Friday, April 4, 2014

preparation for paper sessions

From Law13: 189-90:

"In the abstract there are no good (or bad) modes of syncretism, in part because there is no “abstract.” Instead, there are concrete and noncoherent practices that need to be held together in practice and in particular locations. How to do this and do it well is a necessarily a located contingency. For those driven by the will to purity, it may be disappointing to be told that there is no bottom line and that there are no general rules stipulating what counts as good. But there is a positive lesson too. This is that goods are themselves different in kind. The consequence is that there is a rich resource of goods (and bads) and styles of goods and bads available to us as a resource for thinking about how to order practices better. It also means that the six modes of syncretism that we have described are not simply strategies for handling difference. They may also be understood as different modes of normativity (or as different kinds of “ontonorms,” to use the terminology proposed by Annemarie Mol)."

• In the syncretic mode of denial, it is a good to refuse to recognize that which does not fit. This is how the world is rendered tractable in our first mode of syncretism. A good order, an appropriate order, spreads over and occupies all the available space.

• In domestication, it is a good to flatten or homogenize difference. This is the proper way of rendering difference tractable while also respecting its existence. It is also good to avoid violence and the incommensurability that leads to dialogues between the deaf.

• It is a good, in separation, to keep differences apart. It is also a good to make space for minor practices that might otherwise be squeezed by the ambitions of greedier modes of ordering. In other words, in a world of separation there is room for lumpy and qualitative difference. Indeed, lumpy is how the world should be.

• In care, it is a good to tinker iteratively and find ways of temporarily reconciling noncoherent logics and practices by keeping differences in a state of (always precarious) balance. It is also a good to know that it is highly likely that today’s solution will not work for very long. It is a good, in short, to understand that goods are necessarily in tension and cannot ultimately be reconciled.

• In conflict, it is a good to recognize the incompatibility of different ways of being and knowing, and different versions of the good. It is a good to stand up for what is right and proper. Therefore, it is a good not to compromise the proper order of things, to dilute principles, or to mix them with impurities. In this mode of syncretism, principles are important, and it is quite wrong to abandon them.

• Finally, and very differently, in collapse it is a good for things that might otherwise be understood as distinct to overlap and mix. Indeed, it is a good to explore and experiment with ways of encouraging them to do so. It is desirable to be pragmatic, to attend to the problem at hand, and to attempt to resolve it by whatever means happen to be available.

"Thus, there are many versions of the good—as many modes of normativity as there are styles of syncretism—and it follows, reciprocally, that there are equally many versions of the bad. Each mode of normativity is also a resource for finding bads in every other. So, for instance, from the point of view of separation, domestication looks like a form of (possibly symbolic) violence—which might, perhaps, be the point of view of anarchism when confronted with representative democracy. To take another example, as we have shown, those whose logic is that of careful tinkering may sometimes countenance the logic of denial, but in general they will consider denial wrong—a refusal to balance different versions of the good against one another while acknowledging that they are in tension."


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