Manual In the Grip of Freedom: Law and Modernity in Max Weber

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Huang and Kathryn Bernhardt.

Cary Boucock, In the Grip of Freedom: Law and Modernity in Max Weber - PhilPapers

Western law, tradition vs. It does so by proceeding not from abstract legal texts but from the realities of legal practice. Whatever the declared intent of a law, it must in actual application adapt to social realities. It is the two dimensions of representation and practice, and law and society, that together make up the entirety of a legal system. Legal history studies have often focused mainly on codified law, without attention to actual practice, and on the past, without relating it to the present.

As the title— Research from Archival Case Records: Law, Society, and Culture in China —of this book suggests, the authors deliberately follow the research method of starting from court actions and only on that basis engage in discussions of laws and legal concepts and theory. The articles cover a range of topics and source materials, both past and present. They provide some surprising findings—about disjunctures between code and practice, adjustments between them, and how those reveal operative principles and logics different from what the legal texts alone might suggest.

Neighbors, Bradly W. Reed, Matthew H. You may request a copy of the personal information we hold about you by submitting a written request to support aeon. We will try and respond to your request as soon as reasonably practical. When you receive the information, if you think any of it is wrong or out of date, you can ask us to change or delete it for you.

Colin Koopman. He is currently writing a genealogy of the politics of data. He teaches philosophy at the University of Oregon. Brought to you by Curio , an Aeon partner. Edited by Sam Haselby. Imagine you are asked to compose an ultra-short history of philosophy. You could do worse than to search for the single word that best captures the ideas of every important philosopher. Foucault remains one of the most cited 20th-century thinkers and is, according to some lists, the single most cited figure across the humanities and social sciences.

Interestingly enough, however, Foucault was not always known for his signature word.

The disconnect between religion and culture

He first gained his massive influence in with the publication of The Order of Things. This was not just a French fashion. In Richard Rorty, surely the most infamous American philosopher of his generation, summed up the new spirit in the title of his anthology of essays, The Linguistic Turn.

Anglo-American philosophy followed the same line, and so too did most French philosophers except they tended toward the linguistic nature of irrationality instead. For his part, however, Foucault moved on, somewhat singularly among his generation. Rather than staying in the world of words, in the s he shifted his philosophical attention to power, an idea that promises to help explain how words, or anything else for that matter, come to give things the order that they have. Power, in Foucault, is not another philosophical godhead. F oucault did not attempt to construct a philosophical fortress around his signature concept.

He had witnessed first-hand how the arguments of the linguistic-turn philosophers grew brittle once they were deployed to analyse more and more by way of words.

Max Weber & Modernity: Crash Course Sociology #9

So Foucault himself expressly refused to develop an overarching theory of power. Interviewers would sometimes press him to give them a unified theory, but he always demurred. Such a theory, he said, was simply not the goal of his work. Yet he did not himself offer a philosophy of power. How could this be possible? His is a philosophical approach to power characterised by innovative, painstaking, sometimes frustrating, and often dazzling attempts to politicise power itself.

He wanted to free philosophy to track the movements of power, the heat and the fury of it working to define the order of things. Before Foucault, political philosophers had presumed that power had an essence: be it sovereignty, or mastery, or unified control. Thomas Hobbes , the English philosopher and original theorist of state power, saw the essence of power as state sovereignty.

Hobbes thought that at its best and purest power would be exercised from the singular position of sovereignty. Foucault never denied the reality of state power in the Hobbesian sense.

But his political philosophy emanates from his skepticism about the assumption and it was a mere assumption until Foucault called it into question that the only real power is sovereign power. Foucault accepted that there were real forces of violence in the world, and not only state violence. There is also corporate violence due to enormous condensations of capital, gender violence in the form of patriarchy, and the violences both overt and subtle of white supremacy in such forms as chattel slavery, real-estate redlining, and now mass incarceration.

Power is all the more cunning because its basic forms can change in response to our efforts to free ourselves from its grip. In seeing through the imaginary singularity of power, Foucault was able to also envision it set against itself. He was able to hypothesise, and therefore to study, the possibility that power does not always assume just one form and that, in virtue of this, a given form of power can coexist alongside, or even come into conflict with, other forms of power.

Such coexistences and conflicts, of course, are not mere speculative conundrums, but are the sort of stuff that one would need to empirically analyse in order to understand. What these studies reveal is that power, which easily frightens us, turns out to be all the more cunning because its basic forms of operation can change in response to our ongoing efforts to free ourselves from its grip. The message here is simple: Once I was mine.


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Now I am theirs. SZ: During the past two decades surveillance capitalists have had a pretty free run, with hardly any interference from laws and regulations. Democracy has slept while surveillance capitalists amassed unprecedented concentrations of knowledge and power. We enter the 21st century marked by this stark inequality in the division of learning: they know more about us than we know about ourselves or than we know about them.

These new forms of social inequality are inherently antidemocratic. First, surveillance capitalists no longer rely on people as consumers. Instead, supply and demand orients the surveillance capitalist firm to businesses intent on anticipating the behaviour of populations, groups and individuals. Second, by historical standards the large surveillance capitalists employ relatively few people compared with their unprecedented computational resources.

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General Motors employed more people during the height of the Great Depression than either Google or Facebook employs at their heights of market capitalisation. Finally, surveillance capitalism depends upon undermining individual self-determination, autonomy and decision rights for the sake of an unobstructed flow of behavioural data to feed markets that are about us but not for us. This antidemocratic and anti-egalitarian juggernaut is best described as a market-driven coup from above: an overthrow of the people concealed as the technological Trojan horse of digital technology.

On the strength of its annexation of human experience, this coup achieves exclusive concentrations of knowledge and power that sustain privileged influence over the division of learning in society. It is a form of tyranny that feeds on people but is not of the people. JN: Our societies seem transfixed by all this: we are like rabbits paralysed in the headlights of an oncoming car. This does not mean, however, that we are foolish, lazy, or hapless. On the contrary, in my book I explore numerous reasons that explain how surveillance capitalists got away with creating the strategies that keep us paralysed.

These include the historical, political and economic conditions that allowed them to succeed. Other significant reasons are the need for inclusion, identification with tech leaders and their projects, social persuasion dynamics, and a sense of inevitability, helplessness and resignation. The result is that the choice mechanisms we have traditionally associated with the private realm are eroded or vitiated.

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There can be no exit from processes that are intentionally designed to bypass individual awareness and produce ignorance, especially when these are the very same processes upon which we must depend for effective daily life. So our participation is best explained in terms of necessity, dependency, the foreclosure of alternatives, and enforced ignorance. SZ: The tech leaders desperately want us to believe that technology is the inevitable force here, and their hands are tied.

But there is a rich history of digital applications before surveillance capitalism that really were empowering and consistent with democratic values. Technology is the puppet, but surveillance capitalism is the puppet master. Surveillance capitalism is a human-made phenomenon and it is in the realm of politics that it must be confronted. The resources of our democratic institutions must be mobilised, including our elected officials.

GDPR [a recent EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU] is a good start, and time will tell if we can build on that sufficiently to help found and enforce a new paradigm of information capitalism.

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