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Democracy, sovereignty, citizenship, and the rule of law are foundational yet contested concepts. Their foundational role has been extensively discussed with reference to modern nation-states and global order, and their contested quality has come to the fore through norm contestation. This chapter suggests that contestation’s move into the limelight represents an opportunity to address the future of democracies. It argues that first, norm contestedness is expected due to its value- and practice-based roots. Second, contestedness has implications for everyday norm-use and academic norm-conceptualization. This chapter conceives norms and their multiple contestations as the constitutive ‘glue’ of global ordering rather than as a ‘means’ towards implementing governance rules. This chapter identifies a conceptual gap between state-negotiated norms of global governance and societal contestation of norms. It recalls Tully’s ‘Unfreedom of the Moderns’ claim and the central role of agonism in including the multitude of affected stakeholders in establishing norms of governance. Using the cycle-grid model, this chapter frames democracy from below.
A little known occasional work by Telemann, the Pastorelle en musique of circa 1714, offers evidence that a modern, enlightened understanding of freedom was manifest in the composer’s thinking during his early Frankfurt period (1712–16). It is this understanding that Jean Starobinski examined in his influential book The Invention of Liberty, 1700–1789. Telemann himself described his departure from the Eisenach court for the free imperial city of Frankfurt as a move toward freedom; later, he criticized his Frankfurt wedding serenatas for having gone too far in this direction. Compositional strategies in the Pastorelle en musique document a novel, free, and extraordinarily diverse mingling of literary and musical models together with formal, stylistic, and generic traditions of the most varied provenance – a tendency toward freer composition that also surfaces in the pastorale’s details, such as the setting of the words “freedom shall be the watchword.”
Chapter 6 analyses systems of bondage on the lakeshore. It builds on recent works in Indian Ocean World history that have blurred the distinctions between slavery and freedom, and challenges trends in Africanist scholarship that have tended to analyse labour and social relations in these terms. It argues that the terms ‘slavery’ and ‘freedom’ do not do justice to the wide variety of bonded forms that existed on Lake Tanganyika’s shores. Most labourers living on the lakeshore were not concerned with the distinction of being either a ‘slave’ or ‘free’. Rather, they were concerned with who they were bonded to, the conditions of their bondage, and what this meant for their social status. In this instance (and perhaps paradoxically), some bonds(wo)men were able to claim ‘freeborn’ social status. They demonstrated this status through their display of material objects, their primary occupation, and their spiritual capabilities.
In the book’s final chapter, “Messages from Within,” Serenella Iovino analyzes the work of the Italian writer Primo Levi, particularly the short story “Man’s Friend,” which imagines a genetic poetics produced by a tapeworm infestation. Iovino then uses the story to explore the emergent field of biosemiotics. The chapter traces a genealogy of biosemiotics in the work of Charles Sanders Peirce, Jakob von Uexküll, Denis Noble, and Wendy Wheeler (to whom the chapter is dedicated). Iovino also connects Levi’s writing to his experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp – a dehumanizing experience that deprived him of his freedom as well as his ability to communicate. Framing the chapter within reflections on the novel coronavirus pandemic, Iovino posits semiotic freedom as a fundamental imperative of all life.
By considering the history of bioethics and international humanitarian law, Joseph J. Fins contends that bioethics as an academic and moral community should stand in solidarity with Ukraine as it defends freedom and civility.
The third chapter explores Sartre’s account of thinking, focusing on his relatively neglected early work on the imagination. It takes up Sartre’s largely unacknowledged debt to Bergson, showing that despite Sartre’s move to phenomenology, his account of the difference between imagining and perceiving relies on Bergson’s logic of multiplicities. It argues that this influence carries on into Being and Nothingness where Sartre’s account of the situation as the process that makes judgement possible relies on a pre-juridical moment that inverts Bergson’s account of free will while remaining true to the categories underlying it. It analyses Sartre’s account of why we falsely understand consciousness as juridical, which reworks Kant’s own arguments in the paralogisms before showing how his account of consciousness ultimately fails to provide the positive account of the constitution of a situation that he requires.
Kant’s theory of citizenship replaces the French revolutionary triptych of liberty, equality and fraternity with freedom (Freiheit), equality (Gleichheit) and civil self-sufficiency (Selbständigkeit). The interpretative question is what the third attribute adds to the first two: what does self-sufficiency add to free consent by juridical equals? This article argues that Selbständigkeit adds the idea of interdependent independence: the independent possession and use of citizens’ interdependent rightful powers. Kant thinks of the modern state as an organism whose members are agents possessed of rightful (productive) powers, whose interdependent mode of exercise independently of unilateral permission matters for right. The empirical form of that ideal, according to Kant, is a republic of independent commodity producers. I will show that this reading of Selbständigkeit can consistently explain Kant’s disenfranchisement of women, wage labourers and landless farmers; that it offers a robust alternative to influential republican, libertarian and proprietarian interpretations of the Kantian state; and that it can buttress an original account of community as productive interdependence.
