Tag Archives: discourse

What is ideology?

Those of us who were studying at the time of the great “cold war” tussle between the superpowers would remember that, at that time, one thought of ideology as a more or less coherent system of ideas that demanded a way of living, or certain actions in accordance with those ideas. So, for example, communism…

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The Rhodes statue, erasing the past and importance of memory

The Czech writer Milan Kundera begins his unforgettable novel, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (Perennial Classics, 1999), with the following words: “In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace in Prague to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square. That was…

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Charlie Hebdo, laughter, dogma and ‘truth’

The recent “terrorist” attacks at the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, France, is a stark reminder of something that the Italian semiotician, philosopher, novelist and universal scholar Umberto Eco thematised in his first novel, The Name of the Rose (1998), namely, the supposedly negative, mutually exclusive relationship between what is taken to be absolute,…

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Fanon and the question of ‘white theory’

It is undeniable that Frantz Fanon identifies European, or “white” culture as racist to the core. It is equally undeniable that he affirmed the likelihood of the discourses of knowledge emanating from this culture being equally racist. It stands to reason that a culture, which regards itself as being superior to all others, given its…

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Ethics always comes too late for power

If there is one lesson I have learned from Foucault, it is this: Ethics always comes too late for power. What I mean by this is that human beings – even philosophers – have a tendency to rationalise, in ethical or moral terms, about the actual decisions and choices one makes in the world, and…

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Is there a crisis of credibility in the human sciences?

On a previous occasion I elaborated on the growing natural scientific evidence that the world is at “Red Alert” status regarding a looming ecological crisis. The question arises, whether the human sciences (humanities and social sciences) are in agreement with their natural science colleagues on this issue. In light of the incontrovertible evidence in this…

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The network: Towards a new way of life

In his insightful study of ancient philosophy, Philosophy as a Way of Life (Blackwell, 1995), Pierre Hadot disabuses one of the notion that philosophy was for the ancients what it has become in modernity (and postmodernity) since Kant, namely a specialised theoretical practice. Rather, he argues — citing many passages from ancient philosophers during the…

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The discursive forces that shape our lives

The 21st-century world, and with it, our lives, are shaped by powerful discursive forces that are distinct from one another, but are nevertheless interrelated in complex ways. Sometimes they intertwine and reinforce one another, and sometimes they conflict, and the clash between discourses often spills over into the lives of ordinary (and sometimes high-profile) individuals…

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Update on attempt by MMU to suspend Ian Parker (2)

Here is the rest of the account regarding events surrounding Ian Parker at MMU in the UK: “The worst outcome for the neoliberal university is that it fails to persuade its staff that anyone who complains has a problem, and MMU has done its level best to make it seem that the problem here was…

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Foucault on the functioning of discourse in society

If Foucault and other poststructuralist thinkers are right (and I believe they are), one is never outside of countervailing power relations in society, which means that, ineluctably, one is always enmeshed in multilayered, overlapping grids of discourses that function in an ambivalent manner to enable, and simultaneously control, direct, disseminate and domesticate human action and…

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