The Bottom Line: Unfortunate Side Effects of Capitalist Culture

Arthur McGovern, Nichols College

January 2017 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-159-6
Availability: In stock
212pp. ¦ $50 £38 €45

This monograph explores the role of culture in modern societies and the side effects that result when that role is distorted. The basic premise of this book is that many of the dominant cultural characteristics of modern life, like the ideologies and values associated with materialism and consumer capitalism, are cultural phenomena with influences that are in many ways problematic and in some ways downright detrimental to our sustained societal well-being. I argue in this book that the globalized capitalist economic system has become increasingly efficient in terms of scale and scope, but has also become less humane in many regards; less connected to human needs and concerns. Of particular concern is the encroachment of economic interests into areas of human society that traditionally have been free from profit motives, or at least only minimally influenced by them; areas such as scientific research, the justice system, and even family relationships. I suggest that there is a slow but steady intrusion into these areas of human life that were once considered off-limits to naked economic incentives and calculations. This intrusion puts the idea of America as a free and democratic society increasingly at risk when private economic stakeholders meddle in the political and cultural areas of society in ever more insidious ways to further their own enrichment at the expense of the public. Furthermore, the vast capitalist economic system is in many ways increasingly disconnected or disembedded from the contexts and regulations of traditional social relations as in the past.

Napoleon’s Purgatory

The Unseen Humanity of the “Corsican Ogre” in Fatal Exile (with an introduction by J. David Markham)

Thomas M. Barden, Fellow in the International Napoleonic Society

February 2017 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-166-4
Availability: In stock
334pp. ¦ $55 £44 €50

Napoleon’s Purgatory is a work portraying the human side of Napoleon as revealed by those who shared his exile on the island of St. Helena. Through the diaries and journals of the Emperor’s servants, generals, and companions come the stories of Napoleon’s tender love for children, his captivating sense of humor, his eternal love for Josephine, and his agonizing death. Napoleon Bonaparte was sent by the British to the remote island of St. Helena where he could not escape. What followed were six excruciating years of loneliness and depression, mixed with frolicking play with the island’s children, a battle of wills with his British captor, an exploration of his lapsed Catholic faith, and the complex relationship with the members of his entourage. This time in exile was akin to time served in Purgatory for Napoleon. His humanity, suffering, joy in the laughter of children, and longing for Josephine are captured vividly in this work through the detailed use of primary sources written by those who were there. While many considered Napoleon Bonaparte the “Corsican Ogre” for the wars he waged across Europe, he was anything but during his exile on St. Helena.

Modernity, Civilization and the Return to History

Anthony F. Shaker, McGill University, Canada

January 2017 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-184-8
Availability: In stock
586pp. ¦ $80 £68 €77

The modern concept and study of civilization have their roots, not in western Europe, but in the spirit of scientific investigation associated with a self-conscious Islamicate civilization. What we call modernity cannot be fathomed without this historical connection. We owe every major branch of science known today to the broad tradition of systematic inquiry that belongs to a “region of being”—as Heidegger would say—whose theoretical, practical and institutional dimensions the philosophy of that civilization played an unprecedented role in creating. This book focuses primarily on the philosophical underpinnings of questions relating to civilization, personhood and identity. Contemporary society and thinking in western Europe introduced new elements to these questions that have altered how collective and personal identities are conceived and experienced. In the age of “globalization,” expressions of identity (individual, social and cultural) survive precariously outside their former boundaries, just when humanity faces perhaps its greatest challenges—environmental degradation, policy inertia, interstate bellicosity, and a growing culture of tribalism. Yet, the world has been globalized for at least a millennium, a fact dimmed by the threadbare but still widespread belief that modernity is a product of something called the West. One is thus justified in asking, as many people do today, if humanity has not lost its initiative. This is more a philosophical than an empirical question. There can be no initiative without the human agency that flows from identity and personhood—i.e., the way we, the acting subject, live and deliberate about our affairs. Given the heavy scrutiny under which the modern concept of identity has come, Dr. Shaker has dug deeper, bringing to bear a wealth of original sources from both German thought and Ḥikmah (Islamicate philosophy), the latter based on material previously unavailable to scholars. Posing the age-old question of identity anew in the light of these two traditions, whose special historical roles are assured, may help clear the confusion surrounding modernity and, hopefully, our place in human civilization. Proximity to Scholasticism, and therefore Islamicate philosophy, lent German thought up to Heidegger a unique ability to dialogue with other thought traditions. Two fecund elements common to Heidegger, Qūnawī and Mullā Ṣadrā are of special importance: Logos (utterance, speech) as the structural embodiment at once of the primary meaning (essential reality) of a thing and of divine manifestation; and the idea of unity-in-difference, which Ṣadrā finally formulated as the substantial movement of existence. But behind this complexity is the abiding question of who Man is, which cannot be answered by theory alone. Heidegger, who occupies a good portion of this study, questioned the modern ontology at a time of social collapse and deep spiritual crisis not unlike ours. Yet, that period also saw the greatest breakthroughs in modern physics and social science. The concluding chapters take up, more specifically, identity renewal in Western literature and Muslim “reformism.” The renewal theme reflects a point of convergence between the Eurocentric worldview, in which modernism has its secular aesthetics roots, and a current originating in Ibn Taymiyyah’s reductionist epistemology and skeptical fundamentalism. It expresses a hopeless longing for origin in a historically pristine “golden age,” an obvious deformation of philosophy’s millennial concern with the commanding, creative oneness of the Being of beings.

