Autonomy and Surveillance

The slaves were allowed to leave the master’s property with a pass, and any white person could ask to see the pass. The plantations were not inclosed by razor-wire fences or high walls; they weren’t prisons. If the slave owners had made their properties like prisons, they would have placed a much greater burden on themselves. But by giving slaves a pass and giving any white person the right to ask to see the pass, the slave owners delegated power to those whites. Surveillance was thus extended throughout the exterior of the slave owner’s property, even as far as the northern states.

Inclusion & Exclusion

The excluded is always included by an observer. In other words, the observer includes the excluded as the excluded. This is a two-sided form, which means the boundary separating the two sides must be crossable. An observer can only exclude something that could potentially be included. There are no laws prohibiting a person from flapping their arms and flying into the sky like Icarus because such a law could not be broken—i.e., the line separating legal and illegal could not be crossed.

Embodiment and materiality

In reading the scholarly literature on social systems theory, I sometimes come across the claim that for Luhmann psychic systems means the mind–and that this mind is incorporeal. The person this claims that Luhmann fell back on the old body/mind duality, according to which there is a mind distinct from the physical body. But these claims are simply false. The psychic system is conscious awareness; it is the body’s awareness of itself. The psychic system consists of whatever the body can perceive via its five senses and its “sixth sense, proprioception (perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body). Thus all sentient beings, not just humans, have a psychic system. A better term that psychic system might be sensorium–the sensory apparatus or faculties considered as a whole.

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