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This chapter attempts to “study some of the many intersections between narratives and politics.” The human life or experience is seen as a story, a compilation of narratives that explain our realities. Similarly, politics, the apogee of any society, designed to establish and maintain it, is a “human narrative,” independent, and can be comprehended in relation to other aspects of the society. To expound on the theme of “collective action,” the chapter answers three questions: how people come together for a common goal; why enforcers of collective actions turn to stories; and the significance of storytelling in triggering a collective action. The chapter finds answers in “affinity” (feeling of oneness, proximity, and brotherhood) and “solidarity” (feeling of a common goal). The chapter broaches the issue of the inhibition to narrative politics — the “perceived reliance on imperial system of knowledge,” as well as its emancipation — “the elevation of repressed narratives.” In addition, through the author’s personal experiences, encounters, and references to scholarship, he mirrors some African narratives, especially the Yoruba and their importance in spurring positive change.
Chapter 3 examines the decisive break between religious and secular utilitarianism in the thought of William Paley and Jeremy Bentham. Paley, the better known and more widely respected thinker of the two at the time, is in many ways the paradigm case of the theological version of morality as legislation. Paley, like Locke, used human legislative deliberation as a paradigm of rationality for thinking about the content of the divine law. Bentham’s project must be understood in part as motivated by a desire to reject the theological assumptions of theories like Paley’s that stood in the way of radical reform. It also encouraged a reframing of moral expression as a kind of legislative act. Bentham saw reputational sanctions as one substitute for religious motives for moral action, but this also required a perspectival shift towards a legislative approach when making moral statements.
As a final comment on the outcomes of Thailand’s legal history, this chapter begins with a seemingly bizarre incident that occurred during Thai street protests in March 2010. Tens of thousands of rural demonstrators splashed their own blood on Bangkok’s public buildings to curse the ruling government and its legal and political institutions. An explanation of the demonstrators’ controversial actions is found in their reaction against efforts of the central Thai ruling elite over the past century to modernize Thai law, rationalize its religious administration, and eliminate rival systems in outlying regions. These efforts, in turn, are placed in the context of a centuries-old tradition of law, kingship, and religious purification through which Thai rulers centralized their power and demonstrated their legitimacy. The street protests in 2010 represented a failed attempt by rural workers simultaneously to claim their place in the Thai nation and to challenge its hegemony, to assert their rights under modern law, and to invoke pre-modern legal norms and identities.
Chapter 1 lays out two common ways of thinking about the relationship between the religious and the secular. The first assumes that secular and religious approaches to the world are mutually exclusive; where one is ascendant the other must be in decline. The second considers the secular and religious to be paradoxically dependent on each other; one is always a curious inversion of the other. I suggest a better, third way inspired by Talal Asad’s Formations of the Secular, Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, and William Connolly’s A World of Becoming. A scene from Defoe’s The Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719), the sequel to Robinson Crusoe (1719), shows how letting go of certain assumptions about the secular and religious can help us notice more of what is happening in the novel. The chapter ends with a brief discussion of what is at stake for literary studies in rethinking the secular, what we stand to lose if we do not and what we stand to gain if we do.
This chapter by Marian Wilson Kimber explores the relation between music, dance and poetry in late nineteenth-century amateur dance performances in the United States, specifically Delsarte. With reference to little-known archival sources (musical scores, photographs, programme leaflets and educational guides), Wilson Kimber examines how elocutionists combined their recitation with posing in imitation of ancient Greek statuary. These performances grew from the expressive physical fitness movement named after the nineteenth-century French musician and teacher Delsarte. The practice is itself rooted in elocution, recitation or public speaking that was a common form of entertainment on programmes with chamber music throughout the United States. To the accompaniment of hymns, women recited and posed to entertain one another, but also with the goal of self-improvement. Describing these practices, Wilson Kimber articulates a historical case of what we might call choreographic legitimization, considering ways in which dancers sought to elevate the seemingly suspect status of their art with reference to ancient Classical values and sacred music.
We address the deontological, philosophical, pedagogical and religious foundations of Maimonides’ tort theory. Maimonides regards removing the wrong as an important aim of tort law, alongside other aims, which are directed at the meta-aim of the “welfare of the body.” We looked at the similarities and the differences between this aim and the theories of prominent modern corrective justice theories, such as those presented by Weinrib. Maimonides emphasizes educational, punitive, religious (prohibition against causing damage) and social aspects that shape this aim of “removing the wrong” in particular, and tort law in general. Therefore, the application of tort law and the conception of corrective justice is wider according to Maimonides’ approach than according to narrow conceptions of corrective justice that place the emphasis on the correlative framework of the damager/victim. Tort law, according to Maimonides, is designed not only to restore the status quo ante, but to repair the qualities of the damager, to shape him as a person who contributes to a society which dutifully observes the religious precepts and is careful not to cause damage to the property and to the body of another. Moreover, Maimonides incorporates distributive considerations into his theory, particularly on the subject of compensation.