Thursday, September 27, 2007


Magda appears to be trying to get me to put this off and not submit until April. I think it might have something to do with her schedule, insofar as she is now aiming me at other people to get feedback from. (but she hasn't said that).

My new Ricoeur book (Reflections on the Just) arrived and I've already found 3 cool things in it:

1. There's a difference in attitude in the political and legal systems of 'Code' law countries (i.e., Germany & France) who rejected Montesquieu and went instead with Rousseau. . . . They proceed instead from the presumption of a "general, indivisible will" - presumably a common will - instead of starting from the position of an adversarial argument in which the so-called will is first worked out. . . .

2. We are shifting "error" to concepts of "risk" - and making the relevant inquiry one of insurance rather than responsibility.

3. At the same time, we seem to be shifting 'uninsured risks' [that result in harm] to the criminal realm. Ricoeur says: "The risk in making 'everything crimininal' is that politics, once submitted to this kind of intimidation, will be handed over to a rampant process of victimization." (251)

Oh - and one more thing - 4. he points out the amazingly refreshing reminder that trying to 'resolve things after the fact' is to overlook that "knowledge that has [now] become certain could only have been one option among others at the time." (255)

How I wish that all these special study groups and inquiry panels would remember that one! I get so tired of the Monday morning quarterbacking that tells us all what we should have done, now that we see the results of what was actually done. It reminds me of my Nana, who used to yell at the ball carrier:

Why are you running up the middle?! There's NO ONE on the sides!

Followed shortly by:

WHY are you running down the SIDES when there's NO ONE IN THE MIDDLE?!!!!

ach. . . . we just can't get it right, can we? We keep forgetting that our action never takes place in a vacuum. Not only do we not know all the facts (usually), but we also don't know how other people will respond or even if - maybe - something as stupid as an open window or relative humidity might play a role until after we've taken action.

Hannah Arendt talks about this in The Human Condition:

"It is in the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expected from whatever may have happened before." This ‘unexpectedness’ is only one of the “three-fold frustration[s] of action – [namely] the unpredictability of its outcome, the irreversibility of the process, and the anonymity of its authors . . . calamities of action [which] all arise from the human condition of plurality.” (220)

There now. I'm feeling a bit steadier, even IF I suspect my tutor has doubts about me and my ability to finish this. The more relevant question is will I be governed by her thoughts? Or by my own plans and intentions?


Back to work. . . .

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