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
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
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
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
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
Kaloyan Haralampiev and Georgi Dimitrov
1 Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients between initial indicators and the total rank (in descending order) Indicator Spearman’s correlation Source: Our own calculation based on data taken from statistical factsheets for each
Some Observations on Representing Roads
Roads may be represented in many different media and cultural forms, from planning documents and maps to postage stamps, children's books, and postcards. While there has been a tendency among some scholars to study representations for what they can tell us about the history of particular road schemes, this article argues that roads are constructed and consumed as much through paper plans, financial calculations, popular representations, and public imaginations as through concrete and steel on the ground. Representations of roads “matter,” and the article suggests that scholars should study the broad array of representations through which the meanings of roads are produced, circulated, and consumed.
"All the calculated ends have already passed, and it now depends entirely on repentance and good deeds" (Sanhédrin). This rabbinic word of caution about anticipating the exact date of the arrival the Messiah would apply to all such hopes and calculations associated eschatological movements throughout history, as well as expectations bound the new millennium. Whether waiting for a new heaven to descend peacefully on earth or some final apocalyptic disaster, presumably covered by CNN, energies unleashed by the concept of the new millennium could be turned 'repentance and good deeds' the world might indeed be transformed messianic place. But the odds seem to be against such a radical transformation.