“As a nation we [The United States] have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated (Holder 2009-02-18).”

How do we as communities move towards voluntary socially de-segregated nations? Have a picnic?

On July 30, 2009 two Cambridge Massachussetts families will join the President of the United States for a picnic table summit. They represent the town and gown, but more significantly, two races, brought together in a gesture of reconciliation.

The press are stomping on the turf of the Professor’s yellow wood-frame home and the Sergeant’s Natick home and tomorrow they will be all over the White House lawn for the picnic.

Sgt. James M. Crowley, who grew up in Cambridge and now lives in Natick, Mass. with his wife and three children, has served with the Cambridge Police Department for 11 years. In 2004 he was selected by Ronny Watson, a former police commissioner (who is black) to be instructor at the Lowell Police Academy teaching colleagues how to avoid racial profiling. He was in the Mid-Cambridge district when at 12:45 p.m. July 16, he heard the call of a possible break-in at Ware Street in Harvard Square. A passer-by, Lucia Whalen, a fund-raiser for Harvard Magazine, saw two men struggling with the door of a yellow wood-frame home and called the Cambridge police. Sgt. Crowley answered the call although he was alone. When he encountered the individuals, whom he considered to be a threat, he called for assistance. He handcuffed one individual who was brought to the station for questioning, then released without any charges. He overreacted.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. moved to Harvard Square in 1991 when he joined the faculty of Harvard as Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies. Before coming to Harvard he taught at Yale, Cornell, and Duke. His autobiography entitled Colored People: A Memoir is taught in ethics courses among others. When he first moved to Harvard Square, “one of the most tolerant places on earth,” in 1991 he voluntarily introduced himself at the Cambridge Police Department hoping that he might avoid being pulled over constantly by police for being black while driving an expensive car. He is a very visible presence at Harvard University, his home. He is slight of build, small, (5’6″) and uses a cane. He is charismatic, distinguished and is impeccably dressed. He spent the week of July 9-16 on a documentary in China. Upon his arrival at Logan Airport, a Moroccan driver took him to his Ware Street resident. The door to his home was jammed. He was already fighting bronchial infection and was tired from a 14-hour flight so he asked the driver for help to force it open. When Sgt. Crowley arrived at his home asking him to prove his identity, he was confused and indignant. He refused to step outside as Sgt. Crowley requested (Hernandez, Rimer and Saulny 2009). He overreacted.

President Obama, who is a friend of Henry Louis Gates Jr., also overreacted.

We are human. We make mistakes. We apologize. And President Obama’s apology resonated.

In a rare White House statement to the press (2009-07-24) President Obama explained, “My sense is you’ve got two good people in a circumstance in which neither of them were able to resolve the incident in the way that it should have been resolved, and the way they would have liked it to be resolved. […T]he fact that it has garnered so much attention, I think, is a testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America, and — you know, so to the extent that my choice of words didn’t illuminate but rather contributed to more media frenzy, I think that was unfortunate. What I would like to do, then, is to make sure that everybody steps back for a moment, recognizes that these are two decent people. [… B]ecause of our history, because of the difficulties of the past, you know, African-Americans are sensitive to these issues, [a]nd even when you’ve got a police officer who has a fine track record on racial sensitivity, interactions between police officers and the African-American community can sometimes be fraught with misunderstanding. My hope is that as a consequence of this event, this ends up being what’s called a teachable moment where all of us, instead of pumping up the volume, spend a little more time listening to each other and try to focus on how we can generally improve relations between police officers and minority communities, and that instead of flinging accusations, we can all be a little more reflective in terms of what we can do to contribute to more unity. [T]here are some who say that as President I shouldn’t have stepped into this at all because it’s a local issue. I have to tell you that that part of it I disagree with. The fact that this has become such a big issue I think is indicative of the fact that race is still a troubling aspect of our society. Whether I were black or white, I think that me commenting on this and hopefully contributing to constructive — as opposed to negative — understandings about the issue, is part of my portfolio. So at the end of the conversation there was a discussion about — my conversation with Sergeant Crowley, there was discussion about he and I and Professor Gates having a beer here in the White House. We don’t know if that’s scheduled yet — (laughter) — but we may put that together. He also did say he wanted to find out if there was a way of getting the press off his lawn. (Laughter.) I informed him that I can’t get the press off my lawn. (Laughter.) He pointed out that my lawn is bigger than his lawn. (Laughter.) But if anybody has any connections to the Boston press, as well as national press, Sergeant Crowley would be happy for you to stop trampling his grass (Office of the Press Secretary of the White House. 2009-07-24. The Statement by the President).”

