Philosophy

Rethinking Justice within the law

Rethinking Justice within the law

Western philosophy’s most well-known concept is that of justice, yet its vagueness has resulted in both philosophers and jurists failing to agree on its exact meaning. Its lack of a solid, defining characteristic leads individuals to maintain their own perception of justice, accepting and attributing various characteristics to their understanding of it. However, what remains a defining characteristic of justice, is its tendency to “attack and replace all theories that came before it”. In the words of Hans Kelsen, "man cannot find a definite answer but can only try to improve the question".

— Josh Prior 

Rethinking The Myth of Transcendentalism

Rethinking The Myth of Transcendentalism

Transcendence can be described as a sort of overcoming or surpassing- though it is usually understood in a metaphysical sense- to be transcendent it is usually assumed that one engages with some ephemeral force beyond the regular bounds of human perception. This view is one that both elevates and devalues the transcendental experience. It gives it an otherworldly mystique- detaching it from the milieu of existence- which is understandable given its tremendous power in fundamentally altering one’s perception of that very existence. However, elevating it to this status makes it seem as though transcendence is something adjacent to or beyond regular life, rather than something necessary to seize onto its full joy. In this article, we will examine the modern, western positions on transcendence to clear up misconceptions and establish a basis for understanding the transcendental as an intrinsic element in achieving a fuller conception of one’s self and the world around them- as well as an undertaking that does not, as many assume, preclude religion.

A Colossus with Feet of Clay

A Colossus with Feet of Clay

But the blindness of superiority continues in spite of all and upholds the belief that the vast regions everywhere on our planet should develop and mature to the level of present day Western systems, which in theory are the best and in practice the most attractive. There is this belief that all those other worlds are only being temporarily prevented (by wicked governments or by heavy crises or by their own barbarity and incomprehension) from taking the way of Western pluralistic democracy and from adopting the Western way of life. Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in this direction.

The Health of Democracy

The Health of Democracy

Amongst the principal facets of the liberal world order is the value of democratic governance. The notion finds its way into discourse often, but there exists a lack of unanimity in its definition. In Book VI of his Republic, Plato lay out an allegory of establishing democracy, describing a keeper “in charge of a large and powerful animal, (who) made a study of its moods and wants.” The keeper is emblematic of a political administration; its electorate an untamable beast. Democracy is what occurs in between: the continuous process of trying to placate and appease a populace whose human caprices stand in the way of their contentment. How does one gauge whether the keeper is successful? How can we measure the health of a democracy? We start by defining barometers and holding them up against a regime built on the promise of liberal democracy: the Weimar Republic. One measure to consider is the strength of the Weimar constitution, but charter will not always reflect reality. Two integral benchmarks for democratic soundness are participation, and pluralism. It’s easy to look at the Republic’s political and economic inheritance and to say that it stood no chance of survival - but sidestepping the arrogance of hindsight to evaluate more closely might yield a better understanding of what caused the Weimar democracy to eat itself.

Nietzsche and the End of Modernity?

Nietzsche and the End of Modernity?

Human beings suffer. The suffering of the human being is unique amongst all creatures on the Earth, for it is only the human being who poses the decisive question: ‘Why am I here?’ That is to say, unlike any other animal, the human being seeks a purpose, a meaning, a goal to their existence. In an attempt to answer this question, humans have developed elaborate systems in the form of art, religion, morality, and philosophy. In so doing, man has found a means of making life endurable.  

How Western is Modernity

How Western is Modernity

Modernity is all-encompassing and therefore frustratingly hard to define and write succinctly about. The philosopher Marshall Berman said that it was ‘an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world – and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything that we have, everything we know’. Shmuel Eisenstadt called the history of modernity a ‘story of continual constitution and reconstitution of a multiplicity of cultural programs’. Zygmunt Bauman suggests that ‘post-modernity’ stems from the realisation that that the long effort to accelerate the speed of movement has presently reached its ‘natural limit’. I like to think that this last one implies that the history of modernity corresponds to the development of ever-quicker modes of transportation. Maybe a convenient point to say that modernity started is the invention in 1804 of the first working steam locomotive. Gross simplification, I know.

Critical Thinking: An Antidote to a Divided Society.

Critical Thinking: An Antidote to a Divided Society.

Socrates, considered as the founder of western philosophy, is also known to have created this vague yet so fundamental concept: critical thinking. This article uses the arguments of Socrates, Hannah Arendt, and Karl Popper to show that Critical thinking is needed more than ever in an age where views are increasingly entrenched, and why a healthy dose of critical thinking could help reverse this worrying trend. 

The Indigenous Other and Aboriginal Democracy

The Indigenous Other and Aboriginal Democracy

The predominant strands of thought in western societies associate the origins of democratic thinking and democracy per se with a number of classical Greek philosophers and their antiqual city-states. Conventionally referred to as ‘Athenian Democracy’, it preceded the Roman Republic which followed suit until 27 B.C and other novel democratic institutions such as the parliamentary Corts Catalanes ─ its origins tracing back to the Assemblees de Pau i Treva around 1021 A.D ─ and the Cortes de Léon established in 1188 A.D. Indeed, despite scholarly divisions over the specific date at which these city-states shifted from societal ‘protodemocracy’ to institutional ‘democracy’, most historians situate it around the Solonian reforms of the early 6th Century B.C (Christ, 2008: 513). As for the tremendous classical heritage these Hellenic polities brought forward to the historical formation and evolution of democracies, it suffices to say the entire discussion of this article is framed around an etymology deriving from the ancient Greek word demos[people]-kratie[power].

Who belongs to the nation ?

Who belongs to the nation ?

United by a common historical trajectory, a community may develop a large set of distinctive characteristics: language, literature, laws, customs, style, character, institutions, memory, religious beliefs. Is this enough to make a nation?

In this article, Ferdinand Valentin Mowinckel asks : “What makes a nation?” and perhaps more importantly “who decides?”.

This article was written by Ferdinand Valentin Mowinckel

A Comprehensive Critique of Tradition

A Comprehensive Critique of Tradition

Tradition appears to be a familiar, yet quite obscure notion in our present times. It is often overlooked and certainly never given a full critical apprehension. Our current era bears the stamp of a profound disdain for a real appreciation of its value. It is partly due to the fact that we live in a society reluctant to recognise anything that is independent from the will of the individual, anything that transcends it throughout the ages. Tradition has evolved from a very concrete meaning (in the Roman world, tradere meant to hand over for safekeeping) to the more abstract understanding we have of it today, and this subtle evolution should not deter us from asserting that the societal force behind both conceptions is a vital constant for all human societies. Tradition is the carrying over of laws, customs and habits, from a generation to the next on a given land. This article will explore some political, cultural and literary trends that have claimed to uphold tradition ever since the Enlightenment philosophy made its way through the decisional structures of Europe. It will assess their pertinence and the kind of legacy we can extract from their experience.

A Consideration on Knowledge

A Consideration on Knowledge

To know or not to know? Or more actually do we have the possibility to know? I believe that the reality of knowledge is something that is only narrowly considered and needs to be recalled. The discussion starts first with what we consider as knowledge. The traditional vision of knowledge as “Justified true belief” will help me to raise the right questions about the knowledge gathering process, and by extension, knowledge itself. The three conditions of this theory will be contrasted with Descartes’ approach: constant doubt, which will enable us to put into perspective our common, taken-for-granted sense of knowledge.