Karl Marx, taking up the Aristotelian spirit, stated in the Economic Manuscripts of 1857-58:
Man is a Zoon politikon [political animal] in the most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be individualised only within society
In an extended version of the text About You, now submitted for a Festschrift of a dear colleague, thinking about developments as expressed in the Hyperindividualist patterns of Tinder and the like I am wondering if it should read now
Man is a Zoon politikon [political animal] in the most literal sense: he is not only a social animal, but an animal that can be socialised only when excessively individualised.
Dear Mr HerrrmannYou received new messages in the postbox of … [name of health insurance]. Do you want to have a look right now? Then click on the following link …With kind regards your [name of health insurance]
Dear [name of health insurance], thank you so much for your kind message which I could read after about 5 mouse-clicks and successfully digging out my insurance number, followed by another mouse-click … – I have to admit that i could have saved the energy (my personal and that of running the computer) as the message does not in any way engage with the message it supposedly answered … Are you interested in my detailed reply right now? Please, come to my flat, I have written it down and may even help you to decipher my handwriting, assuming that you lost some part of your reading skills over the years – as said, the message you sent suggests something like it. 此致
I am serious, especially today, after having met the last group of my students for examination. Part of the discussion had been the question how it is possible that we are apparently all (forced to) moving around in a system that makes us to something worse than jesters? The jester at court had been asked to be critical and provocative, transporting the critique to the kings and lords, the modern jester is being asked to accept eighteenths fooled and to pass critique on to those below … to those below …
There is so much talk and wrong-doing about excellence, high performance striving for exceptional individual results. And there is so much forgetting of the fact that any human performance is part of a process, picking up the seeds and germs, delivered “for free”, often by really great minds, so often greater than the celebrities. Excellence, well understood, is about being part of a wider social and historical performance, not about individuals who – by chance or fierce violence in a competitive strive – are excluding themselves from the cooperative context, possibly even positioning themselves against it.
William Guthrie is somebody who showed by exposing his modesty what this actually means, writing in the second half of the19th century the following words, part of the Introduction and Translators Notes to the translation Savigny’s Private International Law and the Retrospective Operation of Statutes (A Treatise on the Conflict of Laws, and the Limits of their Operation in Respect of Place and Time)
Now, when a considerable portion lies before me completed, I might wish that much of it had been more exhaustive, plainer, and therefore different. Should such a knowledge paralyze the courage which every extensive enterprise requires ? Even along with such a self-consciousness, we may rest satisfied with the reflection, that the truth is furthered, not merely as we ourselves know it and utter it, but also by our pointing out and paving the way to it, by our settling the questions and problems on the solution of which all success depends ; for we help others to reach the goal which we are not permitted to attain. Thus, I am now satisfied with the consciousness that this work may contain fruitful seeds of truth, which shall perhaps find in others their full development, and bear rich fruit. If, then, in the presence of this full and rich fructification, the present work, which contained its germ, falls into the background, nay, is forgotten, it matters little. The individual work is as transient as the individual man in his visible form ; but imperishable is the thought that ever waxes through the life of individuals, the thought that unites all of us who labour with zeal aud love into a greater and enduring community, and in which even the meanest contribution of the individual finds its permanent place.
This is surely part of Marx probably meant when talking about the fact that humans are social beings and can even individualise only in society.Now, when a considerable portion lies before me completed, I might wish that much of it had been more exhaustive, plainer, and therefore different. Should such a knowledge paralyze the courage which every extensive enterprise requires ? Even along with such a self-consciousness, we may rest satisfied with the reflection, that the truth is furthered, not merely as we ourselves know it and utter it, but also by our pointing out and paving the way to it, by our settling the questions and problems on the solution of which all success depends ; for we help others to reach the goal which we are not permitted to attain. Thus, I am now satisfied with the consciousness that this work may contain fruitful seeds of truth, which shall perhaps find in others their full development, and bear rich fruit. If, then, in the presence of this full and rich fructification, the present work, which contained its germ, falls into the background, nay, is forgotten, it matters little. The individual work is as transient as the individual man in his visible form ; but imperishable is the thought that ever waxes through the life of individuals, the thought that unites all of us who labour with zeal aud love into a greater and enduring community, and in which even the meanest contribution of the individual finds its permanent place.
This is surely part of Marx probably meant when talking about the fact that humans are social beings and can even individualise only in society. It is not (only) the dwarf on the shoulders of giants, but (also) the cogwheel without which the entire engine cannot work.
The other day I read in the SZ two short notes, each referring the to a main article in other sections. The one dealing with the control of banks, the other looking at subvention of cinemas in Germany.
Remarkable is that the first shows the reference for more info being available in the section of economy, the second referring to the “Feuilleton”. It is at least worthwhile to think briefly why the support of the national industry is in one case a matter of economics and in the other case classified as supporting the national culture.
Be it as it is – and to be honest I trust that Gruetters is really concerned with the promotion of arts – there remains a bit of a riddle: Why do we speak in in the one case of economics, in the other of culture. Could it be that national interests play a role and that they are prioritised in economics whereas they remain veiled, while existing in the gap between Germany’s strive for national competitiveness and the spirit of the nation of poets and thinkers?
Perhaps it is becoming clearer when we consider another message, recently issued by a proponent of the free market. What is commonly understood as essential functioning of the market – the change of prices based on emend and supply – is criticised by rebuking the very same practice of one competitor – making offers and setting prices based on the principle of “prices following demand”. So we learn from one of the dominating figures of “market-free hotels and (chain) restaurants”:
In addition, the portals led hotel owners to so-called yield management.
