MD01: Cosmopolitanism, Antisemitism, Universalism: A Tribute to the Critical Social Theory of Robert Fine
The goal of this session is to celebrate the life and work of Robert Fine (1945-2018) by looking at his idea of critical social theory and re-visiting the three areas of research to which he devoted most attention. The first is how political ideas and the political world are mutually shaped. From the enlightenment of the 18th century to humanitarian interventions in the 21st, Fine was concerned with how politics and political ideas inform one another so that politics without ideas is potentially totalitarian but ideas with no politics can become rather conservative. A second research area was the extent to which different forms of social and political exclusions, such as classism, racism and antisemitism, have to navigate a difficult dialectics between universality and particularity. Thirdly, the idea of critical theory itself deserves scrutiny as Fine’s notion of critique chose openness over dogmatism, historical struggles over teleological progress, and immanent justifications over transcendental foundations. From Hobbes to Arendt, Fine construed a heterodox canon of critical social theory that is guided by the substantive quest for understanding the social world.
Robert Fine was Emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, UK. He played a leading role at ESA: sitting on its Executive Committee (2011-2015), serving as board member Research Networks 29 and 15, and playing a pivotal role in the founding and running of Research Network 31. He authored 6 books and published over 100 articles. He supervised over 30 doctoral students who now work all over the world.
Christine Achinger, University of Warwick, UK
Christine Achinger is Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Warwick (United Kingdom). Her research interests are in critical social theory, literary studies, history and theories of antisemitism, and constructions of gender, race, Jewishness and national identity and their interrelations as responses to capitalist modernity. Her publications include Distorted Faces of Modernity: Racism, Antisemitism and Islamophobia, New York: Routledge, 2015 (ed. with Robert Fine); Gespaltene Moderne. Gustav Freytags Soll und Haben - Nation, Geschlecht und Judenbild [Split Modernity: Gustav Freytag’s Debit and Credit – Nation, Gender and the Image of the Jew], 2007.
Daniel Chernilo, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
Daniel Chernilo obtained his PhD at the University of Warwick under the supervision of Robert Fine. He has been a Lecturer in Sociology at Warwick, a Professor of Social and Political Thought at Loughborough University and is now a Full Professor in the Institute of Philosophy at Universidad Diego Portales in Chile. He has written widely on the history of social thought, humanism, nationalism and cosmopolitanism. Some of his books are: Debating Humanity. Towards a Philosophical Sociology (CUP, 2017), The Natural Law Foundations of Modern Social Theory (CUP, 2013) and A Social Theory of the Nation-State (Routledge, 2007). He is currently writing a new monograph on the contemporary university.
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