Sunday, January 22, 2006


On Monday January 23rd, Canada votes.

And in the urban cultures seminar, we discuss Jean-Luc Nancy and Giorgio Agamben on the impossibilities of community.

Last week, Mark Kingwell wrote in the Toronto Star:

"Integrity is a notion found in both ethics and materials science, but it derives a more basic meaning from mathematics. Integer is the name we give to a whole number, something entire and complete; and thus, by metaphorical extension, to something sound or good. One good thing, there (teger being the Latin for 'touch') for the touching. Tangible oneness.

Four centuries into the modern era, we are well aware of the limitations inherent in what political philosophers call 'atomic individualism.' Everybody counts for one, in votes and in claims on the state we share; legitimacy begins and ends here. But if we come to view individuals as fundamentally self-interested and separate, at war with their neighbours, alienation and conflict loom. What starts as a great victory for the self declines swiftly into pathology; not deliberations between friends but bargaining among strangers.

The truth is that there are duties, both ethical and civic, that make no sense without a prior commitment to a web of care, which, however tenuously, connects one person to another. We are not alone, because we cannot be who we are in the first place without the others for whom we act, and from whom we seek recognition.

But that doesn't mean we are all part of one great family. The power of oneness as integrity lies not in us all being one, but in our each being so. Not later in death, and not under the skin; but now, as we are and aren't the same." (via)

And I'm still thinking.


Anonymous Francois Lachance said...

For me, the urge to make sense of categorical imperatives doesn't make sense. Not to say that ethical and civic duties are categorical.

Being alone and being on one's own.

The categorical belongs to the human being as a being alone. The other imperatives belong to the human being as a being not being on one's own, i.e. part of a community and an ecosystem.

Of course such a reading is based on Kant's foundations for the metaphysics of morals.

Notions of integrity may be found in both ethics and materials science. Same name, different concept. Furthermore Kingwell doesn't delve into the other integers: -1, -2, -4

Let alone, the magic cypher of zero which is also an integer but very much untouchable.

Anonymous Diego Navarro said...

I think you seek to much into signifier juxtaposition.

By the way, "integral" has also a completely different meaning in first-year calculus.


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