The second chapter begins with a consideration of Beckett’s resistance to the logic of quid pro quo, which, organizing life in the metropolis, impoverishes the imagination. Beckett discovers in listing a form to counteract that urge to calculate. Against older readings of Beckett, recent French readers such as Pascale Casanova and Alain Badiou find the Irish writer revolutionary, associating him with beginnings, resistance, and even happiness. Similarly, I claim that Beckett’s works are surprisingly recuperative. The high modernists used the stream-of-consciousness to emphasize the evanescence and meaninglessness of present action. Transferring that technique to the past tense, Beckett records dissipating practices of everyday life. What’s more, Beckett’s garbled lists provoke readers to impose sense by drawing upon a shared cultural grammar. Beckett’s verbal hoarding makes conceivable a collective bound by shared axioms that reduce abstract multiplicities into knowable situations. Beckett thus posits infranational communities that are consolidated not by institutionally underwritten concepts such as nationality or ethnicity but by remembered practices of everyday life.
Since the 2005 Jyllands-Posten controversy, both far right and Islamist actors have employed Muhammed cartoons to construct a radical frontier between Muslims and non-Muslims. This article aims to provide a better understanding of the linkages between two opposing forms of popular identification by looking at the utilization of the Muhammed cartoons to crystallize a multitude of (conflicting) subjects, affects, and demands. Following a vantage point of mutual relations, the article investigates the discursive performances of the Dutch branch of the transnational Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir and the far right Party for Freedom with respect to the Jyllands-Posten affair, the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the 2020 killing of a French schoolteacher. Considering its cultural and political foundations of mutual respect and tolerance, the Dutch case is pertinent for examining the tension between the right to free speech and support for extremist and popular forms of (far right and Islamist) identification.
Blame is multifarious. It can be passionate or dispassionate. It can be expressed or kept private. We blame both the living and the dead. And we blame ourselves as well as others. What’s more, we blame ourselves, not only for our moral failings, but also for our non-moral failings: for our aesthetic bad taste, gustatory self-indulgence, or poor athletic performance. And we blame ourselves both for things over which we exerted agential control (e.g., our voluntary acts) and for things over which we lacked such control (e.g., our desires, beliefs, and intentions). I argue that, despite this manifest diversity in our blaming practices, it’s possible to provide a comprehensive account of blame. Indeed, I propose a set of necessary and sufficient conditions that aims to specify blame’s extension in terms of its constitution as opposed to its function. And I argue that this proposal has a number of advantages beyond accounting for blame in all its disparate forms.
Another indicator of oppositional consciousness and racial solidarity were the connections between enslaved people, maroons, and free people of color during revolts and ritual gatherings that helped the beginnings of the Revolution. The Bwa Kayman ceremony spiritually solidified alliances between West Central Africans and Bight of Benin Africans; and the struggle of the formerly enslaved rebels and maroons propelled racial solidarity between Africans, creoles, and free people of color. I recount mobilizations that occurred in Saint Domingue’s northern, western, and southern departments, and attempt to identify patterns of racial, gender, and labor politics that would inform post-independence social, economic, religious, and political formations. The first post-independence Constitution declared “the Haitians shall hence forward be known only by the generic appellation of Blacks,” making Haiti the first and only free and independent Black nation in the Americas.
This article examines a pivoting moment in Chinese modern dance history—a four-year US-China dance exchange project known as the Guangdong Modern Dance Experimental Program that occurred as part of China's Reform Era cultural policies. Based on my intertwined positions of outside insider and artist-scholar, this article examines the interaction between competing kinesthetic values, pedagogical approaches, and conceptions of the modern crystallized in the Guangdong program, an inquiry that defies conventional narratives of Chinese modern dance. I propose the concept of “mis-step” as an aperture to rethink corporeal encounter and dance circulation in global spaces. “Mis-” indicates contingency beyond expectations; “-step” suggests productivity of that contingency. “Mis-step” thus highlights the rich potential of indeterminacy and proposes to theorize transnational dance history beyond “right” or “wrong.” Through mis-step, this article submits a sensual experience of global encounter that centers on perplexity. This awkward yet meaningful experience constructs a crucial component of globalization reality.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte addresses Creuzer’s skeptical concerns in this highly critical review published in 1793. Fichte specifically considers Creuzer’s assertion that the capacity to determine oneself to moral and immoral action violates the principle of sufficient reason. Fichte dismisses the objection as having already been refuted by Reinhold in the second volume of the latter’s Letters on the Kantian Philosophy. In that work Reinhold argues that it is absurd to inquire after an objective ground through which the free will determined itself to a given action because it is supposedly intrinsic to the freedom of our will that it have the capacity to determine itself independently of objective grounds. Furthermore, Fichte affirms Reinhold’s claim that the (logical variant) of the principle of sufficient reason demands not that all existents have an external cause, but only that nothing be thought without a ground. Although Fichte agrees with Reinhold that reason has a very real ground to think of freedom as an absolute cause, he criticizes Reinhold for supposedly naturalizing the will’s supersensible capacity of self-determination.