At the Department of Justice African American History Month Program, Attorney General Eric Holder (2009-02-18), cautioned that, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable. And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us. But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility. Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must – and will – lead the nation to the “new birth of freedom” so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation. We commemorated five years ago, the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. And though the world in which we now live is fundamentally different than that which existed then, this nation has still not come to grips with its racial past nor has it been willing to contemplate, in a truly meaningful way, the diverse future it is fated to have. To our detriment, this is typical of the way in which this nation deals with issues of race. And so I would suggest that we use February of every year to not only commemorate black history but also to foster a period of dialogue among the races. This is admittedly an artificial device to generate discussion that should come more naturally, but our history is such that we must find ways to force ourselves to confront that which we have become expert at avoiding. As a nation we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated (Holder 2009-02-18).”

Professor Glen Loury, author of Race, Incarceration and American Values (2008) is hopeful that the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the resulting picnic table summit will illuminate hard-core issues such as the systemic crisis of “hyper-incarceration of poor black men” not end in more sensitivity training for police officers. He wants “something of lasting value” not mere moral posturing. Loury calls for deep reforms in our criminal justice system with a real investment “in helping the troubled people — our fellow citizens — caught in the law enforcement web to find a constructive role in society, and less in punishing them for punishment’s sake. We need to change the ways in which we deal with juvenile offenders, so that a foolish act in childhood doesn’t put them on the road to lifetimes in prison. We should seriously consider that many of our sentences are too long — “three strikes” laws may be good politics, but they are an irrational abomination as policy. We should definitely consider decriminalizing most drug use. We need to reinvent parole. And, most important, we should weigh more heavily the negative and self-defeating effects that our policy of mass incarceration is having on the communities where large numbers of young black and Hispanic men live (Loury 2009-07-26).”

Selected Bibliography and Webliography

Office of the Press Secretary of the White House. 2009-07-24. The Statement by the President. James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

Child, Maxwell L.; Zhu, Peter F. 2009-07-24. “Obama Backs Off Gates Remarks After Police Ask for Apology.” The Harvard Crimson.

Editors. 2009. “Attorney general says U.S. a nation of ‘cowards’ when it comes to race“.” New York Times. Issue.

Harvard Faculty Biographies. “Henry Louis Gates, Jr Biography.”

Hernandez, Javier C.; Rimer, Sara; Saulny, Susan. 2009-07.

Hitchens, Christopher. 2009. “A Man’s Home Is His Constitutional Castle.” Washingtonpost. Newsweek Interactive Co. LLC.: Issue. /

Holder, Eric. 2009. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at the Department of Justice African American History Month Program.

Loury, Glenn C. 2008. Race, Incarceration and American Values. Cambridge, Mass. Massachussets Institute of Technology.

Loury, Glenn C. 2009. “Obama, Gates and the American Black Man.” New York Times. Issue.

Parker, Kathleen. 2009. “Redemption on Tap: Why Cambridge Could Use a Cold One.” Washington Post. Issue.

Warner, Judith. 2009. “A Lot Said, and Unsaid, About Race.” New York Times. Issue.

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Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. 2006.”Global Inequality Fades as the Global Economy Grows.” 2007 Index of Economic Freedom.

The report of 13th annual Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 2007 was cited in the January 23, 2007 online version of The Economist under Business This Week. Economic Freedom of 161 countries is measured and ranked from 0 to 100 with 0 demarcating countries with the least freedom. The index designed for public policymakers and investors uses ten variables, such as tax rates, ability to do business, property rights, corruption, labour freedom and property rights. Some countries such as Iraq were excluded from the survey. Using a new formula this year liberty worldwide is on the rise compared to the entire period investigated (c.1995-2006) although slightly less in 2006(60.6%) as compared to 2005 figures. What is problematic about this index is the way in which market liberalism is confounded with a more inclusive concept of liberty.
This annual index cites Adam Smith‘s The Wealth of Nations in 1776 as its foundational theoretical framework and measures ten variables, such as the ability to do business, property rights, corruption and labour freedom. The average score (0 equals repressed, 100 equals free) was 60.6%, down slightly from last year but the second-highest since the survey began. North Korea remained rooted at the bottom (several countries, including Iraq, were not ranked).

