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Savoirs en Prisme | 11  Audacity : virtue, value

Florence Dumora, Caroline Julliot, Elisabeth Rothmund

The myth of Diogenes saying to Alexander « Stand out of my sunlight » and the legend of the schoolkid submitting, in lieu of a philosophical essay on audacity, the single sentence “That’s audacity, right!” appear as acts which significantly scorn the established order and the recognition of authority, combining supreme pertinence with flippant impertinence. This attitude marks a break but is also foundational: it may serve as a starting-point for our reflection on the concept of audacity in the 11th issue of Savoirs en prisme. Audacity is “an impulse of the soul that prompts extraordinary actions in disregard of obstacles and dangers” (Littré). It implies the crossing of a limit thought impassable and, ideally, the outdating of a dead system or its regeneration by an act involving a new logic. Audacity brings a solution to a locked-in state which the remedies previously envisaged could not remove. It forms a single whole with the ideas of risk and rupture – therefore, its success can never be ensured.
Since Roman days, the sense of audacity has fluctuated between two opposite poles: in its pejorative sense, it has to do with hubris and rashness and is traditionally associated with the ardor and errors of youth; in its positive sense, by contrast, it signifies insight, well-thought-out independence, and the capacity to seize the favorable opportunity to bring about a change in power relations or ideas. When it implies the crossing of a limit which turns out to be insurmountable, it ends in failure and is considered futile, if not ridiculous. Conversely, the actions it generates are considered strokes of genius, brilliant successes when the subversion it initiates is, in retrospect, recognized, legitimized and integrated into a new order it has contributed to establish.
No wonder that, stimulated by a critical mind, audacity should appear as the driving force of Progress: Sapere aude! Horace’s formula, taken up by Kant as the motto of Enlightenment, refers to the courage to break with former allegiances in order to achieve autonomy. For audacity should not be confused with mere provocation: it does not oppose the pre-existing frameworks in a spirit of contradiction but it destroys in order to build. Audacity is visionary: it breaks free from the yokes of the past in order to lay the foundations of the future. Thus, it stands out as a privileged value in a world in love with innovation and energy — and perhaps all the more waved around in times of crisis as the prevailing feeling of decadence vies with the hope for a renewal. “Audacity, always audacity!”, Danton proclaimed.
We have lost count of the references to audacity and the calls for it in the most diverse fields of experience: in politics, science, military strategy, technology, philosophy, art… To-day audacity appears as a “rising value” claimed by a great variety of trends and circles. As the highest expression of personal will, audacity, the exceptional quality of the hero, seems to have become, in the era of triumphant individualism, the most widely shared thing in the world… to the point of serving as an alibi for conformism.
In n°11 of Savoirs en Prisme, the main issues and the use of the notion of audacity may be examined:-The historicity of the notion: how has audacity been apprehended and defined? Why is it that the audacious act has been considered foundational and even set up as a model?
– Renewal: by its spiritual and intellectual nature, audacity appears as the capacity to elaborate any conceptual object by going off the beaten track, by offering a proposal or a solution.
– The issues of representation: can we stage characters, attitudes or audacious ideas without the support of the authorities – be they political, moral or social?
– Audacity in art: hasn’t audacity in terms of form become a main priority for the artist, in other words, a new conformism?
– Discourse and strategy: how does the Establishment relate to the notion of audacity?Proposals for articles (limited to 15 lines) should indicate the axis (or axes) to which they are related and be accompanied by a short biographical note mentioning institutional affiliation and email address. They are to be sent jointly to the three following addresses before December 15th, 2018:- Florence.dumora@univ-reims.fr
– Caroline.Julliot@univ-lemans.fr
– Elisabeth.rothmund@web.deAccepted languages : French, Spanish, English
Important information and dates for the full paper submission :

– Maximum length 50. 000 characters (notes, spaces and bibliography included)
– Notification of the scientific committee: January 15th 2019
– Submission of the full paper: May 15th 2019
– Notification of anonymous peer evaluation: September 2019
– The revised papers are to be sent before November 15th 2019
– Publication in number 11 of the online journal Savoirs en Prisme expected by December 2019 / January 2020.

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Florence Dumora (Université de Reims), Caroline Julliot (Université du Mans), Elisabeth Rothmund (Université de Créteil)

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