Responsibility versus Success?

“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life has sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold
Had you been as wise as bold,
Your in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been in’scroll’d
Fare you well: your suit is cold.’ Cold, indeed, and labour lost: Then, farewell, heat and welcome, frost!”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Responsibility and Success, at times and in some cases may stand in contradiction, at least tension to each other … – while the cat is chasing its own tale, not being sure if it is dead or alive.
… It is said of medical doctors that they cannot perform well unless they overcome a certain kind of empathy – some interventions cause instant pain, providing relief in the longer run. Is that the same with doctors in economics and even social science in general?
In any case the question to be asked is more specific as empathy as such is a rather empty and shallow notion as long as it is not specified. And specifying means here as in most of the cases to ask the simple question for which in particular Marcus Tullius Cicero was getting famous:
Cui Bono – for whose benefit?
Reading the other day an interview, made with a former …, shall I still say colleague?, brought this question back to me. I do not want to question the interviewees qualification, have no doubts that he is committed – but that may make things even worse.
If finance and stock analysis is such an advanced discipline, I feel obliged to ask why in 2007 a crisis manifested, actually already visible for some time for attentive observers? And it had been a crisis in particular around finance and stock markets.
I also feel obliged to wonder how it is possible to elevate a tiny fraction of the economy, an actual tool of the entire socio-economic processes, making it a major?
Sure, I agree with the emphasis of students responsibility – but it is not about them entering life – students are surely already living and perhaps we, as teachers, should think more about keeping them alive, not killing these lives by subordinating them under the rules of the ‘Lehmans of this world’.
Reading, as said to students
You are not far away from productively enter society and the real world. For that, you  will need to be as ready as possible to become accomplished and successful professionals.
shows in my reading a bit of disrespect – at least as student, I and many of my generation, would surely not have accepted such suggestion – though what is presented in the interview is surely view on young people and on life reflecting very much an negative approach to academic work: first work and then think about what you are doing. First act, and then reflect on the issues of responsibility – and even more: you may come to the conclusion that you don’t have to. There is surely a complex issue at stake – unfortunately very positive experience of the Polytechnic Secondary School education in part of Germany, finding roots in Henry Holmes Belfield’s foundation of the Chicago Manual Training School [founded in 1883] are surely more valuable than orienting on professional skills training, without sound academic foundation.
Yes, it is indeed time to take on responsibility …. – I returned to Europe – the interviewee once talked about one of my ‘homelands’, namely Italy. At least there he was right, stating that the country is in a mess. But he also celebrated another of my ‘homelands’ Germany and the U.K. suggesting that their success was very much due to austerity measures … – well, there is a point in it: the relative wealth of both is founded in austerity which can be taken as externalisation of cost and privatisation of gain: social inequality in Germany is increasing; an increasing number of people, though in full-time employment, do not earn enough money to make a living; after a full working life, the old age pension is mot secure; the health system is deteriorating, although the private contributions are extremely high. the UK took another way: exiting the EU, hoping to be thus in a position to avoid any obligation under the gelding ’solidarity’ – Indeed, Cui Bono as in both countries the rich are getting richer and more infueotnail! Being in Europe now – a bit of a tour de force through Italy, Germany, France, The Netherlands it is very visible what it means … – and there are too many facets that would need to be highlighted.

I take a short passage, from the end of an article I am currently finalising [‘Plattformökonomie – flexi, ein Schritt vorwärts oder zwei Schritte zurück?’] … Sorry, it is I German language ….***

Ein Eindruck vom mehrfachen Druck

Ein Eindruck sei hier am Schluss gegeben – dies meint auch: eine eindrückliche Verdeutlichung des Gesamtzusammenhanges. Es handelt sich um ein persönliche Erfahrung des Autors – gemacht im August 2017: Ziel des Fußweges war die mehr oder weniger zentrale Geschäftsstelle einer Krankenkasse in einer größeren deutschen Stadt. Der Weg führte an den verschiedenen Geschäften der Ketten vorbei: einschließlich etwa Esprit,[1] TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H&M, s.Oliver,[2] Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 – auch der ‚discounter’ Lidl, alle nun auch in den Zentren mehr oder weniger reicher Städte Deutschlands zu finden.

