Re: [xmca] Don C about the "epic" googlization film - a bit of mcahistory

From: Wolff-Michael Roth <mroth who-is-at>
Date: Sat Jun 30 2007 - 13:21:07 PDT

Hi Martin,
I don't know why you think that I am focused on reproduction. In
fact, it is the opposite. I have repeatedly written about requiring
theories that can capture the continual transformation of culture in
every instance of practice, and this occurs even with infants, where
practices are transformed in parent-infant transactions every minute,
so that the child participates in the transformation of collective
(child-rearing) practices prior to consciousness.
        Our educational system does not take this into account, instead
reproducing knowledge that was outdated yesterday, whereas what we
need are generations that can live with the rapid transformations
that cultures undergo daily, rather than in more slowly changing
traditional societies.
        And it's not just personal agency, the major lack in todays social
theories is radical passivity, and I do not mean simple passivity,
which is not passivity at all, when someone decides not to write but
lurk, because this person still is agential in deciding not to engage
publicly. Radical passivity, among others, takes into account of the
fact that we do not intend our intentions but receive them, as
willing hosts, even as hostages, granting them hospitality, as we
permit them to guide our actions.
        I have found a very different way of understanding myself, not as
individual who has entered a relationship (with my wife), but who I
am is the result of the relationship, which nevertheless I contribute
to make. It is therefore not me trying to get something OUT OF a
relationship, "I" am only in and through the relationship, but the
relationship only exists because I practice it. This explains why I
do not seek something or find myself complaining that the
relationship doesn't give me---which would be typical for many people
in our culture.

On 29-Jun-07, at 8:20 AM, Martin Packer wrote:


Perhaps the position you define here is a necessary corrective to the
tendency in the social sciences, and I suppose in our narcissistic
to focus on the individual and neglect the collective level. But I worry
that you've gone a bit too far. Both ethically and conceptually.
Conceptually, many of us live now in societies which are no longer
traditional, which are not simply reproduced but are, for better or
continually transformed. To grasp this characteristic we need to
continue to
pay attention to personal agency, to the ways that people are able to
realize *new* possibilities. And ethically, if we want our societies
to be
transformed for better, and not for worse, each of us needs,
personally and
collectively, to continually question (and, yes, critique!) the
possibilities that at any moment seem to be those available to us. If
it is
truly a *dialectic* of individual and collective that we need to employ
(here I completely agree with you), then I think we *do* still have to
wonder about the expertise of (not 'in') individuals, as well as and in
relation to expertise at the collective level. Society may not care,
but we
must. We've got to a point, as a species, where we've changed the
of life, on this planet at least. It's become clear that western
society, at
least, is not 'immortal'; it's quite able to destroy itself. To align
and 'society' as though the two are good friends is no longer
possible. If
this happens life will undoubtedly survive, but personally I'd prefer
we find a way to redirect our society to avoid this particular outcome.
That's going to require that individuals be awake to not only what
is, but
what could be. My new bumper sticker: 'Think personally; act


On 6/28/07 6:49 PM, "Louise Hawkins" <> wrote:

> individual lives are the means by which life reproduces itself.
> There is no
> ulterior reason for individual life other than to make life and
> society
> survive. Harold Garfinkel talks about "immortal society," which
> contrasts our
> own mortality.
> Individually we realize possibilities that exist at a collective,
> cultural
> level.
> Now when you think activities from the perspective of society, or
> rather, the
> dialectic of individual and collective, we no longer have to wonder
> about
> expertise in individuals but at expertise at the collective level,
> where it
> doesn't matter whether it is in this or that person, this or that
> individual.
> LIFE and society don't care, as long as the activity reproduces them.

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Received on Sat Jun 30 13:23 PDT 2007

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