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Narratives and the Nation: Communicative Action within the Pluralistic Public Sphere. Jasmine Khin, Kalamazoo College

In this essay, I will bring contemporary political theory on the discursive model of public sphere in conversation with the structure of narrativization inherent in our subjectivity. The post-structuralist notion of identity politics critiques the Enlightenment subject as the embodiment of western rationality and reduces the instrumentality of reason into a tool of domination while taking the structure of the modern nation state as prefixed and given. To this, my question is: how do we uphold our common ideals and universal norms in our discourses and at the same time, preserve the dignity of our identities and narratives? I will use David Carr's temporal framework of subjectivity to emphasize narrative as a way of structuring our post-conventional identities. Then, tracing political thought from Hannah Arendt to Habermas and Seyla Benhabib, I will mobilize a model of action that puts communication and acting in concert with others against exclusionary models of identity formation. A proper conception of the public sphere must enable actors to appear as individuals with a full sense of their history. To this end, I emphasize deliberation rather than agonism as mode of discourse which we must depend on to live within social difference and pluralistic viewpoints.

Understanding Gentrification through Habermas' Autopsy of Modernity. Guillermo Dominguez Garcia, Kalamazoo College

Since the 1980s, the United States has championed depoliticized urban renewal. Indeed, this trend follows the traditional American pervasive objectification of humans, in which physical space has gained focus over social space. In this movement, thousands of longtime residents have been physically displaced and politically disenfranchised from their households. While a recent wave of literature has attempted to address issues of displacement under the term "gentrification", these studies fail to provide an adequate autopsy of the dangers of urban renewal under contemporary modernity.

Habermas' concepts of one-sided rationality, of the colonization of the lifeworld, and of the violent systemically distorted communication stemming from unregulated economic expansionism offer a political and moral account of contemporary urban renewal. In this paper, I will argue that his theory of communicative action explains how current forms of urban renewal are fundamentally irrational because they translate into the ubiquity of an impersonal market and bureaucratic state that promote physical and political displacement, as well as an undemocratic process. I will draw from my own ethnographic research of the neighborhood of Columbia Heights in Washington, D.C. to show how these forces play out in a concrete setting. Beyond reflectively interpreting gentrification Habermas' arguments can practically aid policymakers in crafting inclusive policies that listen to longtime residents.

A Fourth Political Status? Using Puerto Rican Identity Formation to Imagine a Post National World. Brandon L. Lopez, Kalamazoo College

In this paper, I argue that the contemporary status of Puerto Rico allows for self-realization but, paradoxically, little opportunity for self-determination. Puerto Ricans are self-realized--i.e., they have strong existential-ethical identities as a unique people--but they are not politically self-determined--i.e., they do not have adequate political institutions and practices required for identity formation as a just polity. This disconnect between personal and political identity is a direct result of US colonialism and nationalism. In making this argument, I use Habermas's conception of identity formation through communicative action, which provides a sharp distinction between personal and political identity. Puerto Rico's lifeworld is maintained via a communicatively constructed collectivity that takes the form of a mobile diaspora spanning across the vast socio-geographical borders of the United States. Puerto Rico's contemporary political status is, however, problematic in extreme, and proposed national "solutions" are inadequate to embody either the diversity of interests in the Puerto Rican lifeworld or the material needs of such diverse groups of people. Thus I contend that we ought to pursue the imagination of a fourth political status option for Puerto Rico that is based on the notion of a post-national form of socio-political organization which I put in conversation with Habermas's post-national constellation.

Narrativizing the Discourse of Modernity: A Philosophical Analysis of White Noise. Sophia Davis-Rodak, Kalamazoo College

Published in 1985, Don DeLillo's White Noise and Jurgen Habermas's The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity address contemporary issues facing the impact of human existence. While Habermas chronicles philosophy's failure to promote social collective, DeLillo transforms humanity's helplessness in relation to seemingly indifferent environmental systems, natural and social, offering a bleak vision of the future. In many ways, White Noise is the narrative, apocalyptic prophecy of a rationalized society that continually erodes its "lifeworld." Similar to functionally rational systems that Habermas analyzes, anonymous systems of power, money, and ecology undermine the subjects of White Noise in their attempt to use reason to solve the systemic crises they face. However, without shared knowledge and communication, DeLillo's characters cannot transcend their personal and environmental predicaments in the midst of complete destruction; they are rendered vulnerable to the forces of mass media, marketing, thanatophobia and, worst of all, "The Airborne Toxic Event." Like the project for enlightenment, DeLillo's characters thwart the means for survival they seek to maintain. Considering White Noise in conjunction with The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity reveals the historical repetition with which we make the same mistakes in our struggle for existence, offering a frightening, technological nightmare reality impervious to communicative problem solving.

