Friday, May 14, 2010


FLG asked Prof. Deneen to mail his paper back to him. FLG'd meant to get over there to his office sometime this semester, but it just didn't work out.

Now, FLG was aware of many flaws in his paper relating to execution and the structure of the argument. Not so much aware, but unhappy with many parts of hem.

Well, Prof. Deneen tore asunder a goodly portion of the paper with one fell swoop when he referred me to this:*
if, in like manner, the shuttle would weave and the plectrum touch the lyre without a hand to guide them, chief workmen would not want servants, nor masters slaves. Here, however, another distinction must be drawn; the instruments commonly so called are instruments of production, whilst a possession is an instrument of action. The shuttle, for example, is not only of use; but something else is made by it, whereas of a garment or of a bed there is only the use. Further, as production and action are different in kind, and both require instruments, the instruments which they employ must likewise differ in kind. But life is action and not production, and therefore the slave is the minister of action. Again, a possession is spoken of as a part is spoken of; for the part is not only a part of something else, but wholly belongs to it; and this is also true of a possession. The master is only the master of the slave; he does not belong to him, whereas the slave is not only the slave of his master, but wholly belongs to him. Hence we see what is the nature and office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, being a human being, is also a possession. And a possession may be defined as an instrument of action, separable from the possessor.

Fuck, FLG said upon reading that passage again. This certainly calls into question the argument FLG made that the physical and material means of production, either through slavery or through machinery such that most people have free time, was an important distinction in Aristotle's eyes vis-a-vis leisure. FLG isn't sure that it undermines the implicit argument he made that technology in some ways becomes the master. But if that's the case then it shouldn't have been an implicit argument. It should've been the central one.

Times like this are what make FLG happy he's not in grad school. He knows he's not that smart, but he hates feeling really stupid. Not that he thinks that was Prof. Deneen's intention at all, but FLG feels that way nevertheless. FLG is pretty confident that, for him, political theory is one of those torturous things that a person is very interested in, yet awful at doing or understanding.


* Like how I put those two cliched phrases (tore asunder and one fell swoop) together? Me too.


C.S. Perry said...

I just liked that you use the word "Plectrum."
You don't get that alot these days.

Withywindle said...

Keeping in mind that Deneen may also be brighter than the average prof.

Withywindle said...

And, dude, you're learning at a high level. No shame in not knowing everything yet.

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