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The impossibility of reason

This book presents an overview of Jean–Jacques Rousseau's work from a political science perspective. Was Rousseau — the great theorist of the French Revolution—really a conservative? The text argues that the author of ‘The Social Contract’ was a constitutionalist much closer to Madison, Montesquieu, and Locke than to revolutionaries. Outlining his profound opposition to Godless materialism and revolutionary change, this book finds parallels between Rousseau and Burke, as well as showing that Rousseau developed the first modern theory of nationalism. It presents an integrated political analysis of Rousseau's educational, ethical, religious and political writings.

Open Access (free)
The life and times of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

This chapter presents an overview of Rousseau's life and times. More than any other writer Rousseau's philosophy has been associated with his life. There is something to be said for this interpretation. Without an understanding of his life it is difficult to appreciate why he wrote the works he wrote, and what he sought to accomplish. Yet his biographers have often presented an incomplete account of his life, one based only on his own autobiographical writings. The chapter challenges this tendency by using Rousseau's letters and eyewitness accounts by comtempories as well as his autobiographical writings to paint a more nuanced picture of the Swiss philosopher. It also presents the range of Rousseau's genius, which included operas, plays, novels, as well as political, economic, botanical, and theological writings. Rousseau's work is related to the geniuses who were inspired by his writings, such as Goethe, Kant, and John F. Kennedy.

in The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Fichte, Hölderlin and Novalis

The conflicting image of the I is evident in three of the most notable explorations of the nature of the I in German Idealism and early Romanticism. Those of J.G.Fichte, Friedrich Hölderlin, and Novalis, and the questions they raise remain central even to contemporary philosophy. Fichte wishes to found philosophy upon the one 'condition' which must be absolute and immediately certain, which is therefore itself 'unconditioned'. Hölderlin poses the problem of the identity of the self in modernity in paradigmatic fashion. Manfred Frank claims that the 'primacy of being over consciousness' leads Hölderlin and the Romantics to a ground which can only be represented by 'the darkness of aesthetic representation'. Frank suggests that for Novalis 'reflection can illuminate and correct the inverted relation of consciousness to being/reality by a further reflection upon the ordo inversus inscribed in it'.

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
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Art as the ‘organ of philosophy’

The essential idea of Schelling's Natur philosophieis that, in the same way as the I of self-consciousness is both active and try to reflect upon as an object, nature is both actively 'productive' and is made up of objective 'products'. Schelling attempts to address the identity of the processes of nature with the processes of thought in terms now more familiar from Freud. The System of Transcendental Idealism (STI), aims at a view of nature in which our free actions can be in accordance with what happens in both external and internal nature. Schelling used the model of the plant in order to suggest a unity of subject and object, freedom and necessity. The Idealist aspect of the STI's investment in the aesthetic becomes apparent when the development of history is seen in the same terms as the work of art.

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
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Art and interpretation

F.D.E. Schleiermacher's essential move is to argue, while providing an account of self-consciousness which is still significant for the philosophy of mind, that these conditions depend on language, and that languages change with history. Instead of setting up definitive boundaries between art and non-art, Schleiermacher sees the possibility of transitions from one to the other in any sphere of activity. In the Aesthetics Schleiermacher distinguishes between 'identical activities' and 'individual activities', which is his version of what Richard Rorty sees in terms of 'public' and 'private'. Schleiermacher introduces the notion of art in order to suggest how the individual, disclosive dimension of language is always an issue in interpretation. The individuality that Immanuel Kant reserved for the genius in art, who established new rules via aesthetic production, is carried over into all areas of linguistic usage and thus into all areas of human activity.

in Aesthetics and subjectivity
The St Vincent and the Grenadines context

This chapter explores colonial and postcolonial strategies for implementing civilization and banishing wilderness in St. Vincent. These strategies involve attempts to ‘improve’ nature, including controlling the ‘savage’ black population and pragmatic interventions to improve public utilities as well as more recent postcolonial strategies of nation building.

in Frontiers of the Caribbean

This afterword makes a case for frontier analysis as an approach to Caribbean studies. The chapter suggests an emphasis on searching for common ground rather than specificity as a way to understand the Caribbean region in relation to the world. Such an approach helps to overcome disciplinary boundary lines, alters and enlarges the frame of analysis and incorporates an understanding of the global in the regional context.

in Frontiers of the Caribbean
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Frontier retentions are examined at the collective and at the micro level. Forms of frontier retention discussed include the ideological through revisionist history and managerially through the conflict over managing a marine park. Frontier retentions are also illustrated by tracing the history of a number of frontier characters including a dame-school teacher, an isolated surgeon and a woodcutter.

in Frontiers of the Caribbean

The book argues that the frontier, usually associated with the era of colonial conquest, has great, continuing and under explored relevance to the Caribbean region. Identifying the frontier as a moral, ideational and physical boundary between what is imagined as civilization and wilderness, the book seeks to extend frontier analysis by focusing on the Eastern Caribbean multi island state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The continuing relevance of the concept of frontier, and allied notions of civilization and wilderness, are illuminated through an analysis of the ways in which SVG is perceived and experienced by both outsiders to the society and its insiders. Using literary sources, biographies and autobiography, the book shows how St. Vincent is imagined and made sense of as a modern frontier; a society in the balance between an imposed civilized order and an untameable wild that always encroaches, whether in the form of social dislocation, the urban presence of the ‘Wilderness people’ or illegal marijuana farming in the northern St. Vincent hills. The frontier as examined here has historically been and remains very much a global production. Simultaneously, it is argued that contemporary processes of globalization shape the development of tourism and finance sectors, as well as patterns of migration, they connect to shifting conceptions of the civilized and the wild, and have implications for the role of the state and politics in frontier societies.

Open Access (free)
in Frontiers of the Caribbean