In Which I Demonstrate How a Brief Semi-Rant Can Be Made Awkward to Answer Through Referencing Unpublished Work
One of the things I've been thinking about is an argument from the way ideas can be embedded in the world to the role of imagination in philosophical practice. If More's Utopia, say, can be a philosophical text, maybe an actual built environment can be read as philosophy; and given this conjecture, visionary play with the idea of a place, on the model of Utopia or on a grander scale e.g. Globus Cassus, can be read as metaphilosophy, as imaginatively pushing the bourdaries of the possibility space within which we conduct arguments, the background conceptions of 'making sense' which are presupposed by an enterprise of seeking to engage in rational argumentation. All of which points to imagination as an underappreciated philosophical tool within a tradition unduly hostile to it.
It's with this in mind (and my recent discovery of the work of Michel de Certeau) that I read the latest dispatch from the Campaign Against Ratiocination In Political Discourse: 'choice editing', I learn, is the sinister term du jour for forcing people to do what you want by making alternatives inaccessible. I've voiced objection before to the 'nudge' concept of designed-in coercion on the obvious grounds that when pursued in lieu of meaningful debate (and M.P.s seldom manage to have one of those even with each other) it's insidious, patronising, arrogant—and all the other vices brought together under the term 'illiberal'. Besides that, though, I'm now inclined to see it as an assault on imagination: it's an anti-visionary approach, designed to narrow the mind.
Environmentalism has made social engineering fashionable again, but in a remarkably pessimistic form: actual attempts at creating utopian social orders have not necessarily fostered expansion of thought (Newspeak wasn't conceived of in a vacuum), but utopian literature has tended to be visionary, to want to show you how the world might otherwise be and how sheer human agency might get it there... And then we have this, with the same template but no vision beyond urgent frugality in the name of retaining the same climate as at present.
I don't actually think visionary imagination and environmental utopia are in any way incompatible; this just isn't a suitable political... climate for their union. It would be a shame if defending imagination as part of a Millian conception of the good life, and moreover as a condition of doing philosophy, were to set one at odds with the environmental movement, but the Globus is rather in their court.