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Humanities, Volume 3, Issue 4 (December 2014) – 14 articles , Pages 442-765

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Article
Humanities’ Metaphysical Underpinnings of Late Frontier Scientific Research
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 740-765; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040740 - 22 Dec 2014
Viewed by 2473
Abstract
The behavior/structure methodological dichotomy as locus of scientific inquiry is closely related to the issue of modeling and theory change in scientific explanation. Given that the traditional tension between structure and behavior in scientific modeling is likely here to stay, considering the relevant [...] Read more.
The behavior/structure methodological dichotomy as locus of scientific inquiry is closely related to the issue of modeling and theory change in scientific explanation. Given that the traditional tension between structure and behavior in scientific modeling is likely here to stay, considering the relevant precedents in the history of ideas could help us better understand this theoretical struggle. This better understanding might open up unforeseen possibilities and new instantiations, particularly in what concerns the proposed technological modification of the human condition. The sequential structure of this paper is twofold. The contribution of three philosophers better known in the humanities than in the study of science proper are laid out. The key theoretical notions interweaving the whole narrative are those of mechanization, constructability and simulation. They shall provide the conceptual bridge between these classical thinkers and the following section. Here, a panoramic view of three significant experimental approaches in contemporary scientific research is displayed, suggesting that their undisclosed ontological premises have deep roots in the Western tradition of the humanities. This ontological lock between core humanist ideals and late research in biology and nanoscience is ultimately suggested as responsible for pervasively altering what is canonically understood as “human”. Full article
Article
The Culture of Endings
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 711-739; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040711 - 17 Dec 2014
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2498
Abstract
This article analyses the cultural state of mind characteristic of historical periods at some kind of endpoint: the end of a world or even of the world or, most hypothetically, of the universe. This is the idea of Last Days. In order to [...] Read more.
This article analyses the cultural state of mind characteristic of historical periods at some kind of endpoint: the end of a world or even of the world or, most hypothetically, of the universe. This is the idea of Last Days. In order to contextualize it, it is necessary to consider varying conceptions of temporality: a hunter-gatherer model, models of cyclical time and of linear time. At least in the West, this last may be understood as a product of Judaeo-Christian thinking, of which the article gives an account focussed on the motifs of eschatology, apocalypse and messianism. Finally the article proposes that the present moment in history, characterized as “Post-Modernity”, may readily be read as a time of endings, perhaps even of a conclusive end. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
Article
The Community of Others or What is a Humanist Critique of Empire?
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 699-710; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040699 - 01 Dec 2014
Viewed by 2167
Abstract
The essay argues that the perceived waning of the influence of the Humanities (Literature, Continental Philosophy, Art, and Religion) and their irrelevance to contemporary problems of globalization and environmental issues is due to a limited exploration of the notion of interdisciplinarity. The essay [...] Read more.
The essay argues that the perceived waning of the influence of the Humanities (Literature, Continental Philosophy, Art, and Religion) and their irrelevance to contemporary problems of globalization and environmental issues is due to a limited exploration of the notion of interdisciplinarity. The essay suggests that, insofar as contemporary power relations pose a problem for our conception of human-being, the resources offered by the humanities acquire a renewed value and power for thinking through the era of the anthropocene. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
Article
Action versus Movement: A Rebuttal of J. M. Bernstein on Rancière
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 687-698; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040687 - 19 Nov 2014
Viewed by 2155
Abstract
Rebutting J. M. Bernstein’s interpretation of Jacques Rancière’s aesthetics in an essay where Bernstein uses Rancière to praise classic Hollywood cinema, the present article turns to a series of recent essays and a lecture by Rancière to argue that, pace Bernstein, for Rancière [...] Read more.
Rebutting J. M. Bernstein’s interpretation of Jacques Rancière’s aesthetics in an essay where Bernstein uses Rancière to praise classic Hollywood cinema, the present article turns to a series of recent essays and a lecture by Rancière to argue that, pace Bernstein, for Rancière the conditions that demanded 19th-century modernism’s critique of the intertwined concepts of narrative and action still prevail today, in the era of entertainment cinema. The egalitarian social condition foreshadowed by the aesthetic for Rancière demands suspension of the very conditions of domination of nature and passive spectacle endemic to contemporary life. In other words, my essay argues that Rancière must and does remain committed to a version of aesthetic modernism, albeit one founded in an undoubted realism and a concomitant ideal of social equality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
Article
Ambiguity, Ambivalence and Extravagance in The Hunger Games
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 675-686; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040675 - 17 Nov 2014
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4751
Abstract
I argue that Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is an emblem of what Julia Kristeva calls the “extravagant girl” who wants to have it all and to be the best at everything. Katniss has an ambiguous gender identity, both masculine and feminine, [...] Read more.
