Studia Politica, vol. V, no. 4, 2005
The Apology of Protagoras
The paper explores the merits of Protagoras’ view of politics as a possible intellectual source of the post-communist theory of democracy. Unbeknownst to themselves, Romanian politicians and political scientists tend to understand the function of politics in the footsteps of Plato and Lenin, as an art, or science of leadership. Interested mainly in the effectiveness of government, they give no significant heed to the issue of rights and liberties. The great discourse of Protagoras of Abdera could supply, in a normative way, the conceptual tools for a different approach to politics, as a pedagogical rhetoric of legal and political equality.
Mechanical casualty as a fundament of politic at Hobbes
The political theory of Thomas Hobbes consider that the social order started with three primaries states: natural state, social contract and civil state. This article tries to demonstrate that in order to better understand the political thinking of Hobbes we must take in consideration the materialist-mechanical principles of his ontology, because these explain the final aspects of human existence. The method used by Hobbes is descriptive-compositive which has as finality the knowledge of the whole reality by the meaning of discovering its origins. The establishment of civil order is based not only on the psychological premises of the people in the natural state, but also requires the support of a reality adapted to this state. In this sense the hobbesian determinism places the individual in a network of complex causal relations that oblige him to institute the social contract, which is needed by the functioning of the subject in the natural order.
Cambridge Platonists agreed with the idea of a universal religion which had been advocated by the Platonists of Florence and which, after the Italian Renaissance, extended in many other European countries. My attempt was to show how this concept of universal religion, used by Ficino to defend a view opposed to the irreligious modes of thought in the philosophy of his time, became quite influential in Cudworth’s defense of a religious view of life as well. Moreover, I wanted to explain in what way Ficino’s insistence to prove that religion is founded on natural reason is to be found also with Cudworth, equally hostile to the irreligious philosophy of his age, when he tried to prove that rational religion and toleration are the only ways to resist Hobbes’s materialist relativism and what he saw as the consequent disintegration of the traditional (that is the theological) bases of moral thought and to support the widely shared conviction among the Cambridge Platonists that the fundamental characteristics of human mind were always and everywhere the same. Thus, sharing in the ”intellectual system of the universe”, since they are endowed with reason, which has indeed universal validity, humans may establish, according to Cudworth, the so-called ”immutable morality” on the basis of their participation to the realm of the intelligible. Furthermore, in promoting tolerance, Cudworth used the same rational order of the universe, which made it intelligible and accessible to human intellect, not to the senses. He used the ”argument from design” where Locke would later use the ”argument from ignorance” – our inability to settle a knowledge claim. Then, it seemed essential to me to determine what was the need for tolerance in Cudworth’s system, where differences were reduced to universal principles and the rational order of the universe was perceived through those principles which were the ”candle of the Lord” set up in the soul of every man that had not wilfully extinguished it. Here the Platonic and Neo-platonic influences were to be discerned from the Cartesian ones in Cudworth’s work and the impact of Ficino and the Platonic school of Florence were again relevant. Another important Cambridge Platonist quoted for comparison was Henry More.
«Lex evangelica lex libertatis est». The Meaning of Religious Freedom in Tocqueville and his Contemporaries’ Works
Making use of the research tools refined by both political philosophers and historians in their analyses of the 19th century political authors, this study investigates the interest of Tocqueville’s contemporaries in his work, with a view to the concept of religious freedom. The author focuses on four texts which prove thematically related: Tocqueville’s speech at the French Academy upon his election as a member, the reply from Count de Molé, who was the director of the French Academy at the time, the speech of Henri Lacordaire when elected to the Academy seat vacated at Tocqueville’s death, and the response to the latter from François Guizot. The study also refers to the relationship between religion and democracy, as portrayed in the first speech of Count de Montalembert, published in L’Église libre dans l’État libre, where he mentions Tocqueville. The article shows how the issue of religious freedom could foment a genuine dialogue of great minds, despite the often conflicting political options and different intellectual styles and approaches of these sages.
