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Trusting trust

February 2, 2011


Trust is “a particular expectation we have with regard to the likely behaviour of others.”

“Trust is our expectation that another person (or institution) will perform actions that are beneficial or at least not detrimental to us, regardless of our capacity to monitor those actions.”

Derrida suggested that humans have always had the choice of belief. There is an unending oscillation between absolute abandonment, despair and trust in God. Humans can constantly blame or rebuke God or take responsibility for the consequences of their own actions.

See Ricoeur and Derrida.

1759 Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments:

“How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it. Of this kind is pity or compassion, the emotion which we feel for the misery of others, when we either see it, or are made to conceive it in a very lively manner. That we often derive sorrow from the sorrow of others, is a matter of fact too obvious to require any instances to prove it; for this sentiment, like all the other original passions of human nature, is by no means confined to the virtuous and humane, though they perhaps may feel it with the most exquisite sensibility. The greatest ruffian, the most hardened violator of the laws of society, is not altogether without it.”

Smith writes (6th ed. p. 350):

… In spite of their natural selfishness and rapacity, though they mean only their own conveniency, though the sole end which they propose … be the gratification of their own vain and insatiable desires, they divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements. They are led by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been divided into equal portions among all its inhabitants, and thus without intending it, without knowing it, advance the interest of the society (Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments).

1800 [Entrepreneurship] was shaped by culture and delivered in trust. Trust was at the base of business activity and it was ultimately formed and informed by religo-spiritual beliefs and tradition (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).

1816-10-28 Hegel argued that he had dedicated his life to science “and it is a true joy to me to find myself again in this place where I may, in a higher measure and more extensive circle, work with others in the interests of the higher sciences, and help to direct your way therein. [I ask that you] bring with you a trust in science and a trust in yourselves.

1916 The term social capital first appeared in the context of academic debates on the decline of American cities and close-knit neighbourhoods (Capaldi 2005:339)

Wittgenstein (On Certainty) remarked on trust and foundational propositions. Primitive or elementary faith is hasty but excusable for without it one would be incapable of learning and engaging in language games. see also http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Lang/LangOrba.htm http://cp.unitingchurch.org.au/if_it_be_your_will.pdf

Popper in the Logic of Scientific Discovery argued that the critereon for propositions that belong to the empirical sciences is that they are capable of being falsified by evidence.

1962 Joan Robinson (Economic Philosophy 1962:146) claimed that solutions offered by economists to the moral and metaphysical problems are as ‘delusory as those of the theologians they replaced  (Economic Philosophy 1962:146).” She called for an ideology based on more than monetary values (Capaldi 2005:4). In her chapter entitled “Metaphysics, Morals and Science” Robinson (1962) argued that we enjoyed ontological certitude prior to the Freud’s who exposed us to our propensity to rationalization and Marx showing us how our ideas spring from ideologies.

1977 Glenn Loury used the term social capital to describe sources of certain kinds of income disparities (Capaldi 2005:339).

Pierre Bourdieu described it as one of the forms of capital that held account for individual achievement (Capaldi 2005:339).

Chicago sociologist, James Coleman, employed the term social capital throughout his opus of contributions (Capaldi 2005:339).

1985 The World Bank (1985:29) defines social capital as “the norms and social relations embedded in social structures that enable people to coordinate action to achieve desired goals (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).

Nan Lin published a trilogy on social capital: theory of social structures and action; theory and research; and foundations of social capital. Social capital is entrenched in popular parlance (Capaldi 2005:339).

1993 Hugh Laurie starred as a conman, Leo Hopkins, who charmed then ruined the lives of his elderly parents, wife, family, friends and strangers (and his prison cellmate) out of millions of dollars in Britain’s ITV network drama entitled All or Nothing at All. Even when he warned others of his untrustworthiness, they trusted him with their careers, lives and money.

2000 Trust is grouped along with personal connections and a sense of community as contributing to social capital in thriving organizations (Don Cohen and Laurence Prusak In Good Company (2001). Social capital which involves the social elements that contribute to knowledge sharing, innovation and high productivity upon which business and corporate life depend (Capaldi 2005:339 citing J.B. Say c.1800).

