Young and Keil 2009



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Framework

A2: Framework

Every life angle for rhythms is key—vote negative


Lefebvre and Regulier, founder of the theory of everyday life, 1999 (“The Rhythmanalytical Project” in Rethinking Marxism 11:1)
From this vantage point, the living body can and has to be conceived as an inter- action of internal organs, each having its own rhythm, yet subjected to a spatiotem- poral globality. Furthermore, this human body is the locus and center of interaction between the biological, the physiological (nature), and the social (or what is often called the “cultural”), with each of these levels or dimensions having its own speci- ficity and therefore its own time and space or, if you will, its own rhythm. This in- evitably leads to stress, problems, and perturbations in this ensemble where stability is no guarantee. Whence the importance of scales, proportions, and rhythms. In dealing with physi- cal reality and its relation to the physiological and the tangible reality of human be- ings, modern philosophy offers two schemes. On the one hand, there is the Kantian and neo-Kantian scheme and, on the other hand, there is the empirical or positivist scheme. According to the former, phenomena (or the flux of sensations) are classi- fied and organized according to a priori categories-that is, prior to the subject and to knowledge, including that of time and space. The in-itself (the noumenal) escapes the “subject.” From the perspective of empiricism and positivism, sensible facts come together in relations of simultaneity, involvement, and concatenation. To put this in a slightly different way, if A includes B, and B includes C, then it follows that A in- cludes C. This type of reasoning implies that there is no need for categories other than logic, which are not categories per se but experimental evidences transcribed into a formal language. From Newton to Einstein and contemporary physics, Knowledge has followed another course that is also marked by certain philosophies such as Feuerbach’s. We often perceive only our relationship with natural objects or with commodities (i.e., with realities), which means that we must distinguish between appearances-which themselves have a reality-and what these things really are. For example, a wooden table or a pencil seems inert, yet it moves and changes (even if only the planet is moving); it is full of motion and energy. What takes place in physical reality can also be seen at work in the context of social relations. The inert object one sees desig- nates not just a material reality but also a social relationship. The whole process of production is dissimulated so that the product of one’s work appears as a mere ob- ject. Such being the case, it becomes necessary to go beyond facts, phenomena, and the flux of immediate sensations, which is different from saying that what is over and above the phenomenon and the sensible fact is determined in an interior and purely a priori way as the Kantian tradition leads one to believe. Our scale determines our setting and our place in the time-space of the universe: what we perceive and what can be used as a starting point for praxis as well as for theoretical knowledge. Both the micro and the macro elude us, although we can at- tain them progressively through knowledge and through their relationship to the known. Our rhythms immerse us in a vast and infinitely complex world that imposes on us an experience as well as the elements of this experience. Take light, for in- stance. We do not perceive it as an undulation that is charged with corpuscles but as a wonder that metamorphoses things, as an illumination of objects, and as a game at the surface of everything that exists. However, this subjective aspect should not ob- scure a certain objectivity. Centuries of research and measurement have made it possible to identify (though not fully to define) a physical reality in the phenomena that are associated with light. The specter of undulatory movements (with or without trajectories) extends in- definitely, even infinitely, from the macro to the micro, from corpuscular movements to the movements of metagalaxies. Relativist thought rejects all fixed and definitive references. A point of reference can only be provisional and conjunctural, which means that today, we can fault Einstein for having refuted the Newtonian concept of absolute time and space while retaining an absolute or a constant of the universe- the speed of light. In the immense specter, we understand and perceive only what is consonant with our own rhythms-that is, the rhythms of our organs, including two spheres that vary in accordance with individuals. One is over our normal perceptions and is geared toward the micro; the other is above our perceptions and is oriented toward the macro (sound waves, ultrasound, infrared and ultraviolet, and the like). We may even imagine beings with a more extended field of perception. We may certainly invent the tech- nology that can effectively extend this field. It continues to exist with its limits, markers. and borders According to Protagoras’s old formula, everything in the world is measured against the human being as a species,that is, as a physical and physiological being. It is not just that knowledge is relative to our constitution; it is also that the world that pre- sents itself to us (whether it be nature, the earth, and what we call the sky or the body and its integration in social relations) is relative or proportional to this constitution. Our knowledge is relative not so much to a priori categories, but to the senses and instruments with which we are endowed. To put it more philosophically, another scale would determine another world. Would it be the same? Undoubtedly, but it would be understood differently. Without knowing it (and the reference here is not to the “unconscious”), human beings appropriate at the center of the universe movements that are consonant with their own movements. The ear, the eyes, the gaze, the hands-these are far from being passive organs that do little besides record or execute. What is shaped, formed, and produced is part of this scale which, it must be emphasized, has nothing accidental or arbitrary about it. It is the scale of the planet, of accidents, of the surface of the earth, and of the cycles that recur. This is of course different from saying that pro- duction is confined to the production of things and objects that are nature’s givens. What is created is not part of this scale; it either transcends it or transforms it.

