“The Glass Bead Game is thus a mode of playing with the total contents and values of our culture; it plays with them as, say, in the great age of the arts a painter might have played with the colours on his palette.” Hermann Hesse – “The Glass Bead Game”
This page is for reflections that fall short of being an article – notes, jottings, and suchlike. Some sections will become articles and disappear from here over into Posts, as has already happened with a few things.
(severely edited from a Facebook discussion, full exchange now removed by other parties (Facebook’s ways). More was said by everyone. Thanks to all involved in the discussion, especially Amber Wolf, Mitz Underton and Joe Broderick.)
“Nature is worthy of reverence” – Where “nature” is understood in the widest sense, but if it has green / new age connotations, no probs for me. Or substitute “the universe”.
The Moors Murderers, child torturers and killers from near where I live, did their horrific deeds in certain rooms in Hattersley. Were those rooms part of God? Completely?
The way out seems to be with recourse to the unity / totality, that it is the “partial” view which is evil – but imagine explaining that to the child!
Or – the God of Pantheism is not moral in the way that we might sometimes wish him / it to be.
(1) Evil is to do with partiality and a splitting off from the unity / totality.
(2) The pantheistic God is the expressive energy of the universe, and is in some ways heartbreakingly unresponsive to human suffering.
Antonymy – Steven Jones
antonymy, synonymy, hyponymy, meronymy
similarity and difference
gradable antonymy, complementarity and converseness
Eco on Frank on Wilkins in “The Search for a Perfect Language” –
- antonymy (good / evil)
- complementarity (husband / wife)
- conversity (buy / sell)
- relativity (over / under, bigger / smaller)
- temporal gradation (Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday )
- quantitative gradation (centimetre / metre / kilometre)
- antipodality (north / south)
- orthogonality (north-east / south-east)
- vectoral conversity (depart / arrive)
[I can’t see the 2 gradation classifications as opposites]
gradable and ? analogue and digital? uncountable and countable, with binary forming a subset of countable
This paradox of simultaneous difference and similarity is partly resolved
by the fact that opposites typically differ along only one dimension of
meaning: in respect of all other features they are identical, hence their
semantic closeness; along the dimension of difference, they occupy
opposing poles, hence the feeling of difference.
(Cruse 1986: 197) (but here he seems to speak only of gradable)
“However, this is not entirely true. Some linguists,
such as Lyons (1977) and Cruse (1986), apply the label of ‘antonymy’ to
pairs such as heavy/light, new/old and fast/slow, but do not accept that pairs such
as alive/dead, false/true and female/male are antonymous.” (gradable vs. ungradable?)
My point is, within a similarity of only two (salient?) different sub-types, the two sub-types tend to be regarded as opposites
Perhaps human thought tends to get dragged to an over-rating of the explanatory power of opposites with endeavours such as dialectics, because it is prone to oppositionality in the way its systems deal with the world. A linguistic approach to opposites (antonymy) might show that there is less unity amongst the various kinds of opposite or contradiction than dialectical thought promised. [Note Nietzsche but qualify it – some opposites are clear-cut] [The problem with dialectics is that it tries to get opposites to do too much work]
Aristotle’s Square of Opposition –
Political Theory Scratch-Pad
The state is necessary, and is at least in principle subject to democratic pressure. I see the the state as being, amongst other things, a way of reining in the worst aspects of capitalism, but can’t see how for now we could get by without a free market, and conversely the free market exerts a pressure on totalitarian tendencies within the state. So I’m a mixed economy kind of guy, but specifically would like the state to rein in certain tendencies to chaos which develop within finance capital. Regarding bosses and workers, the state can extend workers’ rights and maybe market socialism (market without class divisions?) might work but I know little about it. Also, states vis-a-vis capital are territorially not big or powerful enough, so we need continental-size set-ups, though it seems our current EEC unfortunately operates as a cop of capital against the state, rather than the reverse.
Unfettered capital is probably inherently unstable – it’s sort of too dynamic, whereas the state will tend to be too static, and also has tendencies towards concentration and centralization which render any dreams of a kind of smallholding capitalism a bit of an idyll – I sometimes think anarcho-capitalists and libertarians are as much in denial of what we could call “Actually Existing Capitalism” as marxists are in denial of Actually Existing Socialism. Another similarity is the “how to get there” question – it’s possible that some forms of anarcho-capitalism might be steady state, as might some forms of communism, but nevertheless that for contingent, historical reasons, we can’t get there from here. (I here treat steady-state as a good thing, economically, but that could be challenged as thwarting human creativity – but I’ll leave that)
It’s possible that in the future the state might wither away. As might the market. But we are not in that situation.
The marxist two-class model, of bourgoisie and proletariat, is essentially correct regarding the core dynamic of the system. That the lines can be blurred in contemporary capitalism, especially over management, may have political implications, but does not invalidate the two-class model regarding dynamics.
There are ideas of market socialism, where, presumably the workers have some democratic control internally to their organization but where their goods are sold within the market. I don’t believe that this could work alone, without large-scale state rigging of the market to direct it to the satisfaction of needs outside the market nexus, in other words, a partial qualification of the market. However, for the forseeable future, some sort of “free” market in goods (but perhaps to a lesser extent in labour-power as a commodity) seems necessary.
So what is to be done? Well, I’m fairly pessimistic, and if we add in the environmental problem, and the decline of the west, even more so. I don’t think human beings are good at getting a handle on their social systems so it’s possible that nothing really works, or if it does we can’t get there. I’m just a left-leaning reformist I suppose. Luckily, politics is not my central concern. I’m also in some ways influenced by conservative thought. (tradition and rootedness, civilization as hard-won, man’s nature as fallen). I say – the world should be fairer and stricter. (left and right)
Something I think would be useful is a cross-class survey of people’s perceptions of fair and unfair.
Another issue, which applies to both wings of anarchism, and to socialism, is that I think we have to have hierarchies of control – something like management – but that this can be democratized, roles swapped about, kept under democratic control, etc. However, this necessity + human corruption leads to a lot of our problems. There are ideas of heterarchy floating about, but I don’t know enough about them.
I think tendencies to base political positions on ethical theories, which these guys (including Rawls from the left, and Dworkin from the right) seem inclined to do, might be a bit misplaced – worth doing, but political differences probably don’t emerge at that basic level but are more to do with different perceptions of how the world is.
My comments here are very provisional.