Die philosophischen Abhandlungen des ... al-Kindi. Zum by A. Nagy, al-Kindi

By A. Nagy, al-Kindi

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Until the 12th century, Roman law recognized two general categories of social life – the two to which Thatcher’s declaration of the non-existence of society would return us. In the ‘natural’ mode, property was transmitted through the family (gens), an equation of biological reproduction and social succession. But there was also an ‘artificial’ mode for temporary associations (socius), such as joint-stock companies and crusades, which were projectcentred and ceased to exist once the project was completed and its profits were distributed to the project’s partners.

Latour would have us return to just before some major theorists and politicians invented the social sciences as the standard-bearers of modernity. Indeed, his great leap backward would return us to the moment when the market first asserted itself against traditional forms of social life – the ‘great transformation’ in European history – in response to which both social science and socialism came into being (Polanyi, 1944). qxd 1/12/2006 10:17 AM Page 22 The New Sociological Imagination as a nightmare from which we – or at least those of us in the land of the living – are now awakening.

Liberals aspired to a world in which people could dispose of their capacities just as landowners could of their property: Ideally, you would be judged by what you did with your ‘possessions’ in this extended sense, in a free environment. As we shall see, this perspective has come to be reinvented as we acquire greater knowledge of specifically biological capacities. In any case, liberals agreed with conservatives on the need for some sort of principle of cumulative advantage but disagreed on its basis.

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