2000 Trust is “a particular expectation we have with regard to the likely behaviour of others (Gambetta 2000).”

2005 (Capaldi:339) argued for the need for a spiritual capital which is closely connected to on-going debates on trust, corruption, governance, sustainability and entrepreneurship. An investigation of spiritual capital would consider: The role and scope of personal religious ethics on private economic decisions; the exegetical, economic and historical roots and traditions which give rise to contrasting work ethics and economic systems; the role of societal institutions based on faith ranging (companies, trade unions, political parties, NGOs, intermediating structures); interpretations and practices concerning interest, inflation, growth, government authority, charity, trade in various spiritual worldviews; impact of religion on conduct and rules as employees, employers, consumers, producers, citizens (Capaldi 2005:342).

2005 Daniel Yankelovich, co-founder of the Public Agenda Foundation claimed people are developing a new spiritual search because of a lack of trust in business leaders. 87% of the population believes that there is a decline in social morality.

2012 Sapienza and Zingales’s article in the International Review of Finance argue  “that the changes in economic activity from late 2008 to early 2009 is due to a drop in trust. We present new survey evidence consistent with this hypothesis.”

Bibliography and webliography

Capaldi, Nicholas. 2005. Business and religion: a clash of civilizations? M & M Scrivener Press.

Abstract: “Since the late 1960s American culture has been involved in a struggle to articulate an effective business ethics. The scandals of Enron and WorldCom constitute egregious examples of the absence or deficiency of ethical decision-making in matters of commerce. The purpose of this volume is to inaugurate a dialogue on the common elements of all three Abrahamic traditions – Christianity, Islam, and Judaism – that touch on ethical issues in business. With scholars, religious and business leaders joining the debate, this anthology is the beginning of a reconstruction of the understanding of the relationship between religion and commerce. Main Features: The following questions are addressed: Is a purely secular business ethics irremediably deficient? Does a substantive business ethic require a religious and spiritual framework? To what extent does current business practice reflect a spiritual dimension? What are the various religious traditions’ perspectives on the ethics of commerce? Can the various religious traditions generate a non-adversarial, consistent, and coherent business ethic? Is there a role for religion and spirituality in a global and post-modern business world?” Nicholas Capaldi is the Distinguished Chair of Business Ethics at Loyola University in New Orleans where he also serves as the Director of the National Institute for Business Ethics.

Gambetta, Diego. 2000. “Can We Trust Trust?”, in Gambetta, Diego (ed.) Trust: Making and Breaking Cooperative Relations, University of Oxford, 213‐237.

Sapienza, Paola; Zingales,Luigi. 2012.  A Trust Crisis.  International Review of Finance. 12: 123–131. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2443.2012.01152.x

“We conjecture that the changes in economic activity from late 2008 to early 2009 is due to a drop in trust. We present new survey evidence consistent with this hypothesis.”

Notes

Paul Ricoeur, wide-ranging thinkers in the twentieth century, a contemporary continental philosopher whose work on existentialism and phenomenology to psychoanalysis, politics, religion and the theory of language, have an enduring quality. One of the areas he investigated was the role of imagination, testimony, and trust which is a chapter in the book by Ricoeur entitled On Paul Ricoeur: the Owl of Minerva by Richard Kearney

nurturing authentic relationships of mutual respect between self and the other-I.


Cupboards, drawers, boxes and storage bins are open and private everyday objects are strewn about, turned into something public in preparation for the moving sale. Personal histories related to each item are re-examined. Will they survive without the physical archives? Do they need to?

Le Carré describes this tortuous upending of a home in A Perfect Spy as agents tramp through every cranny and cupboard of her house. Mary’s husband, gifted in the spy tradecraft, has gone missing. He’s taken a ‘retirement’ and is writing his autobiography. I am intrigued by his process because he wants his story to read like a fiction and he wants his hero, himself to be lovable. In her interrogation with the agents, she said,

He’s not writing yet. He’s preparing.

He calls it a matrix.

When he retires, he’ll write.

He’s still finding the line. He likes to keep it to himself.

Listen to this: ‘ When the most horrible gloom was over the household; when Edward himself was in agony and behaving as prettily as he knew how. ‘

It’s from something he read. When he reads a book he underlines things in pencil. Then when he’s finished it he writes out his favourite bits (Le Carré 1986:51).

