Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Definitions, Please

I struggled with Beck’s analysis of risk and risk distribution for several reason, the most pertinent being that there was a disconnect in the piece, either in the structure of the argument or in the lack of definitive terminology, that led to increased abstraction and ambiguity and ultimately increased my overall skepticism of these vague impending destructive forces that he speaks of, etc. etc. For example, Beck continuously referenced modernization, but more so from a distance, reluctantly addressing agents and causality. He says that scientific and environmental discussion often avoid the human, separating and/or isolating the discussion from the social/personal, but his analysis did a similar thing in that sense for me. Although he looks at civilization and recognizes causal interpretation as necessary in preventing overarching, umbrella statements, that conversation came much too late. Another way I found Beck difficult was that he used traditional terms like wealth and knowledge in an untraditional sense that made working through them almost impossible because one definition fit a certain context and didn’t necessarily pertain to a context that followed. In the way that Beck suggests the definition of risk has moved away from individual pursuits towards universal hazards/effects, changing over time, he doesn’t really pin point how wealth has changed as well, not to mention how politics complicates his theories all together.

There were, however, two quotes I found really fascinating:

  • “Scientific rationality without social rationality remains empty, but social rationality without scientific rationality remains blind.” (30) à This seems simple and clear and yet I still don’t really understand it. How are “empty” and “blind” operating here? And then also looking again at rationality would be useful. Can rationality be substituted for justification or something similar and still give these statement weight?

  • “Everyone is cause and effect, and thus non-cause.” (33) à Suggests that power is negated as a result of societal noise. Relates to averaging effect? Is this related to quasi-causality?

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