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Title: Towards a redefinition of freedom and subjectivity in contemporary society
Author: Hawa, Salam
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1995
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This work consists of a study of the historical, philosophical and political elements determining the essence of freedom and subjectivity in contemporary society. It identifies the origin of subjectivity in Renaissance Humanism, and demonstrates that Humanism's definition of individual freedom and subjectivity became a base upon which the Anglo-Germanic Romantics grounded their intellectual and political framework. The philosophical parallel between Humanism and Romanticism, the projects of which express subjectivity and freedom in terms of 'creation' and 'individualism', establishes a basis from which a study of postmodernism (French post-structuralism) shows that postmodernists, in spite of their critique of modernity, continue to define freedom and subjectivity along the same lines. It contends that the postmodernist critique of society espouses a severely limited notion of subjectivity, i.e. one which is basically negative and anti-social, and whose effect on the way individuals view themselves as socio-political agents is detrimental. This study is not one which aims to discount the importance of the postmodernist critique altogether. Rather, it shows that there are many elements which enter into the definition of freedom and subjectivity as a 'lived' experience in the world, such as those present in Hegelian philosophy, which are often concealed, or negated by postmodernism's rejection of dialectics in history. The study takes as central the Hegelian definition of the elements constituting the process of actualisation of subjectivity and freedom in society, and argues that all three identified intellectual movements, Humanism, Romanticism and Postmodernism, fail to recognise that the other, the means, is not a thingness, a whatness, nor is it other individuals, but is itself an activity the base of which is social, and whose telos is present in the objective order. The work argues that although postmodernism defends individual rights against a visibly declining social, political and ethical order, it does not present individuals with alternatives that are feasible and desirable in today's social and political context.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available