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September 22 2012 7 22 /09 /September /2012 19:55

Since publishing my last post, I've been discovering the enormous value of articles published in the two recent (and inaugural) issues of Human Figurations, the on-line periodical recently initiated by the people at the Norbert Elias Foundation. Specifically, I'll be following up on ideas suggested by my reading of Godfried van Benthem van der Bergh's article "Norbert Elias and the human condition" in Volume 1, Issue 2, July 2012. I'm afraid I've not yet been able to figure out how to give you a direct link to the article, but it can be accessed by going to the Norbert Elias Foundation website, clicking on to the highlighted Human Figurations, going to "Browse" on the resulting screen, and selecting "Volume 1, Issue 2" for the table of contents.

 

It will be helpful for you to know, too, that the following comments are an extrapolation from the eighth paragraph of my last post, "I, and We, and Us, and Everything." (Let it not be said that I don't confront the largest issues!)

 

In his article, van Benthem van der Bergh discusses in detail, and at some length, Norbert Elias's proposition about the role of hegemony (or, rather, the quest for it) in the evolution of human societies. I cannot do justice here to all the issues raised in the article––most of it is devoted to  a discussion of the author's comparison of his own and Elias's view about the likelihood of humankind's survival in the presence of the likely proliferation of nuclear weapon capability in more nations––but I can identify, I believe, the underlying, unadmitted and unrecognized metaphysical concern. It is, in fact, the one I make very brief reference to in the above-mentioned important eighth paragraph of my previous post . . .

 

It's probably most useful to express that concern in the form of a question––the one that indeed underlies the logic of every human endeavor––"How can I/we assure myself/ourselves of my/our relevance to existence itself?" Godfried's article suggests to me that the almost universal urge for one's own hegemony in relation to others is simply a displacement of the question, a formulation of it that allows for the promise of a satisfactory answer. "I/We may not be able to be clear about my/our place in the universe, but I/we can be assured that my/our dominance over others asserts my/our relevance and effectiveness as actor, that is, as having meaning."

 

How's that for an answer to unacknowledged existential angst? How about not displacing the question, but confronting it? The last chapter of MSOU attempts to do just that.

 

Cheers . . .

 

John.

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