Cornel West & the Struggle for Social Transformation

by Andreas Saugstad

Cornel West has been called the “pre-eminent African-American intellectual of his generation.” In this essay I bring you a review of The Cornel West Reader, and his new CD, Sketches of My Culture, and I also try to give you an introduction to this philosopher’s world of ideas and struggle for social justice.

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Structural Violence and the Autonomy of Morals

by Andreas Saugstad

The world is not always as we think it is. I do believe that human beings can have a true and veridical access to external reality, but many of our opinions are shaped by our culture and social context.

I think George Bush is such a person, who lacks the ability to go beyond conventionalism, and see how the world really is. I have paid attention to Bush in the media for a while now, and he always talks tabloid, never penetrating into the deep structure of phenomena.

Structural Violence
One of those who radically differs from Bush, and always penetrates into the deep structure of political phenomena, is Johan Galtung (1930-). Norwegian scholar Johan Galtung is the founder of peace research as an academic discipline, professor at seven universities, and author of more than 50 books and 1,000 articles.

One of Galtung’s key concepts is structural violence. Often when we use the term “violence,” we think of direct or physical violence. But Galtung has seen how violence can have many faces, and that evil can exist in many subtle and evil ways. Structural violence is violence that does not hurt or kill through fists or guns or nuclear bombs, but through social structures that produce poverty, death and enormous suffering. Structural violence may be political, repressive, economic and exploitative, it occurs when the social order directly or indirectly causes human suffering and death.

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The Moral Psychology of Capitalism

by Andreas Saugstad

The economic system dominating the world today is capitalism. When the Berlin Wall fell and Gorbachev started his Perestroika in the 1980ies, something joyful happened: the world was released from oppressive communism and an oppressive use of ideology. At the same time, however, a side-effect of this seems to have been a renewed focus on capitalism as an economic and social order, and the Americanization of the world could continue at greater pace than ever. Capitalism is now not just an American phenomenon: we find it more or less in Europe, Russia, China and South America. How does capitalism affect us? What is its impact on ethics and morality? What is the relation of capitalism to moral psychology?

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Saul Kripke, Genius Logician

by Andreas Saugstad

Saul Kripke is one of the greatest thinkers in modern philosophy. He is one of the few academics today who can be characterized as a living legend. For many years, he has been professor of philosophy at Princeton University in the USA. When he visited Oslo to give a lecture at my university, I met him at a local restaurant to do an interview. The image below of Kripke and me on the streets of Oslo was taken by Helge Skirbekk.

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Postmodernism: What is it, and What is Wrong With It?

by Andreas Saugstad

The period in which we now live is often called “postmodernism”. According to Nancy Murphy, author of Anglo-American Postmodernity, postmodernism in the Anglo-American world started sometime around 1950. Others would perhaps say that postmodernism is something which evolved after 1968. But anyway, in 1979 Jean-Francois Lyotard published a book called The Postmodern Condition. At this point someone had defined postmodernism, and during the last 20 years the ideas of postmodernism have been much debated in the Western world.

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Reflections on Social Justice

by Andreas Saugstad

When I started my academic journey I was a pretty self-centered young man. Not that I did much evil, I started to study because I loved academics and wanted to pursue philosophy – the search for truth and wisdom. I come from an academic background, and have for many years enjoyed the university world. When I, after three semesters, entered the philosophical community in Oslo, I was thrilled. We had many discussions, we read some of the greatest texts in the history of thinking, and I was captured by questions relating to the nature of knowledge, language and metaphysics.

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Postmodernism and the Media

by Andreas Saugstad

The media are dominating our culture. We live in the information age, not only because of the internet, but because of TV channels, radio-channels, newspapers, magazines and books. As the CNN ad says: “you are what you know” – information is essential to our times. In my country of Norway, Reality TV is now dominating, shows with random people placed in a bar together, or some Norwegians placed in a house in Greece, or some other setting where very normal people (nothing bad in being normal) are filmed in every thinkable (and unthinkable) situation.

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