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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 64, No. 2 (Summer 1997)

July 1, 1997

Arien Mack, Editor

 

Table of Contents

 

Richard Sennett
The New Capitalism

This article examines two propositions concerning the culture of a capitalist order of work and place in relation to the forms of polity in a political and global economy. The first proposition states that capitalist order is impoverishing the value of work. Becoming more flexible and short-term, work is ceasing to serve as a point of reference for defining durable personal purposes and a sense of self-worth: sociologically, work serves ever less as a forum for stable, sociable relations. The second proposition is that the value of place has thereby increased. The sense of place is based on the need to belong not to society, but belong somewhere in particular. 

 

Edna Ullmann-Margalit
The Invisible Hand and the Cunning of Reason

This article examines the relation of the idea of the cunning of reason with the idea of the invisible hand used in contemporary political argumentation. In tracing the history of the notion of the invisible hand, it is commonly attributed to the great Scottish Enlightenment figures of David Hume, Adam Smith, and Adam Ferguson. It is Adam Smith who is credited with coining the expression invisible hand. The original framework in which it began playing its eighteenth-century role vis-a-vis the theological outlook was that of economic models, with Adam Smith's discussion of the working of the free market as the paradigmatic example. 

 

Nicholas Humphrey
Varieties of Altruism--and the Common Ground Between Them

This article examines several varieties of altruism and the common ground between them. The free gift of help to a relative, or the exchange of help between friends have been considered biologically, conceptually and even morally distinct. Altruistic behavior is defined as behavior occurring specifically between individuals who are not closely related. The term reciprocal altruism is considered to involve some degree of kin selection. Individuals who observe such kind of altruism might be able to recognize one another by the very fact that they both tend to behave altruistically towards someone else, which in principle would allow them to promote their own genetic interests as altruists.

 

Teresa Brennan
Social Evil

This article examines the psychoanalytic insights and theories about social evil. The impulses described in psychoanalysis might not originate in the individual psyche, but in the broader social order. Psychoanalysis mediates between evil in a theological sense and evil in the modern social. Fundamentalism makes the most of the diabolization of Satan, a figure who in the Old Testament was not evil incarnate. Fundamentalist religions adopt the position of a persecutory super ego. In an analysis between the theology of the devil and omnipotent fantasy of infancy, both are concerned with the wish to obliterate the other and both are motivate by rivalry.

 

Jeffrey C. Goldfarb

Why Is There No Feminism After Communism?

This article examines the explanations for the absence of feminism in Central Europe. The theoretical allergies Central European women have to Marxist and psychoanalytically inspired feminism, along with the ignorance of Central Europeans to postmodern and poststructuralist theories, theories central to contemporary feminism; the antifeminism of oppositionalist politics as it interacted with official politics, and the patriarchal character of the liberal democracy being instituted in that part of the world. Sympathetic observers from the region explain the problem differently. They point out that the family orientation of the men and women of the region does not lead to a sense of intragender solidarity.

 

Jirina Siklova
Feminism and the Roots of Apathy in the Czech Republic

This article examines the sociological transformation of feminism in postcommunist countries particularly in the Czech Republic. Most of the sociological research concerning attitudes to feminism was initiated from the West and financed by various foundations and funds. The stratification criteria, methods, techniques, as well as ways of data processing were also adopted from the West. This was a natural and the only possible solution because the social sciences in the former socialist countries were transformed into Marxist-Leninist sociology that proved the correctness of measures taken by the communists. The majority of Czech women think that feminism is a Western ideology that is not needed. 

 

Ulrich Johannes Schneider
The Situation of Philosophy, the Culture of the Philosophers: Philosophy in the New Germany

This article examines the situation of philosophy and the culture of philosophers in Germany after its unification in 1990. In tbe former German Democratic Republic, philosophy existed as a discipline at several universities where it had its own departments, distinct from the departments of Marxism-Leninism. Though all those teaching philosophy were seen as Marxist-Leninists and they generally considered themselves as such, there was also a broad spectrum of interests in historical and systematic studies. As in the West, there were historians of philosophy for antiquity, the Middle Ages, the early modern period, bourgeois philosophy, as well as those for contemporary Western philosophy. 

 

Timur Kuran
The Genesis of Islamic Economics: A Chapter in the Politics of Muslim Identity

This article examines the politics of Muslim identity and Islamic economics in relation to Islamic fundamentalism. The declared purpose of Islamic economics is to identify and establish an economic order that conforms to Islamic scripture and traditions. Its core positions took shape in the 1940s. More than sixty countries have Islamic banks that claim to offer an interest-free alternative to conventional banking. Invoking religious principles, several countries, among them Pakistan and Iran, have gone so far as to outlaw every form of interest; they are forcing all banks, including foreign subsidiaries, to adopt, at least formally, ostensibly Islamic methods of deposit taking and loan making. 

 

John Hartigan Jr.

Green Ghettos and the White Underclass

This article provides a glimpse of the inner city in Detroit, Michigan, and the spatial transformations of the urban underclass in the area. Two predicaments that shape social science representations of inner cities were presented. One is that a preponderance of the knowledge produced about these sites is generated at great physical and social remove. So much of what is known derives from statistical accounts that measure demographic change across census tracts. Such approaches continue to produce critical insights that convey the drastic scale of changes affecting inner-city dwellers. The second predicament involves uncertainty and ambivalence over how conditions in these sites are linked to race.

 

 

 

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