Agora Alt

Voting negative interrupts neoliberal communicative practice and place building


Young and Keil 2009 (Douglas and Roger, Professors at York University, Cities 27.2 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275109001085)

But the in-between city does not just carry the baggage of the classical suburb, it also shares some of the problems of not-yet-developed areas (where all new development creates unplanned demand) and magnetically draws upon itself the “urban” problems of congestion, poverty, racism, etc. For his part, Tom Sieverts expresses the core of the problems facing the landscape of the Zwischenstadt as having to reconcile the “agora” into the “system:” Thus, the system of the global economy must be opposed by the agora of local economic cycles, the system of abstract communication must be set against the agora of lively debate, and the system of the bureaucratic power over society as a whole must be confronted with the agora of local community and neighbourhood responsibility (2003:73). Let us pause, however, to consider the kind of human subject for whom all these benefits were being provided. This subject was singu- larly abstract. Figures as diverse as Le Corbusier, Walther Rathenau, the collectivizers of the Soviet Union, and even Julius Nyerere (for all his rhetorical attention to African traditions) were planning for ge- neric subjects who needed so many square feet of housing space, acres of farmland, liters of clean water, and units of transportation and so much food, fresh air, and recreational space. Standardized citizens were uniform in their needs and even interchangeable. What is strik- ing, of course, is that such subjects-like the "unmarked citizens" of liberal theory-have, for the purposes of the planning exercise, no gender, no tastes, no history, no values, no opinions or original ideas, no traditions, and no distinctive personalities to contribute to the en- terprise. They have none of the particular, situated, and contextual at- tributes that one would expect of any population and that we, as a mat- ter of course, always attribute to elites. The lack of context and particularity is not an oversight; it is the necessary first premise of any large-scale planning exercise. To the de- gree that the subjects can be treated as standardized units, the power of resolution in the planning exercise is enhanced. Questions posed within these strict confines can have definitive, quantitative answers. The same logic applies to the transformation of the natural world. Ques- tions about the volume of commercial wood or the yield of wheat in bushels permit more precise calculations than questions about, say, the quality of the soil, the versatility and taste of the grain, or the well- being of the community.' The discipline of economics achieves its for- midable resolving power by transforming what might otherwise be considered qualitative matters into quantitative issues with a single metric and, as it were, a bottom line: profit or 1 0 ~ s . ~ Providing one un- derstands the heroic assumptions required to achieve this precision and the questions that it cannot answer, the single metric is an invalu- able tool. Problems arise only when it becomes hegemonic. What is perhaps most striking about high-modernist schemes, de- spite their quite genuine egalitarian and often socialist impulses, is how little confidence they repose in the skills, intelligence, and experi- ence of ordinary people. This is clear enough in the Taylorist factory, where the logic of work organization is to reduce the factory hands' contribution to a series of repetitive, if practiced, movements-oper- ations as machinelike as possible. But it is also clear in collectivized farms, ujamaa villages, and planned cities, where the movements of the populace have been to a large degree inscribed in the designs of these communities. If Nyerere's aspirations for cooperative state farm- ing were frustrated, it was not because the plans had failed to integrate a scheme of cooperative labor. The more ambitious and meticulous the plan, the less is left, theoretically, to chance and to local initiative and experience.

Politicize Infrastructure

Politicize infrastructure: use your ballot to signal a refusal in the participatory regime of new neoliberalism: all deficit spending for infrastructure is not created equal—it does not have to be articulated to economic interest


Young and Keil 2009 (Douglas and Roger, Professors at York University, Cities 27.2 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275109001085)