According to Index of Economic Freedom 2007 Hong Kong, United States, Britain, Chile, Japan, Germany, Israel and Thailand are the best countries in the world to do business. North Korea, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Russia, China, Turkey, Brazil and Italy are the worst places for free market trade.

Since the 18th century Smith’s theories have been used to explain capitalism asa means of promulgating peace since war interrupts trade between nations. In a recent article (2006) in Le monde diplomatique,sociologist Professor Alain Bihr, reveals how this concept of capitalism and freedom of the market as generator of peace, embedded in concepts of classical liberal economy, forgets the nature of production (Bihr 2006 citing Smith 1904 [1776]). Smith’s theories continue to inform investigations of the study of liberal thought and the history of capitalism, such as the Index of Economic Freedom.

Adam Smith’s arguments are used as a rebuttal to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (1999) which decries the widening gap between the poorest and richest countries. In 1997 the upper quintile controlled 74 times the income of the lowest quintile, whereas in 1960 the figure was 30 times the income. (The extremes of wealth and poverty in Canada are discussed in )

What is too often ignored in liberal market theories is Adam Smith’s final concluding chapter in which he clearly indicates what must be done with surplus wealth in order to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. There is a responsibility on the part of the super rich to not simply accumulate their wealth as is the case of the ultra rich but to redistribute their wealth with an eye to hospitality.

When neither commerce nor manufactures furnish anything for which the owner can exchange the greater part of those materials which are over and above his own consumption, he can do nothing with the surplus but feed and clothe nearly as many people as it will feed and clothe. A hospitality in which there is no luxury, and a liberality in which there is no ostentation, occasion, in this situation of things, the principal expences of the rich and the great. But these, I have likewise endeavoured to show in the same book, are expences by which people are not very apt to ruin themselves. There is not, perhaps, any selfish pleasure so frivolous of which the pursuit has not sometimes ruined even sensible men. A passion for cock-fighting has ruined many. But the instances, I believe, are not very numerous of people who have been ruined by a hospitality or liberality of this kind, though the hospitality of luxury and the liberality of ostentation have ruined many (Smith 1902 [1776]: V.3.1).

In a future world individuals may well be entrusted with doing this voluntarily. But we are far from this state of equilibrium where the market balances itself. The Index of Economic Freedom cannot therefore be relied upon as a stand-alone tool measuring freedom. Concepts of hospitality and liberty need to be measured with the more sophisticated critical tools of the 21st century not with limited readings of brilliant texts of the 17the century.

In 2001 Peter Robinson invited Bruce Bartlett, Senior Fellow, National Center for Policy Analysis and Peter Orszag, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution to debate questions concerning income inequality such as:

“How much does the gap between rich and poor matter? In 1979, for every dollar the poorest fifth of the American population earned, the richest fifth earned nine. By 1997, that gap had increased to fifteen to one. Is this growing income inequality a serious problem? Is the size of the gap between rich and poor less important than the poor’s absolute level of income? In other words, should we focus on reducing the income gap or on fighting poverty?” See the transcript or listen to the multimedia of Robinson, Peter. 2001. “Rich Man, Poor Man: Income Inequality.” Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed July 18, 2001 hosted by the Hoover Institution and funded by John M. Olin Foundation and the Starr Foundation, all pro-business think tanks.

Footnotes

While Canada now has a $4.8 trillion net worth, the lower quintile of the population have seen their net worth diminish while the net worth of the Ultra rich has increased.

Selected webliography

Bihr, Alain. 2006.“Aux origines du capitalisme: L’erreur fondamentale d’Adam Smith.” Le monde diplomatique online.November.
Flynn-Burhoe. 2007. “Rich Man Poor Man: Hospitality, Liberty and Measuring the Measurements.” Google Docs and Spreadsheets. January 24, 2007.

Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom 2007.

Robinson, Peter. 2001. “Rich Man, Poor Man: Income Inequality.” Uncommon Knowledge. Filmed July 18, 2001 hosted by the Hoover Institution.

Sala-i-Martin, Xavier. 2006.”Global Inequality Fades as the Global Economy Grows.” 2007 Index of Economic Freedom.

Smith, Adam. 1776. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. London: Methuen and Co., Ltd., ed. Edwin Cannan,1904. Fifth edition. complete online version

The Baroque, Neoclassical and Romantic periods in Europe coincide with the period of colonization in what was called the New World. When we admire artistic creations from these periods how can be also remember colonial activities and their implications for everyday life in 2007.

