Culture

All in the Best Possible Taste: The Complexities of Social Class.

All in the Best Possible Taste: The Complexities of Social Class.

What is good taste? According to the artist-cum-social-commentator Grayson Perry, it is what is accepted by our tribe. In this case, our social class. His series of 6 tapestries named ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ is a humorous and enlightening exploration of how aesthetic taste and social class are interwoven in modern Britain.

— Rebecca Appleton

Rethinking Smartphones

Rethinking Smartphones

Nowadays, it’s impossible to go to a coffee shop, walk along the street, or sit on a train without being surrounded by people staring at their phone screens. And no wonder!  Our smartphones enable us to engage with people and ideas from all over the world. At the same time, they are highly addictive and research shows they can detract from our social interactions. Is it time we broke up with our smartphones?

— Jessica Bennett

Juggernaut: Re-evaluating the Morality of Missionaries

Juggernaut: Re-evaluating the Morality of Missionaries

How did a popular regional Hindu deity become synonymous with unstoppable forces and the death of Jesus Christ? The work of missionaries is often controversial, and through an analysis of the vitriol on the subject of the god Jagannath spread by evangelicals in the 19th century, we can observe the cultural hatred and destruction bred by missionaries, whilst also understanding why they feel the need to convert, and the good works they do around the world.

— Benjamin Kumar Morris

Can we ever close the open veins of Latin America?

Can we ever close the open veins of Latin America?

“The division of labor among nations is that some specialize in winning and others in losing. Our part of the world, known today as Latin America, was precocious: it has specialized in losing ever since those remote times when Renaissance Europeans ventured across the ocean and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations”. 

— Giselle Vega

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

A Mechanism of Attraction for Our Times

A Mechanism of Attraction for Our Times

 Not long ago, I personally carried out a survey by asking different age groups what was the first thing that came up to their minds when the word attraction was mentioned. Surprisingly, the range of received answers revolved mostly around either true romanticism, relationships and magnetism- in an infrequent case. Consequently, these inconclusive answers encouraged me to explore in a more comprehensive way our current mechanism of attraction and how our social behaviour is inevitably influenced by a “conception factory”.  

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. 

Can Corporate Social Responsibility Save Capitalism ?

 Can Corporate Social Responsibility Save Capitalism ?

By adapting the 2nd law of thermodynamics to our economic system MUSE seems to warn us about how in a society led by consumerism, mankind seems to have started a race which could end  with its annihilation. With all that we have learned about the impact of global warming on our environment it would be wrong to dismiss this out of hand. To avoid such a result, disparate voices have offered a variety of alternate methods.  Whereas some promote a society free of capitalist thoughts, such as the degrowth movement, others still think the very DNA of capitalism could be transformed to embrace environmentalism. This branch of thought has led to the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). 

A Word On Fellowship

A Word On Fellowship

When I think about the word ‘fellowship’ the first thing that came to my mind was the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And even though, I love it and J.R.R. Tolkien is a genius writer, I could not help myself thinking that such powerful word could be narrowed in my mind to Frodo Baggins’ and his companions fantasy adventure. That feeling of helplessness encouraged me to rethink about the idea of Fellowship and share it, perhaps in a non-conclusive work but sufficiently persuasive to encourage further rethinking on its readers.