How can renewal come to the politics of infrastructure in the in-between city? The ideology of neo-liberal governance seemed so deeply ingrained that, in spite of ever-increasing tallies of infrastructure maintenance shortfalls and the reality of bridges and light standards collapsing onto freeways, the likelihood of governments in Canada (or Ontario or Greater Toronto) generating and freeing up the billions of dollars necessary for basic infrastructure maintenance appeared remote. The possibility of a radically altered way of conceiving the region from the perspective of infrastructure connectivity in which the in-between cities are not bypassed may have been even more so. The question that now opens up is: will the new emphasis on deficit spending in response to global economic recession reinforce the ways in which the in-between infrastructures and their dependent populations have been marginalized or will they participate in the renewal? The new topologies in urban regions do indeed call for a new relational politics. Suburban areas in Canada no longer function as stable refuges somewhere outside of ‘the city’ and the rhythms of suburban daily life cannot be assumed to be either harmonious or uncomplicated. This will be exacerbated by the current economic and financial crisis as mortgages become less fictitious and more of a real burden to suburban families as happened before in the 1990s (Dale, 1999). At the same time, the suburbs of Canada’s largest urban regions are the most culturally diverse communities in the country, their traffic congestion is among the country’s worst, and their workplaces are growing the fastest. Looking at new suburban areas and forgotten in-between cities, we see evidence of heightened forms of global connectivity (embodied in the millions who have immigrated to Canada’s suburbs) interfacing with local processes and politics of planning and development on the terrain of largely pre-structured suburban environments. But will these new relational dynamics generate a new relational politics particularly related to infrastructure? As we have taken up the call in this paper for a “politicization of infrastructure” in the in-between city, we have recognized that the terrain on which hardware and user patterns are laid in the mixed periphery of the Toronto area has begun to shift economically, demographically and eco-socially. Revisiting the question of “how power’s different modalities are variously exercised, how it puts people into place”, we can now conclude that while the invisibility of these spaces used to make for a rather ineffective politics and for a relegation of connectivity concerns there to the backburner of the urban agenda, their hybrid and hermaphroditic character may be a starting point for the reinvention not just of urban connectivity in spaces that have often been overlooked, but also for the recognition of those spaces themselves. Transit justice, i.e. overcoming the class–gender–ethnicity–age biases of the system, will certainly have to play a part in the politicization of infrastructure. Yet, one of the inherent dangers of a politics of metropolitan infrastructure is exactly the racialized subtext of the transformations we are experiencing. Often taking cues from the way segregated American cities have been portrayed, popular and scientific discourse has noted the increasing significance of ethno-cultural and class divisions. A Toronto daily newspaper headlined an article on the topic last year with “Everything’s white when you’re downtown” and commented: “White picket fences and manicured lawns cared for by mostly white, upper-middle class families come to mind when the word ‘suburban’ is mentioned. But in recent years, the Cunninghams and the Cleavers are moving into the downtown core, while multicultural and poorer populations take up residence behind those picket fences” (Liu, 2008:5; A more scholarly discussion of the relationship of class and ‘race’ in the Canadian metropolis can be found in Walks and Bourne, 2006). In order to understand the complexity of the in-between city’s infrastructure politics better, we need to overcome such rigid throwbacks to the dichotomies of the old city-suburban scheme. In fact, the “politicization of infrastructure” will need to explode such hierarchical notions of urban space as well as the more linear models of social inclusion that rest on these notions. It cannot be sufficient anymore to link the periphery to the centre by better supply of hard and soft infrastructures. While important, such conventional politics of infrastructure is ultimately flawed because it overlooks the complex networked mobility needs and realities present in those communities that are traditionally marginalized by the dichotomous centre-periphery model. Considering “the relation between social exclusion, mobility and access to be a dynamic one, and one that plays out at the level of society as a whole” (Cass, 2005, p. 553), we believe that bringing better connectivity to the in-between city is not a matter of closing the modernization gap. While we firmly believe that building light-rail and flexibilizing the bus routes for example are minimum requirements of a new politics of infrastructure “out there”, we also concur that “initiatives in transport, planning and communications should promote networking and meetingness (and minimize missingness) amongst those living, working and visiting particular places” (Cass, 2005, p. 553). This includes at a minimum to acknowledge these communities’ existence beyond neo-colonial gestures from the political high ground of the central city. The politicization of infrastructures therefore includes the politicization of the people in the in-between city around issues of transportation, infrastructure, and connectivity on the basis of their own experienced needs of mobility and access.

