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> Worshippers Of The Unseen Butterfingers (WOTUB), Critical Reflection ⇒ Making The Invisible Hand Visible
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Jon Awbrey
post Thu 11th March 2010, 9:32pm
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Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart …

QUOTE

Ideas formulated by Nietzsche were major sources of Weber's inspiration for the last, pessimistic section of The Protestant Ethic (Mommsen, 1974:106, see 79). Those of us who know Weber's work primarily through Parsons' translation fail to realize this because, once again, of deficiencies in Parsons' rendering of a crucial and revealing phrase. Both Tiryakian (1981:27) and Turner (1982:87) quote part of the paragraph in which the telling phrase occurs; I will quote the entire paragraph, and cite the German at the appropriate points.

No one knows who will live in this cage (Gehäuse) in the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of the old ideas and ideals, or, if neither, mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the last stage (die ‘letzten Menschen’) of this cultural development it might well be truly said: ‘Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart; this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved’ (Weber, 1920b:182; 1920a:204).

The translation problem is clear: in the original German Weber referred to Nietzsche's “last men” (Nietzsche 1883:128–131, 325) as those who would be “ ‘specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart.’ ” He even put letzten Menschen in quotation marks, so that his readers would be certain to pick up the Nietzschean allusion to Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Parsons' translation of the German phrase as “the last stage,” not to mention his omission of the quotations around it, inarguably misrepresents what Weber tried to convey (Fleischmann, 1964:233; Mommsen, 1965:600–602).

— Stephen A. Kent, “Weber, Goethe, and the Nietzschean Allusion : Capturing the Source of the “Iron Cage” Metaphor”, Sociological Analysis, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 297–319, Oxford University Press. Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711612.


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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 12th March 2010, 1:36pm
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Specialists without spirit, sensualists without heart …

QUOTE

The “specialists without spirit” quotation that Weber offered was not taken verbatim from Nietzsche. Rather, Weber himself constructed it with the tenor of Zarathustra in mind (Mommsen, 1965:602). That he would construct such a passage should not be surprising since (in contrast to Weber's limited use of Bunyan) consideration of Nietzsche's philosophy is evident throughout his life's work (see Fleischmann, 1964). An excellent example of his indebtedness to Nietzsche occurs in Weber's 1918 speech entitled “Science as a Vocation” (which was published in the following year). In this speech, Weber's scorn for the overextension of both scientific promises and scientific technique parallels his famous lament about “ ‘specialists without spirit’ ” in the final section of The Protestant Ethic:

After Nietzsche's devastating criticism of those ‘last men’ who ‘invented happiness,’ I may leave aside altogether the naive optimism in which science — that is, the technique of mastering life which rests upon science — has been celebrated as the way to happiness. Who believes in this? — aside from a few big children in university chairs or editorial offices (Weber, 1946:143; 1947:13).

— Stephen A. Kent, “Weber, Goethe, and the Nietzschean Allusion : Capturing the Source of the “Iron Cage” Metaphor”, Sociological Analysis, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 297–319, Oxford University Press. Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/3711612.

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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 12th March 2010, 6:37pm
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QUOTE

    When Zarathustra had spoken these words he beheld the people again and was silent. “There they stand,” he said to his heart; “There they laugh. They do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears. Must one smash their ears before they learn to listen with their eyes? Must one clatter like kettledrums and preachers of repentance? Or do they believe only the stammerer?
    “They have something of which they are proud. What do they call that which makes them proud? Education they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds. That is why they do not like to hear the word ‘contempt’ applied to them. Let me then address their pride. Let me speak to them of what is most contemptible: but that is the last man.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra : A Book for All and for None, Walter Kaufmann (trans.), The Modern Library, New York, NY, 1995. Originally published in parts, Also Sprach Zarathustra, 1883, 1884, 1892.


