In this paper, I want to motivate a slightly eccentric conceptual marriage of Peirce's systematic philosophy with a post-marxist radical tradition represented by Hannah Arendt and Agnes Heller (see Shepperson, 1995). Peirce doesn't figure too prominently in this paper, largely because I want to look at the radical concepts of culture and community (which is etymologically related to communication). Instead of elaborating at length on the teories involved, I present the theoretical background to my discussion in the form of a glossary of key terms, referring to the relevant theoretical sources which can be consulted at ease elsewhere.
The key terms are necessity, need, and possibility, defined in terms of the kinds of active projects they conceptually motivate in relation to a radical interpretation of the human condition. This interpretation derives from Peirce's (5.476) conception of an interpretant, which he defines in terms of a group's propensity or inclination to act habitually in certain kinds of way. From the point of view of culture and development, the decisive interpretant is the final or logical interpretant, which becomes realized in the form of habit-change, or the formation of new habits (ibid.). It will be seen that using this approach integrates ethics and signification, instead of forcing them into separate fields of enquiry.
Necessity refers to those classes of activity without which bare human survival is impossible. Following Hannah Arendt (1958), the classical origin of the concept of necessity is the kind of labour carried out by women and slaves, so that free citizens could engage in the action of their discursive community. Classically, labour was thus the basic business of overcoming the mortality of Men: reproduction of the family line, production and consumption of food, the provision of clothing, and so on. In modern society, most kinds of labour have become the activities of the social realm. In this paper the idea of cultural development has to relate these necessities to the actual conditions of cultural, pragmatic and discursive communities, which I will elaborate below.
Need(s): this concept comes from Agnes Heller (1976; 1985; 1987). Concretely, needs are human endowments raised into talents, while in the abstract Need is that potential or possibility in the light of which human existence is separated from necessity. This abstract definition indicates that under conditions of dire necessity (conditions of which there was no shortage under apartheid) the options open for the raising of people's endowments are likely to be limited to those needed for the daily overcoming of necessity. Needs are indefinitely pluralistic, since they are proper to pragmatic and discursive communities (see below).
Possibility: Communities arise out of the possibilities engendered by the plurality of needs realised as people's endowments have become raised into talents (Heller 1985; 1987). Possibility has the cultural temporality of the human generation, while historically it is always specific to concrete situations and conditions: a woman like Agnes Heller, for example, could not have realised the possibility of being a radical philosopher 300 years ago, because for women generally such possibilities were excluded by the conditions of the time. In general, possibility cannot be isolated from need, since the former only arises when the latter is addressed in ways which permit people to raise their endowments into a selection of many possible talents.
The pragmaticist meaning of culture
In this paper I use `culture' in the phenomenological senses possible from the root meanings of the Latin word colo, colere: to tend, till, nurture on the one hand, and to inhabit, worship, pay respect to, on the other (see Shepperson 1995 chap. 3). When we speak of people's culture(s), we generally refer to those linguistic, behavioural and customary practices absorbed, imposed, and even chosen by persons as members of cultural communities. In terms of radical philosophy, I argue that culture is primarily associated with the activity of raising human endowments into talents (Heller 1987), and therefore relates directly to Need, necessity and possibility.
The business of raising endowments into talents is part of the worldly condition of human existence (Arendt, 1958: 8). The human world is the environment people build for themselves so that their lives do not consist of the pure drudgery of overcoming necessity. The world is what humanity creates, as Arendt puts it (1958: 7-8), in order to cope with the "constant influx of newcomers who are born into the world as strangers." Because these strangers are little more than `bundles of possibility' at birth, culture as the business of raising endowments into talents entails the making-not-strange of those who are born into our midst.
Talents can therefore be seen as individual `excellences', activities or tasks which certain individuals come to perform better than others. In general terms, talent can thus be viewed as practical and pragmatic contexts of social action into which people can be encouraged to develop their endowments. In the present global socio-political environment, Heller (1987) identifies two core talents which are approved by industrial society: the making of money, and manoeuvring between institutions.
However, there are also those other classes of talents which willy-nilly emerge to fill up the cracks, so to speak, between what is approved and what is possible. Thus we can expect to find a lot of activities into which people become habituated (keeping in mind the etymological connection between culture and in-habit-ing) such that they are better able as individuals and communities to overcome necessity. Talents therefore relate to need(s) as follows: people exhibit a need as a claim, in which they justify on the grounds of right the satisfaction of the claim in the form of realizing specific talents in action.