Power Relations Key

Must account for particulars in order to solve and accounts for power and violence


Young and Keil 2009 (Douglas and Roger, Professors at York University, Cities 27.2 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275109001085)

The edge cities (Garreau, 1991) and exopolis (Soja, 1996) of the post-Fordist period re-centred and re-regionalized – globalized – capitalist production. New modes of aggressive re-territorialization have occurred as regions have politically or economically found new reasons for, and institutions of, regionalism ( [Brenner, 2004], [Boudreau et al., 2007] and [Collin and Robertson, 2007]). At the same time, territorialization was not the only dynamic at work. Amin (2004), among others, has concisely noted the usefulness of “a relational reading of place that works with the ontology of flow, connectivity and multiple geographical expression, to imagine the geography of cities and regions through their plural spatial connections” (Amin, 2004, p. 34). While Amin describes the new forms of economic, administrative and governance regionalism – as well as a politics of territorial management – he argues “against the assumption that there is a defined geographical territory out there over which local actors can have effective control and can manage as a social and political space. In a relationally constituted modern world in which it has become normal to conduct business – economic, cultural, political – through everyday trans-territorial organization and flow, local advocacy, it seems to me, must be increasingly about exercising nodal power and aligning networks at large in one’s own interest, rather than about exercising territorial power” (2004, p. 36). He instead opts for a “relational politics of place … that is consistent with a spatial ontology of cities and regions seen as sites of heterogeneity juxtaposed within close spatial proximity, and as sites of multiple geographies of affiliation, linkage and flow” (2004, p. 38). We will return to these politics below.


Social Justice/Sustainability

Concern for undervalued populations key precondition to solving for social justice and inequality


Young and Keil 2009 (Douglas and Roger, Professors at York University, Cities 27.2 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264275109001085)

Empirically, our 85 sq km study area – partly in the City of Toronto and partly in the City of Vaughan – is home to about 150,000 people and a place that is rich in social and physical complexities and contradictions (see Fig. 2). Methodologically, we explore the relative/relational (Harvey, 2006) connectedness of people, places and urban processes through the lens of infrastructure, with the help of photographic documentation, textual analysis, census data analysis, and interviews. In an era characterized by “splintering urbanism” (Graham and Marvin, 2001) in which urban regions come to resemble “archipelagos of enclaves” (Hajer and Reijndorp, 2001), uneven access to different infrastructures is particularly visible in the poorly understood and under-recognized “in-between city”. Yet, dramatic inequalities in infrastructure provision and service delivery in these areas render many urban residents vulnerable to unpredictable events – environmental, economic, and social. We argue that casting light on the infrastructure problems of the “in-between city” is a necessary precondition for creating more sustainable and socially just urban regions, and for designing a system of social and cultural infrastructures that has everything a community needs and meets global needs as well. This work is relevant to a broad spectrum of urban decision-making processes in the area of infrastructure and beyond. It involves partners in government, the private sector and the community.


Everyday Life

Prefer everyday life first: priotizing the quotidian is key to resist


De Certeau 1984 (Michel, Professor in France and founder more or less of “everydayness” studies as a field,. The Practice of Everyday Life p. xiii-xiv)

The "making" in question is a production, a Poiesis[2] -but a hidden one, because it is scattered over areas defined and occupied by systems of "production" (television, urban development, commerce, etc.), and because the steadily increasing expansion of these systems no longer leaves "consumers" any place in which they can indicate what they make or do with the products of these systems. To a rationalized, expansionist and at the same time centralized, clamorous, and spectacular production corresponds another production, called "consumption." The latter is devious, it is dispersed, but it insinuates itself everywhere, silently and almost invisibly, because it does not manifest itself through its own products, but rather through its ways of using the products imposed by a dominant economic order. For instance, the ambiguity that subverted from within the Spanish colonizers' "success" in imposing their own culture on the indigenous Indians is well known. Submissive, and even consenting to their subjection, the Indians nevertheless often made of the rituals, representations, and laws imposed on them something quite different from what their conquerors had in mind; they subverted them not by rejecting or altering them, but by using them with respect to ends and references foreign to the system they had no choice but to accept. They were other within the very colonization that outwardly assimilated them; their use of the dominant social order deflected its power, which they lacked the means to challenge; they escaped it without leaving it. The strength of their difference lay in procedures of "consumption." To a lesser degree, a similar ambiguity creeps into our societies through the use made by the "common people" of the culture disseminated and imposed by the elites" producing the language. The presence and circulation of a representation (taught by preachers, educators, and popularizers as the key to socioeconomic advancement) tells us nothing about what it is for its users. We must first analyze its manipulation by users who are not its makers. Only then can we gauge the difference or similarity between the production of the image and the secondary production hidden in the process of its utilization. Our investigation is concerned with this difference. It can use as its theoretical model the construction of individual sentences with an established vocabulary and syntax. In linguistics, "performance" and "competence" are different: the act of speaking (with all the enunciative strategies that implies) is not reducible to a knowledge of the language. By adopting the point of view of enunciation-which is the subject of our study-we privilege the act of speaking; according to that point of view, speaking operates within the field of a linguistic system; it effects an appropriation, or reappropriation, of language by its speakers; it establishes a present relative to a time and place; and it posits a contract with the other (the interlocutor) in a network of places and relations. These four characteristics of the speech act[3] can be found in many other practices (walking, cooking, etc.). An objective is at least adumbrated by this parallel, which is, as we shall see, only partly valid. Such an objective assumes that (like the Indians mentioned above) users make (bricolent) innumerable and infinitesimal transformations of and within the dominant cultural economy in order to adapt it to their own interests and their own rules. We must determine the procedures, bases, effects, and possibilities of this collective activity.