He (Eugen Block, private hotel and restaurant owner) dislikes the fact that prices on the Internet are sometimes adjusted to demand every hour; guests have to pay 50 or 500 euros for the same room. “If a fair is, the emergency situation of the guest is exploited. At other times the rooms are sold at prices that threaten the existence of the guest. That, says Block, “is also simply bad marketing. He himself takes a fixed price, which fluctuates by a maximum of ten percent depending on the season.
So what? Defending the “free market” against an internet firm for applying the principle of the free market? Every Blockhouse (brand-name of Block’s restaurants acts in the same way of using quasi-monopolist power against others, though usually by seeing the price up. … Something strange here I suppose.
The decisive difference is the sovereignty linked to the person, or, using the words from the translator’s (William Guthrie) introduction to Savigny’s Treatise on the Conflict of Laws and the limits of their operation in respect of place and time:
It has to do with the capacity of persons to have rights, not with their capacity to act, i.e. to acquire or lose rights. It forms an exhaustive treatise on the person, in its legal sense, from the beginning of capacity for rights at birth until its termination by death, with all its limitations and modifications in respect of freedom, political rights, dependence arising from the family relations, and other causes of less extensive operation.
So many letters at the moment, and some including information on legal remedies.
– of course, as even the purchase of a box of matches is a legal act even if undertaken with the purpose of an illegale action, life is really tricky wherever we go, and the same applies if we stay.And there are also letters, websites, mails … they offer the entire range of contact options: chat, FB-site, helplines, and of course the “community”, so often just a collection of earlier asked questions with easier given answers …, leaving visitors as helpless as they had been on arrival. Now, looking at all the customers’ rights I am missing one:
easy contactable real person who is nice/friendly/understanding AND knows what the problems really are
– beyond the information taken from some database.
Re: Welcome to Publons: Start showing your scholarly impact now!
Daniel Johnston, as serious academic allow me not so much formally but substantially to make one recommendation: do not add confusion by making more of the same and distract people from doing what they should do – looking at researchers (that is how you address me), they should do research. Trouble makers, rentiers and parasites should go into safe places – I guess the best for your company would be to dissolve instead of establishing another “force malheur” (yes, correct spelling). But perhaps I am wrong, missing the additional value of what you are doing (I am not talking about the additional money for you and your “business”, nor the additional money by which global electricity bills are growing due to unsolicited robbery by energy mongers). At this stage it comes to my mind that parasites are defined by looking for hosts – while they are living “on their cost”, there is still a mutual benefit – ergo: that species is definitely superior …One additional point: I do not understand how it is possible that qualified academic publishing houses with a so far good reputation as e.g Springer Nature, Taylor and Francis, Oxford University Press, BMJ, SAGE, Wiley can end up as promoters of such scam, seriously undermining their standing in the academic world (further), permitting that their work is demeaned. Sincerely concerned, while witnessing the increasing lack of academic self-respect around me,
PS: the mail addresses to which the mail is sent as copy, the people behind them, are more or less randomly used, this that could be easily found on the internet …
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Of course, talking about Human Rights does not allow making jokes, mocking or any kind of not taking the issue serious. And of course, as with so many things, the first impression is not necessarily the correct one when hearing about a region demanding to be recognised by its central government – and the EU – as the first time- free-zone, overcoming the requirement to apply standard rules of time keeping for instance when it comes to schooling, shop-opening hours and the like. The reason for such a request is simple: a long time during which there is, so to say, only daytime. What had been issued as complex issue, dealing with individual well-being and socio-economic sovereignty apparently had been very much a business-hype, an attempt to attract tourists. Be it as it is, it should not be underestimated that there is a human rights dimension to it, exactly the issue of the right do sovereign decisions concerning the way in which people (in the double sense) are sovereign.Of course, Human Rights are to be understood as universal. Important is also that we are nolens volens talking about international HR – when I had been asked to make this part of my portfolio if accepting the call for a professorship at a law school I had been initially somewhat surprised, perhaps because it seems to be so obvious. However, obvious are in some way the breaches of such international HR-law – although subtle issues arise. A short story may highlight what is at stake – and in which way we are confronted with a contradictory issue, possibly even a minefield.
… He told me all about aid negotiations with EU representatives and the conditions that apply to the various schemes, and how the conditions now include human development indicators. If you want to obtain aid you have to improve your indicator. These development indicators – a fine invention – include school attendance rates. So what happens? He told me that children who used to work with their fathers tending livestock, for instance, traditionally – and this is not exploitation, this is traditional work – an activity that was an ideal way to learn about other things as well, the constellations, botany, family history, etc., are told that they have to go to school instead. There is no money, so they build sheds where they put 200 kids with a teacher who can’t cope, and they say they are attending school. The indicator goes up and they get their aid. The children’s level of education collapses because the only thing they learn is that they went to school and are no longer fit to do the work their parents do.
(The Declaration of Philadelphia Today; lecture by Alain Supiot (Institute for The Declaration of Philadelphia Today; lecture by Alain Supiot (Institute for Advanced Studies, Nantes, 24 March 2010; lecture, part of the ILO century project;
Isn’t the decision on the own way of using time, the right to define time use as matter of appropriateness and im refection of the natural conditions exactly a decision of the same kind: allowing the children to go to school, obtaining advanced education in conflict with decision to obtain the knowledge needed in daily life.
Or using the widely suggested formulation that to
Give a Man a Fish, You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man how TTo Fish, and You Feed Him for a lifetime.
And from here it may be even more important to allow doing it in the way that is appropriate by way of reflecting the given conditions, instead of adapting to the global forces.
It is in some way the right to have rights Arendt puts on the agenda, but now the right of nation states to have rights to remain outside of the global capitalist system – which may still be a better place thanking part of its periphery.