On Ignorance

Sloterdijk on horse lovers and inter-ignorant systems:

The concept of “society,” [suggests] a coherence that could only be achieved by violent-asserting conformism. The conglomerate of humans that has, since the 18th century, called itself “society” is precisely not based on the atomic dots that we tend to call individuals. Instead, it is a patchwork of milieus that are structured as subcultures. Just think of the world of horse lovers–a huge subculture in which you could lose yourself for the duration of your life but which is as good as invisible if you are not a member of it. There are hundreds if not thousands of milieus in the current social terrain that all have the tendency from their own viewpoint to form the center of the world and yet are as good as nonexistent for the others. I term them “inter-ignorant systems.” And, among other things, they exist by virtue of a blindness rule. They may not know of one another, since otherwise their members would be robbed of the enjoyment of being specialized members of a select few. In terms of their profession, there are only two or three types of humans who can afford poly-valence in dealing with milieus. The first are the architects, who (at least virtually) build containers for all; the second are the novelists, who insert persons from all walks of life into their novels; finally come the priests, who speak at the burials of all possible classes of the dead. But that is probably the entire list. Oops, I forgot the new sociologists à la Latour.

Scharmen on the architect as anti-ignorant:

You can call yourself an ‘X Architect’ (where ‘X’ is information, product, solutions, flavor, etc.) if you can answer yes to the following questions:

Are you self critical?
Do you have a coherent set of ideas that parallels production and allows you to talk about why you make the choices you make?
Are you able to position those ideas relative to the ideas of other peers and define a space for conversation or debate?
Is the task large enough that it requires a division of labor, a
split between concept and execution, and the continuous maintenance of
evolving consensus between multiple stakeholders?

1 Comment so far

  1. Fred Scharmen on November 3rd, 2009

    Nice. Yeah, I think more and more that theory and discourse come directly out of that need to interact with others. To make an idea happen needs more than just one person, so that means you have to talk about *why*, and do it well.
    Anti-ignorant, maybe, but also inter-ignorant in the sense of walking around constantly among peers and collaborators without knowing it. That’s kind of the flip side – and I saw that in Adam’s writeup, too: it’s like there are lots of people doing this stuff, let’s get them together.

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