the new constellation

ken kenneth.mackendrick at
Mon Aug 2 09:59:42 PDT 1999

On 31 Jul 99 12:24:10 PDT kelley c wrote:

> now, what happened here? the state, by virtue of its
authority to regulate childcare [which isn't necess. a 'bad' thing; surely it is trying to eliminate abusive situations, etc] had just taken away our capacity to decide for ourselves how to discipline our children. not only that, it has largely rendered the discussion ronnie and i had about the wrong way and right way to discipline moot. who cares? the state has decided that this is the right way. how? well some research revealed, of course, that they got together all the experts: the nutritionists, the pscyhologists, the educators, the health inspectors, etc. and the "experts" decided.

This is one reason why I think the "reconstructive sciences" should be debunked. For all Habermas's talk of taking up a third person perspective, this reconstructive stuff seems to me to be almost arbitrary. Still, when i get sick, I'm going to a medical professional. I guess only some of the "cultures" are 'expert.'

> nonetheless, you see what i'm getting at. this is what
rationalization means in a very concrete setting. the bureaucratic state has the capacity to take away our ability to think for ourselves what we ought to do, how, and why and what the ends are for doing so.

Yes, a bit part of this is the reduction of all decisions / questions to yes and no answers, like those stupid phone surveys one gets...

> now, of course, in this instance you see resistance. why?
because people still believe that the family ought to be a sphere of privacy against the intrusions of the state.

I tend to agree. But I still see spanking as negative and dangerous in ninety percent of the situations.... so I want something done about this.

> 1. sociologists don't presume that humans have "free will"
or "freedom"

In general, neither does philosophy.

> 2. freedom is a product of society, in the same way
concepts like the self or the individual or character or anything else--even the idea of society is created by society.

Created by people, but shared by those self-same people. Castoriadis calls this the radical imaginary - the ground of positing upon which all other significations are placed. He notes that there are two ineffaceable aspects here: legien (language) and teukhein (society).

> 3. specifically how we think of freedom is also contingent on
the social relations particular to a society and there can be discordant understanding of what constitutes freedom.


> 4. the focus, then, isn't on whether people possess
freedom, naturally, outside of society, but rather, the focus is on the conditions that can nurture freedom however that's conceived. i.e, if we think of freedom as the freedom to choose then the focus is on lots of choices but isn't necessarily on the freedom to have some say over what those choices are to begin with. we don't just make that up, it comes from the way social institutions, as embodied in language, practices, which operate in and through people, conceive of freedom. and, as i said, there can actually be competing understanding of freedom depending on who, when, where you ask and look.

Doesn't freedom come with insurance and tampons?

> > think what Habermas fails to understand here is that the
> >lifeworld is more akin to Lacan's imaginary than it is
Weber's rationalization...

> ?? you mean habermas is presuming some sphere that
exists in and of itself and then is colonized by the systems? as if the lifeworld is some redemptive realm of truth?

More like, Habermas fails to recognize that the background noise in our lives isn't just a fusion of validity, it isn't just the stuff that exists in a shared world, it is radically unqiue. I guess I'd default to Castoraidis here: the radical imaginary is like the lifeworld - it is shared and serves as the reference point for most aspects of any culture (individuality, freedom, private property, sex, race, class, nation, money, labour, christology, school...) whereas the actual imaginary is a bit more personalized. I don't know. I've tried and tried to think about Habermas's notion of the lifeworld and it doesn't budge.

It seems like a problematic concept for inobvious reasons.

> and that he's probably not unlike conventionally freudians
who think that the unconscious is where Truth resides and we need to get at that so the unconscious will speak to us and reveal our fundamental problems and then we'll be whole?

Whole? Never. Not in my Freud!!!

> >Actually, he's asking for normative practices - not
substantive practices.

> oh two diff. languages here ken doll, what you mean?

Habermas's procedure is normatively full (binding in regards to everyone) but substantitively empty (it has no content). Until actual participants "fill in" a validity claim, it's empty. This is where Benhabib argues that Habermas is too Kantian (too empty, too abstract). Funny though, this is where I think Habermas isn't Kantian enough!


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