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Cause is a problematic concept in social science, as in all fields of knowledge. We organise information in terms of cause and effect to impose order on the world, but this can impede a more sophisticated understanding. In his latest book, Richard Ned Lebow reviews understandings of cause in physics and philosophy and concludes that no formulation is logically defensible and universal in its coverage. This is because cause is not a feature of the world but a cognitive shorthand we use to make sense of it. In practice, causal inference is always rhetorical and must accordingly be judged on grounds of practicality. Lebow offers a new approach - 'inefficient causation' - that is constructivist in its emphasis on the reasons people have for acting as they do, but turns to other approaches to understand the aggregation of their behaviour. This novel approach builds on general understandings and idiosyncratic features of context.
We are multiple, fragmented, and changing selves who, nevertheless, believe we have unique and consistent identities. What accounts for this illusion? Why has the problem of identity become so central in post-war scholarship, fiction, and the media? Following Hegel, Richard Ned Lebow contends that the defining psychological feature of modernity is the tension between our reflexive and social selves. To address this problem Westerners have developed four generic strategies of identity construction that are associated with four distinct political orientations. Lebow develops his arguments through comparative analysis of ancient and modern literary, philosophical, religious, and musical texts. He asks how we might come to terms with the fragmented and illusionary nature of our identities and explores some political and ethical implications of doing so.
For sixty years, different groups in Europe have put forth interpretations of World War II and their respective countries' roles in it consistent with their own political and psychological needs. The conflict over the past has played out in diverse arenas, including film, memoirs, court cases, and textbooks. It has had profound implications for democratization and relations between neighboring countries. This collection provides a comparative case study of how memories of World War II have been constructed and revised in seven European nations: France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Italy, and the USSR (Russia). The contributors include scholars of history, literature, political science, psychology, and sociology. Country by country, they bring to the fore the specifics of each nation's postwar memories in essays commissioned especially for this volume. The use of similar analytical categories facilitates comparisons. An extensive introduction contains reflections on the significance of Europeans' memories of World War II and a conclusion provides an analysis of the implications of the contributors' findings for memory studies. These two pieces tease out some of the findings common to all seven countries: for instance, in each nation, the decade and a half between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s was the period of most profound change in the politics of memory. At the same time, the contributors demonstrate that Europeans understand World War II primarily through national frames of reference, which are surprisingly varied. Memories of the war have important ramifications for the democratization of Central and Eastern Europe and the consolidation of the European Union. This volume clarifies how those memories are formed and institutionalized. Contributors. Claudio Fogu, Richard J. Golsan, Wulf Kansteiner, Richard Ned Lebow, Regula Ludi, Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Heidemarie Uhl, Thomas C. Wolfe
Four generic motives have historically led states to initiate war: fear, interest, standing and revenge. Using an original dataset, Richard Ned Lebow examines the distribution of wars across three and a half centuries and argues that, contrary to conventional wisdom, only a minority of these were motivated by security or material interest. Instead, the majority are the result of a quest for standing, and for revenge - an attempt to get even with states who had previously made successful territorial grabs. Lebow maintains that today none of these motives are effectively served by war - it is increasingly counterproductive - and that there is growing recognition of this political reality. His analysis allows for more fine-grained and persuasive forecasts about the future of war as well as highlighting areas of uncertainty.
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