195 research outputs found

    Three Globalizations: An Essay in Inquiry

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    More Crabs, But Still No Barrel

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    The New LSAT

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    On Absences as Material for Intellectual Historical Study

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    While Waiting for Rain

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    What might a sensible community choose to do if its economy has fallen apart and becoming a ghost town is not an acceptable option? Unfortunately, answers to this question have long been measured against an implicit standard: the postwar economy of the 1950s. After showing why that economy provides an implausible standard—made possible by the lack of economic competition from the European and Asian countries, winners or losers, touched by the war—John Henry Schlegel attempts to answer the question of what to do. While Waiting for Rain first examines the economic history of the United States as well as that of Buffalo, New York: an appropriate stand-in for any city that may have seen its economy start to fall apart in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. It makes clear that neither Buffalo nor the United States as a whole has had an economy in the sense of “a persistent market structure that is the fusion of an understanding of economic life with the patterns of behavior within the economic, political, and social institutions that enact that understanding” since both economies collapsed. Next, this book builds a plausible theory of how economic growth might take place by examining the work of the famous urbanist, Jane Jacobs, especially her book Cities and the Wealth of Nations. Her work, like that of many others, emphasizes the importance of innovation for economic growth, but is singular in its insistence that such innovation has to come from local resources. It can neither be bought nor given, even by well-intentioned political actors. As a result Americans generally, as well as locally, are like farmers in the midst of a drought, left to review their resources and wait. Finally, it returns to both the local Buffalo and the national economies to consider what these political units might plausibly do while waiting for an economy to emerge

    But Pierre, If We Can\u27t Think Normatively, What Are We To Do?

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    A Damn Hard Thing to Do

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    No Lever and No Place to Stand (A Response to Christopher Shannon)

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    It is rather difficult for me to respond to a rage so fierce that at times it seems to lapse into incoherence, but I shall try. What I have done to bring forth such a rage seems to be two things. First is my celebration of the quotidian in the lives of intellectuals ... most significantly for Mr. Shannon, though by no means my exclusive focus, their just getting on in a bureaucratic world. The second has to do with the lack of articulated grounds for my judgments of value, my apparent lack of commitment to truth. Both are said to play out in indefensible (or at least undefended) choices with respect to what stories to tell, what heroes to celebrate, what ideas to care about. And somehow all of this undermines what intellectual history should be about. I make no bones about my reasons for doing as I do, so let me be clear about these matters. I cannot say what the life of an intellectual was like in 1850, 1750, or 1650, but I can say that for the past hundred or so years the major locus of intellectual activity has been in bureaucratic institutions-universities, magazines of opinion, think tanks. And yet we intellectuals on the whole think and write as if the standard of value in our business is the life of a Newton or a Rousseau or a Kant or some other independently wealthy gentleman, or retainer of such, someone for whom getting and spending is somehow unproblematic, and then flagellate ourselves in private (and occasionally in public) for not living up to that standard, for not thinking transcendent thoughts all the time. We do ourselves ill by not recognizing the context in which we live and work and then measuring our lives by that context. To wish to measure ourselves by some context that we neither live in nor can recreate is that ultimate act of ahistoricity by an intellectual historian. I will not adopt such a measure and so sell hardworking humans short. And so I celebrate-with one or two cheers, never three-those who in the face of this quotidian existence seem to me to manage to do something that vaguely passes for noble, or fine, or admirable. Doing such in the bureaucratic institutions we all inhabit is, after all, a real achievement

    The Reach of the Mind

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