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Home arrow History arrow The Art of World-Making: Nicholas Greenwood Onuf and his Critics


  • 1 I thank Bertha K Amisi for her comments on this paper. Any errors or faults, however, lie with the author.
  • 2 For an exposition on IR’s Eurocentric nature, see Hobson (2012).
  • 3 I consider Realism and Liberalism as two sides of the same ontological coin. See Agath- angelou and Ling (2004).
  • 4 “Absorbed in play, children shut out the external world, fill space with agents substituting for themselves and others, and watch object relations ensue as if the agents had minds of their own. They are spectators in worlds of their own making” (Onuf 2013, 90).
  • 5 Methodological Individualism presupposes that all actions or consequences redound to a single unit. Accordingly, any context or factors “external” to the individual unit may be dismissed as irrelevant (Hodgson 1986).
  • 6 For this reason, realist/liberal IR is incapable of “grand theorizing”; it can only tweak on the edges (Levine and Barder 2014).
  • 7 I cite one small yet insightful example: a village in China would not accept development funds from the state unless these were distributed evenly among all members (Srinivas 2012). The villagers would rather forego the money than risk sowing the seeds of communal disharmony.
  • 8 I draw exclusively on Ames and Hall’s interpretation of the Daodejing (Classic of the Dao) given their self-consciously philosophical translation of this ancient text. That is, they take into consideration the linguistic, cultural, and philosophical differences within translations to provide a more self-aware rendition of the Daodejing.
  • 9 For a discussion of the differences between Hegelian and Daoist dialectics, see Brincat and Ling (2014).
  • 10 “The Daoist understanding of ‘cosmos’ as the ‘ten thousand things’ (wanwu) means that, in effect, the Daoists have no concept of cosmos at all insofar as that notion entails a coherent, single-ordered world which is in any sense enclosed or defined. The Daoists are, therefore, primarily, ‘acosmotic’ thinkers” (Ames and Hall 2003, 14).
  • 11 Gramsci proposed the same though in Marxist terms (Femia 1987).
  • 12 For the commonalities between Daoism and Samkhya, see Chapter 8 of Ling (2014b).
  • 13 (Ames and Hall 2003, 87).
  • 14 I paraphrase from Wendt (1992).
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