Norms of Indignation - European Perspectives

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Prof. Dr. Helen Petrovsky
(Russische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Moskau)

Indignation: Disturbance of the Sign

The paper introduces a purely physical dimension in the interpretation of protest. Among other things, it resorts to the Deleuzian notion of “mot d’ordre” that stands both for “slogan” and “command”. Deleuze describes the incorporeal transformations that the mot d’ordre produces. They are the realization of the speech act (and/or performative) found in every statement. These transformations embrace whole social groups. The “sentiment” of the latter might be accounted for by the “structures of feeling” (R. Williams) that describe changing states of things. Such structures depersonalize sentiment, at the same time paying tribute to shared desires, anxieties and hopes that disclose a (turbulent) collective in the making. Any disturbance displaces the sign as we know it, so a dynamic model of the sign has to be developed if we wish to remain faithful to protest as affect.

Prof. Dr. Anne Siegetsleitner
(Universität Innsbruck)

Indignation, Honor, and Gender

Indignation as the reaction to an experienced violation of social or moral norms is a strong feeling. This is especially the case when indignation arouses by the experienced violation of norms central to one’s identity. Norms relating to gender identity are a prominent example. Some take respective violations as an offence to honor. I will scrutinize these conceptual connections by the attacks on women in New Year’s Eve in Cologne. People were outraged over these attacks. Some men felt an offence to their masculine honor because they experienced a violation of fundamental patriarchal norms. Consequently, they wanted to defend their honor by defending the honor of “their” women. Others expressed righteous indignation about the involved patriarchal norms on the part of the attackers in Cologne as well as on the part of the “defenders”. Both groups alike violated fundamental norms of their non-patriarchal gender identity. After having provided an analysis, I will ask whether we should link the latter case of indignation to honor, too.

Prof. Dr. Karsten Stueber
(College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA)

Empathy as Foundation of Morality?

Contemporary philosophers are fond of the idea that our sentiments, feelings and, emotions play a central role in constituting us as moral agents. Contemporary moral philosophers, who are inclined to view emotions like anger, resentment, or indignation, as foundations of moral judgments are however very much divided about the claim—so central to 18th century sentimentalists like David Hume and Adam Smith—that we need to appeal to our capacity for empathy in order to make sense of the moral authority of such sentiments. In my talk I will defend exactly this claim. Most importantly, I will argue that we should analyze Smith’s appeal to the impartial spectator perspective and the principle of impartiality as quasi-a priori commitments of our folk psychological practice of making sense of each other’s actions through empathic perspective taking. It is only in this manner that one can morally ground the authority of one’s indignation and justify one’s call for action.

Dr. Marina Prentoulis
(University of East Anglia, Norfolk, UK)

The Shift from Indignation to Solidarity

In 2007 the generalized economic, social and political crisis let to the disruption of social and political identities and loosened the ties between citizens and economic and political elites. The dislocation of the existing identities opened up the space for the articulation of new forms of collectiveness and led to contentious political action. In Greece, the 2011 Indignant protests were followed by the creation of local solidarity groups trying to offer relief from the humanitarian crisis at stake. Through metonymic displacements from the site of the protests to the solidarity networks, demands, practices and meanings were articulated in an attempt to construct a ‘people’ standing against the political and economic elites of the country. This paper will discuss the shift from indignation to solidarity and the horizontal and vertical organizational structures established in this process.