wills the emancipation of violence and negativity, albeit on a far smaller scale than state-controlled violence. If we are to believe Hess’ rather polemical opinion, violence in a libertarian society would be, though more frequent, on a smaller scale and less intense than the enormous orgies of large-scale state violence, driven by special interests and lobbies, that have convulsed the world over the past few centuries. Whether we would desire to live in a society such as that envisioned by Hess and anarchocapitalists of his ilk is another question altogether. A glimpse of what such a society could look like is given by the film trilogy „The Purge.” The film series depicts a United States that has recently survived a major social upheaval, most probably connected with an economic crisis of even larger proportions than the Great Recession of 2007-2009. While the government wields a large degree of authority, on one day all emergency services are suspended and all crime – barring terrorism – is legalized. Citizens and communities of various classes are free to murder one another and indeed proceed to do so, releasing their frustrations and destructive energies, „unleashing the Beast”. When presented with the excrementality of contemporary politics, as well as the failure of the political sciences (including the spectacular failure of opinion polling methodology) political philosophy „has no chance today to be anything but a failure.” The apolitical is that which debases. Apolitical philosophy is a form of political theory that chooses debasement as its tool of critique. Apolitical philosophy recognizes the death of the political. Mikhail Bakhtin, in his influential philosophical treatment of laughter and the carnivalesque in literature and society, mentions an interesting ritual that occurred throughout during the medieval „feast of fools”:
„We know that defecation played a considerable role in the ritual of the "feast of fools." During the solemn service sung by the bishop-elect, excrement was used instead of incense. After the service the clergy rode in carts loaded with dung; they drove through the streets tossing it at the crowd.”
Apolitical theory, when enacted within the sphere of the political, must become a form of politics that does not seek to purify the social body. Rather, having suspended itself in the recognition of its own incompetence, apolitical theory can freely toss its own theoretical dung at the crowd. Through the loss of its own meaning, politics can finally be made productive again, once its living connection with the earth is recognized. Dung, after all, is the material that fertilizes the soil. Having soiled itself, political philosophy – once rendered base – can become a „fertilizing and generating stratum”, for excrement itself is a product of this corporeality and that which is excreted maintains an „essential link with birth, fertility, renewal, welfare.” The abasement of the political is none other than the restoration of the dignity of the lifeworld and its installation at the heart of praxis, the integration of the heterogeneous into apolitical discourse.
 Bataille, Georges (1988 ) Guilty (Venice: The Lapis Press), 7
 Ritter Joachim (1941) „Über das Lachen’’, Blätter für deutsche Philosophie, 14, pp.1-21
 Latour, Bruno (2005) Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press)
 Bataille 1988 : 7
 Luhmann, Niklas (1982) „The world society as a social system” International Journal of General Systems 8(3): 131–138
 Marquard, Odo (1989) Farewell to Matters of Principle (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press), 25
 Marquard 1989: 26
 Marquard 1989: 35
 Bakhtin, Mikhail (1984 ) Rabelais and His World (Bloomington: Indiana University Press), 147
 Bakhtin 1984 : 148
Author: Professor Simon Glendinning (PhD), a Professor of European Philosophy in the European Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His writings cover central themes and thinkers in the phenomenological movement, and more recently in the philosophy of Europe. He has recently completed a major two-volume study of the contribution of philosophy to the understanding of Europe, entitled Europe’s Promise (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)
In this essay I offer a philosophical account of a political puzzle. The puzzle is why revolutionary socialist parties in the Marxist revolutionary tradition seem to be especially vulnerable to forming rancorous factions that lead to new-party-forging splits. Splitting is obviously not confined to such parties, so one might think it is something that just happens to happen more often with them. Against that intuitive assumption I will argue that certain features internal to revolutionary socialist politics in a multi-party democratic state gives it a unique position in this context above and beyond the ordinary fractiousness of intra-party political differences.
Lecture: Who's Left? As the financial crisis continues, the Left has yet to offer meaningful solutions. Simon Glendinning asks if social democracy is past its sell-by date.
