Friday, 22 February 2008

Benkler on Humanism

Yochai Benkler writes: [My position] "is humanistic and general as opposed to political and particular" ... "the claims of human beings as human beings, rather than with the requirements of democracy or the entitlements of citienship or membership in a legitimate and meaningfully self-governed political community." (Wealth of Networks, 2006, p. 19)

I thought this drew a nice distinction over something I have been puzzling about (even though this is not Benkler's subject): the difference between utopianism and political science. It is the central concern with the nature of humanity (both body and mind as discussed here) which, however much it gets wrapped up in political science in some work, runs consistently through utopianism. I think that Bauman* is wrong to imagine all bounded utopias as blueprints for modern era state building, but perhaps there was a phase (roughly from Bacon to Bellamy) when that model prevailed, when people were more concerned with emulating Plato's Laws than his Republic? That is actually quite a short phase within the longer histories we have looked at.

* in History of the Human Sciences 2003; 16; 1 – a special issue of the journal devoted entirely to the subject of Utopias. online

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