A Proposal for a Unified Science of Emotion. Cecilea Mun, Central Michigan University

Alan Tjeltveit, the president of the Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, recently observed that the failure to establish a legitimizing, unified, epistemological framework for psychological endeavors presents a possible threat to psychologists' ways of knowing. In response to this concern, I present my foundation for a unified science of emotion--unification without consilience, which is constituted hy the following: (1) the fundamental intentionality thesis, (2) the thesis of rational universalism, (3) the meta-semantic taxonomy of theories of emotion, (4) the first principles of meta-semantic structural pluralism, (5) the principle of folk intuitions, and (6) the fundamental base of interdisciplinary research and theorizing. I also discuss how this meta-framework can be extended in order to provide a framework for unifying the various pursuits of the discipline of psychology. Inspired by Aristotle, Spinoza, Kant, and Dewey, my proposal holds that objects of study are knowable from a subjective, epistemic perspective, which gives them form and meaning, and that it is from such subjective perspectives that one has knowledge of the objective world. Some benefits of my proposal are that it can help the discipline of psychology traverse the gap between theory and practice, and between academia and the society at large.

A Phenomenological Study: What Are the Lived Experiences of Black Males Who Earned Doctorates and Now Hold a Position in an Institution of Higher Education (IHE). Boris D. Turner, Eastern Michigan University

In years past, research studies focused primarily on the K-12 and undergraduate experiences of black males. Moreover, the experiences were voiced mostly from a deficit perspective, adding to an exhaustive body of literature and conversations about why black males fail in school. Grounded in an anti-deficit framework, this study highlights the "accomplishments," not failures, describing how black males move through undergraduate and graduate school, attaining their doctorate, and subsequently attaining a position working in an institution of higher education (IHE). Interviews conducted from this study, provide narratives that reveal the challenges black males face and overcome as they work toward their doctorate and while working in an IHE. The narratives of the participants illuminate themes of academic and professional accomplishment. Thus, the findings are broad, surprising, and may be significant to theorists, educators, and policy makers, who seek to become more knowledgeable about the personal and academic accomplishments of black males.

How German Society Was Poised for Nietzsche before His Time, as Reflected in Goethe's Faust. Julia Mariotti, Grand Valley State University

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German author of the play Faust, is renowned for popularizing the archetype storyline of a man selling his soul to the devil. He belonged to a budding Romantic society that was consciously rejecting industrialized civilization while more unconsciously rejecting Christian norms. Less than 100 years later, philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche developed his morality criticisms, claiming that the modern world's lack of master morality can be traced back to the invention of monotheism in Europe. Utilizing Goethe's Faust and Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, along with historical information pertaining to their time periods, this paper evaluates how the social climate that is reflected in the play led to Nietzsche's criticisms. The paper argues that European society had inklings of a Nietzschean mindset previous to his rise. By closely examining these major works of the era, the essay will illustrate the effect that conditions of the community have on the development of moral philosophy, in a manner which can be applicable to various philosophers and time periods within the modern world.

Beyond Ousia: The Form of the Good in Light of the Digression on Being in the Sophist. Mark Moes, Grand Valley State University

According to Christopher Shields, the Form of the Good in Republic 6-7 is an abstract entity, a "Form alongside other Forms." Shields maintains that we should resist the thesis of some Platonists from antiquity that the Form of the Good should be understood as a generative or causal principle which is in any sense a productive cause of the other Forms and through them of the sensible world. This paper, to the contrary, argues that Plato understands the Form of the Good not merely as one abstract Form among others but rather as Being-qua-ultimate-normative-power, as elucidated by the Stranger in the Sophist.

In the Stranger's digression on Being in the Sophist, the Form of Being is in one sense a countable Kind (or Form) and is in another sense an ultimate normative power that transcends cardinality and finitude. This paper argues that the Stranger's account of Being is at the same time an account of the Good, which should also be understood in two senses.

