I’m taking a course entitled “The Concept of Political Culture”. I find most of it interesting.
The political culture hypothesis suggests that a political culture determines (or in some way constrains the possibilities of a political system. So certain political systems are only possible given certain political cultures, or cultural preconditions of some kind. In order to understand what this claim amounts to, we must first have a clear idea of what we mean both by ‘political culture’ (and, I suppose, by ‘culture’ more broadly)and by ‘political system’.
So what do we mean by political culture, then? What is a political culture? How can we individuate distinct political cultures?
What is a political culture.
A tentative suggestion is that a political culture is or derives from (in what ways, blah blah blah) a particular historical narrative which is accepted (at least tacitly) by some group, however vaguely defined. Such narratives, it is suggested, take the form of interpretations of particular sequences of historical events. (A French political culture might be distinguishable by its reference to the crowning of Charlemagne, the French Revolution, etc; and English political culture by the Magna Carta, by certain common legal edicts, etc.—these are two facile state-based examples). Even so, two distinct political cultures may in some be based upon the ‘same’ events: they will differ, however, in their interpretation of those events. So, for instance, we might have a German political culture, an Israeli political culture and an Austrian political culture both of which define themselves partially in relation to the defeat of the Third Reich, though with varying interpretations of what this event means for future political action, and therefore with differing political systems. But this too is overly simplistic, as these three nations clearly relate to disparate as well as similar historical sequences. But let’s keep things overly schematic anyway, to see the elements at issue at least somewhat clearly.
So we have historical events, which are interpreted, and whose interpretation provides the substance of political cultures, these interpretations can become institutionalized and concretized in particular political systems.
We have historical events, or sequences of historical events at least.
Not simply ‘events’ but ‘historical events’, a terminological difference which seems of key importance. What makes them historical is precisely that they relate in some sense to human endeavours, to human meaning and systems of meaning. I’m not sure that the political culture proponent would suggest that these historical sequences can in any sense be excised from a particular interpretation so that we reach some abstract purity: there is no uninterpreted view of the signing of the Magna Carta. To understand this event is precisely to understand it by interpreting it in relation to some cultural outlook. But, nevertheless, this does not mean that there are not elements of these historical events which are objectively verifiable: elements which we can look to and say that particular interpretations get RIGHT and others get WRONG. Take the Magna Carta, again, it is correct to view the signing of this document as crucially important for the subsequent development of constitutional governance. This is a fact about a historical event’s place in a system of subsequent meanings. Any account of the Magna Carta as a historical event will have to take account of this. Of course opinions may differ as to what exactly its importance amounts to, or how we should connect our own endeavours with it.
only secondarily was she a gruesome blobulon
“I strive to avoid any reference to this transcendental as a condition of possibility for any knowledge. When I say that I strive to avoid it, I don’t mean that I am sure of succeeding. … I try to historicize to the utmost to leave as little space as possible for the transcendental. I cannot exclude the possibility that one day I will have to confront an irreducible residuum which will be, in fact, the transcendental” -Michel Foucault
I look everywhere for that gleaming actuality, something realer than the dust surrounding me. But I have the good sense to know that my looking is the gleaming. Assholes.
We can be right or wrong.
So I take it the political culture view takes it that any particular political culture can be realized in a number of different political systems.
In a series of lectures delivered at the College de France entitled Society Must Be Defended, Michel Foucault discusses the history of a conception of political legitimation which is intimately connected to this narrative understanding of political culture. Foucault traces this notion of legitimation through to its origins in sixteenth century French and British historiography.
We might think of this as a fact.
A number of questions have been floating around.
What is the relation between historical interpretations of specific event points or sequences and the legitimation of political authority? Or, properly, what possible forms can such a relation take, and what are the conditions which determine these forms?
Can I expect the problems of my life to be sorted out within the next year and replaced with others, or shall I assume that these are the problems I’ll have until I die?
Which may be soon. That’s not up to me. And I hope it’s not up to you.
Do these historical interpretions create political culture or are they themselves the political culture?
What effects does political culture have, does it affect the types of governance which are possible, and the type of action structuring (i.e. formative elements) which are possible? Does political culture determine forms of governance which eventually result in structuring society
Other than all the political culture stuff, which to be honest I haven’t been thinking about enough to the point that I can’t even really formulate a possible paper topic for, other than that, I’ve been thinking a lot about axioms and inference and atomism/continuity. In a sense my interests in politics (whatever that might mean) are connected to these “more basic” (I think yes, they are more basic, in a confusing sense which doesn’t gibe with everything else I think) than political concerns.
Anyway, so as a dilettante is wont to do, I’ve been reading all sorts of logic and set theory stuff. As an aside, I think philosophy could profit from more attention to Kurt Godel as a philosopher properly speaking, rather than as a logician or mathematician. There is a collection of George Boolos’ papers called “Logic, Logic, and Logic" which I find funny. There’s a good paper in there outlining the iterative conception of a set, entitled “The Iterative Concept of a Set” appropriately enough.
