Culture

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.

Rethinking Social Categorisation

Rethinking Social Categorisation

            Tejftel and Turner unpack ‘social identity’ as the phenomenon through which individuals associate themselves with groups that provide them with a sense of belonging, as well as an additional source of pride and self-esteem. Social identity differs from personal identity – the distinction was made by William James in the 19th century. In his work, he explicates the difference between the ‘me’ and the ‘I’. Whereas the former makes for the sociological component of the individual, the latter makes for the personal component of the individual. Social identity, as explained by Tejftel and Turner, is formed in three steps: self-categorisation, social identification with the chosen group(s) and social comparison (of one’s chosen group to the out-groups). In their piece “The Social Identity Theory of Intergroup Behaviour”, Tejftel and Turner thus make the argument that social identity is spontaneous, malleable and voluntary, and that its formation and consolidation are overall individual processes. Through this article, we suggest that social identity has been redefined and institutionalised in a way that feeds into our system’s problematic obsession with categorisation.

Serial killers: to show case or shut away?

Serial killers: to show case or shut away?

In today’s society, we are growing ever more fascinated with the terrifying presence of the serial killer. This fascination has been compelled by the vast number of media representations of real life serial killers. From books documenting their heinous crimes, through to films, documentaries and stories told by victims’ loved ones. Whilst it is undoubtedly important to make people aware of the existence of such dangerous individuals, this article asks whether we should be concerned with the way serial killers depicted. They are frequently sexualised and glamorised in media representations, whilst sensationalism plays a large role in invoking the horror we feel toward them. Together with serial killers desires for notoriety, the vulnerability of some social groups yet increasingly ready access to potentially triggering content, this article will explore problems and potential solutions that could be applied to media representations of serial killers.

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.  

Rethinking Innovation

Rethinking Innovation

nnovative ideas do not froth up from inside us to be released into the outside world. Rather, innovative ideas emerge through combining and rethinking things that already exist. This process unfolds in our mind through dialogue with the rest of the world, perhaps over the course of many years. No (innovative) man is an island. If we want to innovate, we need to connect-dots; untether our minds from a single discipline or viewpoint; cultivate hunches; and embrace and use our physical surroundings. In this way, rethinking innovation may mean rethinking some of the habits of our lives.

Parents or Professionals: who should make the decision for choosing life or death?

Parents or Professionals: who should make the decision for choosing life or death?

Misrepresentation significantly influences how we perceive world events. This is highly common when medical cases are reported in the media. Complex conditions require specialized medical knowledge, if they are to be accurately explained. Thus, unless a doctor is consulted, media reports are based on knowledge gathered by media persons, who do not necessarily have medical understanding. This commonly results in misleading information being published. This article will examine such problems, by looking specifically at the case of Charlie Gard. The steps taken in making the decision of whether or not to withdraw his treatment saw reference and rethinking of medical ethics, interventions of law courts and doctors, and public opinion. Great differences of opinion regarding whether or not his treatment should have been withdrawn emerged. By examining what led to such controversy, this piece aims not to conclude that any side was correct. Rather, the aim here is to suggest what could potentially be done in similar cases, with the hope that future situations will not become as aggressively divisive; the desire of those involved being to do what is best for the individual.

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].

Democracy and Egoism

Democracy and Egoism

The term 'democracy’ has accrued tremendous normative baggage over the centuries, once negative but now more positive. In this gradual development of the concept it has become further and further ingrained in common consciousness as an unassailable 'third-rail’- something no one is willing to touch, let alone dispute its efficacy in society at large. The liberal model of representative democracy that has become the basis of our relationship to political action and expression has fundamentally failed in its mission to enable a real discourse between citizen and state. It has instead separated the two parties, allowing them to operate almost independently. The state is not tied to the will of those who sustain it, but has been alienated so far from this role, becoming more of a passive administrator that only allows input from those it commands and indentures on a timescale of years rather than months or weeks. In this tract we will openly discuss the shortfalls of this sacred calf and reach an understanding of democracy as something hostile to the individual and to individual political action. 

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.

What Is Tradition ?

What Is Tradition  ?

Today, the march of globalisation and progress act as forces of entropy to homogenise culture and identity. This is the “air that kills” that is blowing incessantly in the modern world. These forces cannot be indefinitely resisted, which is why conservativism is an inherently pessimistic ideology. As Lord Salisbury said: “Politics is delay”. Tradition is the tool we use to inject social capital on the local level to delay cultural entropy, in the doomed hope of resisting it on a global level. I take traditions to be activities that are performed collectively by civil society or (occasionally) the state that are repeated over time, treated reverently, reinforce a sense of place and have no immediate useful purpose. They might be the State Opening of Parliament, country shows, church services, marriage, curious uniforms and manners and etiquette, to name some randomly.  They are a secular communion that reaffirm the values and social connections within a country, community and family. Tradition is a therefore a conservative state of mind and evokes the same ideas of habit, settlement, inheritance and membership that we can also see in Houseman’s poetry.