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victim of censorship
post Fri 12th March 2010, 8:22pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Fri 12th March 2010, 6:37pm) *

QUOTE

    When Zarathustra had spoken these words he beheld the people again and was silent. “There they stand,” he said to his heart; “There they laugh. They do not understand me; I am not the mouth for these ears. Must one smash their ears before they learn to listen with their eyes? Must one clatter like kettledrums and preachers of repentance? Or do they believe only the stammerer?
    “They have something of which they are proud. What do they call that which makes them proud? Education they call it; it distinguishes them from goatherds. That is why they do not like to hear the word ‘contempt’ applied to them. Let me then address their pride. Let me speak to them of what is most contemptible: but that is the last man.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra : A Book for All and for None, Walter Kaufmann (trans.), The Modern Library, New York, NY, 1995. Originally published in parts, Also Sprach Zarathustra, 1883, 1884, 1892.






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Jon Awbrey
post Tue 15th June 2010, 4:00pm
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Raising this back to consciousness for the sake of current discussions on the CPOV List.

My 2 Cents —

QUOTE

What's Up the Sleeve of the Invisible Hand?

Let me pick up another “fast and loose” thread from Nate's last post.

It's a natural human tendency, when faced with overwhelming complexity, to wish it all away with some radically simplifying belief or mythology. That would be my guess as to why the Myth of the Invisible Hand is every bit as popular on the Internet today as Jolly Old Saint Nick and visions of sugar-plums <feel free to insert your local color here> are in the fantasies of pre-critical children.

That is probably why variations on the theme of Adam Smith's “Invisible Hand” are such frequent topics of discussion at The Wikipedia Review. Against that backdrop I personally find that the best resource for trying to understand the conversion of ethical motives into economic motors lies in the work of Max Weber, beginning with his analysis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

Jon Awbrey, 15 June 2010

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Jon Awbrey
post Sun 5th December 2010, 8:44pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Thu 26th February 2009, 8:46am) *

Dynamic List Of Resources —

Adam SmithMax WeberIf you never read any other Social Theory, read Max Weber first. It was one of the great tragedies of the 20th Century that he died when he did, not only because the program of works he had begun would remain unfinished but also because the moderating influence he was exerting on his country's national and international affairs was suddenly dissipated.

Here is an excellent online resource on Weber —

The links to some of the works above have gotten broken over time. I will try to replace them with WebArchive links, but the WayBack Machine has momentarily burned a fuse, so here are links to alternative sources:

Adam Smith
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Milton Roe
post Mon 6th December 2010, 1:37am
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Tue 15th June 2010, 9:00am) *

Raising this back to consciousness for the sake of current discussions on the CPOV List.

My 2 Cents —

QUOTE

What's Up the Sleeve of the Invisible Hand?
It's a natural human tendency, when faced with overwhelming complexity, to wish it all away with some radically simplifying belief or mythology. That would be my guess as to why the Myth of the Invisible Hand is every bit as popular on the Internet today as Jolly Old Saint Nick and visions of sugar-plums <feel free to insert your local color here> are in the fantasies of pre-critical children.

That is probably why variations on the theme of Adam Smith's “Invisible Hand” are such frequent topics of discussion at The Wikipedia Review. Against that backdrop I personally find that the best resource for trying to understand the conversion of ethical motives into economic motors lies in the work of Max Weber, beginning with his analysis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.



Gee, I'm glad you reposted this, since it gives me the chance to say "bullshit." I think the idea of the above, is that Adam Smith is literally worshipped, primarily by right-wing God-fearing conservatives, who equate the evolutionary behavior of markets with the Protestant Ethic, and are therefore somehow "anti-progressive," inasmuch as this helps them deny giant capitalist conspiracies. Which, in turn, ironically take the place of "Intelligent Design" in the sphere of left wing economics.

This debate on the biological side goes back at least to Darwin's deliberately reading Adam Smith when he was trying to work out his idea of "apparent top-down design by means of bottom-up uncomplicated simple behavior." Thus "explaining" why the natural world appears designed, without actually being designed. And at the same time "explaining" why honeybees, ants, and beavers all look like they earnestly display the Protestant Ethic of accumulation for accumulation's sake, which Protestants have long taken to be a Providentally-assigned behavior, which stands as symbolical on its own. Consider the number of honeybees and ants that populate protestant sermons.

