Notes on civility.

Citizen: Anglo-Fr. citezein (denizen) - O.Fr. citeain, from cite (city), inhabitant of a country circa 1380s.

City: from L. civitatem (nom. civitas) orig. "citizenship, community of citizens,"

Civil: From the Latin civis - citizen, resident.

Civil Rights: Privileges granted from the state to the citizen, relative to the nation.

If common sense is shared knowledge, and culturally specific, is it also bound by geography? Yes. Community = commune = (the) commons = common. The city, or a political body framed by the urban boundaries, represented by the citizen.

Common, from the Online Etymology Dictionary: "from O.Fr. comun, from L. communis 'in common, public, general, shared by all or many,' from PIE *ko-moin-i- 'held in common.'"

Urban literature - not a historical record but an ideological record, shared ideology.


Cross-post: Notes towards an understanding of common sense.

Initially I attempted to deconstruct the semantic implications. The word "common" refers to something "commonly held," or public property. A sense that belongs to us all. "Sense" is a slippery word. It is not exactly knowledge, or knowledge at all. To "sense" something and to "know" something are two different experiences. When I know something I am recalling a fact, and when I sense something I have an understanding which guides my actions. If there is common sense, is there a sense specific to a time, a place or a person? A police officer and a pastry chef would require different kinds of senses in order to perform properly. Furthermore, to possess any sense, one must rely on accumulated knowledge to inform this sense. Knowledge is the foundation of sense; collected fragments from the immediate, perceivable world builds and sharpens sense. Just so I can get my head around the word, I looked up sense in the dictionary.

sense |sens| noun
1 a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch : the bear has a keen sense of smell that enables it to hunt at dusk.
2 a feeling that something is the case : she had the sense of being a political outsider.
• an awareness or feeling that one is in a specified state : you can improve your general health and sense of well-being.
• ( sense of) a keen intuitive awareness of or sensitivity to the presence or importance of something : she had a fine sense of comic timing.
3 a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems : he earned respect by the good sense he showed at meetings.
• a reasonable or comprehensible rationale : I can't see the sense in leaving all the work to you.
4 a way in which an expression or a situation can be interpreted; a meaning : it is not clear which sense of the word “characters” is intended in this passage.
5 chiefly Mathematics Physics a property, e.g., direction of motion, distinguishing a pair of objects, quantities, effects, etc., that differ only in that each is the reverse of the other.
• [with clause ] be aware that something is the case without being able to define exactly how one knows : he could sense that he wasn't liked.
• cause someone to (or start to) think and behave reasonably after a period of folly or irrationality. in a (or one) sense used to indicate a particular interpretation of a statement or situation : in a sense, behavior cannot develop independently of the environment. in one's senses fully aware and in control of one's thoughts and words; sane: would any man in his senses invent so absurd a story? make sense be intelligible, justifiable, or practicable. make sense of find meaning or coherence in: she must try to make sense of what was going on. out of one's senses in or into a state of insanity. a sense of direction a person's ability to know without explicit guidance the direction in which they are or should be moving. take leave of one's senses (in hyperbolic use) go insane.
ORIGIN late Middle English (as a noun in the sense [meaning] ): from Latin sensus ‘faculty of feeling, thought, meaning,’ from sentire ‘feel.’ The verb dates from the mid 16th cent.

I've eliminated some definitions that pertain to fibre optics and genetics. These definitions don't relate to this topic. Some important words that I'm pulling out of this text are "perceives," "feeling," "interpreted," "awareness" and "attitude." For the purpose of my study, I'm going to rely on these words as I embark on this subject.

So if I make the distinction between knowledge and sense then I can, with some confidence, say that common sense is a shared understanding of the world. Also, it is a way of doing things, a way of presenting oneself, a way of thinking about a subject and a way of responding to events - a way, a methodology. More later.

(Originally posted November 11th, 2005 on The Stars Have Eyes)

Notes on the sociology of courage.

The initial approach should be a pretheoretical examination of courage: its definition, how it is employed in a religious, moral, cultural and social context. The next step is to illustrate how these fields interact with one another. This will lead to isolating the social dimension. Courage, (or bravery, most likely an etymology will be required) could be interpreted as capital in terms of social or moral capital, that is accumulated in specific social situations that calls for a degree of courage to be enacted at the appropriate time. When are those times? Why are these situations, or moments, considered to be appropriate? When is courage not required? This discussion will dovetail into social (or civil) courage. To be civil, to be a citizen, to have responsibility, to be responsible, in lieu of possessing civil rights. Why is cowardice considered a "death?"

(Transcribed from dead tree notebook)



So. Lately I've been thinking about how I'm going to properly write about my self-absorbed and incredibly pretentious interest in social and literary theory. In the past I would unabashedly drop theoretical topics into my posts, and the usual response would be akin to a meaty fist lodging itself into my face.

I learned some lessons. No one wants to read a blog riddled with jargon. Most people don't care about these topics outside of those actually working in this field. Admittedly, the subject is not as glamorous as, say, a blog about a visually-impaired paramedic who moonlights as a circus acrobat-cum-food critic. Rather than boring or alienating anyone, I figured I might as well devote a small space for my thoughts on these subjects. I love them deeply, despite the fact I'm a still a student and not an actual theoretician. Nor will I necessarily become one, either.

Expect frantic writing, poor spelling, long words and confused ideas. I will try to bring the funny. Compared to my other blogs, nothing has really changed.

Okay, so here's my position: I have a strong post-structuralist bent but I'm not wholly committed to completely insulating myself within that particular discourse. I will dance with feminism and post-colonialism. I'm closer to Weber than I am to Marx, but I'm not afraid to trot out old Uncle Karl to give you a good finger-wagging. I'm mostly interested in art, literature, subcultures and everyday life.

Now let's see where this takes me.