A Critique of Georges Bataille: A Defense of Human Freedom and Aesthetic Experience in Capitalism. Cody Howrigon, Kalamazoo College

In this paper, I first identify the 19th century philosophical precedents of Georges Bataille's conception of human freedom and then criticize his radical notion of freedom as "sovereignty." Friedrich Schiller and Friedrich Nietzsche offer notions of human freedom--respectively aesthetic attunement and the will to power--that serve as the precedents of Bataille's notion of freedom. Bataille's bold claims that human freedom is best achieved within the parameters of a socialistic system and that a radical rebellion through his notion of human sovereignty is necessary to will oneself outside of the mundaneness of capitalism are not, I argue, tenable. Further, I will argue against Bataille's claim that this radical rebellion is necessary in order to have aesthetic experience. Instead, I will argue that the 19th century precedents of human freedom theorized before Battaile act as more reasonable responses to the problem that he seeks to address: namely, that the capitalist machine makes any meaningful aesthetic experience impossible. My central claim is that Bataille's notion of freedom fails to give a credible critique of aesthetics in a capitalist society, and that the philosophical precedents that came before him do a sufficient job of enabling aesthetics and capitalistic processes to coexist.

The Unification of Desire and Morality through Aesthetic Appreciation of Food. Lee Carter, Kalamazoo College

The role food plays in post-industrial life has become shallow and bifurcated, a legacy of the longstanding disassociation between body and mind. I argue, first, that mind-body dualism leads to both gluttony and instrumental control, and, second, that only with a recognition of body and mind as mutually defining aspects of self can the extremes of consumption and control be mitigated. Drawing upon Schiller's criticism of Kant's Critique of Practical Reason, I argue that the abeyance or sole obedience to desire or reason, which plagues our relationship with food, must be balanced through aesthetic appreciation. Not only has consumption become polarized; the living cycle of food--from soil, to farmer, to consumer, to soil--has become disconnected from the act of consumption. I argue that beauty is something understood within shared lifeworlds, and that aesthetic appreciation of food is hampered by fragmented lifeworlds between soil and farmer, farmer and consumer. Therefore, food has become lobotomized in its key role in human life, first, by the mind over body paradigm, and, second, by industrialized agriculture, the reification of instrumental thinking.

Courage in the Age of Human Rights. Paul J. Cornish, Grand Valley State University

This presentation is a reflection on the virtue of courage as it was conceived by Jacques Maritain in his work Freedom in the Modern World. Maritain distinguished between the physical and temporal courage associated with martial activity from a spiritual courage that belongs to a higher moral order. In doing so he defended the doctrine of nonviolent resistance practiced by Mohandas Gandhi against European critics. This reflection forms the basis of an explication of Maritain's concept through a case study of Dr. Martin Luther King's framework for nonviolent direct action. This conception of courage helps us come to a better understanding of the phenomenology of human rights. A human rights ethic need not be viewed as a Utopian theory, it is better conceived as a practical approach to the transformation of a society that is experiencing significant violations of human dignity.

The Ambivalence of Learning: Between the Feeling of Being at Home and the Challenge of Leaving It. Federico Correa, Michigan Technological University

This paper develops a philosophical approach to learning, taking into consideration the thought of ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and more contemporary philosophers such as Heidegger, Dewey, and other academics. The idea behind the whole work is that learning is ambivalent. This means that it occurs both when feeling at home and when dealing with strangeness, requiring guidance, self-confidence, open-mindedness, motivation and determination. In order to explain this ambivalence of learning, Heidegger's concept of being at home and the anxiety (Angst) provoked by the feeling of uncanniness, together with Dewey's idea of education as growth and direction are specially emphasized.

The Road to Conceptual Realism. Federico Spalletti, Kalamazoo College

The "linguistic turn" was a fundamental step for the formation and consolidation of the analytic discipline in philosophy. The linguistic turn overturned the theoretical hierarchy by claiming the primacy of language over consciousness, envisioning the former as the fundamental constituent of the conceptual schema defining all possible knowledge. Thanks to a historical reconstruction of analytic philosophy along linguistic lines I hope to investigate the implicit role played by our ontological commitments. The linguistic turn represents a point of convergence for various analytic philosophers, all of whom appropriated this theoretical shift from varying perspectives. Carnap deconstructed metaphysical claims as meaningless pseudo-statements, reconstructing them as meaningful metalinguistic statements. Nonetheless, Carnap fails to recognize the internal link between meaning and validity, a connection firstly emphasized by Frege and, later, in Russell's theory of correspondence, which links atomic propositions to extralinguistic reality. The theory of correspondence comes under pressure of its own once contrasted with Quine's double relativity and "meaning holism," doctrines criticizing Russell's strong metaphysical commitments whilst maintaining his Fregean impulse. Finally, linking all of these intuitions together is the "direct reference revolution," stating that we refer to objects by direct acquaintance, ultimately leading us into conceptual, rather than metaphysical, "realism."