When in fact, all these creatures are none of them ethical, moral, foresighted, religious, thrifty, or even "industrious vs. lazy" in the way we understand these terms. They simply behave as their genes tell them too, end of story. The result appears vaguely capitalistic, because in many environments, only accumulation far past present consuption levels, will allow future survival.

Consider the squirrel as capitalist, mindlessly collecting more acorns than it can ever eat that year. We now know that forgotten caches of nuts sprouting later, play an important role in the dispersion of trees, even though what squirrels do, is surely not for the benefit of oaks. It's almost like some invisible hand helping oaks along, though. ermm.gif ohmy.gif

If we could ask squirrels, surely that's the way THEY would justify it all--- no? wacko.gif

As I've noted, Marx, during Darwin's lifetime, agreed with Darwin about the struggle between creatures to survive, as well as the amoral barbarity of the natural world. But Marx went on to accuse Darwin of simply recreating, in his theory, the economic underpinnings of his own English society. In other words, Marx held the Darwin was wrong, simply because his theory of "apparent design" in biology was too much like Smith's "apparent design" in macro-economics, which in turn Marx thought was wrong. Because macroeconomics (so said Marx) was instead due to Marx's own "designing deity": class-struggle and the intelligent actions of (evil) self-interested individual capitalists and capitalist classes.

But this is just one more instance of the dishonesty of Marx. He himself was a thorough-going atheist. Saying Darwin was wrong about where species came from, puts Marx under the intellectual obligation to say where instead they DO come from, and doing it without invoking a giant design conspiracy. He didn't, and couldn't, have done any such thing. Obviously Darwin is correct about nature, unless one demands a God to do it all. The cognitive dissonance would doubtless have been too much for Marx to admit that. Because as it is, Marx, always eager to play the Big Intellectual, leaves his readers without any answers at all. Biologists who were truly Marxists would need to give up, and frame no theories at all. They'd simply have to go back to being mere stamp collectors, and descriptive naturalists.

Good luck with that, you Commies. tongue.gif
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Jon Awbrey
post Mon 6th December 2010, 2:52am
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QUOTE(Milton Roe @ Sun 5th December 2010, 8:37pm) *

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Tue 15th June 2010, 9:00am) *

Raising this back to consciousness for the sake of current discussions on the CPOV List.

My 2 Cents —

QUOTE

What's Up the Sleeve of the Invisible Hand?

It's a natural human tendency, when faced with overwhelming complexity, to wish it all away with some radically simplifying belief or mythology. That would be my guess as to why the Myth of the Invisible Hand is every bit as popular on the Internet today as Jolly Old Saint Nick and visions of sugar-plums <feel free to insert your local color here> are in the fantasies of pre-critical children.

That is probably why variations on the theme of Adam Smith's “Invisible Hand” are such frequent topics of discussion at The Wikipedia Review. Against that backdrop I personally find that the best resource for trying to understand the conversion of ethical motives into economic motors lies in the work of Max Weber, beginning with his analysis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.



Gee, I'm glad you reposted this, since it gives me the chance to say "bullshit". I think the idea of the above, is that Adam Smith is literally worshipped, primarily by right-wing God-fearing conservatives, who equate the evolutionary behavior of markets with the Protestant Ethic, and are therefore somehow "anti-progressive," inasmuch as this helps them deny giant capitalist conspiracies. Which, in turn, ironically take the place of "Intelligent Design" in the sphere of left wing economics.

This debate on the biological side goes back at least to Darwin's deliberately reading Adam Smith when he was trying to work out his idea of "apparent top-down design by means of bottom-up uncomplicated simple behavior." Thus "explaining" why the natural world appears designed, without actually being designed. And at the same time "explaining" why honeybees, ants, and beavers all look like they earnestly display the Protestant Ethic of accumulation for accumulation's sake, which Protestants have long taken to be a Providentally-assigned behavior, which stands as symbolical on its own. Consider the number of honeybees and ants that populate protestant sermons.