A radical approach to culture in the South African development environment must therefore acknowledge that apartheid opened spaces within which making money and manoeuvring between institutions took on some very different forms. The cultural dimension of development therefore first requires an examination of how these conditions were possible. Development policy then has to elaborate ways and means whereby conditions can be changed such that i) valued talents might be developed for recognition by the wider community, and ii) talents of little value to the wider community, in terms of people's carrying-on in a democratic environment, become marginalized as options.
The pragmaticist meaning of community
In this paper, I look at the idea of community as the plurality of ways in which people relate routinely with each other, in the following three ways:
a) a person's cultural community is more or less equivalent to Alfred Schutz's notion of consociates: those alongside whom an individual is born, lives, grows old and dies. This community tends to be characterized by language, custom and oral tradition. It is found in all human contexts, but with a plurality of local and historical variation (Shepperson 1995: chap. 3).
b) the idea of pragmatic community theoretical incorporates aspects of i) Charles Peirce's (1965) concept of the community of interpretants; and ii) Ludwig Wittgenstein's (1963) critique of theories of meaning in positivist philosophies of language. It is that social cluster for whom some kind of togetherness exists because of a commonality of practical activity (Wittgenstein's going-on-the-same; Peirce's `learning from experience'). Individuals and sub-clusters within pragmatic communities also belong to cultural communities.
c) discursive communities tend to be elites which communicate across cultural and pragmatic boundaries. In the environment inherited from the modern age (Arendt 1958), examples of discursive communities would be the diplomatic profession, academics, big business, organized crime and so on. A feature of such communities is their members' tendency to ignore or marginalize cultural community, while homogenizing and equalizing pragmatic communities (see also Arendt, 1951).
In general, community and culture share a temporal dimension: they each possess a generational quality. Culture, the general practico-pragmatic environment in which endowments are raised into talents, is the basis for ethical relationships between the generations present in a place. Community emerges from, or is inherited as, the relations between endowments and talents and the people and the place where cultural experience occurs.
`Community' is related to `local' in the sense that people in a place develop a kind of identity over several generations. In Detroit, for example, the 1970s saw grandfathers, sons and grandsons all working on the same factory floor at, say, one of the General Motors plants. Young workers married the daughters of their elder colleagues. In this context, a community is also stable in the sense that its interests have become entrenched over the same period. Among white South African mineworkers, a similar kind of community tradition emerged, even though this took place across widely spaced localities. Overall, people fitted in very quickly wherever they settled, because there was a recognizable way of carrying on that showed whether one was `in' the industrial culture or `out'. Variations at the geographical level existed, but these were readily recognizable by newcomers, and adopted without trouble.
For black mineworkers the local referred specifically to the locality of one's origin, and not the locality of one's residence and employment. To be black in the mining industry during the years the author worked there (1967-80) was to be permanently `out'. One was a `Shangaan', or a `Basutu', or one of the politically troublesome `locals' like a `Tswana'. By this token, the majority of mineworkers were always strangers in the local community of the mine's workings and associated services. The point is that people under such conditions build up a whole set of relations and recognitions, a consciousness of who is `in' and who is `out' in a given environment. These conditions anchor the idea of `community' to quite specific forms and varieties of public conduct. This conduct relates the word `community' etymologically to the sense of the old Latin root word munus or moenus, a term associated with public duty, public worship, and the shared patterns of deference and respect displayed in public such that a community can be said to exist under these circumstances.
Speaking of community in this way sharpens our focus on how large-scale change - development, structural adjustment, downsizing, and the like - disrupts people's relationships with each other and their environment. It is decisive that formal large-scale changes are experienced by at least three generations in a community in a place. Two of these generations will be in the position that they have to make specific, more or less disruptive, changes in their everyday conduct as a result of development. Development thus entails a concept of communication which is essentially rhetorical. These generations have to be persuaded by some authority to act in a different way to the one with which they are familiar.
