'Language is not only the foundation for the whole faculty of thinking, but the central point also from which proceed the misunderstandings of reason by herself.' - Johann Georg Hamann, quoted in Müller, F.M., 1898. Three Introductory Lectures on the Science of Thought, Chicago, IL: Open Court Publishing, page 79.
From a phenomenological perspective, an entity’s identity always remains elusive. As much as we can perceive the sides which make it up, as much as we can be aware of the different aspects from which it can be viewed,as much as we can know about its internal workings, its history and its significance within human ‘Lifeworlds’, we can never know the totality of something which would constitute a definitive ‘identity’. This is a key ontological assumption which underpins phenomenological investigations: that a ‘thing’s’ identity will always be beyond the reach of human apprehension. In holding this position, phenomenology takes a radically different orientation to knowing from that assumed by logical positivism. - Ladkin, D. (2010). Rethinking leadership: A new look at old leadership questions. Edward Elgar Publishing, p. 24.
Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. When we say of somebody that he is “in power” we actually refer to his being empowered by a certain number of people to act in their name. The moment the group, from which the power originated to begin with (potestas in populo, without a people or group there is no power), disappears, “his power” also vanishes. In current usage, when we speak of a “powerful man” or a “powerful personality,” we already use the word “power” metaphorically; what we refer to without metaphor is “strength.”
Strength unequivocally designates something in the singular, an individual entity; it is the property inherent in an object or person and belongs to its character, which may prove itself in relation to other things or persons, but is essentially independent of them. The strength of even the strongest individual can always be overpowered by the many, who often will combine for no other purpose than to ruin strength precisely because of its peculiar independence. The almost instinctive hostility of the many toward the one has always, from Plato to Nietzsche, been ascribed to resentment, to the envy of the weak for the strong, but this psychological interpretation misses the point. It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength.
Force, which we often use in daily speech as a synonym for violence, especially if violence serves as a means of coercion, should be reserved, in terminological language, for the “forces of nature” or the “force of circumstances” (la force des choses), that is, to indicate the energy released by physical or social movements.
Authority, relating to the most elusive of these phenomena and therefore, as a term, most frequently abused, can be vested in persons - there is such a thing as personal authority, as, for instance, in the relation between parent and child, between teacher and pupil-or it can be vested in offices, as, for instance, in the Roman senate (auctoritas in senatu) or in the hierarchical offices of the Church (a priest can grant valid absolution even though he is drunk). Its hallmark is unquestioning recognition by those who are asked to obey; neither coercion nor persuasion is needed. (A father can lose his authority either by beating his child or by starting to argue with him, that is, either by behaving to him like a tyrant or by treating him as an equal.) To remain in authority requires respect for the person or the office. The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter.
Violence, finally, as I have said, is distinguished by its instrumental character. Phenomenologically, it is close to strength, since the implements of violence, like all other tools, are designed and used for the purpose of multiplying natural strength until, in the last stage of their development, they can substitute for it.
- Arendt, H., 1970. On Violence, New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich., pp. 44-46
“Technoscience extravagantly exceeds the distinction between science and technology as well as those between nature and society, subjects and objects, and the natural and the artifactual that structured the imaginary time called modernity. I use technoscience to signify a mutation in historical narrative, similar to the mutations that mark the difference between the sense of time in European medieval chronicles and the secular, cumulative salvation histories of modernity.
The word technoscience communicates the promiscuously fused and transgenic quality of its domains by a kind of visual onomatopoeia. Once upon a time, in another, closely related, ethnospecific narrative field called Western philosophy, such entities were thought to be subjects and objects, and they were reputed to be the finest and most stable actors and actants in the Greatest Story Ever Told — the one about modernity and man.
In the imploded time-space anomalies of the late-twentieth-century transnational capitalism and technoscience, subjects and objects, as well as the natural and the artificial, are transported through science-fictional wormholes to emerge as quite other. Even drenched with all the hype about revolution and technoscience that pervades contemporary discussion, the ferocity of the transformations lived in daily life throughout the world are undeniable.” - Haraway, D. J. (1997). Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncoMouse™: Feminism and Technoscience, p. 3-4
“Crucially, agency is a matter of intra-acting; it is an enactment, not something that someone or something has. It cannot be designated as an attribute of subjects or objects (as they do not preexist as such). It is not an attribute whatsoever. Agency is ‘doing’ or ‘being’ in its intra-activity. It is the enactment of iterative changes to particular practices — iterative reconfigurings of topological manifolds of spacetimematter relations — through the dynamics of intra-activity. Agency is about changing possibilities of change entailed in reconfiguring material-discursive apparatuses of bodily production, including the boundary articulations and exclusions that are marked by those practices in the enactment of a causal structure.” - Barad, K.M., 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning, Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books., p. 178
“[The] realization that signals are signals is by no means complete even among the human species. We all too often respond automatically to newspaper headlines as though these stimuli were direct object-indications of events in our environment instead of signals concocted and transmitted by creatures as complexly motivated as ourselves.” - Bateson, G., 1987. Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology, Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson., p. 184