Neoliberalism: What is it?
I’m currently teaching a course on the Philosophy of Commerce. I think of this course as an effort to get students to challenge the notion that everything could be economized. Following Arendt, I’m trying to get students to see what is lost when pursuits of living or living large (when the pursuit of living becomes excessive) crowd out any consideration for living well, which is to say, for organizing and determining how life ought to be in conversation and contestation with others. This determining how life ought to be is in contrast to just determining what to do in order to live. This concern has been with us for some time, but in the last several decades a new and even more far-reaching economization of life has occurred, wherein individuals have come to think of themselves as entrepeneurial capital projects.
This development is neoliberalism, which is the subject of Wendy Brown’s new book, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. Read more
Cross-posted from Genetic Method.
In my last post on friendship, I responded to my friend Ashley Vaught’s questions about the role of proximity in friendship in Aristotle. I consider some questions there about whether virtue friendship is possible when we are still on the way to becoming completely virtuous. I was left wondering how we can ever become virtuous if we need friends to become virtuous but we can’t be virtue friends before we are completely virtuous. Perhaps it isn’t just that friendship is impossible, but rather that our friends who help us become virtuous must be more virtuous than we are. One possibility is that virtue in Aristotle unlike in Plato can be partial and always underway since virtue is practiced and requires a practice of ethical perception which is then limited based on our individual habits of seeing. Against the view that friends become virtuous and then become capable of having complete and virtuous friendships with us, I think that Aristotelian virtue friends make us have more complete virtue because together we can see better, ethically speaking. It is not lost on me that my exchange with Ashley over friendship in Aristotle illustrates how friends help us see more and better. I appreciate the meta-ness of that more and better being about how friends help us see more and better.