We see this everywhere in modern life, but nowhere more vividly than in the students who arrive in our colleges. These divide roughly into two kinds: those from TV-sodden homes, and those who have grown up talking. Those of the first kind tend to be reticent, inarticulate, given to aggression when under stress, unable to tell a story or express a view, and seriously hampered when it comes to taking responsibility for a task, an activity, or a relationship. Those of the second kind are the ones who step forward with ideas, who go out to their fellows, who radiate the kind of freedom and adventurousness that makes learning a pleasure and risk a challenge. Since these students have had atypical upbringings, they are prone to be subjects of mockery. But they have a head start over their TV-addled contemporaries. The latter can still be freed from their vice; university athletics, theater, music, and so on can help to marginalize TV in campus life. But in many other public or semi-public spaces, television has now become a near necessity: it flickers in the background, reassuring those who have bestowed their life on it that their life goes on.
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Kluckhohn and Leighton (1970), in outlining the grammatical and phonetic systems of the Navajo, argued that patterns of language affect the expression of ideas and very possibly more fundamental processes of thinking.
While the other party is free to disagree, she is less likely to feel insulted than she would if she were called “a liar” and she is less likely to disagree about the facts than she would be if she were told, "No, you're wrong!" (even if she is wrong).
Impressive though they are, however, the Hegelian-Marxist theories are shot through with metaphor and speculation; they are not anchored in empirical research or explanatory hypotheses; they rely for their plausibility entirely on a priori thoughts about the nature of freedom, and about the metaphysical distinction between subject and object. If they are to be of use to us we will have to translate them into a more down-to-earth and practical language — one that will tell us how our children should be educated, if we are to bring them out from behind the screen.
This essay has more humble ambitions. Although it takes issue in the final section with part of the exhaustive view laid out by Portis, this essay does not purport to set forth yet another definitive interpretation of Weber's views on objectivity. Rather it seeks to shed light on Weber's view of the applicability of objectivity by attempting to answer the overarching question that sits at the foundation of those posed above: Was Weber an advocate of value-free social science?
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This book brings together thirteen timely essays from across the globe that consider a range of 'mediated youth cultures', covering topics such as the phenomenon of dance imitations on YouTube, the circulation of zines online, the resurgence of roller derby on the social web, drinking cultures, Israeli blogs, Korean pop music, and more.
The answer, as will be shown, is both yes and no -- because, this essay will argue, Weber maintained a two-tiered approach to value-free social science. On the one hand, he believed that ultimate values could not be justified "scientifically," that is, through value-free analysis. Thus, in comparing different religious, political or social systems, one system could not be chosen over another without taking a value or end into consideration; the choice would necessarily be dictated by the analyst's values. On the other hand, Weber believed that once a value, end, purpose, or perspective had been established, then a social scientist could conduct a value-free investigation into the most effective means within a system of bringing about the established end. Similarly, Weber believed that objective comparisons among systems could also be made once a particular end had been established, acknowledged, and agreed upon, a position that allowed Weber to make what he considered objective comparisons among such economic systems as and socialism. Thus, even though Weber maintained that ultimate values could not be evaluated objectively, this belief did not keep him from believing that social problems could be scientifically resolved -- once a particular end or value had been established.
eal friendship shows itself in action and affection. The real friend is the one who comes to the rescue in your hour of need; who is there with comfort in adversity and who shares with you his own success. This is hard to do on the screen — the screen, after all, is primarily a locus of information, and is only a place of action insofar as communication is a form of action. Only words, and not hands or the things they carry, can reach from it to comfort the sufferer, to ward off an enemy’s blows, or to provide any of the tangible assets of friendship in a time of need. It is arguable that the more people satisfy their need for companionship through relationships carried out on the screen, the less will they develop friendships of that other kind, the kind that offers help and comfort in the real trials of human life. Friendships that are carried out primarily on the screen cannot easily be lifted off it, and when they are so lifted, there is no guarantee that they will take any strain. Indeed, it is precisely their cost-free, screen-friendly character that attracts many people to them — so much so, students of mine tell me, that they fear addiction, and often have to forbid themselves to go to their Facebook account for days on end, in order to get on with their real lives and their real relationships.
What we are witnessing is a change in the attention that mediates and gives rise to friendship. In the once normal conditions of human contact, people became friends by being in each other’s presence, understanding all the many subtle signals, verbal and bodily, whereby another testifies to his character, emotions, and intentions, and building affection and trust in tandem. Attention was fixed on the other — on his face, words, and gestures. And his nature as an embodied person was the focus of the friendly feelings that he inspired. People building friendship in this way are strongly aware that they appear to the other as the other appears to them. The other’s face is a mirror in which they see their own. Precisely because attention is fixed on the other there is an opportunity for self-knowledge and self-discovery, for that expanding freedom in the presence of the other which is one of the joys of human life. The object of friendly feelings looks back at you, and freely responds to your free activity, amplifying both your awareness and his own. As traditionally conceived, friendship was ruled by the maxim “know thyself.”
When attention is fixed on the other as mediated by the screen, however, there is a marked shift in emphasis. For a start, I have my finger on the button; at any moment I can turn the image off, or click to arrive at some new encounter. The other is free in his own space, but he is not really free in my space, over which I am the ultimate arbiter. I am not risking myself in the friendship to nearly the same extent as I risk myself when I meet the other face to face. Of course, the other may so grip my attention with his messages, images, and requests that I stay glued to the screen. Nevertheless, it is ultimately a screen that I am glued to, and not the face that I see in it. All interaction with the other is at a distance, and whether I am affected by it becomes to some extent a matter of my own choosing.