Vor dem discounter kniet ein Bettler, im danebenliegenden Kaffee wird der Verkäufer der Straßenzeitung von der am Tresen stehenden Verkäuferin vertrieben, in der Geschäftsstelle der Krankenkasse wird die Summe des Versicherungsbetrages genannt – es handelt sich um mehr als 16% des Einkommens. Im Falle der Einkommenslosigkeit sind es immer noch um knapp 180 €. – Glücklich, wer da noch beim discounter kaufen kann oder gar auf andere Weise den Wert der eigenen Ware Arbeitskraft senken kann, etwa durch die Inanspruchnahme des Foodora- oder Uber-Dienstes, möglicherweise bei einem Urlaubsaufenthalt, erschwinglich durch den solo-Unternehmer, der als Pilot arbeitet und die Airbnb-reduzierten Unterkunftskosten – die letzte Warnung: spätestens wenn der Trevi-Brunnen oder Ähnliches zum Verkauf angeboten wird,[3] sollte man sich fragen, ob die Grenzen nicht wirklich überschritten sind. – Déjà vu, das letzte Geschäft, welches ich nun auf dem Rückweg sehe – wohl Zufall, ebenso Zufall, wie die aufschimmernde Erinnerung an einen Platz in Rom, den ich vor einigen Jahren überquerte – selbst im Zentrum des katholischen Wohlgefallens ist bekannt, dass Wohlfahrt in der Konkurrenzgesellschaft Grenzen hat.

But I may submit something else to the discussion here – the short story written by L.N. Tolstoy: Master and Man – there is a no need to buy into the religious part of it. Many aspects are making if a good read – the main story line, and the little ramifications.
Reading the short story the light of finance, there is one crucial sentence, and should not be forgotten when looking at the tool of finance – and applying tools without knowing sufficiently about the entire context:
Vasili Andreevich stopped, stooped down and looked carefully. It was a horse-track only partially covered with snow, and could be none but his own horse’s hoofprints. He had evidently gone round in a small circle. ‘I shall perish like that!’ he thought, and not to give way to his terror he urged on the horse still more, peering into the snowy darkness in which he saw only flitting and fitful points of light.
Indeed, limited perspectives don’t allow much – there is always good reason to take wider perspectives on studying, responsibility and life.
***********
*** Too lazy, and not trusting google-translation, I still dared – the result is reasonable, here inserted without changes made.
An impression of multiple pressures An impression should be given here – this also means: an impressive clarification of the overall context. It is a personal experience of the author – made in August 2017: the goal of the footpath was the more or less central office of a health insurance in a larger German city. The route took us past the various shops of the chains: including Esprit, TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H & M, s.Oliver, Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 Also in the centers of more or less rich cities of Germany.   In front of the discounter, a beggar kneels, in the coffee next to it, the seller of the road is expelled by the saleswoman standing at the counter, in the office of the health insurance the sum of the insurance amount is called – it is more than 16% of the income. In the case of loss of income, it is still around € 180. – Happy, who can still buy at the discounter or in some other way reduce the value of the own goods labor, for example through the consumption of the food or over-service, possibly for a holiday stay, affordable by the solo entrepreneur, who as Pilot works and the Airbnb reduced accommodation costs – the last warning: at the latest when the Trevi well or the like is offered for sale, one should ask whether the limits are not really exceeded. – Déjà vu, the last business I see on the way back – coincidence, just as coincidentally, as the glimmering memory of a place in Rome, which I crossed a few years ago – even in the center of the Catholic prosperity is well-known that welfare In the competition borders.

[1]            Ja, es ist ein bemerkenswerter Geist, der da über allem schwebt. Und wie Namen, Images und Design eine immer prägendere Rolle spielt, was unter anderem durch Halbbildung ermöglicht wird.

Yes, it is a remarkable spirit that floats above everything. And how names, images and design play an ever more prominent role, which is made possible, among other things, by semi-education.

[2]            Es fehlt nur das an das S angehängte t um dem Ganzen etwas Heiligkeit zu anzuhängen.

The only thing missing is the t attached to the S to add something holiness to the whole.

[3]            Vom Teilverkauf in der Form von Besichtigungskosten, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. abgesehen.

 From the partial sale in the form of sightseeing, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. apart.

On studying, teaching, responsibility … and a bit on economy and economics

Students at Bangor College China asked me for an interview – some would say it is about god and the world – but that is not really an appropriate wording when it comes to talking with an atheist about studying, teaching and responsibility, is it?

It may well be of interests to a wider audience — trying to make sense of studying today. And it surely links to many other statements made on various occasions of looking for firm grounds in a world of flux.

The students:

采访:李雨欣 彭博 龚佳亮 刘佳浩

文字:李雨欣

编辑:章孛

… to the point …

Well, you may say I am burning in the Heraclitean Fire, carried away and not doing what the academic world-order asks me to do – moving on with the metaphor, one may add: this little bit of disobedience is like playing with fire, a dangerous not to say: life threatening game.

So to the point, reading Erwin Chargaff’s

Heraclitean Fire: Sketches from a Life Before Nature.

