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Title:   Peace and Mind: Civilian Scholarship from Common Knowledge Author:  Jeffrey M. Perl, ed. Series:  Contemporary European Cultural Studies Imprint:  The Davies Group, Publishers soft cover 452 pp. USD  32.00 ISBN 978-1934542163 October  2011 Addressed to veterans of the "culture wars" and their students, the essays collected here define and exemplify a genre of scholarship devoted to irenic ends and civil means. The humanities and human sciences are shown to employ concepts, strategies, and vocabularies more appropriate to martial than humanitarian pursuits. This war footing is especially inapt and regrettable in that contemporary anthropology, historiography, science studies, literary theory, sociology of knowledge, religious studies, psychology, and hermeneutics have developed a basis for more promising alternatives. Contemporary theory stipulates that opposites are mutually constituting, mutually deconstructing, and unendurably dependent, yet the theorists themselves have been embroiled in academic battles that belie the premises they defend. Clifford Geertz, Bruno Latour, Gianni Vattimo, Maya Jasanoff, Ulrich Beck, and other "civilian scholars" propose here that adversarial relationships be reconceived as dependencies (or covert agreements) and that scholarship recognize that enemies have agreed to fight rather than experience an ambivalence they share. If each party to a dispute is divided—divided as an individual—then words like "agreement," "disagreement," and "conflict" lose their usefulness in complex and subtle conversation. These sixteen case studies suggest that the terms now heard in such discussions are too primitive for use by intellectuals. Versions of all the essays in this volume appeared first in issues of the journal Common Knowledge published between 1992 and 2009. They appear together for the first time in this collection with a theoretical introduction and detailed analyses by the book's editor (who is also editor of Common Knowledge.) Contents Preface Abstracts Acknowledgments Notes on Contributors Randall Collins, On the Acrimoniousness of Intellectual Disputes Wayne Andersen, How Not to Take Sides: Leon Battista Alberti—Renaissance Man William Weber,  Consequences of Canon: The Institutionalization of Enmity between Contemporary and Classical Music   Clifford Geertz, “Ethnic Conflict”: Three Alternative Terms  Ulrich Beck, The Truth of Others: A Cosmopolitan Approach Bruno Latour, Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics?: Comments on the Peace Terms of Ulrich Beck   Jeffrey J. Kripal, Comparative Mystics: Scholars as Gnostic Diplomats  Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Exchanging Perspectives: The Transformation of Objects into Subjects in Amerindian Ontologies   Roxanne L. Euben, A Counternarrative of Shared Ambivalence: Some Muslim and Western Perspectives on Science and Reason Gianni Vattimo,  “Derealization” and Charity Dale Kent, Charity and Power in Renaissance Florence: Surmounting Cynicism in Historiography  Israel J. Yuval, The Myth of the Jewish Exile from the Land of Israel: A Demonstration of Irenic Scholarship  Susan Stephens, Lessons of the Crocodile  Maya Jasanoff, Cosmopolitan: A Tale of Identity from Ottoman Alexandria   Clark Davis, “Not Like Any Form of Activity”: Waiting in Emerson, Melville, and Weil  Reviews Jeffrey Perl’s principled intellectual pacifism goes against the grain of much Western impulse, conviction and practice, both philosophical and journalistic. But his defenses of it are sophisticated and arresting, and the articles from Common Knowledge he has assembled here to illustrate its benefits are stellar by any measure. —Barbara Herrnstein Smith Director of the Duke University Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science Distinguished Professor of Humanities and English, Brown University From its inception in 1992, the journal Common Knowledge has published richly informed and thoughtful essays across a wide range of fields. The essays are as diverse in method and perspective as they are in subject matter, but they are all informed by an unusual spirit. That spirit may be best characterized by a phrase that the journal’s editor, Jeffrey Perl, uses to describe a Franciscan imprisoned for years for his “heretically irenic views.”There are moments—and we are living in one of them, both in the academic world and in the larger world—in which a love for peace may seem heretical. The essays in Peace and Mind eloquently demonstrate what it means boldly to choose compromise over contention, reconciliation over rejection, civility over strife. —Stephen Greenblatt John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University “If I knew of something useful to me and harmful to my family, I should put it out of my mind. If I knew of something useful to my family and not to my country, I should try to forget it. If I knew of something useful to my country and harmful to Europe, or useful to Europe and harmful to the human race, I should consider using it a crime.” This well-turned sentence of Montesquieu’s could easily be read as a motto for Common Knowledge, which has taken up the challenge to actualize this philosophy—within all the diverse fields of the human and social sciences—and which has now collected material published during the journal’s first fifteen years in a book titled Peace and Mind. The position may sound utopian but is really not so. For it is  possible to stay clear both of controversies (which are fundamentally theological) and of syntheses (which are invariably charitable) by transvaluing, à la Nietzsche, the history and semiology of identities and values. The essays in Peace and Mind show how it is possible to rehabilitate the