Freeman (2000a 127) describes one of the distant relatives of the 17th century as a fur trader, interpreter and man of public affairs whose influence increased in 1643 with the formation of the United Colonies of New England (Plymouth, Connecticut, Massechusetts and New Haven). His name was connected with almost every Indian transaction on record.

Selected webliography and bibliography

Freeman, Victoria. 2000. Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.

Freeman, Victoria. 2000a. “Ambassador to the Indians.”Distant Relations: How My Ancestors Colonized North America. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart. pp.127-147.

Habermas’ (2004) in “Time of Transition” declared that Judaeo-Christian-centred liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, civilisation are exclusively essential to civil society. What about Islamic, Buddhist or indigenous philosophies? Quebec, Canada’ most multiethnic high school political philosophy class answer back.

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Abstract: Habemas’ Judaeo-Christian-centred communicative theories meet saavy, enlightened, extremely multiethnic Quebec students: Habermas’ (2004) declaration that Judaeo-Christian-centred liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, civilisation make intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible What happens to 18th century Enlightenment concepts of civil society in a postnational public sphere, where Habermas’ concepts and theories, developed in the 1960s and popularized in the 1980s meet a saavy, enlightened, extremely multiethnic highschool political philosophy class in a fractured nation-state (Quebec) within a fractured nation-state (Canada) in a knowledge-risk society?

This is a stub of a discussion which I will develop over the next few months instigated by this article in Le Devoir. Google now offers a service whereby anything on the web can be instantly translated. So this is Google’s English translation of Dubreuil’s original  article in the French-language newspaper Le Devoir. Nothing compares to reading an author in their own languages of preference. While this Google service is probably not a perfect solution for discussions on political philosophy where one word can be the topic of an entire body of work, it is at least a way into this fascinating and timely debate. Maureen Flynn-Burhoe, November 19, 2006. To be continued . . .

Dubreuil, Benoît. 2006. “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Mme. Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006. http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html . Accessed 2006/11/19.

Habermas, Jürgen. (2004) Time of Transition.

 

 

I am convinced that Derrida’s more inclusive theories on political philosophy as revealed in his writings particularly in the 1990s onwards, are more useful in a philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view. It is evident that any dialogues on human rights, democracy, hospitality, friendship, civil society need to be inclusive. Habermas’ contributions as public intellectual, political philosopher who brought difficult topics to the public through mass media will continue to be topical, relevant and useful. But truly useful additions to the urgent conversations about social inclusion, social justice, economic efficiency, globalization need to be undertaken with a level of hospitality and friendship that Jacques Derrida (who acknowledged his own status as marano, a French-Jewish-Algerian)  exemplified in his discussions with Arabo-Islamic scholars. There is indeed an urgency for inclusive conversations hospitable to Bhuddism, Arabo-Islamic, Baha’i, First Nations, Inuit, indigenous points of view. 

A partial chronology of a debate on political philosophy 

The following is a draft of a Chronology I am developing as background for Habermas-Derrida debates in political philosophy.  

18th century coffee houses: “Jürgen Habermas wrote extensively on the concept of the public sphere, using accounts of dialogue that took place in coffee houses in 18th century England. It was this public sphere of rational debate on matters of political importance, made possible by the development of the bourgeois culture centered around coffeehouses, intellectual and literary salons, and the print media that helped to make parliamentary democracy possible and which promoted Enlightenment ideals of equality, human rights and justice. The public sphere was guided by a norm of rational argumentation and critical discussion in which the strength of one’s argument was more important than one’s identity.” Wiki

Habermas built the framework out of the speech-act philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, J. L. Austin, and John Searle, the sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self of George Herbert Mead, the theories of moral development of Jean Piaget and Lawrence Kohlberg, and the discourse ethics of his Heidelberg colleague Karl-Otto Apel. Jürgen Habermas considers his own major achievement the development of the concept and theory of communicative reason or communicative rationality, which distinguishes itself from the rationalist tradition by locating rationality in structures of interpersonal linguistic communication rather than in the structure of either the cosmos or the knowing subject. This social theory advances the goals of human emancipation, while maintaining an inclusive universalist moral framework. This framework rests on the argument called universal pragmatics – that all speech acts have an inherent telos (the Greek word for “purpose” or “goal”) — the goal of mutual understanding, and that human beings possess the communicative competence to bring about such understanding.

Xxxx Kant the Enlightenment and of democratic socialism Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) carried forward the traditions of Kant through his emphasis on the potential for transforming the world and arriving at a more humane, just, and egalitarian society through the realization of the human potential for reason, in part through discourse ethics. While Habermas concedes that the Enlightenment is an “unfinished project,” he argues it should be corrected and complemented, not discarded.