He refers on page 171 to another work by himself**, which he wrote earlier and where he contended:

The fashion of our times favors dogmas. Since a dogma is something that everybody is expected to accept, this has led to the incredible monotony of our journals. Very often it is sufficient for me to read the title of a paper in order to reconstruct its summary and even some of the graphs. Most of these papers are very competent; they use the same techniques and arrive at the same results. This is then called the confirmation of a scientific fact. Every few years the techniques change; and then everybody will use the new techniques and confirm a new set of facts. This is called the progress of science. Whatever originality there may be must be hidden in the crevices of an all-embracing conventional makeshift: a huge kitchen midden in which the successive layers of scientific habitation will be dated easily through the various apparatuses and devices and tricks, and even more through the several concepts and terms and slogans, that were fashionable at a given moment.

Chargaff’s book had been published in 1978, he was, as widely known, professor in biochemistry, he emigrated from fascist Germany … – and one may ask if it is purely by accident that with this background already

[a]s early as 1949, this eminent scientist described certain irregularities in the composition of DNA and formulated the concept of ‘complementarity’ – later referred to as ‘Chrgaff’s rule’ and still later as ‘base pairing’ – which was the most important single piece of evidence for the double-helical structure of DNA’ [from the book-cover blurb].

‘Back to the fire’ – what he states, looking at methods, can cum grains salis also said for today and social science: where ‘methodology’ chapters in theses too often present methods, not showing any awareness of the difference between method and methodology, where publications and universities and people are ranked on the basis of algorithms and where entities are cut into pieces, making us forget the following:

The insufficiency of all biological experimentation, when confronted with the vastness of life, is often considered to be redeemed by recourse to a firm methodology. But definite procedures presuppose highly limited objects; and the supremacy of “method” has led to what could be called by an excellent neo-German term the Kleinkariertheit (piddling pedantry) of much present-day biological research. The availability of a large number of established methods serves, in fact, in modern science often as a surrogate of thought. Many researchers now apply methods whose rationale they do not understand. [170]

*****

End of term, and of the academic year – students, sometimes inviting lecturers, celebrating; preparing for holidays, but also asking for references, preparing the next career moves.

I have to admit, I am am happy that some say they did not ‘invite me to their celebration’ but invited me ‘to celebrate with them’; and I also have to admit that it is an honour to be seen by some as 老师, as lǎoshī – a bit like the hojam as we use it at ODTU in Ankara.

An unwritten chapter for the

Diary from a Journey into another World: Diaries against nationalism, inspired by trying to overcome personal resentments

to be closed.

======

** Chargaff, E. 1965. On Some of the Biological Consequences of Base-pairing in the Nucleic Acids. In: M.D. Anderson (Ed.), Developmentn.l and Metabolic Control Mechanisms and Neoplasw. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, p. 19.

 

 

responsibility – responsiveness: trying to avoid the wrong answer

Waiting for the results from Turkey …

… whatever the outcome will be

… daily bread, the worries about securing it … daily routines of getting it – while the ‘big events’ are overshadowing every step, not necessarily all the time present, and still often enough hammering into the brain, shouting over the routines and the daily bread and the worries about securing it … – hammering louder than the footsteps of any individual on the asphalt; different things going through my mind, also my CV came up a short while ago – together with the hammering of the boot-bearing thoughts …

I was wondering if we are now moving back to the stage of considering to delete part of it, hide away what we did and what we have reason to be proud of …? Not that I am fearful, worrying in the strict sense = considering to delete, while being afraid of being deleted. But the need to think about this as being possibly urgently advisable makes me feeling uncomfortable.

What and how can we worrying warriors and warring worriers teach young people, the future to stand up if we live under conditions that nature such ideas …?
Let us hope, not for me, surely a bit for ‘us’ who do not want to stand there as spectators but especially for those to which we committed out selves, for ‘those future social lifes’

Vernunft und Verstand sind des Teufels Huren

Vernunft und Verstand sind des Teufels Huren.

ein altes, tüchtiges Pfaffen-Wort, Allen denen zu Lieb und Ehren,

denen Vernunft und Verstand im Wege stehen. Sie sagten auch:

‘Verstand und Vernunft können Gottes Wort nicht verfechten; sie

sind nur große Wettermacher und Hagelsieber in der Schrift!’

Freilich machen sie anderes Wetter in der Schrift, als es die

Pfaffen gerne haben, welche lieber im Dunkeln munkeln und

immer nur vor dem Teufel warnen, aber nicht anders, wie jener

Dieb auf der Flucht, der immer aus Leibes-Kräften rief: ‘Haltet

den Dieb!’ – damit man ihn selber nicht dafür erkennen möchte.

Lichter weg! mein Lämpchen nur!

Es nimmt sich sonst nicht aus!

