University of Cambridge > > POLIS Department Research Seminars > Suffering, Progress, and Precarity in the West

Suffering, Progress, and Precarity in the West

Add to your list(s) Download to your calendar using vCal

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Ayse Zarakol.

This talk presents yet another theory of the rise and possible decline of the West. The West’s sense of itself is linked to a belief in progress that is intimately tied to the recognition of and response to suffering. Not just run-of-the-mill suffering but suffering that makes the West question its own humanity. The West attempts to reconcile its faith in progress and these episodes of evil and inhumanity through a process of moral repair – to be the community it pretends to be. Part of moral repair includes building sacralized global institutions that symbolize its humanity. These institutions are built in the hope that they can prevent and reduce suffering. But these are institutions built not by angels but by flesh-and-blood humans, and, consequently, the sacred is integrated with the profane. This scene repeats itself from the beginning of a West that becomes conscience of itself until the present. The West has answered moments of inhumanity with pledges to become more human. Cycles of moral repair help to explain how the West has been able to save itself from the evil it commits and why it believes that it can continue to build higher and higher. But how long can this go on? Is there a moment when the West’s ability to renew itself becomes exhausted? The West is now at that moment. Like the Tower of Babel, the West’s attempt to build heaven on earth and create what Kant called an internationalism with cosmopolitan intent is collapsing on itself, with disillusionment with the idea of progress and the shrinking of the moral community from the “West” to the nation.

This talk is part of the POLIS Department Research Seminars series.

Tell a friend about this talk:

This talk is included in these lists:

Note that ex-directory lists are not shown.


© 2006-2024, University of Cambridge. Contact Us | Help and Documentation | Privacy and Publicity