19xx Ludwig Wittgenstein developed his speech-act philosophy which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.

19xx J. L. Austin developed his speech-act philosophy which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.

19xx John Searle developed his speech-act philosophy which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.

19xx George Herbert Mead developed his theory of sociological theory of the interactional constitution of mind and self which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality

19xx Jean Piaget developed his theories of moral development which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality

19xx Lawrence Kohlberg developed his theories of moral development which partially informed the development of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) concepts and theories of communicative reason or communicative rationality.

1929 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) was born June 18, 1929 in Düsseldorf. wiki

1956 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) burst onto the German intellectual scene in the 1950s with an influential critique of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. He had been studying philosophy and sociology under the critical theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno at the Institute for Social Research at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main since 1956, but because of a rift over his dissertation between the two – Horkheimer had made unacceptable demands for revision – as well as his own belief that the Frankfurt School had become paralyzed with political skepticism and disdain for modern culture – he took his Habilitation in political science at the University of Marburg under the Marxist Wolfgang Abendroth. Wiki

1961 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) became a privatdozent in Marburg, and very unusual in the German academic scene at that time, he was called to an “extraordinary professorship” (professor without chair) of philosophy at the University of Heidelberg (at the instigation of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith) in 1962.

1964, Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) returned to Frankfurt to take over Horkheimer’s chair in philosophy and sociology, strongly supported by Adorno. wiki

1971-1983 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) was Director of the Max Planck Institute in Starnberg (near Munich). wiki

1981 ??? Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) published his magnum opus, The Theory of Communicative Action. Habermas then returned to his chair at Frankfurt and the directorship of the Institute for Social Research. In his magnum opus Theory of Communicative Action (1984) he criticized the one-sided process of modernization led by forces of economic and administrative rationalization. Habermas traced the growing intervention of formal systems in our everyday lives as parallel to development of the welfare state, corporate capitalism and the culture of mass consumption. These reinforcing trends rationalize widening areas of public life, submitting them to a generalizing logic of efficiency and control. As routinized political parties and interest groups substitute for participatory democracy, society is increasingly administered at a level remote from input of citizens. As a result, boundaries between public and private, the individual and society, the system and the lifeworld are deteriorating. Democratic public life only thrives where institutions enable citizens to debate matters of public importance. He describes an ideal type of “ideal speech situation[1], where actors are equally endowed with the capacities of discourse, recognize each other’s basic social equality and speech is undistorted by ideology or misrecognition. wiki

1980s??? Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) distanced himself from the Frankfurt School. Habermas argued that the Frankfurt School theorists, and others he lumped together as much of postmodernistists, who critiqued Kant, the Enlightenment, the concept of progress and of democratic socialism, were misdirected, excessively pessimism, radical and prone to exaggerations.

1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) became a renowned public intellectual as well as a scholar.

1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) used the popular press to attack historians (i.e., Ernst Nolte, Michael Stürmer and Andreas Hillgruber) who, arguably, had tried to demarcate Nazi rule and the Holocaust from the mainstream of German history, explain away Nazism as a reaction to Bolshevism, and partially rehabilitate the reputation of the Wehrmacht (German Army) during World War II. The so-called Historikerstreit (“Historians’ Quarrel”) was not at all one-sided, because Habermas was himself attacked by scholars like Joachim Fest and Klaus Hildebrand.

1980s Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) and Jacques Derrida engaged in somewhat acrimonious disputes beginning in the 1980s and culminated in a refusal of extended debate and talking past one another. Following Habermas’ publication of “Beyond a Temporalized Philosophy of Origins: Derrida” (in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), Derrida, citing Habermas as an example, remarked that, “those who have accused me of reducing philosophy to literature or logic to rhetoric … have visibly and carefully avoided reading me”

1986 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) received the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which is the highest honour awarded in German research.

1988 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) was elected as a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

1993 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) retired from Frankfurt and continued to publish extensively. He is also a Permanent Visiting Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

1997 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) photo on the cover of William Outhwaite’s (1997) Habermas, – en kritisk introduktion. Bogen gennemgår alle væsentlige titler i forfatterskabet, fra de tidlige bøger om videnskab, politik og offentlig meningsdannelse i det kapitalistiske samfund til de seneste arbejder om retssystemets rolle i den demokratiske stat. photos

2001 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) visited the People’s Republic of China in April 2001 and received a big welcome. He gave numerous speeches under titles such as “Nation-States under the Pressure of Globalisation.”