Anti-Discipline

Our alternative is to examine everyday life as a counteracted version of key practices


De Certeau 1984 (Michel, Professor in France and founder more or less of “everydayness” studies as a field,. The Practice of Everyday Life)

As unrecognized producers, poets of their own acts, silent discoverers of their own paths in the jungle of functionalist rationality, consumers produce through their signifying practices something that might be considered similar to the "wandering lines" ("lignes derre") drawn by the autistic children studied by F. Deligny[17]: "indirect" or "errant" trajectories obeying their own logic. In the technocratically constructed, written, and functionalized space in which the consumers move about, their trajectories form unforeseeable sentences, partly unreadable paths across a space. Although they are composed with the vocabularies of established languages (those of television, newspapers, supermarkets, or museum sequences) and although they remain subordinated to the prescribed syntactical forms (temporal modes of schedules, paradigmatic orders of spaces, etc.), the trajectories trace out the ruses of other interests and desires that are neither determined nor captured by the systems in which they develop.[18] Even statistical investigation remains virtually ignorant of these trajectories, since it is satisfied with classifying, calculating, and putting into tables the "lexical" units which compose them but to which they cannot be reduced, and with doing this in reference to its own categories and taxonomies. Statistical investigation grasps the material of these practices, but not their form; it determines the elements used, but not the "phrasing" produced by the bricolage (the artisan-like inventiveness) and the discursiveness that combine these elements, which are all in general circulation and rather drab Statistical inquiry, in breaking down these "efficacious meanderings" into units that it defines itself, in reorganizing the results of its analyses according to its own codes, "finds" only the homogenous. The power of its calculations ties in its ability to divide, but it is precisely through this analytic fragmentation that it loses sight of what it claims to seek and to represent.[19] "Trajectory" suggests a movement, but it also involves a plane projection, a flattening out. It is a transcription. A graph (which the eye can master) is substituted for an operation; a line which can be reversed (i.e., read in both directions) does duty for an irreversible temporal series, a tracing for acts. To avoid this reduction, I resort to a distinction between tactics and strategies.


Embrace Inefficiency

Stage a walkout—refuse to let this debate efficiency add to the aggregtation of capital


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

This homely insight has long been of great tactical value to genera- tions of trade unionists who have used it as the basis of the work-to- rule strike. In a work-to rule action (the French call it grove du zele), employees begin doing their jobs by meticulously observing every one of the rules and regulations and performing only the duties stated in their job descriptions. The result, fully intended in this case, is that the work grinds to a halt, or at least to a snail's pace. The workers achieve the practical effect of a walkout while remaining on the job and follow- ing their instructions to the letter. Their action also illustrates pointedly how actual work processes depend more heavily on informal under- standings and improvisations than upon formal work rules. In the long work-to-rule action against Caterpillar, the large equipment manufac- turer, for example, workers reverted to following the inefficient proce- dures specified by the engineers, knowing they would cost the company valuable time and quality, rather than continuing the more expeditious practices they had long ago devised on the job.2 They were relying on the tested assumption that working strictly by the book is necessarily less productive than working with initiative.

Metis

Practicing metis is key—the debate is in the gap between the ideal and the routine—it's a place where we can start to remake different rhythms


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

The necessarily implicit, experiential nature of metis seems central. A simple experiment in implicit learning conducted by the philosopher Charles Peirce may help to convey something of the process. Peirce had people lift two weights and judge which of the two was heavier. At first, their discrimination was rather crude. But as they practiced for long periods, they became able to distinguish accurately quite minute differ- ences in weight. They could not pinpoint what it was that they sensed or felt, but their actual capacity to discriminate grew enormously. Peirce took the results as evidence for a kind of subliminal communication via "faint sensations" between people. For our purposes, however, it il- lustrates a rudimentary kind of knowledge that can be acquired only by practice and that all but defies being communicated in written or oral form apart from actual practice." Surveying the range of examples that we have touched on, we can venture some preliminary generalizations about the nature of metis and about where it is relevant. Metis is most applicable to broadly sim ilar but never precisely identical situations requiring a quick and prac- ticed adaptation that becomes almost second nature to the practitioner. The skills of metis may well involve rules of thumb, but such rules are largely acquired through practice (often in formal apprenticeship) and a developed feel or knack for strategy. Metis resists simplification into deductive principles which can successfully be transmitted through book learning, because the environments in which it is exercised are so complex and nonrepeatable that formal procedures of rational deci- sion making are impossible to apply. In a sense, metis lies in that large space between the realm of genius, to which no formula can apply, and the realm of codified knowledge, which can be learned by rote.