I argue that Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games is an emblem of what Julia Kristeva calls the “extravagant girl” who wants to have it all and to be the best at everything. Katniss has an ambiguous gender identity, both masculine and feminine, paternal and maternal. And she has ambivalent desires. I conclude that this ambiguity and ambivalence open up new possibilities for girls and initiate an aesthetics of ambiguity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
Article
The Encounter of Nursing and the Clinical Humanities: Nursing Education and the Spirit of Healing
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 660-674; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040660 - 04 Nov 2014
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2746
Abstract
Practicing the clinical humanities requires throwing oneself into the unpredictable locus of suffering, where one is unable to infer the actual situation of the other, a process which fosters self-disclosure. By using the term “clinical humanities” we are attempting to free the humanities [...] Read more.
Practicing the clinical humanities requires throwing oneself into the unpredictable locus of suffering, where one is unable to infer the actual situation of the other, a process which fosters self-disclosure. By using the term “clinical humanities” we are attempting to free the humanities and social sciences from their self-imposed boundaries which have brought them to their current dispirited condition. Bringing the depth of the humanities and social sciences into the clinical field in the service of relieving suffering and setting up a humanities support network will help the humanities renew itself by listening attentively to the great amount of suffering in the world. Conceived in this way, the clinical humanities has its own methodology and way of generating insight, and also has a unique contribution to make to the amelioration of suffering in all its forms. In moving beyond their current condition and into the clinical field, the humanities and social sciences take on a new conceptual framework and a distinctive rhythm. From this perspective, the encounter between nursing and the clinical humanities might be seen as the unlikely meeting of fundamentally different and incompatible fields. Indeed, the humanities and social sciences may seem quite alien to nursing and clinical practice. In this paper I explore diverse aspects of the clinical humanities and how they can be applied to nursing and nursing education. I also investigate some innovative perspectives on healing and the clinical humanities and the implications they have for nursing and nursing education. Full article
Article
Music and Alterity Processes
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 645-659; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040645 - 30 Oct 2014
Viewed by 2251
Abstract
The concept of alterity constitutes an important issue in anthropological research and, therefore, in the study of musical practices, as well. Without it, we could hardly understand other kinds of music situated in different spaces and time from the observer. In order to [...] Read more.
The concept of alterity constitutes an important issue in anthropological research and, therefore, in the study of musical practices, as well. Without it, we could hardly understand other kinds of music situated in different spaces and time from the observer. In order to effectively approach these musical practices, we have to develop strategies to help us reduce as much as possible that which distorts the vision of the other. However, beyond the strictly epistemological and methodological issues, the study of music cannot ignore the ethical question related to the manner in which Western thought has understood and treated the other: through a hierarchical and stereotypical type of thinking based on the condition of otherness. Throughout the article, different alterity procedures are presented and discussed, such as synecdochization, exoticization, undervaluation, overvaluation, misunderstanding and exclusion. Taking these different alterity strategies into account may help us to better understand how the musical other is constructed, used and ultimately instrumentalized. Full article
Article
Toward An Ethics of Reciprocity: Ethnobotanical Knowledge and Medicinal Plants as Cancer Therapies
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 624-644; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040624 - 29 Oct 2014
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3745
Abstract
This article develops a reciprocity ethics of the environment through a discussion of ethnobotanical medicines used in the treatment of cancer. The moral virtue of reciprocity, defined as the returning of good when good is received or anticipated, is central to the posthumanist [...] Read more.