Source: IaI Tv
Author: Giuseppe Gagliano, PhD, Il Presidente della "Centro Studi Strategici Carlo de Cristoforis", Como, Italia
Other papers of this author.
Il totalitarismo di Lenin e Hitler nella riflessione di Luciano Pellicani,
Pace e guerra giusta nella riflessione di Erasmo da Rotterdam
Abstract: This article deals with the cultural development and general perception of the concept of "intelligence" and "economic intelligence" in France. After the Cold War, finance and markets assumed a greater importance in determining the relations between countries; however, it took a long time for the French elite to be convinced of the existence of “economic warfare” and to define a culture of its own in the field of intelligence. Still, when all the international analyses were strongly related to the Cold War ideology and talking about economic warfare seemed like an abuse of language, C. Harbulot and P. Baumard urged the need to reconsider intelligence activities and to apply them in the national economy, overcoming the negative connotation that "renseignement" had. Researching, processing and spreading any piece of information that can be considered strategic is the only formula we can rely on in order to face the last challenges posed by globalization. Between 1992 and 1994, the expression “economic intelligence” officially entered the French public debate on national competiveness, together with the request for public intervention in the national economy. Harbulot and Baumard kept recommending the systematic search and interpretation of the information available to everyone, showing a new way to interpret the markets. The new approach is different from traditional intelligence by the nature of its field of application (open information); the nature of its actors (inserted in a collective information culture context), and its cultural specificities (each nation’s economy generates its own specific model of economic intelligence).
economic intelligence; economic warfare; intelligence culture; information; globalization.
Author: Hans Dassen, Anthroopos Foundation Amsterdam, Dutch Philosopher
In the 21st century we need a new philosophy as opposed to the old philosophy: a philosophy of man or philosophical anthropology. The importance of a new philosophy of man is that it addresses people all over the world, thus helping us to overcome our differences. And if we look a bit further into the world of the 21st century, we see that the most pressing project will be the search for meaning in the lives of human beings in a globalised world.
Richard Rorty (1) in an interview by Ger Groot in 2007 about philosophy: “Philosophy is a manner of defining ourselves anew, not the gradual discovery of established truths.” “In this statement, he showed himself to be a full-blooded American thinker, in the tradition of pragmatists James and Dewey, one who rubbed many of his colleagues the wrong way – in the Anglo-Saxon world because he did not believe that truth could be found through a careful analysis of language and logics, and on the European continent because he refused to speculate on the deep 'mind' that finds truth in its own deepest reflections….. Rorty on the traditional epistemology, the heart of modern philosophy: Questions such as ‘what is truth?’, ‘what is the foundation of our knowledge?’ and ‘how do our words refer to reality?’ have kept Western philosophy on the wrong track for centuries…. Language [he found] is not a reflection of reality, but something that belongs to reality itself. Words work: they achieve certain effects and do not merely obediently process reality into the abstract images in our head that we call ‘truth’…. As furious as orthodox philosophers often reacted to Rorty, so intrigued were those who, on both sides of the ocean, had already started to doubt that philosophy should be based on the ‘unshakable’ foundations which Descartes and many others had sought. In the 1980s and 1990s Rorty thus grew into an original and influential bridge-builder between the more ‘metaphysical’ European and the ‘analytical’ Anglo-Saxon way of thought, paradoxically enough by blowing up the mainstays under both traditions.”
Dear colleagues and friends,
World Philosophy Network and e-magazine "Philosophical Views" support the initiative of the UNESCO by celebrating World Philosophy Day on the third Thursday of November.
We call all colleagues to send us essays on the topic: "Politics and Philosophy".
Each paper should have your own original critical review, bibliography and your professional biography in a few sentences. The text shouldn`t be longer than 2000 words. The language is English. The Essay Contest is open to all those engaged in social sciences and humanities or are active in various organizations (ngo, political parties, humanitarian organizations etc.)
Submission deadline: October, 15 - December, 15
We suggest you to read an interesting article that was published by London's "The Guardian".
Let`s celebrate philosophy every day!
Presidency and Secretariat of The WPN