Identity Archeology and Political Building in Kogãlniceanu and Bãlcescu’s Works
Mihail Kogãlniceanu and Nicolae Bãlcescu, historians, writers, and politicians, important actors of the revolution of 1848 in the Romanian Principalities, dedicated much of their early historical writings to the justification of the nation-state. Their main concern, common to the ’48 generation across Europe, was to answer to the most important question related to the process of nation-building and state building: ”Who are we?”, 1848 being for the Romanians the first moment of the collective constitutional memory. The article contends that the two historians retroactively applied to the past categories specific to the 19th century, the past itself being a weapon and guide for the future. Both Kogãlniceanu and Bãlcescu submitted the political project of nation-state building to an archeology identity called upon to justify.
From the Absolutist Language to the Moderate One. The Understanding of Montesquieu in Inter-War and Post-Communist Romania
The aim of this paper is to analyze the Romanian studies, in postcommunism and inter-war period, upon Montesquieu, more specifically upon his writting, De l’esprit des lois. In order to understand and to create a Romanian tradition of liberalism, one needs to begin from its origins. Montesquieu created a new language, different from that of his predecessors, a moderate one. He used the philosophic reason as an instrument of inquiry. It is said that one cannot understand a philosopher unless one thinks in his terms. Do the Romanian studies upon Montesquieu use this instrument, the philosophic reason? If they used it, they would be able to clarify Montesquieu's writtings and to understand the moderate language of liberalism. It is from this perspective that this paper will analyze the Romanian studies, out of which only two are academic.
In one of his later works, Stüdien über die Deutschen (Suhrkamp, Frankfurt am Main, 1989), Norbert Elias, the famous sociologist of Jewish-German origin (b. Breslau 1897, d. Amsterdam 1990), defends the thesis that it is both possible and necessary to understand and explain Nazism and the extermination of Jews. Whether it is by Elias’s own theory of social exclusion, or by his modified version of historical sociology that examines the German habitus and collective identity (or lack thereof), the author agrees that ”to understand and explain” would in fact summarize the mission of sociology, which must thus contribute to avoiding other Nazisms and other genocides. Or this preventive task cannot be achieved by the mere recollection and condemnation of history.
State, Individual and The Philosopher. An Introduction to the Philosophical-Political System of Eric Weil
Eric Weil was perhaps one of the last philosophers who have consciously built a system. His philosophy has distinguished itself through the positive and fully philosophical assertion of politics and the fervent need of understanding and explaining reality. Just like on a chessboard, Weil has introduced individuals and institutions and studied their relations. Of the state, he has conveyed a structural definition by appealing to the image of a form enabling to a given community conscious decision-making. By capturing how the State becomes, how it acquires a meaning, this article offers an insight into Eric Weil’s political thought, which is the source of an original model of comprehension and understanding of the modern state. Weil's writings endorse here two main criteria: the ideal of the defense of individual liberties and the principle of a coherent discursive action of the thinker, who has to denounce any kind of violence, to educate and to prompt discussion. The analysis focuses on the book named La philosophie politique (Vrin, Paris, 1956), which shows, in its two first chapters, how the moral issue leads on to the political one and describes, in the last two chapters, how the structure of the political issues has made necessary for the statesman to reconcile with moral.
Truth as the Substance of Destiny. Reflections about Raymond Aron
The author sketches a vivid intellectual history of the content and bearing of Raymond Aron’s work, particularly with respect to the great scholar’s analyses of totalitarian regimes and of Marxism as a „Christian heresy”. He describes the dominant themes of the French philosopher, political scientist, sociologist, historian and journalist from The Opium of the Intellectuals, to Progress and Disillusion: the Dialectics of Modern Society, or Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations; from De Gaulle, Israel and the Jews to Politics and History, or to Main Currents in Sociological Thought; from Marxism and the Existentialists, to Introduction to the Philosophy of History: An Essay on the Limits of Historical Objectivity; and from In Defense of Decadent Europe, to the Memoirs and to the Committed Observer… and this list is not an exhaustive one. He writes about the most prominent of Aron’s contemporaries, and about his most enthusiastic followers, particularly in the Western world. As an autobiographical detail, Tismãneanu does not fail to mention Aron’s readership among the Romanian students before the fall of the Berlin wall, a triumphant moment which the great champion of ”methodological doubt” and the enemy of total metaphysics and ideological orthodoxies did not live to witness.