Thinking Through Badgers

Researching the controversy over bovine tuberculosis and the culling of badgers

Stephan Price, University of Exeter

December 2016 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-187-9
Availability: In stock
334pp. ¦ $60 £48 €55

Bovine tuberculosis is seriously damaging the UK dairy and beef industry. Many farmers believe culling badgers must be part of the solution, but in 2013 a record 300,000 people signed a Downing Street petition asking the government to stop planned culls of badgers in Somerset and Gloucestershire, fuelling media controversy and signalling the beginning of a social conflict that was acted out in studios, streets, fields and village halls across England. The four-year trial culls, which began that year, aimed to establish that culling was a viable way of tackling the disease, but the widely divergent experiences and values of policy-makers, farming, conservation and animal welfare supporters means that decades of science on the disease in badgers and the effects of culling has not helped resolve the dispute. Reporting on original, UK research council-funded social science, this book takes on the challenge of understanding the contrasting views involved. Listening carefully to what the different protagonists have to say, the book unpicks the way science is interpreted to sustain differing conclusions, and considers how social science thinking could contribute. The book develops a critical perspective on the increasingly important literature influenced by new materialism, the social science response to the Science Wars, and explores the extent to which a social movement around opposition to the culls is emerging. In approachable prose, this access-all-areas account describes the struggle to develop understanding through the messy process of research and the difficulties of scientific analysis and philosophical thought. As such, it provides a valuable resource for both research practitioners and teachers within the social sciences, as well as an accessible way for biological scientists, conservationists and farmers to reflect on the issues around the management of disease in livestock and wildlife.

Financial reforms, stabilization and development in 21st-century Turkey

Haluk Haksal, University of Geneva, Switzerland

February 2017 / ISBN: 978-1-62273-168-8
Availability: In stock
486pp. ¦ $60 £48 €55

The central argument of this book is that while central bank independence can contribute to stabilization, inflation-targeting monetary policy is quite powerless in promoting economic development. The basic message is simple: Policy makers should not strive to achieve price stability at any cost, as stability in product markets does not necessarily translate into economic development. The recent experience of Turkey is illuminating and other developing countries, in particular those using inflation targeting monetary policy framework, can draw useful lessons from this experience. Early chapters summarize the deregulation process from 1980 to 2001. The Turkish Central Bank is placed at the center of the analysis as monetary policies have a significant impact both on stability and development. Although the 1994 and 2001 financial crises have been extensively studied elsewhere, they are nevertheless summarized to underscore the importance of central bank independence. Later chapters investigate the impact of an independent central bank on stabilization and development from 2001 onwards. Upon visiting the Turkish Central Bank's website, readers are greeted with the following statement: "The primary objective of the Bank is to achieve and maintain price stability." By the end of this book the reader should be able to assess the relative merits of a monetary policy that focuses on price stability, versus an alternative where price stability is accompanied by other objectives targeting development, for instance, monitoring also unemployment rates, which would undermine its independence to some degree. The study aims to provide a perspective on the need for such an alternative in line also with the vision of some international agencies on development, such as the UNCTAD and the ILO. This is the first book-length study examining the financial reforms Turkey undertook in its path towards EU accession. This unique work will be of interest to economists and other experts in financial history, (de)regulation, institutional economics and economic development, as well as a broad range of scholars interested in the dramatic transformation of Turkey's economy and society in the 21st century.

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