2004 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-), wrote in regards to his views on secularism and religion in the European public sphere, in his essay (2004) Time of Transition, “Christianity, and nothing else, is the ultimate foundation of liberty, conscience, human rights, and democracy, the benchmarks of Western civilisation.” He also maintains that “recognising our Judaeo-Christian roots more clearly not only does not impair intercultural understanding, it is what makes it possible.” [2] Jürgen Habermas had his photo taken with with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

2005 Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) traveled to San Diego and on March 5, 2005, as part of the University of San Diego‘s Kyoto Symposium, gave a speech entitled The Public Role of Religion in Secular Context, regarding the evolution of separation of Church and State from neutrality to intense secularism. He received the 2005 Holberg International Memorial Prize (about € 520 000).

XXXX Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) More recently, Habermas has been outspoken in his opposition to the American invasion of Iraq.

2006 wiki photo taken

2006 “The reflexion of Habermas joined the remarks of Jacques Godbout, who worried recently (Topicality, September 1, 2006) about the multiplication of the parabolic aerials allowing the immigrants to remain connected permanently on the television of their country of origin and never to be integrated into Québécois public space. Some, like the playwright Olivier Khemed (the Duty, September 12, 2006), saw in this comment a form of arabophobie. However, the question deserves to be put! Can there really be a public space when the citizens adopt profiles radically different in their consumption from cultural goods? The diagnosis drawn up by Godbout is undoubtedly partial, but he recalls us that we do not know anything in Quebec mode consumption cultural goods by the immigrant populations. Are their principal channels of integration to the Québécois democracy TQS, VAT and Radio-Canada or rather CTV, CNN and Al-Jazira? We do not know anything of it since there is not any serious study on this question. (Dubreuil 2006)” (Dubreuil, Benoît (2006), “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Madame Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006. http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html , Édition du samedi 18 et du dimanche 19 novembre 2006

xxxx Noted academic John Thompson, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, has pointed out that Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) notion of the public sphere is antiquated due to the proliferation of mass-media communications. wiki

Xxxx Noted academic Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego critiques the work of Jürgen Habermas’(1929-) arguing more generally that a public sphere as a place of purely rational independent debate never existed. wiki

Xxxx “Quite distinct from this, Geoffrey Bennington, a close associate of Derrida’s, has in a further conciliatory gesture offered an account of deconstruction intended to provide some mutual intelligibility. Derrida was already extremely ill by the time the two had begun their new exchange, and the two were not able to develop this such that they could substantially revisit previous disagreements or find more profound terms of discussion before Derrida’s death. Nevertheless, this late collaboration has encouraged some scholars to revisit the positions, recent and past, of both thinkers, vis-a-vis the other.” wiki

Xxxx “What would say Jürgen Habermas of the Class of Mrs Lise? In her superb documentary, the director Sylvie Groulx follows during one year a class of first year to the school Barthelemy-Vimont, in the district Park-Extension, in Montreal. This school, attended with 95% by children of immigrant origin, is most multiethnic in Quebec. The documentary one testifies to the difficulties to which facefaces Quebec as regards integration of the immigrants and famous with wonder what it is advisable to call our “school apartheid”. By looking at the Class of Mrs Lise, it is difficult not to wonder which Quebec are integrated these children. Do we divide with them a common world? Do we take part in the same public space?” (Dubreuil 2006)” (Dubreuil, Benoît (2006), “Le Devoir de Philo – Habermas et la classe de Madame Lise,” Le Devoir, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. November 19, 2006.http://www.ledevoir.com/2006/11/18/123119.html, Édition du samedi 18 et du dimanche 19 novembre 2006

 

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Sunburst during Blizzard

I really need to get outside and dig deep into my garden with my bare hands, pulling out weeds that are uprooted so easily in the good black earth. It is oddly calming for me.