In the Introduction to the Metaphysical Foundations of the Doctrine of Right, Kant assigns the will the function of giving laws and identifies it with practical reason. As merely lawgiving, Kant maintains, the will is neither free nor unfree: only the power of choice can be called free by virtue of its relation to action through maxims. Kant argues that this freedom cannot be defined as the capacity to choose for or against the moral law because this phenomenon of choice pertains to the human being qua appearance and therefore cannot define freedom, which is necessarily intelligible. For Kant, the negative concept of freedom of the power of choice consists in independence from determination by sensible impulses and the positive concept consists in the ability of pure reason to be practical. Furthermore, he claims that the possibility of deviating from the moral law is an incapacity (Unvermögen). Thus, Kant seems to hold that freedom is restricted to moral action. Nevertheless, there is room for interpretation: Kant’s remark might not be a blanket statement about free will per se but a specific claim about its definition. The matter is still contested in the secondary literature.
In his 1789 On Determinism and Moral Freedom, Snell treats the compatibility of determinism and morality. Drawing on Kant’s distinction between the empirical and intelligible character, Snell tackles the issue of how the determinism of the phenomenal world can be reconciled with freedom, specifically with respect to the capacity to do otherwise. Anticipating the contemporary charge that intelligible freedom understood as entailing the capacity to do otherwise would contradict the causal connection of appearances, Snell advances a Leibnizian interpretation of Kant’s account of free will and rejects the proposition that an indeterministic conception of the capacity to do otherwise is a necessary condition for moral imputation. He defines freedom principally as the absence of external constraint and argues that this in no way infringes upon the hypothetical necessity of occurrences in the world of sense. Furthermore, Snell maintains that the agent’s consciousness and inner feeling of self that his action is the expression of his own self-activity is all that is required for morality and moral imputation.
In his “General Overview of the Most Recent Philosophical Literature” (1797), Schelling considers Reinhold’s claim that the will must be separate from practical reason in light of Kant’s treatment of the distinction between the will and the power of choice. By divorcing the will from reason, Reinhold supposedly cannot account for our obligation under the moral law. Schelling observes that the discrepancy between Kant’s claim that the will is neither free nor unfree and Reinhold’s assertion that the will is free only insofar as it has the capacity to be good or evil is rooted in the nature of the will itself. Kant’s and Reinhold’s variance is, as it were, the result of a partial perspective of an issue properly conceived of only through a unified standpoint. Kant considers the will insofar as it is not an object of consciousness, Reinhold insofar as it occurs in consciousness. For Schelling, these seemingly disparate perspectives are integrated in the recognition that the power of choice is the appearance of an absolute will and, as such, indicates the action through which what is intellectual becomes empirical, the absolute becomes an object, and the infinite becomes finite.
Kant’s preliminary notes for the Introduction to the Metaphysical Foundations of the Doctrine of Right offer insight into his claims in the published text and his attempt to differentiate the legislative and executive moments of volition. In these notes Kant addresses the distinction between the will and the power of choice as well as the definition and scope of freedom of the power of choice. However, rather than settle the question of whether the capacity to choose to transgress the moral law belongs to freedom of the will, several of Kant’s statements seem to contradict. On the one hand, he claims that the free power of choice can be determined only by the law of the subject’s own causality and that there is no unlawful volition. On the other hand, he asserts that the power of choice is free to observe or transgress the law’s command. While Kant claims that only the power of choice, not the will, can be considered free, he also states that the will is free in another sense insofar as it is lawgiving. The context of these apparently conflicting claims suggest a nuanced account of freedom of the will and offer material for further scholarship.
August Ludwig Christian Heydenreich’s On Freedom and Determinism and their Compatibility (1793) presents the central tensions between determinism and indeterminism prior to the Critical philosophy and outlines how the latter is able to resolve these tensions. He notes that for all that Kant’s conception of free will was able to accomplish, there is still considerable disagreement on how this conception is to be understood, particularly between Carl Christian Erhard Schmid and Karl Leonhard Reinhold. The originality of Heydenreich’s position consists in his assertion that the moral power of choice cannot belong to the sphere of nature or to the supersensible world. If it belonged to the former, then its actions would necessarily be determined in accordance with the law of causality. If it belonged to the latter, then its actions would necessarily be determined by the moral law and culpability for immoral actions would be abolished. Instead, the moral power of choice must be situated between the two realms and constitute the boundary and bridge between them.
Salomon Maimon argues in “The Moral Skeptic” (1800) that Kant’s conception of freedom as the capacity of the power of choice to be determined by reason independently of sensible determinations is an empty concept, or, as Maimon puts it, a “term without a concept.” He holds that a determinate capacity is inconceivable without laws through which its efficacy is invariably determined. Although we might conceive of laws of nature as the determining ground of immoral action and the moral law as the determining ground of moral action, there is no law to determine which of these two opposed grounds is to become the determining ground of action in a given case. Thus, the actual determination of the power of choice would be left to chance, which is absurd since chance indicates the lack of a determining ground. Maimon’s critique is embedded in a broader treatment of the difference between the moral skeptic and the moral dogmatist in view of the Critical philosophy.