This chapter identifies current post-factual politics as a result of the way references to emotions have been placed outside truth production in modern science and politics. As such, they have created a powerful binary of factual knowledge and emotions, which dominates the public discourse on truth. The frequent assertion that we find ourselves in post-factual times implies that at some point in the past there was a time when truth could easily be distinguished from a lie, and a time when it was clear that governing institutions held the truth. This chapter challenges such a view by citing the historical example of the Viennese obstetrician Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, who made himself unpopular in his day because of his discovery of the origins of childbed fever. While Semmelweis has been often portrayed as a tragic hero who could not achieve his aim because he was ‘too emotional’, viewing this historical anecdote in light of the development of the modern notion of truth as a fact-based and unemotional knowledge enables us to problematize further how truth breaks with accepted path-dependencies and institutional responsibilities and how it becomes negotiated. This paradoxical character of truth – as solid knowledge, while being revolutionary – calls for a subtler analysis of truth’s scenography.
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Harald Wydra and Bjørn Thomassen
In this editorial introduction, the editor reflects on the general nature of the concept of social justice, using the position of minority ethnic groups as a case example (to be developed in a later chapter). The rationale for the book is outlined: to retrieve social justice as a concept owned by the political left (and not a term which can be used from a variety of political standpoints), to understand how the concept might be understood in a number of national contexts, and to illuminate how the concept of social justice informs practice in a number of welfare contexts. Furthermore, because most of the debates in the book are set within a liberal ‘Western’ paradigm, the chapter begins a discussion about how the concept of social justice might be understood in other religious and national settings.
Edited by Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
Jens Bartelson, Martin Hall and Jan Teorell
This introduction outlines the main problem areas addressed by this volume. In academic international relations, comparative politics and historical sociology, the study of state making has traditionally been focused on the emergence of states in early modern Europe. The introduction makes the case for a de-centering of the study of state making, by shifting its focus to other historical and geographical contexts. It also elaborates on the preconditions for such de-centering, by discussing how the anachronism and Eurocentrism widespread within this field are best overcome. The authors conclude that this is best accomplished by aligning the concerns of comparative politics and international relations more closely, by moving beyond the tendency to accord primacy to warfare when explaining the making of states, and, finally, by overcoming the divide between materialistic and ideational approaches to state making. This is followed by a brief overview and discussion of individual contributions.