“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”.
Swiftly approaching the end of my economics degree, I find myself -much like many of my more critical colleagues- questioning what it is that this great university institution has made of us. For we are now technically ‘economists’, even If we are a little wet behind the ears. It is said that we have entered an elite group of individuals, capable of wielding a unique economic insight; understanding the fundamental human condition through the lens of economics. It is exactly that last sentence where the issue lies. In this short reflection I shall make the case that rather than being agents capable of doing economic analysis, interpreting the basic economic question and applying critical economic thinking to problems we may be faced with, the modern-day economics course is one which gives its students hammers, to whom all economic issues swiftly become nails. In doing so I shall employ Kuhns paradigm shift.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Language is of course used to define and label the world around us, and these shared meanings enable us to transmit ideas across minds. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein viewed language as a social practice, arguing that the meaning of language is in its public use. Without shared meanings, he thought, the communication of ideas would be impossible. In Wittgenstein’s philosophy, in order to communicate with a social tribe, we must adhere to the rules of its conventionally accepted ‘language games’.
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.