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Essays on Modern American Literature

Modern American literature began with a statement of enthusiasm from Emerson's writing in Nature. 'Enthusiasm', in Emerson, is a knowing word. Sometimes its use is as description, invariably approving, of a historic form of religious experience. Socrates' meaning of enthusiasm, and the image of the enthusiast it throws up, is crucial to this book. The book is a portrait of the writer as an enthusiast, where the portrait, as will become clear, carries more than a hint of polemic. It is about the transmission of literature, showing various writers taking responsibility for that transmission, whether within in their writing or in their cultural activism. Henry David Thoreau's Walden is an enthusiastic book. It is where enthusiasm works both in Immanuel Kant's sense of the unbridled self, and in William Penn's sense of the 'nearer' testament, and in Thoreau's own sense of supernatural serenity. Establishing Ezra Pound's enthusiasm is a fraught and complicated business. Marianne Moore composed poems patiently, sometimes over several years. She is a poet of things, as isolated things - jewels, curios, familiar and exotic animals, common and rare species of plant - are often the ostensible subjects of her poems. Homage to Frank O'Hara is a necessary book, because the sum of his aesthetic was to be found not just in his writing, but also in his actions to which only friends and contemporaries could testify. An enthusiastic reading of James Schuyler brings to the fore pleasure, the sheer pleasure that can come of combining, or mouthing, or transcribing.

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Towards a new philosophy of political legitimacy

Since the Enlightenment, liberal democrat governments in Europe and North America have been compelled to secure the legitimacy of their authority by constructing rational states whose rationality is based on modern forms of law. The first serious challenge to liberal democratic practices of legal legitimacy comes in Karl Marx's early writings on Rousseau and Hegel. Marx discovers the limits of formal legal equality that does not address substantive relations of inequality in the workplace and in many other spheres of social life. This book investigates the authoritarianism and breakdown of those state socialist governments which claim to put Marx's ideas on democracy and equality into practice. It offers an immanent critique of liberalism, and discusses liberal hegemony, attacking on liberalism from supposedly post-liberal political positions. Liberalism protects all individuals by guaranteeing a universally enforceable form of negative liberty which they can exercise in accordance with their own individual will. Immanuel Kant's critical philosophy both affirms and limits human agency through the media of rationality and legality. The conditions of liberal reason lay the groundwork for the structure of individual experience inside the liberal machine. The book also shows how a materialist reformulation of idealist philosophy provides the broad outlines of a theory of critical idealism that bears directly upon the organisation of the labour process and the first condition of legitimate law concerning humanity and external nature. Mimetic forms of materialism suggest that the possibilities for non-oppressive syntheses and realities are bound up with a libertarian union of intellect.

Open Access (free)
Brad Evans

political claim to resistance from a different ideological persuasion. All the while, liberal peace operations often normalised vulnerability and insecurity in lands where peace once resided. And yet the ontologising of vulnerability came up against its own violent limits, drawing forth the pent-up rage and anger among downtrodden white populations in the liberal democratic West. We could return here to the enduring appeal of Immanuel Kant, who was the first to propose the idea of a perpetual peace. Notwithstanding contentions regarding Kant’s racism and lack of concern

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Rainer Forst in dialogue
Series: Critical Powers

Rainer Forst's Toleration in Conflict (published in English 2013) is the most important historical and philosophical analysis of toleration of the past several decades. Reconstructing the entire history of the concept, it provides a forceful account of the tensions and dilemmas that pervade the discourse of toleration. In his lead essay for this volume, Forst revisits his work on toleration and situates it in relation to both the concept of political liberty and his wider project of a critical theory of justification. Interlocutors Teresa M. Bejan, Chandran Kukathas, John Horton, Daniel Weinstock, Melissa S. Williams, Patchen Markell and David Owen then critically examine Forst's reconstruction of toleration, his account of political liberty and the form of critical theory that he articulates in his work on such political concepts. The volume concludes with Forst’s reply to his critics.

Partisan feeling and democracy’s enchantments

Enthusiasm has long been perceived as a fundamental danger to democratic politics. Many have regarded it as a source of threatening instabilities manifest through political irrationalism. Such a view can make enthusiasm appear as a direct threat to the reason and order on which democracy is thought to rely. But such a desire for a sober and moderate democratic politics is perilously misleading, ignoring the emotional basis on which democracy thrives. Enthusiasm in democracy works to help political actors identify and foster progressive changes. We feel enthusiasm at precisely those moments of new beginnings, when politics takes on new shapes and novel structures. Being clear about how we experience enthusiasm, and how we recognize it, is thus crucial for democracy, which depends on progression and the alteration of ruler and the ruled. This book traces the changing ways enthusiasm has been understood politically in modern Western political thought. It explores how political actors use enthusiasm to motivate allegiances, how we have come to think on the dangers of enthusiasm in democratic politics, and how else we might think about enthusiasm today. From its inception, democracy has relied on a constant affective energy of renewal. By tracing the way this crucial emotional energy is made manifest in political actions – from ancient times to the present – this book sheds light on the way enthusiasm has been understood by political scientists, philosophers, and political activists, as well as its implications for contemporary democratic politics.

A poststructuralist moral theory for the twenty-first century

To understand how subjects are constructed socially and historically in terms of power, and how they act through power on others and on themselves, but not to see this as a purely random process or activity where ‘anything goes’, or conversely, portray ethical actions in terms of fixed universal rules or specified teleological ends, constitutes the objective of this book. What a normative Foucault can offer us, I claim, is a critical ethics of the present that is well and truly beyond Kant, Hegel. and Marx, and which can guide action and conduct for the twenty-first century.

Open Access (free)
Daniel Loick

also offers an important perspective for any future critical theory of law (4).1 1. Kant’s “pure law” Christoph Menke’s claim that violence is implied in the very “concept of law” (p. 4, original emphasis) is derived from the definition of law provided by Immanuel Kant’s chapter on the “Doctrine of Right” in his Metaphysics of Morals.2 “Right and authorization to use coercion,” Kant succinctly states, “mean one and the same thing.”3 This connection between law and coercion is conceptual and not merely historical, because it is generated by means of an a priori

in Law and violence
Michael O’Sullivan

the Irish university and as it compares with the university education in the humanities subjects envisaged by writers and thinkers such as Immanuel Kant, John Henry Newman, Pádraig Pearse, Jacques Derrida and others. Even though the focus of the book will be the National University because of the unique restrictions and conflicts at the heart of its humanities programmes, any such study is for many commentators by corollary a study of the influence of Trinity College on university life in Ireland. Following the second Presidents’ and Bishops’ Liaison Committee in

in The humanities and the Irish university
Chris Gilligan

out some of the key principles of an emancipatory anti-racism, one that holds out the possibility of transcending racisms and consigning them to the dustbin of history. Conventional social science versus Marx Immanuel Kant, the Enlightenment philosopher, has had a profound influence on the development of social science as an approach to understanding the social world. Kant aimed to reconcile empiricist and rationalist approaches in philosophy. According to the empiricist view of the world, all knowledge comes through experience. We know the things that we know

in Northern Ireland and the crisis of anti-racism
Open Access (free)
Henry David Thoreau
David Herd

, and because since the 1850s American writers, poets especially, have been working on the house that Emerson and Thoreau built, a structure designed to house or at least to accommodate Kant, hence Emerson’s explanation of the otherwise unhelpfully numinous term by which he and his contemporaries made themselves known: It is well known to most of my audience that the idealism of the present day acquired the name of transcendental from the use of the term by Immanuel Kant of Konigsburg, who replied to the skeptical philosophy of Locke which insisted that there was

in Enthusiast!