The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
OTHERDOM

A 'new boy' stands in the courtyard of the boarding-school to which his father has just brought him. He is lost in uncharted territory, among an alien people: he feels a solitary intruder in a strange cosmos, the parts of which have no name or meaning for him, and in which he has no place or significance. He is exposed to the queries, demands and commands of 'the others' who, at first, appear to him as a many-voiced and many-limbed giant, unaccountable and overpowering. How can he single anything out, when behind so many surrounding windows are unknown rooms, and behind so many faces unknown characters? He perceives only an ancient, all-pervading and omnipotent presence to which he must bow. This subjective appraisal I denote by the expression: 'Ego in Otherdom'.

I could say that the child is an immigrant in an established society. But here I shun the latter term, because it suggests a form of knowledge which pertains to the observer, not to the subject. When we look down upon a human cluster from a position of intellectual vantage, when we treat it as an object of thought whereof we consider the fundamental structure, then what we hold under our eyes can properly be spoken of as a society. But the new boy enjoys no such detachment, can achieve no such masterful vision. From his humble point of entry, he gropes forward almost blindly, feels his way by methods akin to the sense of touch, venturing and then drawing back when he encounters a check. His knowledge, empirical and subjective, extends irregularly in different directions by reason of the contacts achieved: it is no more than a growing familiarity with certain places, paths, and persons. Society known in this manner, from the viewpoint of the individual experimentally coming to terms with it, I call Otherdom.

The word is so chosen as to convey the feeling, immanent in the knower's approach, that what he moves in is the realm of the others, wherein he is subject to the demands of the others. Which others? All the others, and this is the important point.

By one whose attention is focused upon government, a school may be described as a monarchic Rechtsstaat. Bound by fundamental

-55-

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The Pure Theory of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I- Approach- Politics as History 1
  • Chapter 1- Configuration and Dynamics 3
  • Chapter 3- On the Nature of Political Science 29
  • Part II- Setting- Ego in Otherdom 41
  • Chapter 1- Of Man 43
  • Chapter 2- Home 48
  • Chapter 3- Otherdom 55
  • Part III- Action- Instigation and Response 67
  • Chapter 1- Instigation 69
  • Chapter 2- Response 83
  • Part IV- Authority- ''Potestas'' and ''Potentia'' 97
  • Chapter 1- On Being Heard 99
  • Chapter 2- The Law of Conservative Exclusion 109
  • Chapter 3- Place and Face 118
  • Part V- Decision 129
  • Chapter 1- The People 131
  • Chapter 2- The Committee, I (judicial or Political) 146
  • Chapter 3- The Committee, II (foresight, Values and Pressures) 157
  • Part VI- Attitudes 167
  • Chapter 1- Attention and Intention 169
  • Chapter 2- The Team against the Committee 176
  • Chapter 3- The Manners of Politics 187
  • Addendum the Myth of the Solution 204
  • Conclusion 213
  • Index 215
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