Raymond Aron’s books stand out as an example of lucid political judgment in an age of extremes in which many intellectuals shunned moderation and were attracted to various forms of irresponsible metaphysics and political radicalism. By drawing on a representative selection from Aron’s writings covering more than three decades of his life, this paper concentrates on the ”committed observer” (spectateur engagé) as Aron’s response to irresponsible metaphysics. I also comment on Aron’s views on the role, virtues, limits, and possibility of moderation in political life. Although Aron brilliantly played the role of the ”committed observer”, he never gave a clear theoretical statement on this issue. Therefore one has to reconstruct the intellectual portrait of the committed observer piece by piece by using scattered insights from Aron’s own books in which he described his own political engagement in contrast with the engagement of people like Sartre, Althusser, and Merleau-Ponty.
Max Weber and Gaston Bachelard in The Thinking of Pierre Bourdieu
Can we better understand Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology by appealing to the intellectual references he made use of in his works? Not really, because confronting Bourdieu with the classical sources he relies on, as Marx, Weber or Bachelard, the reader can note a rather lax exercise of the concepts he is borrowing and he is making his. Or, this insight in Bourdieu’s work takes the opposite way, as it tries to analytically read Bourdieu intellectual project on building sociology as science by starting from the very intellectual instruments he is claiming to use. Following the way Weber’s and Bachelard’s concepts and scientific outlines are transferred into Bourdieu general argumentation, the study emphasize the way the famous French sociologist frequently does not avoid the epistemological traps those classical authors warned about. Moreover, this kind of insight is able to disclose behind the global coherence of Bourdieu’s scientific project the political meaning of Bourdieu sociology.
Reinventing Religion and European Identity
The Church-State relationships in EU Member States are in a process of a radical transformation. This is the result of a rapid political integration and also of the major transformations of the modernity. Religion is still part of the European public space even if, according to modernity premises, it should be only a private matter. According to Max Weber and other authors, secularization diminishes the role of the religion in society. However, these theories are being contested in recent years, due to the interpretation of statistical data and to the emergence of fundamentalist religious movements spreading around the world. Consequently, secularization is a tendency and not an ”iron law”. As regards the current role of the religion, Silvio Ferrari developed the theory according to which there is a common European model. This model does not exist yet, but certainly we live in an era defined by the continuous searching of such a model. There is no European identity without common values. Some of these values, like toleration, do have a profound religious foundation. European integration is based on the action of different actors, including interest groups located in Brussels. The Churches and the religious organizations are also part of this category of actors and they try to be part of a process by which a common space for consultation will emerge.
RALUCA ALEXANDRESCU, Cronologia vieții politice din România, 1 iulie-30 septembrie 2005, pp. 985-1009
GEORGES TUGÈNE, L’idée de nation chez Bède le Vénérable, Institut d’Études Augustiniennes, Paris, 2001 (MIRUNA TÃTARU-CAZABAN), pp. 1013-1014
DUMITRU VITCU, GABRIEL BÃDÃRÃU (ed.), Regulamentul Organic al Moldovei, Academia Românã, Institutul de Istorie „A.D. Xenopol“, Editura Junimea, col. „Acta et testimonia“, vol. IV, Iași, 2004 (RADU CARP), pp. 1014-1017
MARIA BUCUR, Eugenie și modernizare în România interbelicã, trad. de Raluca Popa, prefațã de Mihalea MIROIU, Iași, Polirom, 2005 (IONELA BÃLUȚÃ), pp. 1017-1020
ÉLIANE GUBIN, LEEN VAN MOLLE (sous la direction), Des femmes qui changent le monde. Histoire du Conseil international des femmes, Éditions Racine, Bruxelles, 2005 (ALEXANDRA PETRESCU), pp. 1020-1025
BÉRENGÈRE MARQUES-PEREIRA, La citoyenneté politique des femmes, Éditions Dalloz/Armand Colin, coll. «Compact», Paris, 2003 (ALEXANDRA PETRESCU), pp. 1025-1029