Young Hegelians and the Spanish Civil War. Beau Godkin, Kalamazoo College

Although short lived, the Spanish Second Republic was one of the few successful and legitimate, leftist run western governments during the 20th century. With so many different groups and parties making up the radical Popular Front in Spain, general disdain, distrust, and manipulation, between political parties and groups, became regular during the years of the Spanish Civil War. Many of these political groups' philosophies coincided with that of Young Hegelians, particularly the radical minded Karl Marx. Many of these political groups wished, after the military rebellion occurred and the war began, to create a proletarian dictatorship by way of revolution. Their philosophy was very similar to the left Hegelians idea of Praxis philosophy. Surprisingly one group who opposed revolution was the Soviet backed Communists, who wished to cull the movement. How would Young Hegelians, including Marx, view these political wishes by the more radical Socialists and the seemingly more moderate Communists?

Women and Embodiment: Expressing through Our Clothes. Laura Vidal, Michigan Technological University

How much of the women we decide to be everyday do we construct? How much does the Other affect this construction I make of myself? Through time, women have chosen to express themselves in many different ways but clothes have been one of the most memorable and symbolic ways to do it. Does the male gaze truly affect the way women decide to show themselves and occupy space?

Where is the line, the boundary, the edge between the gender and the clothing one wears? Is there such a thing as being "too manly" for wearing a blazer with a shirt and pants? Why, then, does it not work the same way with men? Why can't they wear a dress or a skirt in public without being catalogued as ridiculous?

With the help of concepts by Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler, mixed with secondary sources that touch upon themes like the idea of being at home by John Russon, Angst by Heidegger and the relationships and bonds that women form with clothes in addition to the role that senses play in the choosing of clothes by Iris Marion Young, this paper dives into the topics of gender, femininity and perception of the self.

Critical Theory vs. Trump, Technology, and Domestic Terrorism: Locating a Foothold in Critical Theory for Liberatory Praxis in Contemporary Social Circumstances. Heather Brown, Kalamazoo College

This paper consists in an explication of the epistemological analyses and cultural critiques of early Critical Social Theory and an evaluation of their contemporary relevance, as well as a prescription for forming an adequate normative basis for locating agencies in society able to contribute to its transformation. Early critical theorists undertook a totalizing critique of Western Enlightenment rationality as instrumental--a violent reason that demanded the efficient control of external nature at the cost of internal nature--which produced or enforced social conditions destructive to human well-being, despite its aim to install human beings as masters and to liberate them from fear. The epistemological and psycho-social diagnoses put forth in Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment and Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man remain useful in understanding contemporary social circumstances, but they ultimately fail to make adequate normative claims or prescriptive suggestions for addressing the social ills that they describe. I argue that Jurgen Habermas, by turning away from subject-centered philosophy toward a communicative-theoretic model, and Axel Honneth, by locating the normative basis of social change in struggles for power and recognition, help the move toward a critical theory that provides a feasible model for everyday practice that contributes to healing a damaged human spirit.

Communicative Action and the Transformative Potential of Waste in the Ecology of the Classroom. Emiline Chipman, Kalamazoo College

If the reproduction of society is conceived of in terms of instrumental reason--pure efficiency for the sake of efficiency--then students are condemned to an education that shames heterogeneity as wasteful behavior and activity. From an instrumental perspective, waste appears as the opposite of production, inimical to the successful functioning of political and economic systems. Including the normative dimension of moral responsibility to sustaining life, and the aesthetic dimension of a relationship with nature, however, reveals waste as a cyclogical potentiator of vitality, thereby identifying potential emancipation and reconciliation of our Lifeworlds in those very forces which simultaneously repress and alienate us. First, I will expose the development of the misguided conception of waste with the help of waste theorists Gidwanny and Reddy, and O'Connor. Then, critical social theorists Bataille, as well as Deleuze and Guattari, will introduce alternatives to a labor- and efficiency-centered pursuit of human rationality. Contemporary radical pedagogies with focus on play, place, and nature will pedagogically frame the transformative potential of waste in the classroom. Finally, Habermas' theory of Communicative Action develops the discourse within the ecology of an educational environment wherein waste can become honored as a nourishing resource of the shared liteworld.
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Title Annotation:public sphere discussion, gentrification analysis using Jurgen Habermas's "The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, Puerto Ricans' political status
Publication:Michigan Academician
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1U0PR
Date:Sep 22, 2018
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