illich

Glossary

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An Ivan Illich Glossary



Ivan Illich preferred modifying, recovering, enriching the meaning of common words rather than introducing special terminology.




Commons  Until the beginning of industrialisation, the common pasture in the European village open for farming use free of charge to village members owning no ground (German "Allmende"). As an extension, resources, including spaces, commodities etc. available to all free of charge (where "resources" would be quite the wrong term, since commons are transformed into "resources", in Illich's terminology, precisely through industrialisation).
Common sense  "Sense organ for the perception of proportion, of the proper fit of inner and outer experience, a sense that recognizes and judges the fit among perceptions" (Barbara Duden). "Common sense is knowing what fits together ... Common sense has been replaced by values" (Oakland Table Conversations). "The sense-organ believed to recognize the good, the fit and the fifth" (Cultivation of Conspiracy).
Communication  Originally: being together, togetherness. Today: text, message independent of meaning.
Conviviality  Living practices in a non-alienating community.
Distality  Distance of the part to the whole, more precisely to its centre.
Disvalue  Measure for the degradation of the realms of conviviality (commons, vernacular, proportion, common sense, subsistence, gender,...) preceding the production of value. 
Gender  Complementarity of feminity and masculinity underlying the shaping of personality. As an extension, the same complementarity underlying common practice and habit, including language. Contrary to sex, sustains an economy of sufficiency.
Iatrogenesis  Generation of disease through medicine.
Lay literacy  Silent writing and reading, writing and reading independent of speech, of sound.
Literacy  Writing and reading linked to speech.
Lumen  Seeing produced by the act of looking as opposed to lux, light producing passive seeing.
Lux  Light producing passive seeing by entering the eye.
Mother tongue  Taught language as opposed to spoken language (Recht auf Gemeinheit, 33: "... Muttersprache bedeutete ... niemals die Vernakulärsprache, sondern ... ihr ... Gegenteil"). Taught first by paid teachers, then by unpaid parents. Standardised, fixed language as opposed to the vernacular, the spoken language in permanent transformation. Meant first the language of Catholic Mother Church, later that of the biological parents.
Needs  An artificial condition opposed to necessity (Needs: "Needs have nothing to do with necessities").
Nepsis
  The act of looking chastely (Barbara Duden, Samar Farage), the guarding of our senses (Philosophy... Artifacts... Friendship).
Opsis  Habits of the eye as opposed to optics, the science of light.
Optics  Science of passive seeing, as opposed to opsis, the science of active looking.
Proportion  The proper fit of complementary pairs like day-night, left-right, female-male, up-down, good-bad, etc. Perceived for instance as the harmony of the natural, exact musical interval as opposed to the artificial, approximate, dissonant interval of the equal scale. Lost in Europe at about the time of the introduction of the equal scale in music (17th Century).
Sex  From Latin secare, to cut. Modern term denoting the differentiation of feminity and masculinity out of a fictive neutral state. Contrary to gender, sustains an economy of scarcity.
Shadow work  Unpaid work within a context of paid work, which in turn becomes necessary due to the loss of subsistence (Shadow Work).
Subsistence  Productive activity independent of a context of paid work. Sustains economies of sufficiency and self-sufficiency as opposed to economies of scarcity, plenty and dependence.
Text  Originally holy scripture, later writing independent of sound.
Value  Artificial relationship between things, substitute for proportion or natural fit.
Vernacular  In Roman law, the "non-commercial" realm (Shadow Work). Spoken language in permanent transformation as opposed to lexically and grammatically formalised and fixed language. As an extension, common practice and habit.



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