the archives

dusted off in read-only

  •  

posted 13 Dec 2006, 00:12 by Peter, Auditor

[quote:2ra39ppl]First off..the posts are really too long..so I am going to keep it short and simple in hope you will too... [/quote:2ra39ppl] Bah, long posts are a sign of strength. Ok, you are right, long posts make for difficult reading. I defend the length of the initial post because I think the ideas need to be spellt out clearly (or as clearly as I am capable of doing). I am guilty of verbosity however. [quote:2ra39ppl]Anyway..the notion of nation is not irrational..it is our confirmity with the nation that can be seen as irrational. This brings us to the discussion you guys already have..utility vs rationality. Since rationality is just as ambiguous notion as that of a nation..it makes not sense to continue this argument. [/quote:2ra39ppl] I am not sure I agree with you when you say that the concept of nation is not irrational, and that I argue only that our adoption of it is. A concept which implied both P and not P at the same time (this object both has three internal angles and does not have three internal angles at the same time) would be irrational and it would be irrational to adopt such a concept. I argue that the concept of nationhood can only be "justified" by reference to itself. Therefore it is circular in its nature. The concept of nationhood relies upon the concept of nationhood. Insofar as circularity is irrational, then adoption of any concept which is circular in nature must be irrational too. I can see why one might think that the notion of rationality is ambiguous. People use it in lots of different ways in lots of different contexts. So, let us be clear about this, the rationality used here is describable in terms of intelligibility Intelligibilty is, very briefly, characterised by a minimal requirement of consistency (I cannot explicitly believe, at the same time, both P and not P and remain intelligible to someone else) and more generally a general acceptance of certain rules of thinking, principally the laws of logic. Someone who consistently states that "If P then Q, If Q then R, and finally P but not R" is failing to think intelligibly and to the extent that we cannot explain this behaviour away with reference to circumstantial facts (i.e. "he is under a lot of stress and isn't thinking clearly), then may also be classed as irrational. With this account of rationality, I think I can say that the concept of nationhood is irrational because it fails to conform to the laws of logic, specifically the problem of circularity. This is not to say that it is automatically irrational to adopt the concept of nationality, for we can render intelligible why someone might mistake themselves and think that the concept is rational. Mostly people will simply not question the provenance of the concept, which is not irrational. However, once someone accepts that the concept is irrational, then they will become irrational if they continue to adopt and uphold the concept. So, it is not irrational for someone to hold the belief that TV does not affect people's behaviour and so all this "less violence" stuff is ridiculous and also, at the same time, the belief that the world would be a better place if there were more religious programming on the box. If we take it that the implicit implications of both beliefs do, in fact, lead to inconsistency (they don't have to, but could easily, so let us assume they do), then once it is pointed out the person only becomes irrational if they accept the inconsistency but refuses to abandon or modify his beliefs. So, perhaps I was too strong in my initial argument. It is not irrational to want to belong to a nation, although I think my argument shows that the concept of nation is irrational. It is irrational if someone accepts my argument and continues to accept the concept of nation. I do however think that people should accept my argument, because I think it is sound (i.e. both that the structure is valid and that the premises are true) and insofar as it is irrational for us to hold beliefs we know to be false (because belief aims at truth, and knowledge implies belief anyway), then people should abandon their concept of nationhood. [quote:2ra39ppl]In fact I believe you are tackling the issue from a 'wrong' angle. It would be more interesting, indeed, to see how the nation comes to existance. I have had some history classes only, so I am not sure if i am entirely correct here..but didn't the Greeks have a nation? the Persians? The fact that Euro-centric scholars see the notion of nation slowly finding its purpose! after the Middle Ages, does not mean that they never existed. I was reading Aristotle's Politics some days ago and I am sure that the word nation is in it. Now, I agree that translations (to English this time) can be deceiving, it could have just as well be the new interpretation ("there are no facts, only interpretations"), yet it could just as well be the unity of the Greeks that made them a nation..even if the notion did not exist. Furthermore, Aristotle (and so many other) often talk of the Hellenes and the barbarians, which necesserily implies that there was such a thing as the self and the other... [/quote:2ra39ppl] Causal accounts are, to me, always less interesting than explanations. A causal account describes, an explanation gives an account of why. As for the historical. I am specifically targetting the concept of nationhood, which is definitely a modern notion. The Greeks had a concept of race, and a common language, but no desire to live together and no shared history (though they did have something of a shared culture). I have read Aristotle's Politics too, so readable compared to so much stuff I read now, and he does identify the Hellenes as opposed to the Easterners (Persians) and the Barbarians (everyone else), but this is not a nation, it is an ethnic group or 