Marc Le Chevallier
President of Rethinking Society Exeter
Marc reads History and Politics at The University of Exeter. His main research focus lies in nationalism studies, political philosophy, and freedom of speech. His current academic project is about the impact of postmodernism on western countries national narrative.
Socrates, considered as the founder of western philosophy, is also known to have created this vague yet so fundamental concept: critical thinking. Using Socrates, Hannah Arendt, and Karl Popper, I will argue in this article that his concept is evermore needed in an age where views are increasingly entrenched, and why a healthy dose of critical thinking could help reverse this worrying trend.
Socrates is often perceived as the first philosopher of the western world. Through his process of “elenchus” (Socratic examination), he would critically examine and deconstruct someone’s claim to knowledge. In order to do that, he would rethink the person’s assumptions, question their foundations and reveal their weaknesses. He challenged anyone’s beliefs, demonstrating that anybody’s claim to knowledge was and should be questioned. In doing so, he also criticised the values of his own city, rejecting the idea that consensus is sufficient to elaborate an argument. As H.M. Hare states: “For what above all got philosophy started was Socrates’ and Plato’s insistence that the right opinion is not enough”. Instead, he believed any propositions should be critically examined through your own ability to reason (“logos”), enabling you to detach yourself from your surrounding environment. Through self-criticism, you could establish a more nuanced and less essentialist view of the world, hence improving your argument.
This article seeks to compare the different cultural appreciations of being successful in order to grasp the universal meaning of success. It will first analyse the concept of success in a western context, revealing that the words popularity is consequent to the “I-self” values promoted since 16th century renaissance. Then, it will ascertain how expressions of success differs in “we-self” societies like Japan. Finally, from these comparisons along with Chomsky’s universal grammar theory and Professor Michael Lewis’s work, it will assert that success is ultimately about recognition from the social group.
The notion of Freedom of Speech is suffused with contradictions. These inherent contradictions fuel past and present societal divisions and sustain the proliferation of what have come to be known as “belief-gaps”. This article identifies the three main contradictions of Free Speech, each of the following contradictions will be discussed in relation to the issue of limiting free speech: the issue of Offence, the unequal access to free speech and the necessity for a cohesive space which enables “reasonable disagreement”.