A perfect society is different for everyone. In my opinion, we should merely strive for a society in which the balance is kept between as many as possible imperfect visions and ideas.

I’ve heard this sentence a million times before and feel the need to spend a few minutes on it.

First, I agree that a detailed version of a utopian society would be different for everyone.  But once you start talking about specific topics, this already changes. For example, nobody has child poverty or rape in his utopian society. When it comes to particular topics, I’m convinced that many of us have a very similar utopia, namely, we are all against child poverty and rape. Even on a broader scale, I’m sure we’re all against social and ecological detoriation.

Secondly, the statement starts with the multiple utopia and pleads for a utopia in which there is a balance between all the different imperfect “visions and ideas.” I’m not sure if the latter are the utopias or the means towards them. I think he still talks here about the multiple utopia. Nevertheless, all this statement does is claiming that there are multiple utopia and that the ultimate utopia is that one in which all the others are in balance with each other. 

In my view, the different utopia are, when taken in particular cases, often very alike. The main question in politics is how to reach these goals. It’s a matter of selecting the right means and prioritize the particular goals. Not the utopia is multiple in a significant sense, but the means are.

Hegel Quote.

Posted: March 10, 2014 in Quicky

The world is created, is now being created, and has eternally been created; this presents itself in the form of the preservation of the world.” – Hegel.

As a history and philosophy student, I’ve sometimes mocked the homo economicus of the economists. Yet, I always assumed I was attacking a cliche that doesn’t really exist. Joke for joke’s sake.

I just finished reading Economie Toegelicht of Marc De Clercq. It’s a ca 700 pages introduction to economics book, used at the University of Ghent. Surprisingly enough, again and again the same ridiculous sociological axioms were stated! A study of the economy with the individual as foundation in which the latter is an egoistic satisfaction-driven rationalist.

What’s the point of setting up a sociological frame as a foundation for economic theories, when the frame itself isn’t accepted by any sociologist?

This homo economicus analyses the world in terms of numbers based on his personal needs and ways of satisfaction. Economists use this monstrosity as a standard and searches for explanations when people don’t seem to follow this standard. All of this is supposedly “descriptive”. What a joke. The definition of the normal is a political-ethical one that might be defended, but it should at least be recognized as a norm instead of a description.

Maybe I shouldn’t draw to harsh conclusions based on this one textbook. Yet, this is the starting point for every economy student and the only book many other students will ever get about economy at the university.

In the introduction to Hermes: Literature, Science, Philosophy by Michel Serres, the editors (J.V. Harari and D.F. Bell) wrote a lovely sentence about the accumulation of knowledge and its tendency to specialisation.

They point-out how the different disciplines, but especially the distinction between the exact sciences and the humanities, are growing more and more apart. It’s not merely a conceptual distinction. It’s also something that is institutionalised (different faculties) and noticeable in the different books, programs and other stuff. The cause of this division is found in the practical necessity of specialisation due to the accumulating nature of knowledge. This specialisation has achieved great results.

In this context, they write: “divide in order to conquer“.

While this sentence is usually used to express how someone from above creates unnecessary struggles between others, in this case, it are the searchers for knowledge themselves that create such a division among themselves. Next, they managed to conquer a lot more because of this division!

What a fun change of meaning…

http://www.ptb.be/nieuws/artikel/ukraine-la-tres-grande-majorite-des-ukrainiens-ne-veut-pas-de-cette-nouvelle-guerre-civile.html

An interesting article that points out the huge cultural and economic differences within Ukraine, the problematic role of the nationalist (neo-nazi) party Svoboda, the absence of important classes of society in the news and other platforms (workers, farmers, the unemployed…), the problem of Western media that depends on the English speaking Ukrainians and seems to actively search for people with pro-Western opinions (idem dito for the pro-Russia media and movement), foreign interventions through both economic and political means, oligarchy & corruption

Why haven’t I heard or read anything of this quality in the (I hate to use the word) “mainstream” news?

I don’t care about getting an update every five minutes about a gunshot, catapult or the occupation of some ministry. Take your time, a few hours or even days, and write a proper article. This mini political party in a mini country managed writing a good article about Ukraine. I’m sure the large media companies own the means to reach the same quality.

Gabriel Tarde Quote.

Posted: January 29, 2014 in History/Philosophy, Quicky
Tags: ,

In reality, we judge beings to be less intelligent the less we understand them, and the error of thinking the unknown to be unintelligent goes hand in hand with the error […] of thinking the unknown to be indistinct, undefferentiated, and homogenous.” Gabriel Tarde, Monadology and Sociology, p. 24.

What a great statement, relevant for ecology, politics and methodology. It’s a demand for attention and respect to all beings, followed by a warning against generalisations and individualisations (as opposed to a recognition of the multiplicity, both inward and outward).

A few years back, I wrote my BA thesis about the change from geocentrism to heliocentrism around 1600. The questions were quite simple; why did so many intellectuals at the start of the 17th century change from a geocentric worldview to a heliocentric one? The decline of Ptolemaeus, rise of Copernicus and 15 minutes of fame of Tycho. Interesting!

Today I’m reading The Little Comment of Copernicus (Het Kleine Commentaar van Copernicus) by Herman Kattenberg. Somehow he feels the need to compare contemporary knowledge with geocentrism and Copernicus’ heliocentric alternative. Secondly, he points at “ruling dogma’s” as a reason for some poor choices Copernicus made.

Comparison. A history book is supposed to answer questions about history. If I would like to know more about astronomy, I wouldn’t pick-up a history book. The whole comparison between contemporary knowledge and Copernicus and others is redundant. Besides, it wrongly suggests that a theory won acceptance because it’s simply true. 

Dogma. Let’s assume that the 16th century intellingtsia isn’t stupid. A “ruling dogma” shouldn’t be approached as a backward stupidity that blocks intellectual progress. Trying to incorporate new theories and observations in already existing ones isn’t an example of a lack of courage. Instead of ignoring theological and astrological parts of texts, they might be vital to understand the whole situation. The distinction of society in spheres isn’t always identical and equally strong to the ones contemporary Westerners experience. Why did Copernicus write this and that?The dogma’s, obviously!

This approach doesn’t even start explaining why Copernicus wrote what he wrote and why it became influential only 50 years later.

When you want to critique someone in a useful way and show the other that he is wrong, you must research from what point of view he looks at the case – because from that point of view he is usually right – and recognize its validity […]” – B. Pascal, Pensees nr 701. 

Unlike Pascal’s case, studying history isn’t so much about proving someone wrong. But the point to be made remains the same. What was the point of view of Copernicus, Tycho and others? What position did they take in the network of entities that made their opinion valuable?