I think it’s interesting that at bottom problems with continuity and atomism blur into each other. Hegel says things about this problem which I find irritating, I imagine Heidegger talks about it as well, though I wouldn’t know where to look. I think it’s a good idea to push logic on this point, though I’m not mathematically savvy enough to talk continuity that well. I think in one sense it’s good to be a dilettante about math if you are philosophically interested in it, most novel philosophy of math (which leads to novel developments in mathematics itself) is done by people pursuing purely mathematical aims. Look at Cantor—his interests in the infinite were mathematical but also very religious. And from that we get set theory. Same with Brouwer and Godel, maybe less so with Hilbert.
I’m starting to realize how little I understand the notion of a function. For some reason I get this daunting sense like I’m on the edge of something really important when I think about how a function can’t simply be correlated with its input/output table. Or shouldn’t be anyway. The problem is thinking this leads you to an object, the problem is reifying functions just because we can’t understand them. Maybe it’s psychological.
Joan Weiner writes well about Frege. She has an excellent book called “Frege in Perspective” that I haven’t read all of, but which I find really fascinating in the parts which I have read. Last year some time I wrote this paper about Frege and what his writings about logic imply for the ontology of logic and I referenced here a bit in it. Here is a sample from that paper which I just reread because I was bored, I think it’s pretty good as far as things I’ve written go.
…what Frege intends with his elucidations is something like the following. Given a pre-systematic understanding of the rules of correct inference (that is, given a particular form of human life), and given a certain set of absolute simples which can never be properly formulated but which are implicit within our pre-systematic understanding—given all this—Frege’s nonsensical elucidations, because they arise out of this pre-systematic understanding, are at least likely to succeed in functioning as a propadeutic to properly systematic logic. There is accordingly a pre-systematic realm of meaningfulness prior to a science of the meaningful. Thus, elucidation is not an attempt to step outside the conditions of sensibility to some meta-perspective which is nevertheless meaningful. Rather, elucidation is Frege’s way of struggling to show us what it is we are constrained to do; they show us the constraints of a logic which must live within language. Because the logically simple items of the science of logic are only simple or primitive relative to a particular system, we can step outside that system and speak of them meaningfully, though not precisely. There are (or may be) possible alternative systematizations, and once we enter into such a system we cannot speak with precision about the basic elements of the system. Thus Frege’s elucidations constantly oscillate between the pre-systematic and the systematic, and it is this oscillation which can lend them the appearance of sheer nonsense; but this appearance is nevertheless the result of their success in introducing us into the system. Without our understanding of the subject matter of the science, i.e., without entrance into the system, these elucidations would not yet have the appearance of nonsense.
Because these relatively simple items are preceded by our pre-systematic understanding, their meaning can be clarified by relatively nonsensical elucidations. In other words, because there are alternative systematizations, Frege’s particular systematization of logic cannot be viewed as setting down the conditions for meaningfulness or truth. Rather, it sets down one possible system of such conditions. Now, this system of conditions, if valid, maps the deeper ontological structure of the absolutely simple. Thus, there should exist for any successful logic a relation between the basic items of its system-ontology and the absolutely simple items of the ontology of the world, the ‘ultimate constituents of reality’. So, whenever Frege struggles to talk about what a ‘function’ is, his struggle is not absolutely nonsensical but only nonsensical relative to a given systematization of the conditions of sensibility. ‘Function’ is not an absolute simple, but is a simple term within a given system (i.e., Frege’s) which attempts to map an absolute simple. Thus, when Frege notes the elucidations he offers of the term ‘function’ fail to map what it is he means by ‘function’, he speaks from within meaningfulness, but from outside the intentions of his system. Frege is able to understand his system of logic in this way precisely because it is not the system of logic, but one possible systematization resulting from the possibilities determined by the absolute simples, which themselves cannot be mapped definitively within any particular system insofar as they make possible all systems.
Of course this understanding of elucidations comes with a considerable amount of ontological baggage for Frege. I take it that in order for this vision of Fregean elucidation to hold any water, Frege must at the very least be committed to the existence of some ontological entities which are prior to the mental, the physical, and even the third realm. Such entities give these respective realms their structure and, by dint of their generality, allow interaction between the realms as well.