This debate is a site for everyday metis—the judge can begin their practice of rewriting practices not only in policy but also in debate—make this debate about producing a new metis


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

One last analogy may help to clarify the relationship between gen- era1 rules of thumb and metis. Metis is not merely the specification of local values (such as the local mean temperature and rainfall) made in order to successfully apply a generic formula to a local case. Taking lan- guage as a parallel, I believe that the rule of thumb is akin to formal grammar, whereas metis is more like actual speech. Metis is no more de- rivative of general rules than speech is derivative of grammar. Speech develops from the cradle by imitation, use, trial and error. Learning a mother tongue is a stochastic process-a process of successive, self- correcting approximations. We do not begin by learning the alphabet, individual words, parts of speech, and rules of grammar and then try- ing to use them all in order to produce a grammatically correct sen- tence. Moreover, as Oakeshott indicates, a knowledge of the rules of speech by themselves is compatible with a complete inability to speak intelligible sentences. The assertion that the rules of grammar are de- rivative of the practice of actual speech is nearer to the truth. Modern language training that aims at competence in speaking recognizes this and begins with simple speech and rote repetition in order to imprint pattern and accent while leaving the rules of grammar implicit, or else introducing them later as a way of codifying and summarizing practi- cal mastery. Like language, the metis or local knowledge necessary to the suc- cessful practice of farming or pastoralism is probably best learned by daily practice and experience. Like serving a long apprenticeship, growing up in a household where that craft is continually practiced often represents the most satisfactory preparation for its exercise. This kind of socialization to a trade may favor the conservation of skills rather than daring innovation. But any formula that excludes or sup- presses the experience, knowledge, and adaptability of metis risks inco- herence and failure; learning to speak coherent sentences involves far more than merely learning the rules of grammar.


Activate Quotidian Judge Space

“Any Risk” calculations attempt to push out the quotidian by virtue of its immeasurability—it is the immeasurable impact of the quotidian that demands it be elevated above quanitifiable techne—restore the “art” of judging


