Rethinking

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

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

A Reflection on Economic Monism

A Reflection on Economic Monism

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. 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.

— Omer Selcuk

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.

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.

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. 

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). 

Rethinking Language, Perception and Identity

Rethinking Language, Perception and Identity

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’.

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.

Religion In Our Time: Adaptation or Extinction.

Religion In Our Time: Adaptation or Extinction.

Through this text I wish to engage you in a discussion regarding the relationship between ourselves and the religious experience- not necessarily religious belief in the orthodox theist sense, but rather the wilful adoption of moral principles on an individual basis, without any physical coercion or external input, fostered internally just as those prescribed by religion are held, regardless of society’s attitudes as they currently stand or the permissions granted to us by the state. The core idea at the heart of this investigation is to understand how we can distance ourselves from any instilled or unquestioned ethics, something that is oddly commonplace in a world so obsessed with the individual’s tangible experience- what material wealth they possess or how much attention they garner-  yet with such little care given towards individual psychological experiences, and how the gradual removal of individual agency from morality through socialised norms, expectations and enforced laws has created a culture of people unwilling to question those norms and therefore unable to understand the significance there is in obedience or disobedience to them. There is a climate of lethargy in ethical thought, morality is thought of as being formed around the laws and principles of society at large, which none can function outside of, however much they may disagree. To provide an antithesis to this we will examine the ideas of C.G. Jung and Soren Kierkegaard on the topic, examining their utility in giving us a new perception on faith and religious devotion in a way that both strips away the long-defunct role of religion in enforcing moral uniformity whilst breathing into it new life, giving us an opportunity to use the process of religion as a defence against the thoughtless, materialistic individualism that is prevalent throughout the west and as a tool to deconstruct and analyse the normative prescriptions that are impressed on us.

Culture and the Universality of Human Nature

Culture and the Universality of Human Nature

This is less of a question of inheriting the culture of ones’ parents through their genetics, or that culture itself is ingrained to the genetic makeup of each cultural group– there is little question that such a thing is possible– but more a question of how much of what we call ‘culture’ exists in all of us.

Does intelligence imply absolute rationality ?

Does intelligence imply absolute rationality ?

Despite the title, this article won’t reveal you the true nature of Intelligence, unfortunately that is yet to be figured out. What you will find in this article is an attempt to explore the significance and limitations of rationality in the context of intelligence.

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.

Reject the Personalised Feeds !

Reject the Personalised Feeds !

If the confirmation bias, this desire to be surrounded by and exposed to likeminded people is natural then why should we be concerned that facebook, twitter and other news feeds are becoming ‘personalised’ and offering ‘tailor made news’ ? There are two main reasons I will explore here and suggest to — rather, I will plead with — you to reject the personalised news feeds and the next time you’re offered to have your news ‘streamlined’ , ‘tailor-made’ or made ‘just for you’ , say NO !