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Experience, Problems of Scale, and the Aesthetics of Perception

Mediations of Social Life in the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-78441-223-4, eISBN: 978-1-78441-222-7

Publication date: 31 October 2014



To elucidate issues involved in the problem of scale, in particular the relations, analytical and dialectical, among first-person experiences of theorist and theorist’s object-complex of individual actor, group, society, motives and causes, intended and unintended effects, and so forth, as these experiences are manifest in an aesthetics of the judicial moment of perception, and enunciated as first-person accounts directly or indirectly, of third-person accounts, sometimes via explicit but usually via virtual or even vicarious second-person accounting practices.


Discussion begins with some classical formulations by neo-Kantian theorists (Simmel, Durkheim, Weber) regarding relations of “individual and society.” Brief citations of various twentieth century responses to the problem of scale follow. Attention then becomes more intensively focused on the basic problem of first-person experience and accounts with respect to the problem of scale, using Coleman’s “foundations” work as guidepost for navigating issues of effects of cognition, consciousness, and action in still mostly obscure processes of aggregation. This leads to explication of the thesis of “impossible individuality,” in present-day theoretical contexts and in the context of post-Kantian romanticism, with special attention to Hölderlin and the feeling/knowing dialectic, Benjamin’s treatment of temporality with respect to metrics of history, and the question what it means to “theorize with intent.”


The discussion ends with some tentative resolutions and several lacunae and aporia which are integral to the current face of the problem of scale (i.e., processes of aggregation, etc.).


The discussion builds upon the work of many others, with first-person illustrations.



Hazelrigg, L. (2014), "Experience, Problems of Scale, and the Aesthetics of Perception", Mediations of Social Life in the 21st Century (Current Perspectives in Social Theory, Vol. 32), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-51.



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