Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"There is no aspect of scientific knowledge that mandates institutionalized instrumental reason in all aspects of life. There is no telos to the world beyond entropy, and even that puts too much of a glow on physical events. The 18th century was the age of enchantment with science, an enchantment morphing over time into various forms of a philosophy along a line also described in the arts, which themselves describe (again) not the world but our perceptions of it. Equality in the language of philosophy originates in the discovery or construction, by members of an elite, of the idea of equality, rather than in the recognition of the practice of it by the people, and has ended in the study of people by that same elite not as equal but alike: the study of each of us only in terms of the aggregate. And in this the logic of individualism becomes its opposite, except that the elite observers have quietly removed themselves from the game. The greatest heroes of technocracy are those who can predict the behavior of the middling and in this they have become middling themselves. But it’s these heroes who are left to make the decisions for the rest of us. This is the model of society founded on not on democracy but on the “imperatives” of research and progress.

The absolute unity of purpose is the end of social life. I’ve called these fantasies the theater of science but they’re also of course the theater of aspiration, with the same conflicted relation of form to subject that found in Plato’s dialogues and the story of Moses and Aaron: the paradox of oratory against rhetoric, the argument via the neutral -dead- medium of language, across subjectivities, for absolute value."

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