It seems to me that Frege’s strident tone of anti-psychologism is what leads him (and us, his interpreters) into trouble when it comes to the ultimate basis of his system. Because he is so committed to the expulsion of anything remotely mental from the realm of logic, he glosses over the fact that the basic elements of logic can only be used to found a system once they are apprehended, or grasped in some sense. And they can only be so grasped if they are the result of an ontology in which absolute ontological simples anchor the connection of human life to the realm of thoughts. So, discussion of logic can only take place given this firm ontological commitment, as well as a particular understanding of the relationship between the human mind and logic itself. Thus, Frege’s attempt to excise all psychology from logic, understandable and useful though it may be, is itself at the outset dependent upon the ontological ‘graspability’ of logic. So it would seem that while psychologism can perhaps be excised from any particular systematization of logic, the very possibility of systematizing logic presupposes an ontology which requires interaction between thoughts and thinkers. If this is not the case, it seems impossible to countenance Frege’s elucidatory remarks about logically simple items as anything other than utter nonsense.
I like Frege, he’s very easy to read and has fascinating ideas and is generally very above board in what he writes. He never tries to impress or slide anything by you, that is a surprisingly rare quality. In writers and people more generally. I try and cover over things all the time because I’m too weak to live up with what I’ve done. All day I do that.
At 5:10 AM what I think about you is limited to what I can hate about you.
What I think about you is limited to what I can dangerously peck out about you at one WPM while I admire my gruesomely iron-starved, tendrilous, tendonized hands. These string-wrought, guy-wired appendages I've acquired. No longer the beautiful artisan's sensualities I once had.
No longer because diseased by work and weal. Diseased, that is, by the common lament of the common man, the lament that runs roughly thus: "My body resists that which you exact from it, my life desires other than your quantum extractions". Yes, all those complaints, none of which will be or should be answered.
I 'work' quietly enough, a job which would make diamond minors in the 60 degree heat shrug. Shrug not exactly in laughter, but in confusion that complaint would seem to arise.
Is my conceit an affront to their questioned dignity?
My concerns are barely worth addressing even given the paltry concerns with which I dare to have become acquainted.
(such hubris here, such undaunted hubris!)
I SING no harm, good sooth, to any wight,
To lord or fool, cuckold, beggar, or knight,
To peace-teaching lawyer, proctor, or brave
Reformed or reducèd captain, knave,
Officer, juggler, or justice of peace,
Juror or judge ; I touch no fat sow's grease ;
I am no libeller, nor will be any,
But—like a true man—say there are too many.
I fear not ore tenus ; for my tale
Nor count nor counsellor will look red or pale.
A citizen and his wife the other day
Both riding on one horse, upon the way
I overtook ; the wench a pretty peat,
And—by her eye—well fitting for the feat.
I saw the lecherous citizen turn back
His head, and on his wife's lip steal a smack ;
Whence apprehending that the man was kind,
Riding before to kiss his wife behind,
To get acquaintance with him I began
To sort discourse fit for so fine a man ;
I ask'd the number of the plaguing bill ;
Ask'd if the custom farmers held out still ;
Of the Virginian plot, and whether Ward
The traffic of the island seas had marr'd ;
Whether the Britain Burse did fill apace,
And likely were to give th' Exchange disgrace.
Of new-built Aldgate, and the Moor-field crosses,
Of store of bankrupts, and poor merchants' losses
I urgèd him to speak ; but he—as mute
As an old courtier worn to his last suit—
Replies with only yeas and nays ; at last
—To fit his element—my theme I cast
On tradesmen's gains ; that set his tongue a-going.
“ Alas ! good sir,” quoth he, “ There is no doing
In court or city now” ; she smiled, and I,
And, in my conscience, both gave him the lie
In one met thought ; but he went on apace,
And at the present time with such a face
He rail'd, as fray'd me ; for he gave no praise
To any but my Lord of Essex' days ;
Call'd that the age of action—“ True ! ” quoth I—
“ There's now as great an itch of bravery,
And heat of taking up, but cold lay down,
For, put to push of pay, away they run ;
Our only city trades of hope now are
Bawd, tavern-keepers, whores, and scriveners.
The much of privileged kinsmen and store
Of fresh protections make the rest all poor.
In the first state of their creation
Though many stoutly stand, yet proves not one
A righteous pay-master.” Thus ran he on
In a continued rage ; so void of reason
Seem'd his harsh talk, I sweat for fear of treason.
And—troth—how could I less ? when in the prayer
For the protection of the wise Lord Mayor,
And his wise brethren's worships, when one prayeth,
He swore that none could say amen with faith.
To get off him from what I glow'd to hear,
In happy time an angel did appear,
The bright sign of a loved and well-tried inn,
Where many citizens with their wives had been
Well used and often ; here I pray'd him stay,
To take some due refreshment by the way.
Look, how he look'd that hid the gold, his hope,
And at return found nothing but a rope,
So he at me ; refused and made away,
Though willing she pleaded a weary stay.
I found my miss, struck hands, and pray'd him tell—
To hold acquaintance still—where he did dwell.
He barely named the street, promised the wine,
But his kind wife gave me the very sign.