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Showing posts from October, 2008

The Conservative Praxis of Postmodernism.

“That was the gift of the French. They gave Americans a language they did not need. It was like the Statue of Liberty. Nobody needs French theory.” — Jean Baudrillard (1)

In the post-May 68 intellectual climate postmodernism ascended from an emergent philosophy to a mainstay in university humanities faculties. These stars of the French intellectual scene set out to critique and deconstruct the enlightenment tradition. But as Foucault informed us we should not ‘blackmail’ a thinker into being either for or against the enlightenment. Therefore following this line it is not as simply to say that because a postmodernist critiques the enlightenment that the theorist represents a revolt of unreason against rationality in social life. Jacques-Benigne Bossuet and Thomas Hobbes both advocated political absolutism, but the philosophical system backed by Hobbes shifted the justification of government from divinity of the sovereign to practicality and utility for its constituents. Enlightenment p…

Justified True Belief and Critical Rationalism.

During his trial Socrates argued that human wisdom came from the acknowledgment of human ignorance (Plato, 1969, P. 52), a position arrived at via the traditional account of knowledge as justified true belief. Because of such conclusions this account, which leaves us without a useful “knowledge”, is not without its detractors. Therefore the traditional theory of knowledge as justified true belief will be outlined. Its success, strengths and weakness as an account of knowledge will be assessed in relation to competing theories such as “critical rationalism”, where knowledge is not infallible but merely the best available theory (Popper, 1984, p. 26-7).

The question of demarcation between belief and knowledge has been a central debate in epistemology. The traditional account of knowledge considered belief to be an essential component of knowledge. For the purpose of argument, the proposition ‘time is a dimension in relation to other dimensions’ is true. But if the individual does not b…

The Nation-State, Core and Periphery: A Brief sketch of Imperialism in the 20th century.

At the dawn of the 20th century large colonial powers had carved up the world between themselves. ‘Core’ zones were marked by their level of economic development and the ‘peripheral’ zones their level of economic underdevelopment. The political organization of economic dependencies in the form of colonies and semi-colonies was established by a small number of nation-states. This domination of the periphery by the core nations is known as Imperialism. Imperialism in this overt political form, with directly administered peripheral zones is a salient feature of the first half of the 20th century. By the second half of the 20th century there began a process of decolonisation, whereby the direct political control of peripheral zones became problematic and untenable because of increasing political opposition in the form of national-liberation movements. Even though the formal political control of peripheral zones has been alleviated, many contend that the economic domination and relations …

The Locus of Self: Youth Culture and Commodification

‘Youth’ is a concept used to demarcate a particular stage in the life-span development of an individual. This period in a person’s life is considered formative in the creation of their identity. Interdependence and independence are essential to an individual’s sense of self and place within social groups. Consequently the sub-cultures and peer groups which youths involve themselves in are a shaping influence on their sense of identity. The sociology of youth culture has sought to understand the nature of this collective sense of identity, its relation to adult culture and societal structures. Youth culture can often seem permeated with oppositional defiance, youth defining their identity in contradistinction to adult culture. The issue arising from this phenomenon is whether youth culture challenges the dominant structures of society. Or can youth culture be viewed as hedonistic and an expression of superficial rebellion and political conservatism. To address these issues this paper…

Zaibatsu Dissolution, Reparations and Administrative Guidance.

During a lecture before the Eugenics Society in 1937, British economist John Maynard Keynes stated that “a greater cumulative increment than 1 per cent per annum in the standard of life has seldom proved practicable”. Moreover, Keynes continued, “generally speaking the rate of improvement seems to have been somewhat less then 1 per cent per annum cumulative”. Of course, Keynes was speaking during the great depression, and therefore his remarks may be tainted with a particular pessimism. But they draw into sharp relief the experience of economic growth in post-war Japan: between 1950 and 1973, GDP growth averaged 10%, a rate of sustained growth never before seen .By 1962, the English publication Economist, with poetic flair, dubbed Japan’s recovery an “economic miracle” . This designation caught on and became a general catch phrase for spectacular economic growth. In the case of Japan, a multitude of explanations have arisen for why Japan underwent an ‘economic miracle’. Crucial to el…

Samurai, Chōnin and the Bakufu: Between Cultures of Frivolity and Frugality.

The emergence and consolidation of the Tokugawa Bakufu between 1600 and 1603 marked the end of continual military conflict, which had engulfed Japan, since the commencement of the Ōnin War in 1467. Without these incessant wartime conditions to justify naked coercion, in ordering the social system, the Bakufu was faced with the predicament of how to maintain and validate a peaceful social compact. In a society marred by the obvious tensions between daimyō, jostling for power and stratification between and within classes, management of these tensions and conflicts became essential for the endurance of the Shogun’s government. Utilizing and organizing institutional structure, spatial order and ideology the Bakufu attempted to attain social stability and ensure its own political hegemony. This effort to integrate divergent societal elements into a functional whole serves as a nexus to evaluate the effectiveness of the Bakufu throughout its reign, from its formation to its eventual collaps…

Consciousness of Consciousness

Time is a dimension in relation to other dimensions - if a non-physical consciousness existed within a void would there be time? Would metal events in succession count as distinct objects? Hegel said that consciousness is always consciousness of an object - therefore consciousness is a verb and not a noun. If it's not a noun and only exists in relation to an object, how can there be consciousness of consciousness? The nature of our linier existence means that the ever present instant is forever upon us and that which is has passed, our essence is invariablely undefinable and defined in the nothingness of its existence. In our void how would the first thought accrue? If there are no external objects at which to grasp an awareness of and consciousness itself, being nothing but an active response to objects there can be no consciousness within a void (1).

Notes

1)If there can be no consciousness within a void, can there be a god before the big bang? Maybe there was never nothing and a…