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

Where metis is contextual and particular, techne is universal. In the logic of mathematics, ten multiplied by ten equals one hundred every- where and forever; in Euclidean geometry, a right angle represents ninety degrees of a circle; in the conventions of physics, the freezing point of water is always zero degrees centigrade.18 Techne is settled knowledge; Aristotle wrote that techne "came into being when from many notions gained from experience, a universal judgement about a group of similar things arises."19 The universality of techne arises from the fact that it is organized analytically into small, explicit, logical steps and is both decomposable and verifiable. This universality means that knowledge in the form of techne can be taught more or less completely as a formal discipline. The rules of techne provide for theoretical knowl- edge that may or may not have practical applications. Finally, techne is characterized by impersonal, often quantitative precision and a concern with explanation and verification, whereas metis is concerned with per- sonal skill, or "touch," and practical results. If the description of techne as an ideal or typical system of knowl- edge resembles the self-image of modern science, that is no accident. The actual practice of science, however, is something else again.20 The rules of techne are the specification of how knowledge is to be codi- fied, expressed, and verified, once it has been discovered. No rules of techne or episteme can explain scientific invention and insight. Dis- covering a mathematical theorem requires genius and perhaps metis; the proof of the theorem, however, must follow the tenets of t e ~ h n e . ~ ~ Thus the systematic and impersonal rules of techne facilitate the pro- duction of knowledge that can be readily assembled, comprehensively documented, and formally taught, but they cannot by themselves add to that knowledge or explain how it came into beingz2 Techne is characteristic, above all, of self-contained systems of rea- soning in which the findings may be logically derived from the initial assumptions. To the degree that the form of knowledge satisfies these conditions, to that degree is it impersonal, universal, and completely im- pervious to context. But the context of metis, as Detienne and Vernant emphasize, is characteristically "situations which are transient, shift- ing, disconcerting and ambiguous, situations which do not lend them- selves to precise measurement, exact calculation, or rigorous logic."23 Nussbaum shows convincingly how Plato attempted, especially in the Republic, to transform the realm of love-a realm that almost by defi- nition is one of contingency, desire, and impulse-into a realm of techne or epi~terne.~~ Plato regarded mundane love as subject to the lower appetites, and he hoped to purge it of these base instincts so that it could more closely resemble the philosopher's pure search for truth. The superiority of pure reasoning, especially scientific and mathe- matical logic, lay in the fact that it was "pure of pain, maximally sta- ble, and directed at the truth." The objects of such reasoning "are eter- nally what they are regardless of what human beings do and say."25 What one loved, or should love, Plato claimed, was not the beloved him- self but rather the pure forms of unalloyed beauty reflected in the bel0ved.~6 Only in this way could love remain straight and rational, free of the appetites. The spheres of human endeavor that are freest of contingency, guesswork, context, desire, and personal experience-and thus free of metis-hence came to be perceived as man's highest pursuits. They are the philosopher's work. One can see why, on the strength of such cri- teria, Euclidean geometry, mathematics, some self-contained forms of analytical philosophy, and perhaps music are considered to be among the purest of pursuit^.^' Unlike the natural sciences and concrete ex- periments, these disciplines exist as realms of pure thought, untouched by the contingencies of the material world. They begin in the mind or on a blank sheet of paper. The Pythagorean theorem, a2 + b2 = c2, is true for all right triangles everywhere and forever. A recurrent theme of Western philosophy and science, including so- cial science, has been the attempt to reformulate systems of knowledge in order to bracket uncertainty and thereby permit the kind of logical deductive rigor possessed by Euclidean geometry.28 In the natural sci- ences, the results have been revolutionary. Where philosophy and the human sciences are concerned, the efforts have been just as persistent but the results far more ambiguous. Descartes's famous episteme "I think, therefore I am" mimicked the first step in a mathematical proof and was an "answer to the disorder that threatened to undo society."29 The aim of Jeremy Bentham and the utilitarians was, through their calculus of pleasure and pain (hedonism), to reduce the study of ethics to a pure natural science, to an examination of "every circumstance by which an individual can be influenced, being remarked and invento- ried, nothing. . . left to chance, caprice, or unguided discretion, every- thing being surveyed and set down in dimension, number, weight, and measure."3o Even chance (ruche) itself, which techne was designed to master, was eventually, thanks to statistics and probability theory, transformed into a singular fact that might enter the formulas of techne. Risk, pro- viding it could be assigned a known probability, became a fact like any other, whereas uncertainty (where the underlying probabilities are not known) still lay outside techne's reach.31 The intellectual "career" of risk and uncertainty is indicative of many fields of inquiry in which the realm of analysis was reformulated and narrowed to exclude elements that could not be quantified and measured but could only be judged. Better put, techniques were devised to isolate and domesticate those aspects of key variables that might be expressed in numbers (a nation's wealth by gross national product, public opinion by poll numbers, val- ues by psychological inventories). Neoclassical economics, for exam- ple, has undergone a transformation along these lines. Consumer pref- erences are first taken as a given and then counted, in order to bracket taste as a major source of uncertainty. Invention and entrepreneurial ac- tivity are treated as exogenous and cast outside the perimeter of the discipline as too intractable to submit to measurement and prediction.32 The discipline has incorporated calculable risk while exiling those top- ics where genuine uncertainty prevails (ecological dangers, shifts in taste).33 As Stephen Marglin shows, "the emphasis on self-interest, calcu- lation, and maximization in economics" are classical examples of "self- evident postulates" and reflect "more an ideological commitment to the superiority of episteme than a serious attempt to unravel the complex- ities and mysteries of human motivation and behavior."34

Standpointof Everyday

Adopting standpoint of the everyday is key—puts the real stakes on the table


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

The power of practical knowledge depends on an exceptionally close and astute observation of the environment. It should by now be rather obvious why traditional cultivators like Squanto are such con- summate observers of their environment, but the reasons bear repeat- ing in the context of a comparison with scientific knowledge. First, these cultivators have a vital, direct stake in the results of close observation. Unlike the research scientist or extension agent who does not have to take her own advice, the peasant is the immediate consumer of his own conclusions. Unlike the typical modern-day farmer, the peasant has no outside experts to rely on beyond his experienced neighbors; he must make decisions based on what he knows. Second, the poverty or marginal economic status of many of these cultivators is itself, I would argue, a powerful impetus to careful obser- vation and experimentation. Consider the hypothetical case of two fishermen, both of whom must make their living from a river. One fisherman lives by a river where the catch is stable and abundant. The other lives by a river where the catch is variable and sparse, affording only a bare and precarious subsistence. The poorer of the two will clearly have an immediate, life-and-death interest in devising new fishing techniques, in observing closely the habits of fish, in the careful siting of traps and weirs, in the timing and signs of seasonal runs of different species, and so forth