This article develops a reciprocity ethics of the environment through a discussion of ethnobotanical medicines used in the treatment of cancer. The moral virtue of reciprocity, defined as the returning of good when good is received or anticipated, is central to the posthumanist rethinking of human relationships to the plant world. As herbal medicines are used progressively more around the globe and as plant diversity decreases as a result of habitat loss and climate change, an ethics of reciprocity should be a concern for environmental philosophers and conservationists. Aldo Leopold’s land ethic and J. Baird Callicott’s distinction between deontological and prudential environmental ethics provide theoretical contexts for the development of a reciprocity ethics vis-à-vis ethnobotanical species. While this article does not necessarily specify modes or forms of reciprocity, it does outline some of the more prominent ethnobotanical species used in the treatment of cancer, including those from Native American, African, Chinese, and Indian traditions. In the form of a dialogue between the fields of ethnobotany, herbal medicine, and environmental philosophy, this article presents a position from which further articulations of reciprocity can be developed, particularly those involving the rights of indigenous cultures and plants. Full article
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Article
Modernity: A Myth That Manufactures Consent
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 606-623; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040606 - 27 Oct 2014
Viewed by 2279
Abstract
This paper argues that “modernity”, as a process, a temporality, a category, and so on, is akin to Orientalism in that those who speak of it produce it as their ideology, their stereotyping of themselves and their others. The first section, on time, [...] Read more.
This paper argues that “modernity”, as a process, a temporality, a category, and so on, is akin to Orientalism in that those who speak of it produce it as their ideology, their stereotyping of themselves and their others. The first section, on time, employs Kristeva’s work in “Women’s Time” in regards to the gendered politics of chaos and ordering. The second section, on alterity, pulls from various “times” and “spaces”, where multiple authors from, at times, conflicting backgrounds converge on the politics of othering. The third section, on consent, is on structuring the limits of imaginable alternatives of discourse. The final section draws from the previous three in order to deconstruct “modernity” as a mythology of temporal, spacial and societal orderliness, producing forms of alterity to manufacture the consent of whomever speaks of modernity towards creating a convenient history and setting a hegemony-laden agenda. As such, modernity takes the place of “the real” to consolidate and augment hegemony by way of self-naturalization. It is a manufactured consent, of those who speak of, to and about it, to colonial aggression and arrogance by evacuating colonial relations of power from the limits of the debate. Full article
Article
An Archeology of Fragments
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 585-605; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040585 - 24 Oct 2014
Viewed by 3072
Abstract
This is a short (fragmentary) history of fragmentary writing from the German Romantics (F. W. Schlegel, Friedrich Hölderlin) to modern and contemporary concrete or visual poetry. Such writing is (often deliberately) a critique of the logic of subsumption that tries to assimilate whatever [...] Read more.
This is a short (fragmentary) history of fragmentary writing from the German Romantics (F. W. Schlegel, Friedrich Hölderlin) to modern and contemporary concrete or visual poetry. Such writing is (often deliberately) a critique of the logic of subsumption that tries to assimilate whatever is singular and irreducible into totalities of various categorical or systematic sorts. Arguably, the fragment (parataxis) is the distinctive feature of literary Modernism, which is a rejection, not of what precedes it, but of what Max Weber called “the rationalization of the world” (or Modernity) whose aim is to keep everything, including all that is written, under surveillance and control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
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Article
Bridging the Divide: Literature, Dao and the Case for Subjective Access in the Thought of Su Shi
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 567-584; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040567 - 23 Oct 2014
Viewed by 3181
Abstract
In the 11th century in China, there was an unusual moment in which a number of philosophers, later associated with the Daoxue—or Neo-Confucian—school, confronted what they perceived as a long-standing sense of disjunction between inner, subjective reality and the structured patterns of [...] Read more.