I have learned too much technology this morning and I need to relax in the real physical world. There is nothing quite as physical as black earth under your finger nails. When I come back I want to consider the catalysts that led to my ongoing inquiries into the positive presence of absence, memory work, social exclusions, museology . . . Perhaps my inquiry is instantiated in the embodied Sarah Ekoomiak. I need to share what I have already gathered on her contributions but I cannot do this legitimately in the social sciences. So this will perhaps be in the form of a Flicktion. I will examine why in regards to these key words:

tarmac ethnology Sarah Ekoomiak Google News customized brain imagery Away Iqaluit airport Adobe Photoshop anthropology sociology cyberdelirium del.icio.us ethical topography of self everyday life Flicktion forgetting folksonomy taxonomy communal memory reconciliation RCAP geotagging Road to Nowhere hospitality qualia reflexivity methodology social sciences wikipedia

Aquarium Gaze

November 4, 2006

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This layered Adobe Photoshop image was inspired by a paragraph in Michael Ignatieff’s book entitled Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry. This was the book preferred by the adult students in the Human Rights course I taught at Nunavut Arctic College, Iqaluit, NU in 2002-3. Aquarium Gaze

“Here was a scientist, trained in the traditions of European rational inquiry, turning a meeting between two human beings into an encounter between different species. Progress may be a contested concept, but we make progress to the degree that we act upon the moral intuition that Dr. Pannwitz was wrong: our species is one, and each of the individuals who compose it is entitled to equal moral consideration. Human rights is the language that systematically embodies this intuition, and to the degree that this intuition gains influence over the conduct of individuals and states, we can say that are making moral progress.[…] Human rights was a response to Dr. Pannwitz, to the discovery of the abomination that could occur when the Westphalian state was accorded unlimited sovereignity, when citizens of that state lacked normative grounds to disobey legal but immoral orders. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represented a return by the European tradition to its natural law heritage, a return intended to restore agency, to give individuals the civic courage to stand up when the state ordered them to do wrong.”(Ignatieff 2001)

My emerging folksonomy:

This linear page entitled Memory Work will be a site of collecting and sharing focused research on the urgently needed on the concept of memory work. This concept was developed by Ricoeur, Derrida, Cixous, Nora. It is urgently need in a postnational, post-WW II, post-apartheid, post-RCAP world where citizens move closer to reconciliation, towards forgiveness or apologies, while revisiting distorted histories with an attitude of mutual respect for Self and the Other-I.

Memory Work: Wikipedia

November 3, 2006

Memory work

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Memory work is a process of engaging with the past which has both an ethical and historical dimension (Gabriel 2004). The premise for memory work or travail de memoire is that history is not memory. We try to represent the past in the present through memory, history and the archives. As Ricoeur (1955 [1965], 2000) argued, memory alone is fallible. Historical accounts are always partial and potentially misrepresent since historians do not work with bare, uninterpreted facts. Historians construct and use archives that contain traces of the past. However, historians and librarians determine which traces are preserved and stored. This is an interpretive activity. Historians pose questions to which the archives responds leading them to “facts that can be asserted in singular, discrete propositions that usually include dates, places, proper names, and verbs of action or condition” (Ricoeur 2000:226). Individuals remember events and experiences some of which they share with a collective. Through mutual reconstruction and recounting collective memory is reconstructed. Individuals are born into familial discourse which already provides a backdrop of communal memories against which individual memories are shaped. A group’s communal memory becomes its common knowledge which creates a social bond, a sense of belonging and identity. Professional historians attempt to corroborate, correct, or refute collective memory. Memory work then entails adding an ethical component which acknowledges the responsibility towards revisiting distorted histories thereby decreasing the risk of social exclusion and increasing the possibility of social cohesion of at-risk groups.

The concept of memory-work as distinguished from history-as-memory finds a textbook case in the Vichy Syndrome as described by Russo (1991). His title uses medical lexicon to refer to history-memory as dependent on working consciously with unconscious memories to revise accounts of history. This calls for an expanded archive that includes the “oral and popular tradition” (Gabriel 2004:11) as well as the written traditions normally associated with the archives.

Nora (2002) traced the surge in memory work at the level of the nation-state to the revisiting of distorted histories of the anti-Semitic Vichy regime (1940-1944) following the death of de Gaulle in 1970. Structural changes resulted from the end of the peasantry and the dramatic economic slump as oil prices worldwide rose in 1974. Added to this was the intellectual collapse of Marxism precipitated in part by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago which forced the French to rethink attitudes towards the past.

