Agency and Other Anarchist Themes In Paul Goodman’s Work

  • Posted on: 2 June 2017
  • By: thecollective

From C4SS

Download a PDF copy of Kevin Carson’s full C4SS Study: Agency and Other Anarchist Themes In Paul Goodman’s Work

Perhaps the most important characteristic Goodman shares with the other “anarchists without adjectives” in this series is his high regard for human agency, and his primary focus on the way actual human beings assert that agency in interacting with their environment.

In starting from his observation of the life situations of whole human beings, rather than separately considering them from the perspective of the dissected aspects of their selves that various disciplines divide them into, he set himself up for criticism as “an ignorant man who spreads himself thin on a wide variety of subjects, on sociology and psychology, urbanism and technology, education, literature, esthetics, and ethics.” Having never seen actual human beings “in fact subdivided in ways to be conveniently treated” by these separate disciplines, he responded, he preferred to write about “the human beings I know in their man-made scene,” going on to say “I prefer to preserve the wholeness of my subject, the people I know, at the cost of being everywhere ignorant and amateurish.”

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