ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Akeel Bilgrami

Cultural Commons A Philosophical Analysis—Part II

This article explores the ways in which a background of non-discursive practices that are properly describable as a “cultural commons” underlie the very possibility of law and norm in the governance of a social group. This efficacy of these practices provides conceptual sources for a recovery of other forms of the common, such as the land or the environmental commons. The idea of a cultural commons is a distinctive ideal that stands apart from other political and moral ideals, such as liberty, equality, and fraternity. It stands apart from ideals of trust and cooperation. The article specifies how it is related to these, and to other fundamental institutions of modernity, such as capital and the state. As such, it cannot be inserted into constitutions, or directly be the goal of politics. It is a non-optional and non-cancellable ideal, that might be identified with what Marx called “unalienated” life.

 

The Cultural Commons

This article explores the ways in which a background of non-discursive practices that are properly describable as a “cultural commons” underlie the very possibility of law and norm in the governance of a social group. This effi cacy of these practices provides conceptual sources for a recovery of other forms of the common, such as the land or the environmental commons. The idea of a cultural commons is a distinctive ideal that stands apart from other political and moral ideals, such as liberty, equality, and fraternity. It stands apart from ideals of trust and cooperation. The article specifi es how it is related to these, and to other fundamental institutions of modernity, such as capital and the state. As such, it cannot be inserted into constitutions, or directly be the goal of politics. It is a non-optional and non-cancellable ideal, that might be identifi ed with what Marx called “unalienated” life.

Secularism: Its Content and Context

Secularism is sometimes said to consist merely in a state's neutrality and equidistance between different religions. Charles Taylor has influentially argued for such a position for some time. This paper presents reasons to reject such an understanding of secularism. But, as a result of this alternative conceptualisation, the paper makes two further arguments. First, for the conclusion that secularism is not a general political truth, suited to all historical contexts, but rather apt only in some contexts, such as, for instance, when there is an implicit and pervasive threat of "majoritarianism". And second, for the conclusion that any justification and implementation of secularism in contexts which are not fully modernist - in a sense of "modern" that was articulated first in western Europe - must turn on an appeal to the conceptual vernacular.

Miscellany

It is a fond thought that literature, in giving us pleasures that are miscellaneous - rather than the satisfaction of the deep integrities of scientific and philosophical thought - is like life itself. It is natural to think that the pleasures of life are indeed miscellaneous, more like those of literature than of philosophy because literature is an outgrowth of life while philosophy is an abstraction from it. But if literature is inherently miscellaneous, and if miscellany depends on singular objects tied to qualities that pre-empt obsolescence, then life all around us seems to resist any resemblance to literature.

Value, Enchantment, and the Mentality of Democracy: Some Distant Perspectives from Gandhi

This essay integrates metaphysics, science, politics, political economy, and moral philosophy in order to explore the ways in which some Gandhian ideas, when given a genealogical reading in the dissenting thought of Early Modernity in Europe, might provide a deep basis for (a) diagnosing the religiosity of our own time, (b) making our secular ideals grounded in a more democratic mentality and culture towards such religiosity than modern liberalism permits, and (c) more generally, theorising a much more radical set of Enlightenment ideas than is found in the widespread and dominant liberal orthodoxies of the last 200-300 years of political theory.

Occidentalism, the Very Idea

The "Occident" and the "Orient" have been largely judged in juxtaposition with each other. The West has been admired and even emulated for the trajectory of its advancement, while the most "modern" notions of governance, understanding and civic living are seen as legacies of the Enlightenment. This article looks at two recent writings on how the Occident has been viewed and how in recent times, the "scientific rationality" that it espouses as the key to its overweening superiority over the Orient, has appeared "thin". The reaction to this "disenchantment" with this superior yet hollow rationality appears to be a return to "older, primordial" emotions and values. For the West, as this article suggests, there is no more urgent intellectual and political task than to frame the possibilities for alternate, less confused, more secular forms of re-enchantment that might make possible a genuinely substantial notion of democracy, one that would truly integrate the world.