'race'. Modern Greece required precisely the sort of ownership of history to come into being which I think is illegitimate. Spartan history is as "Greek" as Athenian, is as "Greek" as Corinthean etc. despite the fact that the Spartans, the Athenians and the Corintheans would not have identified themselves as having a shared history, except insofar as they interacted as sovereign states. Before European 17-18th century thought there were administrative units which made up states, there were not nations. There were things which fulfilled similar roles to nations, religion for instance. The Islamic Caliphate ran from Bagdhad to Andalucia, all nominally under the control of the Caliph, but what held people together was religion, not nation. Perhaps the Jews could be said to have formed a nation before this (Nietzche apparantly credits them with the founding of the idea), but the shared language is sacred (Hebrew was the language of the Torah and nothing else for a long time) as are the shared customs and history. I would say that it was a religious imagined community rather than a national one. All of this said, I don't deny the existence of imagined communities prior to the nation. There are many actually existing (religions for example) and there were many others (of all sorts). I strongly suspect that to the extent that we are simply born into them that there will be similar problems as with nations, but I don't want to get into that yet. Once (if) I am on firmer footing with nations I'll go further. [quote:2ra39ppl].. The existence of nation-states is very logical..at least them coming into being..the fixed territorial boundaries (initially for the population, eventually for resources)..in order to keep the population under the rule one must find the necessary legitimacy (based on your interpretation, I suppose you would see these as lies)..legitimacy is won slowly of course..first by security..then by extension of rights etc... I don't have much time to look into the subject right now..but my point is that their is a logical series of causes for a state..thus also a nation-state..to exist... And since I define these causes as logical..you might say they are also rational.[/quote:2ra39ppl] Causal accounts are not normative. They do not indicate whether something should be the case or not, simply that this is how things are and how they happened. I can give a causal account of my shooting someone, from the physical brain states, down to the muscle movements and catastrophic effects upon the other person's body that the bullet has. This account explains that I shot someone. It does not explain why I shot someone (even if we include brain state descriptions prior to the shooting). This is the case even if we claim that brain states are all there is to thinking (a reasonable claim, though not entailing that all that can be known about thinking resides in brain states), for the reasons exist independently of the brain states. In a pre-neuroscientific age it is still possible to explain why it is that I shot the person, so explanation cannot be identified with physical brain states (if they were we could not know of them without our scientific account which is plainly false) As to the actual causal account, I have seen a number of different interpretations. Most of them invoke some sort of notion of necessity deriving from economic models. The mass labour required for capitalism can only be unified with something akin to nations etc. These explanations tell me how it is that nations came about. They do not give me reasons to think that it should have come about or that it should remain. If nations remain purely because they are useful, even though the concept is irrational, then I claim it should be abandoned because it is irrational. [quote:2ra39ppl]You example of A and B supposing to have the same experience is void..because you do not have this sentiment..yet others might... C, for example, coming from Scottland, might feel the same sentiment for entire different reasons..yet his union with the rest of the Brits! can only be explained by him.. It would be his need/desire for his community (just as your need for the RPG community). [/quote:2ra39ppl] I have to say I don't really follow this part here. Are you saying that it is legitimate for C to desire to be British because of his desire to become part of a community? I would say that his need to become part of a community cannot be enough for nationhood, because there are uncountably many different sets of people with whom he could desire to form a community. He could base his desire on any number of characteristics, real (like being a roleplayer, or being an admirer of the qualities of tin) or imagined (like being British, or being a Hellene). Sorry I am not really clear what you mean by this, do you think you could elaborate please? [quote:2ra39ppl]Oh..and I see now that I have failed to keep it short...[/quote:2ra39ppl] Sorry, me too. :oops: Better luck next time? :D [quote:2ra39ppl]Why have a nation still? People need leaders. Leadership appears to be defined in a society by the rules/laws. I realize my post is not perfect but I speak in terms of perception rather than actual reality.[/quote:2ra39ppl] Yeah, sorry, I didn't see this reply initially (sorry blind). I don't want to go on too much more, so I'll say that I can see why it might be the case that people need leaders and nations provide a firm basis for creating leaders, but I think that other systems might do it better. National leaders will follow the national interest and this will harm the interests of others. What I want is leadership which deals with individuals and with all rational beings. No ignoring the plight of Africa because they are poor, no hatred of the French because history tells us to and no "My country right or wrong". view post

  •  

The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown.