Philosophy in Practice | Cape Town

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The Housekeeper’s Tale

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On August 2, 2021
International Solidarity in Apartheid South Africa Keynote Address North American Levinas Society “Solidarity and Community” 29 July 2021 Need I remind anyone again / that armed struggle is an act of love? ~ Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile In 1987, my husband Rob and I were recruited in Canada to move to Johannesburg to run a safehouse […]
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QA 56. Four touchstones for thinking about peace

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On July 18, 2016
For Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and because I’m reading Thula Simpson’s Umkhonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle, thinking about and respecting the lives of everyone who stood against apartheid, those whose names are known or unknown, remembered or forgotten. Thinking that the aim of the struggle was peace, and how we’re not there yet. Thinking […]
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QA 54. #What rises?

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On October 26, 2015
The student movement that flashed into life this year in South Africa, from #Rhodesmustfall at the University of Cape Town to the extraordinary #Feesmustfall protests last week in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch, Grahamstown and Pretoria, is a complex and dynamic phenomenon. Lots going on there. But there are two things I’ve been trying to think about. Two […]
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QA 29. The national question, or We we we all the way home?

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On September 3, 2011
(This is the original of an opinion piece published as “Identity does not depend on race” in the Cape Times on 11 October 2011) Who are we? is the question posed in a timely series presented by the Cape Times and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Really, it’s incredible. If “I am because we […]
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QA 22 (Mar-Apr 10). Three book reviews (1)

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On April 3, 2010
Three recent reviews published in the Cape Times (Cape Town, South Africa) 1. Re-imagining the Social in South Africa: Critique, Theory and Post-apartheid Society (Jacklin and Vale, eds)2. Nurtureshock: Why everything we think about raising our children is wrong (Bronson & Merryman)3. Africa: The Politics of Suffering and Smiling (Chabal) Re-imagining the Social in South […]
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QA 21. (Feb 10) Crying shame (Thinking about race again)

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On February 14, 2010
Samantha Vice, a philosopher at Rhodes University, has been thinking about the moral condition of white South Africans. Is it possible to live a virtuous life here, given the continuing privilege that comes with whiteness? Believing that this will be “very difficult”, she argues that shame is “the morally appropriate emotion to feel”. She concludes, […]
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QA 14. (May 09) The first priority

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On May 31, 2009
What should be the single priority for the new South African government? In his Sunday Times column (3 May 2009), Mac Maharaj invited readers to answer this question, following Peter Bruce’s observation that a government that tries to fix everything achieves nothing. “Let us… find some common purpose, which is the first step to success.” […]
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QA 8. (Oct 08) Practising philosophy in trying times

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On October 12, 2008
It’s become terribly unfashionable to be “judgemental”, but the fact of the matter is that life calls for judgement, all the time. So we should learn to do it well. For me, this is the purpose of philosophical practice: to study and understand what’s going on in the world and in oneself, in order to […]
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QA 5. (June 08) A Canuck in Cape Town

  • Posted by Helen Douglas
  • On July 1, 2008
A friend in Vancouver asks me to “say in three lines why you would rather live there than here, not counting weather”. There are several ways I could answer, but my first quick response was: The people. Something about light. Something about deep. Something about real. Which means something like this…
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