Goods: Advertising, Urban Space, and the Moral Law of the Image

Goods: Advertising, Urban Space, and the Moral Law of the Image

Goods: Advertising, Urban Space, and the Moral Law of the Image

Goods: Advertising, Urban Space, and the Moral Law of the Image

Excerpt

We used to think that we only had societies and governments because we had language. We used to think that we were only political beings because we could speak. in the language of ancient Greece, a person is a zoon politikon only because she is a zoon logon echon. This opinion has been widespread in modern political philosophy and was prevalent among the ancient Greeks. in one of the first political science treatises produced by Western culture, Aristotle remarks that if the polis (the state or city) “belongs among the things that exist by nature,” and if “man is by nature a political animal”— much more political “than any kind of bee or any herd animal”—it’s because “man alone among the animals has language.” It’s through language that we can have “a perception of good and bad and just and unjust and other things [of this sort].” Only if we share this kind of judgment is it possible to conceive of a city—or, for that matter, of a household.

Roman civilization gave a special name to language’s power to establish a political community: ius, law. the term referred not to language in general, but to a series of formulas, a collection of stereotypical expressions that were treated as the formal source of social life. What we have since then called “the law” is nothing more than socially efficacious language, which is thought to be capable of shaping human life through its very existence and pronouncement. Living under the rule of law means living in a society that has cordoned off a number of socially efficacious words and discourses: it has isolated them physically, separating them from other words by locating them within the bounds of the law. the rule of law is the public and collective worship of these words, a worship that recognizes in them a form of secular sacredness.

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