Aus:

Die Sprichwörter und sprichwörtlichen Redensarten der Deutchen: nebst den Redensarten der deutschen Zechbrüder und aller praktik Grossmutter, d.i. der Sprichwörter ewigem Wetter-Kalender; Wilhelm Körte; F.A. Brockhaus, 1847; 567 pagine; hier: Seite: 450

Studying, Responsibility and Ethics

Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.
Albert Einstein

I uploaded a series of presentations given to students of economics at 中南林业科技大学班戈学院/Bangor College CSUFT in Changsha, Hunan Province in China.

The title/subject of the course these presentations introduced is “Learning Skills” – the recommended book rather stupidifying, assuming students are naive, pursuing a formalist approach to learn – and moreover reducing academic work on the approach: “Give me an answer. We will then look for the question.” It is also the way in which we ignore what is attributed to Einstein’s wisdom, namely that
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
I tried in these lectures to raise awareness of the importance of questions, working towards an preliminary or introductory understanding of methodology.
And I tried also to make students aware of the need to counter the
 The lectures used in particular arts and history (and a bit of arts history) as means to delve into different aspects of the relevant topics. – Although there are a few references immediately to my Economics course her ein China, the presentation is relevant (and can be understood) beyond this.
The videos can be found here – they also show the used slides (sorry for the audio-quality – but one gets used to it after a while).
The last lecture, given shortly after the attacks in the middle of November 2015, draws particular attention on ethical aspects and questions of responsibility.
Revised versions of the slides can be found on my researchgate site at

Privacy – there is more to it

I got recently a mail from a colleague from a place where I worked for some time during my professional existence – it had been sent to colleagues and some others, being concerned with data security issues in connection with dropbox. This mail provoked some wider contextualisation from my side which I sent as reply – this is reproduced in the following.

 

Thank you …, good to hear from you – though in ways not the best things.
Though personally I am not sooooo concerned in some way (the experience of having been permanently surveyed when I lived in West Germany at least in the 60s, and 70s and having faced some of the consequences of the 72-“administrative decree known as Berufsverbot did have a somewhat numbing effect) we are surely facing a frightening development: not least as personal data are used by war mongers, by business sectors for the war of consumerist terror and by individuals and groups who hack into personal e-mail accounts, using them for sending SPAM. There is however another dimension to all this which may – and I think should – require a minute of thought.

You see here an article under the heading
EU Citizen Science Initiative Asks Us All To Do Our Part
in the journal research*EU results magazine 35, page 17 f. – looking at the date mentioned at the end of the article it seems to be obsolete. However, the question is not so much about this specific initiative. The point is that we are increasingly – and uncritically – justifying with our research approaches without considering their ambiguity. In particular, we are in many cases making ourselves to string puppets, eager to collect data, getting more descriptive research done etc. while at the same time fading out the actual use of the overall research or of the data. This goes far beyond the personal sensitive stuff of staff, students etc. I discussed issues around this recently, participating in a conference against militarism and war where relevant issues had been tabled not least in connection with so-called double use patterns of technologies like drones (BTW: cheap offers for private use, already from some “good stuff” available for about 400 Euro).

Keeping things short, there is also from this side the need to develop more critical strategies – the “more” as matter of quality: more fundamental, more principal and accepting in more serious ways our role as educators instead of seeing the work we do as providers of “pure” knowledge and skills. Looking at this, the shocking part is not only starting when it comes to extremes like the development in Hungary (where direct government intervention in teaching is “reasonably” common). The shocking part is not only starting when it comes to developments where (as in Lithuania) a social policy department is now renamed as department for social technology. The really dangerous part is where we are not critically taking up our responsibility and remain stuck in the cocoons of individualist reseachers, unwilling and unabled (sorry, the term should exist, against Microsoft’s will) to collaborate in a sound and integrated and radical way.
Sure, part of it is that we cannot change the situation as individuals though we have to change the individuals in order to change the situation. And part of it being the ambiguity of working towards a process of change itself: Apparently we are fighting for “the social” as individuals.  Sure, all this includes the challenge that we have to get off the pedestals that are still characterising academia: as we chanted in the late 60s

Under the gowns / Is the musty odour of a thousand years

(see another potential abuser of data processing – wikipedia, here in German on the slogan and in English on the context the context)

All this is, of course, not least linked the the loss of readiness to think of contradictions as driving force of development – already the notion of dialectical and historical materialism is whipped out, even in “progressive” thinking, unfit for being squeezed into slide-thinking of presentations which are always not least self-presentations. In this context, I hope that the science shop (as it had been called those times) is developing in a direction which is not moving and moved further against the intention which I have had when I co-initialised the work.
All the best and enjoy the weekend – camminare insieme 😉
Peter