It is equally decisive that the youngest generation present is in a position to absorb the desired modes of conduct without radical changes to their present behaviour. They can more readily grow into the new patterns of conduct, which is different from having to go about changing one's established habitual conduct. Generations born after development has been implemented will not be conscious of the disruption in the same personal kind of way: they will largely experience the event as history, oral as well as formal.
The crucial relationship between community and culture is this: over a span of generations, community evolves as people in a place develop a consciousness that there are certain endowments which need to be raised into talents so that they can expect some kind of continuity of affairs. This entails an ethics, a consciousness of what is a right talent and what is a wrong talent. It can also mean that some group in the community is constituted as a part of the community on the grounds that they have the talent necessary to make this evaluation. In any event, the concept of community therefore subsumes some form of value system directed towards the business of culture: raising endowments into talents. Until this form of activity can be identified as part of a group, it is unlikely that one could validly define that group as a `community' in the strict sense of the word.
More can be added here about endowments and talents. Viewing culture and community in this way starts from an assertion of radical philosophical anthropology: that humans are born free and endowed with reason (Heller, 1985; 1987). However, reason is just that: an endowment. It does not exist in full flower in the human person at birth: like all other endowments, it is a potentiality circumscribed both by our other genetic endowments and by social constraints. Therefore the relation of culture to possibility is inherent in radical philosophical anthropology. A person becomes rational. The individual grows into a community in which reasons are sought and given for the unexpected questions which a growing person might ask of those around her or him (Shepperson 1995).
Culture, aesthetics and community during the apartheid era
Pragmaticist interpretations of culture and community do not invalidate the aesthetic dimension of cultural studies, but serve to make concrete the notion of `talent'. The relationship between culture and people's values is better grasped in this light: the encounter with prevailing values, whether traditional (static) or dynamic (Heller 1987), generally occurs as part of the project of raising endowments into talents (Shepperson 1995, Chap. 3). The Arts are just one class of activity which constitute endowments raised into talents. In the present socio-political environment, one can safely judge that someone has become an accomplished `artist' on the grounds that she or he is successfully using this or that talent either to make money or gain institutional power (or both) as a result (Heller 1987). The crucial point is that this can be said of any class of activity.
In South Africa, the manifold social constraints once entrenched by apartheid ensured that certain talents would emerge which provide the money and/or power with which disadvantaged persons can carry on some kind of lifestyle which is better than mere subsistence. The cultural dimension of development has to acknowledge a situation where there are many people for whom car hijacking is as valid a talent as the ability to perform Verdi or Shakespeare. Apartheid can be said therefore to have succeeded in a backhanded way in promoting the development of different cultural ways of life. It has equalised artistic and criminal activities. This is because apartheid's final ethical form presented its victims with a dilemma rather than a range of options regarding their choice of talents. One either submitted to the system as a collaborator, or developed whatever talents were open for making money and/or manoeuvring between institutions. Crucially, it became possible to justify these choices as an expression of apartheid's ethnic-cultural imperatives.
This entails two consequences. First, that the social constraints of apartheid valorised activities which enabled individuals to escape its `hewers of wood and drawers of water' paradigm. The second is that people who have elaborated these talents can readily claim victimhood as a cause for their conduct, thereby skating around the issue of personal responsibility. Despite the formal end of apartheid, in other words, the `deviant' talents it engendered remain as the only `Art' possible for many people.
This distinction between culture and the Arts is not necessarily applicable to cultural-artistic spheres everywhere. It does mean that the cultural-artistic paradigm has to be applied with care in South Africa at least. If the project of dynamic democratic values (Heller and Fehér, 1988) is to be entrenched, then the concept of talent (an endowment developed as the means whereby a claim to Need is satisfied) has to be relativised against values of democratic life.
Certain points can be made, however, based on the fact that looking at culture in the context of endowments and talents clarifies a special double reference for aesthetic activity. Art has two specific relations to talents. On the one hand, it has a preceptive relation to the raising of endowments into talents. Works of art can be used as teaching, training and learning material, in the business of testing people's endowments. The endowments tested this way then become raised into valued talents which, when realised, mark people as not-strangers in their communities.
