web analytics
04 Apr

The Market as a Res Publica

To bring out the conflict of images, consider the property conventions that establish the titles and rights of ownership. On the libertarian picture owning is a natural relationship — you might think of it as a relationship of possession and use — and the rules of property serve to affirm and protect the natural rights of owners.

On the republican picture, owning is a relationship that presupposes law, if only the inchoate law of informal custom. You do not own something — you do not have the freedom of an owner — just insofar as you can hang onto it, frightening off or driving off potential rivals. You own something only insofar as it is a matter of accepted convention that given the way you came to hold it — given public recognition of the title you have to the property — you enjoy public protection against those who would take it from you. It is yours to hold and enjoy in private; but it is yours in that sense only by grace of public convention.

Philip Pettit on the contrast between Libertarian and Republican views.
PoliticsInSpires: Taking Back the Economy: The market as a Res Publica.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
03 Apr

Medieval snap; or The necessity of martyrs

horsemeat
An early horse meat scandal in Ireland (via “Topography”)

A look at the history of Irish philosophy shows that a rather high proportion of our well known philosophers worked abroad. But we do know that bishops capable of debate were around before John Toland aggravated Bishops Edward Synge and William King.

Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) came to Ireland to visit his Barry relatives in 1186-7. He wrote a description of the country in his Topography of Ireland. As in his works about Wales, Gerald is less than complimentary about the nonNormans he encounters. In his Topography (pp 79-81) he argues that the Irish people have many failings, and attributes this to the failure of prelates to preach to them. To support that preaching was lacking he cites the unparalleled lack of martyrs in the story of Ireland’s conversion to Christianity. If there had been a “voice like a trumpet” preaching to this uncivilised nation, says Gerald, there should have been martyrs.

He once (he tells us) put this argument to Maurice, archbishop of Cashel, (probably Muirges Ua hÉnna) “a discreet and learned man” who retorted:
Read More

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
02 Apr

Pettit: ‘A Theory Of Freedom’ in Spain

In 1997, Professor Pettit published a book called Republicanism: A Theory of Freedom. In it, he declares that “the traditional, republican ideal of freedom” – drawing on thinkers going back to Cicero, Machiavelli, the writers of the English Revolution and “many theorists of republic and commonwealth in 18th-century England and America and France” – could still provide “an exciting way of rethinking democratic institutions”.

At its heart is the notion of “freedom as non-domination”. Since liberals see freedom in largely negative terms, as “absence of interference”, writes Professor Pettit, that makes them “tolerant of relationships in the home, in the workplace, in the electorate and elsewhere, that the republican must denounce as paradigms of domination and unfreedom”. It is time to return to the much more demanding republican conception of freedom, he argues.

Republicanism is a clear and accessible book, but Professor Pettit saw little prospect of it changing the world. He had reckoned without the interest of Spanish opposition leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who had read the book in Spanish translation and announced in 2000 that if he ever came to power, he would use it as the basis for his legislative programme.

From Times Higher Education (23 Jan 2011), “Spanish statecraft, the scholarly way” by Matthew Reisz.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
31 Mar

Festival Time

The festival is nothing new. Neither old nor new it is elemental. […] One thinks of the harvest festival blessing the year’s yield and completeness, of Easter transfiguring the sacramental earth with jubilating, spring shouts of renewal. […]

In the modern rationalisation of time the weekend gets its instrumental justification from the workweek; working time possesses the primacy. In the festival, by contrast, we experience time as other. Festival time does not simply borrow its meaning from worktime. […] For modernity, efficient work, aided by powerful technology, is the primary transformer of nature. With the festival, however, nature and the human are transformed in a different way such that everyday work becomes a secondary mode of transformation. The original power of being itself is festal.

William Desmond, Philosophy and Its Others: Ways of Being and Mind (pp. 301-2)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
30 Mar

Women, in whatever country ye breathe

Women, in whatever country ye breathe – wherever ye breathe, degraded, awake! Awake to the contemplation of the happiness that awaits you when all your faculties of mind and body shall be fully cultivated and developed; when every path in which ye can exercise those improved faculties shall be laid open and rendered delightful to you, even as to them who now ignorantly enslave and degrade you.

William Thompson and Anna Doyle Wheeler, Appeal of One Half the Human Race, Women, Against the Pretensions of the Other Half, Men, to Retain Them in Political and Thence in Civil and Domestic Slavery, 1825 (extract available)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
28 Mar

Evil, Ethics, and the Imagination

 

I would also argue that the poetical imagination in art is one that opens up an ethical sensitivity in us. It opens us to other ways of thinking, living, and being. Here I am, an Irishman in Boston in 2012 reading Anna Karenina, for example, and suddenly I’m a woman in nineteenth-century Russia, and I’m committing suicide. That’s what imagination can do. The artistic imagination can, as King Lear says, expose oneself to “feel what wretches feel.” And that vicarious literary imagining, it seems to me, is already protoethical in that it’s opening us up to acts of sympathy, to living as others lived, and to living as if we were them. And that’s an ethical sensitivity that I think can help us to live better.

Of course, there are misuses of imagination as well. We can go the other way and close ourselves off from others, and then it can become voyeuristic, egotistical. It can generate a kind of narcissism that feeds upon itself, and then we believe, as the serpent says to Adam and Eve, that we shall be as gods, that is, sufficient unto ourselves (see Gen. 3:4). It seems to me that the imagination that thinks it is sufficient unto itself and has no other beyond, no vis-à-vis outside of itself, is on an unethical path.

Richard Kearney on the uses and abuses of imagination.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
27 Mar

Hypatia

[Hypatia], he educated not only in all the qualifications belonging to her sex; but caused her likewise to be instructed in the most abstruse sciences, which are reputed the proper occupation of men, as requiring too much labor and application for the delicate constitution of women.
[…]
That this notion is a vulgar prejudice, the vast number of ladies who have in every age distinguished themselves by their professions or performances in learning, furnishes an unanswerable argument. Whole volumes have been written containing nothing else but the lives of such women, as became eminent in all kinds of Literature, especially in Philosophy; which, as it is the highest perfection, so it demands the utmost effort of human nature.

But leaving these heroines to the search of the curious, I shall confine myself at present to one object worthy all admiration; in doing justice to whom I may be deemed to write the panegyric of the whole sex.

John Toland arguing for female education in “Hypatia”

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone
27 Mar

Irish Intellectual Thought

Imperial history is taken as a standard for all national history, as if nations that have been the target of invasion, conquest, and colonisation cannot have histories appropriate to themselves — histories that tell a story of disruption, displacement, and discontinuity. […]
There is, of course, such a thing as Irish intellectual thought but it can’t be characterized in imperially nationalistic terms.

From the Preface of A History of Irish Thought, Thomas Duddy. via @judystout1

Share on FacebookTweet about this on Twittershare on TumblrShare on LinkedInGoogle+Print this pageEmail to someone