Midterm review CDNS3700
Herder’s definition of Society:
• Talks about herder’s definition of society.
o What does society mean?
o Argues that society is an integrated social union.
o It is not unlike a family. Looks like a clan. Everyone has a role within
o The idea of society responds to every human’s need for some sort of
connection with those around them. Our need for interdependence.
• The key thing that herder says about society is that society is not an abstract
concept. It does not exist at the level of government discourse or in a
philosophical way. Not socially constructed.
• Argues that society is a very concrete idea. He argues that it is in our nature to
belong to a society. No one needs to nurture the idea. It is in our nature that we
need to belong.
• No difference between us and the people that surround us.
• Herder argues that society is a natural, concrete thing. Not something we arrive
at through negotiation or compromise.
• Herder says that the most natural state that we can exist in is to belong to a
o Belong to a community with its own national character.
• The idea of uniqueness always comes from the presence of a language. The
rationale behind uniqueness is language
Flaws with Herder’s definition, as pointed out by Barnard:
• Barnard points out flaws in herder’s ideas.
o It doesn’t address that people live outside of their group yet maintain their
language. o People inside the state speak other languages other than the dominant
o Herder overlooks that there are nations that exist that do not have a
distinct language. Canada is one of them. Does not have its own unique
o Nations have multiple languages. India and Switzerland are examples.
Does this mean that these people do not have the claim to a unique
nation? Not really.
Herder vs. Hobsbawm ideas about tradition:
o What is the way that herder argues about tradition and the way that
hobsbawm argues about tradition. Herder argues tradition is something
passed down organically, in a stable way, rejuvenates our relationship with
tradition. It is authentic. Passed down in a stable way from person to
person. Hobsbawm argues that tradition is not passed down in a stable
way. It is something we invent, construct. Something that we do on
purpose. Tradition is passed down very purposefully. Herder disagrees. In
some ways they are talking about the same thing and arrive at similar
conclusions. In some ways they both make the assumption that tradition
can be organic. It can be organic when we are not self -conscious about it.
They both have this assumption that we have on one hand, authentic
tradition and the other has inauthentic tradition. Authentic is organic.
Inauthentic is something that is constructed/self- conscious. For example.
The practice of going to Vegas. In the past decade, Vegas have turned
into a family oriented tourist attraction. Vs. the previous what happens in
Vegas stays in Vegas.
o Herder, tradition is transmitted in a stable way.
o Hobsbawm, tradition is invented.
• Why do we invest value in the idea of tradition?
o Our relationship with the past is strange.
o We overlook the fact that things were uncomfortable in the past. There is a
reason that things change.
• The idea of an aura: o Brown talks about the aura.
• Benjamin argues that every object that we have has an aura.
• The aura is the level of value that we attach to that object.
o The amount of authenticity we attach to that object.
o The amount of spiritual value we attach to it.
o Consider them to be sacred.
• Benjamin argues in a world of technology and reproduction. The aura of cultural
texts starts to diminish. The more it is reproduced the more diminished the aura