On the other hand, the need for people to be in a community allows art to become an index of community membership. Here the traditional link between art and the aesthetic realm breaks down. Arendt (1958) considered the work of art in terms of its lack of instrumental utility: a work of art persists as such because its value is renegotiated not only from one generation to the next, but also in the plurality of individual personal encounters. This actually leaves open just what cannot be a work of art. If one considers the pragmaticist interpretation of community, however, then the relationship between a growing generation and the worldly environment they encounter has precisely this nature. General Motors, or Hartebeestfontein Gold Mine, are just there: each person in a new generation negotiates a personal and communal relationship with these locations, and forms an evaluative relation with the talents they will be persuaded to develop in order to become not-strange to their community.
Again, the cultural imperatives of development in South Africa place a peculiar set of demands on policy in this context. For a majority, the localities which are encountered just there are hardly the stuff of which community is made. Yet this does not mean that some kinds of discursive communities have not emerged: the hijackers, jackrollers, drug dealers and gangsters of the townships (and the gung-ho hit-squad operatives from other localities) are realizations of the talents which enabled many people to overcome necessity.
In this way, the communities apartheid realized are readily described as having a Need for criminal talents in order for their inhabitants to survive.
Pragmaticism and the post-apartheid development trajectory
Thus I come back to the issue I raised at the beginning of the paper: the common-sense link between culture and communication. Communication is necessarily the reproduction or the making of a community (see Tomaselli and Shepperson, 1991), and this involves equally necessarily the business of raising people's endowments into talents. Semiotically, we can thus speak of communication as fundamentally related to the business of forming or changing the habits of public conduct that define a community. Epistemologically, communication also implies that people can understand each other, that there are rules of intelligibility in the following of which people are more or less talented. Thus the munus of communication can be linked with the public ethics of a community's practices of making each other understand. It is the practice of being-at-home with one's consociates in a locality.
Now I think we can identify an important trajectory of development in post-apartheid South Africa. This country is not populated by an undifferentiated mass of people locked into traditional (static) communities. A significant percentage of disadvantaged people are second, third and higher-generation urban dwellers. For them the locality of, and the talents which define, their community can be made intelligible in terms of the values of freedom and life. Development therefore must involve the institutionalization of practices which raise endowments into talents in ways that realize these values intelligibly for people in their communities. Cultural dimensions of development consist not of replacing one set of norms and rules with another. They consist of reinterpreting existing norms and rules in terms of radical values accepted on a global scale. Only those norms and rules which contradict radical democratic values need to be scrapped, renegotiated, redefined or replaced.
The business of raising endowments into talents is the touchstone for establishing how to bring development to the marginal. At one extreme of the marginal communities of apartheid, one finds the women who, when saddled with children in the begetting of whom they had little choice, have gone ahead and accomplished their part in the business of raising the children. They have developed a whole set of tactics and strategies to achieve this (Shepperson 1995; Møller, 1996), and thus provide data about some important tools for the raising of endowments into talents.
The relation of communication to culture and development therefore has to place its social service emphasis on the marginal groups who are in the process of raising their children's endowments into talents. Peculiarly, this does not necessarily translate into family support systems. The latter may be necessary for a limited group at the bottom of apartheid's pile, but the real issue lies in other fields of institutional activity. The people in children's home environment are not going to be the only ones involved with raising endowments into talents. Religious practitioners, pre-school teachers, school teachers, community centre staff, librarians and many others do or may have some bearing on the cultural experience of children.
Development in South Africa therefore incorporates a communicational dimension which is defined by the extension of existing services to those not presently enjoying them. Precisely because education is necessarily part of raising endowments into talents, means that the ways in which children grow to relate to the locality of their community includes their school experience. At the same time, the almost completely separate notion of industrial and commercial infrastructural development also has a communications aspect. Stable economic localities provide a focus for the ways in which some core activity can give direction to the munus of people who presently lack this, or for whom resistance or struggle form the only field of community intelligibility.
In either of these two examples of traditionally non-cultural development, the cultural needs of communities may be enhanced simply because they provide an additional trajectory which people can choose to make their world intelligible. South Africans have the advantage, as Tomaselli and Shepperson pointed out (1996), that they are fairly certain of what they don't want to achieve in development terms. I can add, in conclusion, that we also have a considerable existing industrial-commercial infrastructure in place: unlike the regular development theories which seem always to assume that the beneficiaries of development are being ripped into an industrial world wholly at odds with their present situation, South Africa's disadvantaged majority is conscious of their having been denied intelligible benefits from what is already here.
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