Should the European Treaties Be Changed?

Before the present EU nation-states can aspire to a proper political unification, they should first integrate. In view of this, a few of their national Members of Parliament, professionally chosen and specially appointed, should become itinerant MPs and reside in other hosting EU states working with their national parliaments and not in Strasbourg. The European Central Bank should extend its range of action and pursue further aims than the present treaties allow.

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Carl Schmitt on the Law, the Land, and the Sacred

Central to Carl Schmitt’s geophilosophy is his view that law is intrinsically linked to the physical location. This connection between the terra firma and the law is an essential element of what he refers to as nomos. Schmitt sees this as the most authentic form of law, distinguishable from views that perceive law as a normative or positive regime. In his article “Carl Schmitt and the Sacred Origins of Law,” Mika Ojakangas elucidates Schmitt’s conception of nomos, its relation to Schmitt’s view of mythopolitical legitimization of the state, and the consequences of rejecting the notion of such a link by secularization.

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Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and Erogeneity

Renata Schlesier’s “On the Alleged Demise of Vaginal Sexuality: A Mournful Account of the Relationship between Psychoanalysis and Feminism,” from Telos 59 (Spring 1984), explores the common repressions that underscore the interconnected intellectual traditions of psychoanalysis and feminism. Schlesier delineates the limitations of both Freudian theories of sexuality and their feminist responses by emphasizing the problematic sociopolitical entanglement of female morphology and sexual possibility. Focusing specifically on debates regarding on the locus of the female orgasm, Schlesier argues that the Freudian “myth” of the vaginal orgasm and the dialectically opposed clitoral orgasm of feminist theory reflect a common ideological self-mutilation of female sexuality. Through close readings and critiques of Freud and feminist inquiry, Schlesier advocates a redefinition of female erogeneity, aiming to mobilize a reorganization of gender relations and their embodied conditions of pleasure and politics.

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Wittgenstein and Marx on Reification, Language, and Commonality

Dimitris Gakis’s “Wittgenstein and Marx on Reification, Language, and Commonality” appears in Telos 169 (Winter 2014). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

The article is primarily occupied with some of the affinities that can be discerned between the philosophical outlooks of (later) Wittgenstein and Marx. Starting from a short account of the connections that can be drawn between Wittgenstein and Marx from a historico-biographical and a metaphilosophical point of view, we focus then on three main points on which their philosophical perspectives converge. The first one has to do with Marx’s concept of reification and Wittgenstein’s deep criticism against those approaches to language and meaning that exhibit reificatory characteristics. The second one is related, first, to their common conception of language as a matter of social praxis and their shared rejection of the idea of a private language and, second, to their common prioritization of everyday language over what they often call metaphysical or philosophical language which they take to be a distorted and deceiving form of everyday language. The third and last point regards the shared emphasis of Wittgenstein and Marx on the notion of the “common” and on the communal aspects of human life and praxis. The article concludes with a reference to some of Wittgenstein’s criticisms against certain aspects of Marxist thought, such as scientism, determinism, and economism, and a brief discussion of how Wittgenstein’s later philosophy may be viewed as a (potentially) significant contribution to the cause of personal and social autonomy.

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Imagination, Prophecy, and Morality: The Relevance and Limits of Spinoza’s Theory of Political Myth

Johnny Brennan’s “Imagination, Prophecy, and Morality: The Relevance and Limits of Spinoza’s Theory of Political Myth” appears in Telos 169 (Winter 2014). Read the full version online at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our store.

How should we understand myth in the political realm? Some see myth as a dangerous form of regression that allows its utilizers to reorient the consciousness of a population toward dangerous ends. Others see myth as a necessary spark to incite revolutionary progress; myth brings with it the emotional charge needed to unite a population into action. Yet others see myth as a set of training wheels helpful for grasping more difficult and abstract concepts—training wheels which some are never meant to take off. Spinoza stands unique in that he is able to incorporate all of these dimensions of political myth. His motivating question is not what myth is, but rather what are its legitimate uses. Myth can be progress, but used improperly can also lead to regression. Myth relies on the basest form of knowledge in order to be able to communicate to all people, but cannot last if it is blindly accepted. Myth, for Spinoza, is inseparable from our lives and from society; it is a part of our mental construction and in that manner can be used for progress. But myth also has its limits, and should it surpass those limits it can lead to a culture of superstition that will regress to more primitive forms. Spinoza’s is a more successful theory of political myth because it is more accepting of, and true to, the way myth acts in our individual and social lives.

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Call for Papers: Special Issue on Korea

Telos seeks essays on the economic, political, cultural, literary, philosophical, and historical dimensions of Korea for a special issue. With its dramatic recovery from the devastating legacies of colonial rule and civil war, South Korea has emerged as one of the leading hubs of cutting-edge information technology and an epicenter of production in the realm of popular culture. Civil governance has taken bold steps forward over the past two decades, signaled by the advent of leaders who defy long-standing meritocratic and patriarchal conventions; meanwhile a multidimensional rethinking of the past is underway, ranging from ancient territorial boundaries to current disputes over national waters. In contrast, North Korea continues to enforce its lone doctrine of authoritarian rule, serving as a constant reminder of the precarious bind of ceasefire. Revenants of the past century’s ideological divide hang over the peninsula in the form of nuclear threat, while South Korea’s hasty march toward capitalist affluence has not benefited everyone equally. How can Critical Theory understand the South Korean path to modernization or the oppressiveness of the North Korean regime? How does Korea position itself as a nation, culture, and a system of values that inherit its past and inspire its future? How can we think South Korean economic dynamism together with/against its popular culture? Is there a (South) Korean model that can be evaluated in an international context and/or through the eyes of the Korean diaspora? This special issue invites critical analyses on these subjects from various disciplines, including but not limited to literature, sociology, anthropology, political science, philosophy, cultural studies, economics, and history. Please direct inquiries to Haerin Shin by email at haerin.shin@vanderbilt.edu. Manuscripts (7500 words) due by December 1, 2015.

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