Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Captives

"Data" means "that which is given". In science we can distinguish the data from the objects of inquiry. The data are the means by which the objects are given to us. In Kantian terms, we can say that the data are known to us intuitively, immediately, while the objects are known to us only indirectly, mediately. Objects are always "theoretical", we might say.

The distinction between object and data, i.e., its immediate givenness in experience, which is philosophical (conceptual), not scientific, establishes a limit to our knowledge, and establish a space for thought.

In politics, we can distinguish the subjects of governance from its "capta". The capta are the means by which we are "taken", immediately, as subjects, before we are empowered to act. (Compare the "a priori" that precedes our knowledge of facts.) Or, of course, before we are disempowered. (Compare: the data may be "given" and yet mislead, bringing only ignorance of the object.) Subjects are always entirely practical.

The extrication of the subject from its immediate captivity, its takenness with the "capta" of experience, which is poetical (emotional), not political, liberates us from power, empowers us, gives us time to feel. Sometimes, of course, we are able to feel only our captivity in this moment. Sometimes we are able to discern an avenue of escape.

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