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Lecture 8

SOC203 Lecture 8 Authority and Public Opinion.docx

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC203H1
Professor
J.Veugelers
Semester
Winter

Description
Authority and Public Opinion: Lecture 8 1. Enlightenment:  A time o 1700’s o Period in Western Europe (London, Paris, Naples, etc.) o A time of increasing scepticism by received ideas (religious ideas, the idea that nobility is superior to other classes of society, enlightenment is partly a product of the protestant reformation breakaway from the catholic church)  Protestant reformation  anti-institutional reaction which puts a great emphasis on individual faith, individual accountability to God, individual interpretation of bible  The individualism is seen into leading into the Enlightenment  Greater emphasis on individual understanding and reflection o The scientific Revolution in 1600’s  Formalization of scientific method  Need for evidence o Institution accords with reason, society would function better o Consisting of thinkers who trust reason (and believes it needs to be protected)  A process o Enlightenment project  lots of scepticism o Look at the consequences of industrial revolution (environmental degradation) so environmental degradation is used against enlightenment o Reason being used excessively o Phenomenon of bureaucracy  the rational planning of work and administrative (large corporations/governments) leads to alienation that stunts human beings  A symbol of rationality carried too far  Against enlightenment o Contested idea (enlightenment as a process) 2. ‘What is Enlightenment?’ by Immanuel Kant (1784)  Essay writing competition  Key document in political history  Going to treat person who has never heard of enlightenment is a child (someone who hasn’t’ heard it, hasn’t reached adulthood) Someone who hasn’t heard it is subject to the priest, the authority  Going to tell them to grow up by thinking for themselves  So how do we get people to do this? Argue  very difficult to grow up intellectually (think for yourself on your own)  When you get people grouped together and they have a chance to freely exchange ideas, just their interaction, they’re more likely to exercise reason  Man’s emergence from self supposed immaturity (inability to use one’s ability without guidance of another)  Others will readily think for me (ie. Doctors, pastors, authority figures)  Incapable of using own understanding  The public should enlightened itself (public= group of people who can debate and discuss ideas) o A pubic can only be enlightened slowly  Each person’s calling to think for themselves (The language of calling is religious language and after point 7, talking about reading for next week, the word calling is going to come up again)  Examples of pervasive restrictions on freedom which hinders enlightenment and which does not? The public use of one’s reason must always be free and this alone can bring about enlightenment on mankind.  Kant’s last line 3. Public Opinion  Definition o Emerges when public is able to talk freely o We jump on each other if we hear what we don’t like, amend things that we don’t understand, etc. o Consensus eventually merges what is really the triumphant idea o Public opinion for Kant publicly discussing issues that matter to society  Institutional locations o Civil society  private realm economic organizations, religious organisations, voluntary, family o State  public realm o Parliament is an institution that is halfway into state and halfway into civil society  Individuals come together (MP’s) and vigorously discuss matters of collective interest (putting forth arguments, defending them, criticizing them, persuade each other) The ideal being that in the end, the one that lasts is the strongest argument (the one that sways most people)  Reason is deployed to advance arguments and criticise arguments  Places where laws are passed (rules emanating from above)  Kant was attacking authority (the priest, the military, the medical profession, urging people to think for themselves)  Kant  be ruled by two things:  1) Noble descent, who can impose the rules  2) Civil society to be ruled by reason  And this is why parliament is central to his theory (how is reason achieved by giving people the opportunity to discuss in public)  Parliament are made up of representatives of civil society and they turn them into laws and it turns into a loop (dual function of parliament)  Parliament is an important institution because it allows civil society to orbit itself (and it can rule itself) 4. The authority of public opinion  For Kant, the beauty and appeal of parliament  by mediating and connecting the state and the civil society o When a King rules, it’s top down (it’s his will, and agents follow his rule but Kant has a problem with this  what about the will of those who are ruled? o Kant would like to see parliament gaining public authority and there are problems (Problem of arbitrary rule)  ** Institutional locations, some of the description overlaps with the authority of public opinion 5. Hegel’s antagonism  Hegel saw history as an unfolding of ideas  Marx wanted to replace his idealistic view with his own view of materialistic  The two resemble each other  Hegel was completely sceptical of Kant thinking that public could become wise o Why?  If you get a group of people arguing, Parliament is arguing over the question if country should go to war (Kant would believe free and open discussion, pros and cons, and eventually, the best argument would prevail and would be voted into action) Hegel  consider society divided into classes with different interests; given that the different classes with the different interests, it’s foolish to believe that a consensus can ever prevail. (i.e. Bourgeoisie might want to go to war, boost economy but not Proletariats because they identify the ‘enemy’ not as someone in the other country that’s of the same working class as them, but can see bourgeoisie as the enemy)  Hegel doesn’t believe civil society has a lot of reason exercise (he thinks most people are stupid) Civil society is a realm of prejudice, ignorance, superstition, tradition, it’s not a place where people think for themselves very much  If Hegel’s sceptical about the ability for consensus to be achieved in the free exercise of reason; if he also believes that civil society is a realm of intellectual backwardness, where is reason in all this? Hegel  advocate for an enlightened monarchy (so he wants the king to be surrounded by enlightene
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