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'Contemplation and Engagement: two elements inherent of Care'

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HAS Magazine launches an open call for contributions for its fourth issue to be published in November 2021.

The goal of HAS Magazine is to discuss pressing topics through the analysis of a wide range of themes in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. Conceived as a magazine for the broadest possible range of readers, HAS offers a space for staging the most creative, enlightening, imaginative, and socially relevant interactions of the humanities and the arts.

Our aim is not simply to report on existing ideas or to reproduce art that examines issues of importance, but to contribute to the achieving of actual progress in cultural exchange and multi-disciplinary collaboration. Information, education, creativity, communication, and thought provocation will be merged, in order to provide a platform for positive change in society—local and worldwide—with the help of the humanities and the arts. We plan to connect curious readers with enthusiastic writers and practitioners willing to work to improve upon current global challenges, through demonstrations of how the humanities and the arts can have an impact on society.

We welcome contributions from scholars, researchers, critics, practicing artists, and any interested parties who find the above aims important and would like to be part of the project. HAS is not a commercial venture, and in order to reach the broadest possible audience, it will be available online for free in English, French and Chinese. Due to the non-profit nature of the publication, contributions will be on a voluntary basis.

The published texts will include scholarly papers, experimental essays, reviews, critiques, interviews, video and photo reportage, and news. The editorial committee is constituted by members of UNESCO-MOST, the International Council for Philosophy and Human Sciences, and Mémoire de l’Avenir.

The theme of the fourth issue is Engagement and Contemplation: Two elements inherent of Care. We aim to investigate this topic from a multi- and cross-disciplinary perspective—including but not limited to philosophy, history, anthropology, archaeology, literature, sociology, economics, political science, and post-humanities scholarship.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE THEME

Engagement is a mindful way of life, a call for action. It builds from self-awareness and the understanding of one’s capacity to judge and act. It is a commitment, an approach to life, inherited in modernity as a moral consequence from historically binding obligations. Engagement is about acting, sometimes in order to alleviate distress, to help or encourage others. It is about feeling invested of a mission. It is movement guided by a desire of transformation. Engagement leads to taking care by direct involvement and practice.

Contemplation is a mindset characterised by a heightened awareness of life. It is a mode of perception based on the observation and attention to all things living, identities, otherness, and contradictions. Contemplation builds from self-uncertainty and the understanding of one’s limitations, avoiding judgement and erroneous action. Contemplation is a pledge for precaution, guided by scepticism in the face of visions of the future. It encompasses reflection and care. 

Often perceived as opposites within philosophical and religious disputes, engagement and contemplation carry the contradictions of human agency. Engagement inspired the condemnation of, for example, slavery and of the holocaust, but it also led to the violent destruction of lives and cultural traditions in the name of certain ideals. Contemplation is the first step toward enchantment, appreciation, and creativity, but it has also led to indifference, apathy, and oblivion. 

Engagement and contemplation are elements of the asset of care. Contemplation invites engagement. Both bring one to a state of care, yet taking care of someone or something may be a positive or a negative process, depending upon what frames that process and the perspectives of those involved in it. Should we privilege one over the other? Some past societies fostered the virtue of contemplation, which often perpetuated inequalities. This has created the trend, in the last few centuries, to privilege engagement, but a large part of the current dilemmas regarding sustainability have been triggered by it. Contemplation seems to be insufficient in face of catastrophes, while engagement seems to find it difficult to distinguish between caring and patronizing.

The arts echo these debates and postures, in close relation with ethics and aesthetics. However, when assessing art history, most of us, at present, do not consider those values as being essential in distinguishing between major and minor art work. How will our actions, engagements, and contemplations be assessed in the future, if they will be assessed at all? And how can we approach care in our society, when understanding the present care in relation to transformation, which only occurs in the flow of time?

Care can be seen as central to all of the most urgent challenges that our societies face today on a global level, including climate change, ageing populations, gender equality, education, and poverty. In tackling these issues, the humanities and the arts provide crucial insights, and have important roles to play. To reach solutions, there is a need for philosophical, historical, and critical perspectives.

In the face of global warming and environmental degradation, the notion of care has also become urgent with respect to non-humans and with regard to the relation between the local and the global. Care forces us to consider our interdependence, to look inward and outward simultaneously. In philosophy, the ethics of care proposes to focus moral action on individuals and interpersonal relationships. Care puts interdependence before competition and domination.

Other questions may include: How does care find itself within an individualistic global era? Why is care a part of an organic, interdependent relationship, as between animals, persons, etc.? What does care look like today? How can it be revalued? What relationships of care exist today in our communities, our nations, our global society? How can we care for our tangible and intangible cultural heritage? How are care and care relationships gendered? How can we give value and social capital to care? How can the humanities contribute to the development of more inclusive and just perceptions of care?

Deadline: 
07/08/2021

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