This article is built on a close reading of the use of the term 'calculation' by Max Weber. On the basis of this reading, I argue for a deeper understanding of Weber's views on uncertainty in the Calvinist ethos, and for a new approach to some key issues in the moral and discursive world of financial capital today, in which accounting, accountability and profit-making have become dangerously delinked from one another.
This note revisits Weber (especially his General Economic History) and Knight on risk and calculation, while adding commentary based on some other authors, notably Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. Some recent ethnographies of finance are considered, as well as popular literature on making money. The future is unknowable, but modern societies train their members to expect to pin down future time. Precise calculation of future outcomes is a chimera, one of the principal causes of the recent financial collapse. Reasoning works best backwards as rationalization and this is scientific method. Extrapolation from the past to the future is where it all breaks down.
need to see how a calculation happens (who does it, with what means, and for what ends) before it disappears from view. We also need to understand the implications of the replacement of ideas of actual physical things, like forests or rivers, with the
Comparative Perspectives on Divination and Ontology
norms, and/or economic circumstances. Such themes are explored in the articles in this issue, which coalesce around concepts of agency and calculation in divination. Agentive and Calculatory Ontologies in Divination The contributions to this
because spending them involves counting. Or to express this point from the other direction, it is as if all calculation is the same; ergo , all dollars will be the same. The classical literature was full of brilliant insights into how money can flatten
center of calculation, surrounded by a network of allies … The quantification of qualities is as much an administrative accomplishment as an intellectual one. And no matter what the skeptics may say, many social qualities have already been successfully
Ontology, Knowledge, and Computation
with ethnographic material on a Chinese fate-calculation technique known as ‘eight signs’ ( bazi ). Because they imply computation processes and/or the manipulation of some randomizing device, fate-calculation techniques in China are usually classified
Disentangling Ruble Quantities and Qualities
converter. But in her mental computation, 10 euros equals a Five Hundred ruble note. As equivalences proliferate, denominations provide “tropic points” ( Guyer 2004: 50 ; cf. Rosin 1984 ) for fuzzy calculations and rules of thumb. Rather than generating
Cracking the Ontology of Divination in Southwest China
household, who waved it above the woman's head in one clockwise sweep. Taking it to the base of a tree growing in the courtyard, the young man disposed of its contents there. At the Crossroads of Calculation and Divine Agency This brief vignette
The Promise of “El uno por mil” in Ecuador’s Yasuní-ITT Oil Operations
role of numerical calculations in the governance of subterranean resources. Quantification processes and their results constitute some of our most basic understandings of society and the environment, such as the untapped value of the Amazon in