In the 11th century in China, there was an unusual moment in which a number of philosophers, later associated with the Daoxue—or Neo-Confucian—school, confronted what they perceived as a long-standing sense of disjunction between inner, subjective reality and the structured patterns of the cosmos. One way they sought to overcome this disjunction was by positing new theories of the cosmos that focused on the underlying, shared reality behind the myriad differentiations of phenomena. A potential tension was born that affected how thinkers understood the relationship between wen 文 (writing, literature, culture) and Dao 道 (the cosmic process, the ultimate reality, the normative path). Some thinkers, like Zhou Dunyi 周敦頤 (1017–1073), believed that wen was simply a vehicle for carrying the Dao, and was thus, implicitly, dispensable. This idea was met with resistance from one of the leading intellectual figures of the time—the philosopher, poet and statesman Su Shi 蘇軾 (1037–1101). While some of Su’s contemporaries, in their attempts to demonstrate that the world was real, and that truth was knowable, downplayed the role of individual experience and perception, Su stressed the necessity of subjective, individual experience as giving access, and concrete expression, to Dao. Su’s philosophical project came in the form of defending the enterprise of wen—writing as a creative, individual endeavor—and asserting that the quest for unity with the Dao could only be realized through direct, personal engagement in wen and other forms of meaningful practice. Through his philosophy of wen, Su sought to show that the search for truth, meaning and order did not—and could not—be achieved by transcending subjective experience. Instead, it had to be carried out at the point of encounter between self and the world, in the realm of practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
Article
Beyond Cultural History? The Material Turn, Praxiography, and Body History
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 546-566; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040546 - 09 Oct 2014
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 4824
Abstract
The body came to be taken seriously as a topic of cultural history during the “corporeal” or “bodily” turn in the 1980s and 1990s. Soon, however, critique was raised against these studies’ conceptualization of the body as discursively shaped and socially disciplined: individual [...] Read more.
The body came to be taken seriously as a topic of cultural history during the “corporeal” or “bodily” turn in the 1980s and 1990s. Soon, however, critique was raised against these studies’ conceptualization of the body as discursively shaped and socially disciplined: individual bodily agency and feeling were felt to be absent in the idea of the material body. This article critically analyzes new approaches in the field of body history, particularly the so-called “material turn”. It argues that the material turn, especially in the guise of praxiography, has a lot to offer historians of the body, such as more attention to material practices, to different kinds of actors and a more open eye to encounters. Potential problems of praxiographical analyses of the body in history include the complicated relationship between discourses and practices and the neglect of the political and feminist potential of deconstructive discourse analyses. However, a focus on the relationship between practices of knowledge production and the representation of the body may also provide new ways of opening up historical power relations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cultural History: The State of the Field)
Article
No Lords A-Leaping: Fanon, C.L.R. James, and the Politics of Invention
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 517-545; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040517 - 02 Oct 2014
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 3359
Abstract
What happens to Fanonism when, instead of resistance or liberation, it becomes a discourse of invention? What happens to Fanon’s critique of colonialism and his imagining of a decolonial future, when that critique and imagining are staked not on the refusal of racial [...] Read more.
What happens to Fanonism when, instead of resistance or liberation, it becomes a discourse of invention? What happens to Fanon’s critique of colonialism and his imagining of a decolonial future, when that critique and imagining are staked not on the refusal of racial humanity itself (in the sense of an appeal to a “new humanism”…), but in the sense that Fanonism itself, as such, would be a discourse and reading of invention? In this essay I compare Fanon’s reading of invention with that of C.L.R. James’s reading of spontaneity in Notes on Dialectics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Encounters between Literature and Philosophy)
Article
The Progress of Science—Past, Present and Future
Humanities 2014, 3(4), 442-516; https://doi.org/10.3390/h3040442 - 02 Oct 2014
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 4404
Abstract
Scientific orthodoxy based on the acquired authority of some scientists has seriously hampered the progress of the natural sciences in the past and continues to do so today because of new societal influences, such as directive funding and political interference in the setting [...] Read more.
Scientific orthodoxy based on the acquired authority of some scientists has seriously hampered the progress of the natural sciences in the past and continues to do so today because of new societal influences, such as directive funding and political interference in the setting of research objectives. Enhancing the progress of science must continue to be an important priority in order to meet the future needs of mankind. Yet priority setting between different branches of research is currently controversial because of the limited availability of funds and the political interference. For sound priority setting, an adequate level of scientific literacy is required among policy makers, a subject that will attract attention throughout this paper. The “introduction” gives an overview of the issues at stake. Prevailing pessimistic views of the future of our complex society are viewed as being similar to a medieval doomsday syndrome. Pathways to a new renaissance and age of reason are suggested. Three major recommendations are made: (i) Freedom of inquiry must be protected; (ii) The political misuse of potential environmental scares needs to be investigated before doomsday predictions alarm public perceptions and hence shape policies; (iii) The search for excellence in the leadership of science should be emphasized because it should not be based largely on acquired authority. The current controversy over possible impacts of rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere on climate is analyzed as a case study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Humanity’s Future)
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