This article is a thought experiment. It constructs ideal types of political representation in the sense of Max Weber. Inspired by Quentin Skinner and others, the aim is to give a rhetorical turn to contemporary debates on representation. The core idea is to claim an ‘elective affinity’ (Wahlverwandschaft, as Weber says following Goethe) between forms of representation and rhetorical genres of their justification. The four ideal types of political representation are designated as plebiscitary, diplomatic, advocatory, and parliamentary, corresponding to the epideictic, negotiating, forensic, and deliberative genres of rhetoric as the respective ways to plausibly appeal to the audience. I discuss historical approximations of each type of representation and apply the combination of representation and rhetorical genres to the understanding of the European Union’s unconventional system of ‘separation of powers’. I conclude with supporting parliamentary representation, based on dissensus and debate, with complements from other types.
The article proposes a semantic theory of collective singulars, or singular collective names, designating basic historical concepts, which came into being in the period of the Enlightenment. Their logical structure seems to be internally contradictory, for they refer at the same time to universal values and ideas and to concrete historical occurrences. They also entail two different principles of category-formation—the logic of general names and that of proper names. The two logics are equally rooted in our cognitive makeup; however, different cultures favor either one or the other. The article examines the transformation of the balance of the two logics in European thought from the Middle Ages to the present. The formation of the idea of universal history has brought about an equilibrium of the two logics, while the contemporary "crisis of the future" is accompanied by the rise of the logic of proper names.
The following paper is a discussion of justice as a sign in transition, a sign whose meanings in post-apartheid South Africa must be legitimated by appeal to conditions radically different from those that prevailed under apartheid. I wish to explore the nature of the transformation of justice from the context of apartheid to emergent postapartheid conditions and to do so by focusing on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (the TRC) as an example of what can be called ‘transitional justice’. A common view of the TRC is that its rules for the implementation of amnesty and other related matters should be evaluated in the light of ‘ideal types’ of justice. The TRC must fall short of such ideal types, since its offer of qualified amnesty to perpetrators of gross human rights violations in exchange for complete honesty about such violations will be understood as an exigency which dispenses with a crucial feature of justice, namely retribution.
How does one deal with diversity in an organization known to be hostile to it? Drawing on a Weberian perspective I present in this article one case occurring in actual historical practice: that of Inspector Bobkowski, a teacher, chief of the political education unit at the Berlin police academy and training center, and a hobby historian. With an eye to the case at hand as well as other efforts to deal with difference under the Weimar Republic encountered during my fieldwork, I attempt to uncover the motives underlying the action of officers who contributed to the promotion of diversity within the police force in Germany. Inquiring into their motives enables me to construct an ideal type of a “carrier of diversity,” which, I argue, shares affinities with a liberal agenda of civic equality.
The Reception of a Conceptual Dichotomy
Ferdinand Tönnies's oeuvre Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, published in 1887, has been seminal for the social and human sciences in general, and is no less interesting for intellectual historians and theoreticians of concept formation in particular. Tönnies subscribed to the belief that terms could be rendered less ambiguous, defining the words Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft more narrowly than their contemporary usage. In so doing, he sought to reconcile a heterogeneous agenda initially consisting in offering a diagnosis of vast historical developments and later consisting in providing heuristic tools to analyze individual relationships. This article examines the origins of the concepts and their politicized transformation prior to and subsequent to the publication of his work. As such, it takes on the transformation of Gemeinschaft during the romantic era and its revival by Germany's nationalist right wing and contrasts it with its appropriation by left-leaning communitarian movements in the English-speaking world. The polysemy of the terms in the German language accounts for their semantic evolution, for amalgamations of meanings within Tönnies's conceptual system, and for conundrums in translating the work into English or French. Although the terms were erroneously supposed to have been immediately applicable as ideal types, their adaptation, inter alia by Max Weber or by Talcott Parsons in the form of pattern variables, has been important in the reception of Tönnies's work in the social sciences.