Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tapping Summary: Competition

Wow. What a night. I'm still recovering even 3 days later from the amazing tapping that just happened. Wow. Best tapping EVER? Maybe.
  • First we started talking about competition in terms of sports, which brought up issues of rules, fairness, and cheating. I tried to set up some conditions of possibility for competition to occur, such as a plurality of actors, rules, fairness, etc., but others wanted to talk about competition was in itself. Some felt that in a competition cheating was inherent to the system, and that in a certain sense the rules are made to be broken. This insight was interesting because in a way it absorbed cheating dialectically into the phenomenon of a competition itself. Others were none too thrilled with this idea, because the whole idea of a competition was for there to be an aspect of fairness at work.
  • At this point people began to talk about survival of the fittest, evolution, nature, social darwinism, etc. The main line of thought here was that animals compete for limited resources, but there's no concept of fairness at work. Spencer claims this kind of competition, which drives the evolution of animals, is at work in the evolution of the human being, and what is good for the best of the human race is good for the species as a whole.
  • In order to prevent ourselves from spiraling into Spencerian confusion, I pointed out that we were disscussing two different types of competition. The first type of competition is governed by the physical laws of nature, and the second type of competition was artifically constructed by humans based on the principle of fairness. I thought that the first type of competition was simply a struggle of opposing forces, where in the second case brought in questions of humanity, intentionality, and interpretation. I also thought that the second case was more relevant to our day to day lives, and I encouraged a discussion of these.
  • Once the dust was settled around the competing definitions of competition, Rory spoke up about how in contemporary society competition functioned essentially as a distraction from questioning the values that are offered, with Ryan likening competition to a drug of self affirmation. I countered that organized capitalist competition resulted in material gain, including increasing the standard of living, literacy rates, and life expectancy. However, others also cited the increasing social inequality that occurs as a result of competition. I noted that if a competition was supposed to be operating on a principle of fairness, that this was not always at work within the system of capitalism, which essentially promoted exploitative relationships. Prosch also mentioned the game of monopoly, in which actors don't really see themselves at fault, but merely competing on the terms of the rules of the game. The game itself is problematic because configures the players to behave in a certain way, and they may not be this way inherently.

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