Predictions Implication

Better to observe the structural impacts of the here and now than worry about future predictions


Scott 1998 (Professor of Political Science at Yale, Seeing Like a State )

The mistake of our ancestors was to think that they were "the last number," but since numbers are infinite, they could not be the last number. -Eugene Zamiatin, We The maxim that serves as the heading for this section is not simply suitable for bumper stickers mimicking the insider slogan of Bill Clin- ton's 1992 presidential campaign, "It's the economy, stupid!" It is meant to call attention to how routinely planners ignore the radical con- tingency of the future. How rare it is to encounter advice about the fu- ture which begins from a premise of incomplete knowledge. One small exception-a circular on nutrition published by the health clinic at Yale University, where I teach-will underscore its rarity. Normally, such circulars explain the major food groups, vitamins, and minerals known to be essential for balanced nutrition and advise a diet based on these categories. This circular, however, noted that many new, essen- tial elements of proper nutrition had been discovered in the past two decades and that many more elements will presumably be identified by researchers in the decades ahead. Therefore, on the basis of what they did not know, the writers of this piece recommended that one's diet be as varied as possible, on the prudent assumption that it would contain many of these yet unidentified essentials. Social and historical analyses have, almost inevitably, the effect of diminishing the contingency of human affairs. A historical event or state of affairs simply is the way it is, often appearing determined and necessary when in fact it might easily have turned out to be otherwise. Even a probabilistic social science, however careful it may be about es- tablishing ranges of outcomes, is apt to treat these probabilities, for the sake of analysis, as solid facts. When it comes to betting on the future, the contingency is obvious, but so is the capacity of human actors to influence this contingency and help to shape the future. And in those cases where the bettors thought that they knew the shape of the future by virtue of their grasp of historical laws of progress or scientific truth, whatever awareness they retained of the contingency seemed to dis- solve before their faith. And yet each of these schemes, as might also have been predicted, was largely undone by a host of contingencies beyond the planners' grasp. The scope and comprehensiveness of their plans were such that they would have had indeterminate outcomes even if their historical laws and the attendant specification of variables and calculations had been correct. Their temporal ambitions meant that although they might, with some confidence, guess the immediate consequences of their moves, no one could specify, let alone calculate, the second- or third- order consequences or their interaction effects. The wild cards in their deck, however, were the human and natural events outside their models-droughts, wars, revolts, epidemics, interest rates, world con- sumer prices, oil embargoes. They could and did, of course, attempt to adjust and improvise in the face of these contingencies. But the mag- nitude of their initial intervention was so great that many of their mis- steps could not be righted. Stephen Marglin has put their problem suc- cinctly: If "the only certainty about the future is that the future is uncertain, if the only sure thing is that we are in for surprises, then no amount of planning, no amount of prescription, can deal with the con- tingencies that the future will reveal."l There is a curiously resounding unanimity on this point, and on no others, between such right-wing critics of the command economy as Friedrich Hayek and such left-wing critics of Communist authoritari- anism as Prince Peter Kropotkin, who declared, "It is impossible to legislate for the future." Both had a great deal of respect for the diver- sity of human actions and the insurmountable difficulties in success- fully coordinating millions of transactions. In a blistering critique of failed development paradigms, Albert Hirschman made a comparable case, calling for "a little more 'reverence for life,' a little less strait- jacketing of the future, a little more allowance for the unexpected- and a little less wishful thinking.'I2 One might, on the basis of experience, derive a few rules of thumb that, if observed, could make development planning less prone to dis- aster. While my main goal is hardly a point-by-point reform of devel- opment practice, such rules would surely include something along the following lines. Take small steps. In an experimental approach to social change, pre- sume that we cannot know the consequences of our interventions in ad- vance. Given this postulate of ignorance, prefer wherever possible to take a small step, stand back, observe, and then plan the next small move. As the biologist J. B. S. Haldane metaphorically described the advantages of smallness: "You can drop a mouse down a thousand- yard mineshaft; and on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away. A rat is killed, a man broken, a horse ~plashes."~ Favor reversibility. Prefer interventions that can easily be undone if they turn out to be mistake^.^ Irreversible interventions have irrever- sible consequence^.^ Interventions into ecosystems require particular care in this respect, given our great ignorance about how they interact. Aldo Leopold captured the spirit of caution required: "The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the part^."^
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