Renaissance and Enlightenment spirit: that of Guillaume Postel, a cosmopolitan, polyglot Jesuit of the sixteenth century, who dreamed of general peace and the victory of women in a new world; that of Thomas Paine and his Common Sense, who detested both monarchy and guillotine, and was hostile toward religious superstition but open to spiritual transcendence. Peace and Mind dares to analyze belligerence as a syndrome and to put our ongoing crises, our declinologistic tendencies, and our religious clashes on the irenic couch of scholarship. —Julia Kristeva Professor Emerita of Linguistics, University of Paris VII Peace and Mind: Civilian Scholarship from “Common Knowledge” makes the case that peace, civility, and agreement have become words of contempt for most intellectuals. But for eighteen years, Common Knowledge has played host and goad to a community—by now, it is almost a school—of irenically inclined scholars in the humanities and human sciences, who are glad of the opportunity that this unique journal provides and convinced of their duty to stimulate the “conscious cooperation of enemies.” It is difficult to imagine a more important job. And in a time when academics outside the sciences are demeaned by those in government and business whose labors have brought us anything but peace, this how-to manual for “civilian scholarship” ought to stimulate a ton of soul-searching among culture warriors in the humanities.   —Stanley N. Katz President Emeritus, American Council of Learned Societies Director, Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Princeton University The audience of Peace and Mind no doubt will include social scientists, public intellectuals, and policy makers required to act or opine quickly under confounding pressures. But these essays strike me as directed most poignantly to humanists, whose job is to teach about dissension and consensus at second hand. For to read an account of a complex human event (factual or fictional) adequately, one must possess irenic virtues in high degree: patience, a lowering of defenses, a willingness to empathize. And yet, in the humanities, agreement and consensus are suspect—associated with coercion, philanthropic sentimentalism, and indifference to difference; so it is safer by far to be split off in opposition and thereby secure from parody. It is in this context that Jeffrey Perl bravely shows how intellectuals fixate on questions about truth and justice—divisive issues—in order to evade questions about peace. In his luminous plea for “civilian scholarship,” Perl demonstrates that the “assumption that strife is productive is a prejudice,” then he leads us toward a methodology superior to the martial arts of polemic. —Caryl Emerson A. Watson Armour III University Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University Common Knowledge is a remarkable phenomenon. I know of no journal that has a more brilliant roster of contributors from all over the world. And its aim—to provide a forum for consensus-building through the unpolemical and unparochial discussion of fundamental issues—is timelier now than ever. Its approach is well exemplified by Peace and Mind: Civilian Scholarship from Common Knowledge, whose publication will come, I believe, to be regarded as a landmark event. —G. Thomas Tanselle Former Vice-President, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Since its inception, Common Knowledge has been uncommonly excellent.  It is a great boon to public discussion to have this thoughtful collection of essays assembled in one place.  —Alan Wolfe John Gilbert Winant Visiting Professor of American Government at Oxford University and Contributing Editor of The New Republic From the outset, Common Knowledge inspired outstanding academics to stand outside their specialties and think about urgent public subjects, above all, the prevention and resolution of conflict. The heart of this collection of essays is the demonstration of better thinking about apparently intractable issues; in these pages we can see not just the process of thinking well about how to understand communitarian, nationalist, religious and cultural strife, but how to understand our understanding of the mortal threats which threaten us now, and have been such a plague in human history. —Ruth Morse University Professor, University of Paris-Denis Diderot This distinguished collection of essays, inspired by the editor’s call for a revival of what he calls ‘civilian’ or irenic scholarship, examines the problem of intellectual conflict (which means all too often, conflict between rival intellectuals), from a variety of individual and disciplinary angles. It deserves to be widely read and also to be taken to heart. —Peter Burke Emeritus Professor of Cultural History, Cambridge University. Fellow of Emmanuel College Peace and Mind brings to the humanities a keen sense of urgency as well as a keenly reconceived set of terms. It changes the very language of intellectual engagement. —Wai Chee Dimock William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies, Yale University About the Editor Jeffrey M. Perl is Professor of English Literature at Bar-Ilan University (Israel). He is the  Founding Editor, Common Knowledge (Duke University Press journal), in publication since 1992 (from 1992-98 with Oxford University Press), which was presented the Association of American Publishers Award for Best Journal in Humanities and Social Sciences, 1993. His publications include Skepticism and Modern Enmity: Before and  After Eliot; The Tradition of Return: The Implicit History of Modern Literature; and Modernism in Literature (eight lectures published on audiotape by The Teaching Company in their series of "best college teachers in America").
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