When in fact, all these creatures are none of them ethical, moral, foresighted, religious, thrifty, or even "industrious vs. lazy" in the way we understand these terms. They simply behave as their genes tell them too, end of story. The result appears vaguely capitalistic, because in many environments, only accumulation far past present consuption levels, will allow future survival.

Consider the squirrel as capitalist, mindlessly collecting more acorns than it can ever eat that year. We now know that forgotten caches of nuts sprouting later, play an important role in the dispersion of trees, even though what squirrels do, is surely not for the benefit of oaks. It's almost like some invisible hand helping oaks along, though. ermm.gif ohmy.gif

If we could ask squirrels, surely that's the way THEY would justify it all — no? wacko.gif

As I've noted, Marx, during Darwin's lifetime, agreed with Darwin about the struggle between creatures to survive, as well as the amoral barbarity of the natural world. But Marx went on to accuse Darwin of simply recreating, in his theory, the economic underpinnings of his own English society. In other words, Marx held the Darwin was wrong, simply because his theory of "apparent design" in biology was too much like Smith's "apparent design" in macro-economics, which in turn Marx thought was wrong. Because macroeconomics was instead due to Marx's own "designing deity": class-struggle and the intelligent actions of (evil) self-interested capitalists.

But this is just one more instance of the dishonesty of Marx. He himself was a thorough-going atheist. Saying Darwin was wrong about where species came from, puts Marx under the intellectual obligation to say where instead they DO come from, and doing it without invoking a giant design conspiracy. He doesn't, and can't, do any such thing. Obviously Darwin is correct about nature, unless you want a God to do it. The cognitive dissonance would doubtless have been too much for Marx to admit that. Because as it is, Marx is left without any answers at all. Truly Marxist biologists would have to give up and frame no theories at all. They'd simply need to go back to being mere stamp collectors and descriptive naturalists.

Good luck with that, you Commies. tongue.gif


huh.gif Huh?

All I did was suggest a reading of Max Weber as an antidote to certain liturgies of popular mystification, spawned by cynical exploiters of Adam Smith in much the same way that all manner of inhumanities are spawned by certain cults of Bible-thumpers. But those inhumanities arise from the hearts of the book-thumpers in question, not necessarily from their authors' intentions, existent or otherwise.

I have no interest in misplaced biological metaphors like social darwinism, so let's not muddy the waters with patent nonsense like that.

Jon dry.gif
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Jon Awbrey
post Fri 10th December 2010, 7:30pm
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Da Capo …

QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ Mon 2nd March 2009, 8:58am) *

Dialogue Concerning The Two World Systems —

A dialogue between Adam Smith 1759 and Adam Smith 1776, that is.

J₪N

My Favourites —

QUOTE

The rich … divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal proportions among all its inhabitants.

— Adam Smith (1759), The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part IV Chapter 1



QUOTE

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it.

— Adam Smith (1759), The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Part I Section I Chapter I



Available on Virtually Simulated Gold Plaques for a Nominal Donation of £1,000,000 Each — Get Both for Only £1,999,999 !!! — Brought to You by the Loving Hands and Expert Craftsmanship of the Madoff Mint.

J₪N


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Jon Awbrey
post Sat 15th October 2011, 4:18pm
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Returning to this topic for the sake of a discussion on PolicyMic.

Chris MillerAmerica Needs Evolution, Not Revolution

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Jon Awbrey
post Sat 15th October 2011, 4:50pm
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QUOTE(Jon Awbrey @ 14 Oct 2011)

Talkin Bout My Granfalloon

There are few things the mainscream media loves better than a granfallon, and there is no bigger granfalloon than the motley crew of accidental pilgrims they lump together as baby boomers.

What I keep saying about class identity applies as well to generation identity. If you really believe that “[your] parents’ generation is battling to preserve a system that no longer works and are unwilling to make any sacrifices to fix it”, then you need to look around at the folks your age. You'll find that just as many of them affect that Ruling Class mentality, that Last Generation (après moi le déluge) presumption as any other age in history.

So watch out for that …

Jon Awbrey14 Oct 2011

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