Sunday, March 06, 2011

Some Thoughts on Sociotemporality

I am rereading J.T. Fraser's Time, Conflict, and Human Values in light of comments on my spatial economics proposal/abstract made by a reviewer. He or she suggested I take time into more consideration. That's like telling me to eat more pasta! So I am rereading Fraser.

However, I am rereading TCHV in light of several years of work on Hayek's spontaneous order theory of society. I have talked about Fraser's umwelt theory of time here. But as I am rereading TCHV, I have realized that Fraser's discussion of sociotemporality, which I question in Diaphysics, is even more problematic than I realized. In particular, Fraser attributes society as having a purpose. Hayek of course observes that society does not and cannot have a purpose. More than that, if Hayek is right about a particular level of complexity being unable to understand its own or a higher level of complexity, it would be impossible to understand the nature of sociotemporality in the first place. Fraser does note this in passing, but then procedes to describe it anyway. Is it not appropriate that one with a tragic world view would engage in an act of hubris? How daring, and how foolish! But it must be done, even if one is in error. How else can understanding emerge?

So let me engage in the same foolish, hubristic enterprise (again, as I did in Diaphysics). Fraser's sociotemporality is in fact part and parcel of his nootemporality -- that of human time -- because humans are a social species. Our brains develop in a social situation -- and, thus, our nootemporality develops in sociotemporality, as Fraser describes it. What is truly different, what gains a new level of complexity above the human, is the spontaneous order. Does it have a temporality all its own? Or, as I suggested in Diaphysics, must we expect new temporaities to emerge not external to the human mind, but internal to it? Or, even more likely, an internal-external coevolution. Might minds (and new temporalities) be emerging that can live comfortably in spontaneous orders? One can only hope. But that will be a new mental temporality, not one external to us per se. Spontaneous social orders have no goals -- but they allow us to realize our goals, if we know how to act in them. That may require the emergence of a new temporality. Perhaps. It is an interesting question that requires more thought.
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