Gabriel (2004) provided a model for reading the complexities of memory and forgetting by situating unheimlich within the heimlich, in a Freudian ‘one within the other structure’. As point of departure Gabriel examined Edgar Reitz’s eleven-part West German television series entitled Heimat. Reitz’ work was in response to a larger movement in Germany national memory work provoked in part by an American television series entitled the Holocaust followed viewed by millions. As European art in general and German art in particular resurged in the 1960s, artists like Gunther Grass and Edgar Reitz captured international attention as they grappled with issues of identity in a divided, post-Holocaust Germany. Gabriel developed the concept of an impulse towards national memory work in Germany that stemmed from a haunted subject yearning for a lost, far away, nostalgic place, a utopic homeland. “How do we confront that which we have excluded in order to be, whether it is the return of the repressed or the return of the strangers?” (Kristeva 1982). In other words, that which we fear as ‘other’ is within ourselves through our shared humanity. Repressed memories haunt all of us.

The concept of memory work is part of a sociological imagination from a post-national point of view. Expanding on Norbert Loeffler: The idea of one national history is only acceptable as a question, not as an answer.

Memory work is related to identity work often associated with displaced persons. Some of the most provocative research on memory work (Derrida, Cixous, Kristeva) has been authored by French ex-patriots who returned to France following the Algerian war of independence.
Oceanflynn 06:39, 1 November 2006 (UTC)
References:

Cixous, Hélene. 1997. Rootprints: Memory and Life Writing: Routledge

Derrida, Jacques. 1996. Archive Fever. Translated by E. Prenowitz. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Derrida, Jacques. (1986) Memoires for Paul de Man, Columbia University Press.

Gabriel, Barbara. 2004. “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being; Edgar Reitz’s Heimat and the Ethics of the Unheimlich” in Postmodernism and the Ethical Subject, edited by B. Gabriel and S. Ilcan. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Kristeva, Julia. 1982. Powers of Horror. New York: University Press.

Kristeva, Julie (1993) Nations without Nationalism, trans. L. S. Roudiez (Yale University Press, 1993)

Nora, Pierre. 2002. “The Reasons for the Current Upsurge in Memory.” Tr@nsit-Virtuelles Forum.22 Retrieved Access 2002. http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2002-04-19-nora-en.html

Ricoeur, Paul. 1955 [1965]. History and Truth. Translated by C. A. Kelbley. Evanston: Northwestern University press.

Ricoeur, Paul. 2000. La Mémoire, l’Historie, l’Oubli: l’ordre philosophique: Éditions du Seuil. http://www.theology.ie/thinkers/RicoeurMem.htm

Russo, Henry. 1991. The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944. Translated by A. Goldhammer. Cambridge/London: Harvard University Press.

I write using EndNote so this was the original entry I had added for Barbara Gabriel whose article opened so many doors for me:

In her brilliant article entitled “The Unbearable Strangeness of Being; Edgar Reitz’s Heimat and the Ethics of the Unheimlich” Barbara Gabriel provides a model for reading the complexities of memory and forgetting. As point of departure Gabriel examined Edgar Reitz’s eleven-part West German television series entitled Heimat. Reitz’ work was in response to a larger movement in Germany national memory-work provoked in part by an American television series entitled the Holocaust followed viewed by millions.

In the section entitled “Tropes of Purity and Danger”Barbara Gabriel (2004:165, 197) illustrated how a model of homogeneity depends on a constituent outside. In this essay Gabriel revealed how the concept of heimat resists interpretation. Freud situated the unheimlich within the heimlich, one within the other structure. Freud argued that the heimlich and unheimlich are doubles, not antimonies or opposites which slip and slide inside one another through different shades of meanings explored through Freudian recurrence and return, the haunted house, the double, death and the death drive, enucleation as castration, the prostitute and the primordial uncanny as maternal womb. which a closed meaning so that the haunted subject can continue to yearn for the lost, far away, nostalgic place keep the potential of a utopic homeland footnotes the way in which Kristeva (1982) introduced a diachronic register by mapping theory onto historical subjects. Kristeva created a synthesis between the work of Bataille and Mary Douglas. Douglas’s symbolic anthropological approach resisted the diachronic. Models of homogeneity depend on a constituent outside.

“Recent cultural theory around abjection moves deconstruction as well as psychoanalytic readings around the relationship between insides and outsides onto the category of social subjects (see Butler [1990, 1993]). Kristeva’s (1982) own analyses bring together the work of Mary Douglas and Bataille; what is new here, arguably, is the mapping of the theory onto the domain of historical subjects, shifting the synchronic work of anthropology into a diachronic register in ways ignored by Douglas’s pioneering work. I am indebted to Matti Bunzi for the insight that symbolic anthropology was long resistant to historical frameworks.”
“How do we confront that which we have excluded in order to be, whether it is the return of the repressed or the return of the stangers?” Cited in Gabriel, Barbara 2004

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