Apr. 20th, 2009

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Before I return The Gift (mentioned previously), I'm going to post a few more passages I liked. Here's one, from page 82:
"Academic freedom," as the term is used in the debate over commercial science, refers to the freedom of ideas, not to the freedom of individuals.... The issue arises because when all ideas carry a price, then all discussion, the cognition of the group mind, must be conducted through the mechanisms of the market which - in this case, at least - is a very inefficient way to hold a discussion. Ideas do not circulate freely when they are treated as commodities. The magazine Science reported on a case in California in which one DNA research group sought to patent a technique that other local researchers had treated as common property, as "under discussion." An academic scientist who felt his contribution had been exploited commented, "There used to be a good, healthy exchange of ideas and information among [local] researchers.... Now we are locking our doors." In a free market the people are free, the ideas are locked up.
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Chapter 6 of The Gift is about market economies and gift economies as "gendered". I'm mostly going to gloss over that, as it's a complex set of ideas that seems risky to summarize. But toward the end (p. 106) he talks about a continuum between market-based work - "banking, law, management, sales" - and gift labor - "social work, nursing, the creation and care of culture, the ministry".Read more... )

Dr. Liar

Apr. 20th, 2009 01:41 pm
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Chapter 7 of The Gift traces a history of usury in the Judeo-Christian world (with brief visits to Islam, Aristotle, and others). In Deuteronomy, a distinction is drawn: You can charge interest to a foreigner, but not to your brother. A gift economy prevails within the tribe, and a market economy with the outside.Read more... )

a footnote

Apr. 20th, 2009 02:42 pm
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One final quote from The Gift, a footnote from the chapter on gender, p. 97:
In the modern world the rights that adults have in their children - male or female - normally pass away slowly from parent to child during adolescence and become fully vested in the child when he or she is ready to leave home.

If our lives are gifts to begin with, however, in some sense they are not "ours" even when we become adults. Or perhaps they are, but only until such time as we find a way to bestow them. The belief that life is a gift carries with it a corollary feeling that the gift should not be hoarded. As we mature, and particularly as we come into the isolation of being "on our own," we begin to feel the desire to give ourselves away - in love, in marriage, to our work, to the gods, to politics, to our children. And adolescence is marked by that restless, erotic, disturbing inquisition: Is this person, this nation, this work, worthy of the life I have to give?

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