I think of a mise-en-abime, the hypodiegetic and diegetic framing narratology but this is only a spy mystery. But I also think of the collage-montage and I remember Benjamin. It seems to be what I am doing with my blog. I underline with digg or deli.cio.us. I cut and paste using Flickr, Youtube, Google docs or WordPress itself. But unlike Benjamin or the perfect spy, I scrupulously hot link the most reliable url I can find to every image, citation, idea. The blog itself may seem fragmented or may link the images with new juxtapositions but the sources can be followed by the reader. So my blog is more like a collage-montage than writing.

Before being driven to suicide through physical and mental exhaustion while fleeing the Nazis at the French border in 1940, German cultural theorist, Walter Benjamin was working on a consuming project to educate his own generation and awaken a new political consciousness (Buck-Morss 1991: 336, 47 in Holtorf 2001) . Using the Paris arcades as his prime metaphor, through his passion for collecting fragments of everyday urban experience he wanted his contemporaries to engage in a cleansing memory work, history with an ethical dimension, to revisit 19th century Parisian social and cultural history. He introduced a new form of ‘writing’ which consisted of cutting-and-pasting original citations without citation marks.

Benjamin’s fragmented direct, literal quotations, images and things were purposefully taken out of context. In this way they were deliberately not reduced to generally accepted theoretical or methodological frameworks or categories. He wanted his contemporaries to question unchallenged assumptions about anthropological nihilism, iron construction, the flâneur, the collector and capitalism itself. Something new was created from the old by constructed these fragmented, de-racinated elements into a collage-montage by juxtaposing them in a new way. In this way Benjamin questioned commonly held notions of ‘representation as finding some correspondence with an exterior reality’ (Shanks 1992: 188-90 Holtorf 2001).

Webliography and Bibliography

Benjamin, Walter. 1991. Trans. Buck-Morss. Das Passagen-Werk. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. V [1982]. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp. [English edition 1996]

Buck-Morss, Susan (1991) The Dialectics of Seeing. Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project [1989]. Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press.

Holtorf, Cornelius. 2001. Walter Benjamin’s Passagenwerk.

Le Carré, John. 1986. The Perfect Spy. New York: Penguin.

Shanks, Michael (1992) Experiencing the Past. On the Character of Archaeology. London: Routledge.


How can I know what I’m feeling isn’t just me imagining that I am feeling? What is counterfeit and what is real?

Psychological analysis lost all interest for me from the moment that I became aware that men feel what they imagine they feel. From that to thinking that they imagine they feel what they feel was a very short step . . .! I see it clearly in the case of my love for Laura: between loving her and imagining I love her- between loving her less and imagining I love her less – what God could tell the difference? In the domain of feeling, what is real is indistinguishable from what is imaginary. And if it is sufficient to imagine one loves, in order to love, so it is sufficient to say to oneself that when one loves one imagines one loves, in order to love a little less and even in order to detach oneself a little from one’s love, or at any rate to detach some of the crystals from one’s love. But if one is able to say such a thing to oneself, must one not already love a little less? (Gide 1925 [1958:84])

These are the questions asked by Edouard, the narrator and protagonist of André Gide’s novel Les Faux-Monnayers (1925). Edouard reads the letters, poetry and novels of others and writes in his journal as a background to his experiment in writing a new, more authentic form of novel entitled Les Faux-Monnayers. In the post WWI period of confused values and identities, Edouard begins to question his own reality:

The only existence that anything (including myself) has for me, is poetical – I restore this word its full signification. It seems to me sometimes that I do not really exist, but that I merely imagine I exist. The thing that I have the greatest difficulty in believing in, is my own reality. I am constantly getting outside myself, and as I watch myself act I cannot understand how a person who acts is the same as the person who is watching him act, and who wonders in astonishment and doubt how he can be an actor and a watcher at the same moment. (Gide 1925 [1958:84])

But is it Gide who also experiencing an existential crisis?

André Gide introduced the concept of the mise en abîme in his Journal (1893),

J’aime assez qu’en une œuvre d’art on retrouve ainsi transposé, à l’échelle des personnages, le sujet même de cette œuvre par comparaison avec ce procédé du blason qui consiste, dans le premier, à mettre le second en abyme (Gide 1893).

It is defined by Rimmon-Kenan as,

An analogy which verges on identity, making the hypodiegetic level a mirror and reduplication of the diegetic, is known in French as mise en abyme. It can be described as the equivalent in narrative fiction of something like Matisse’s [1933 painting La Condition Humaine] of a room in which a miniature version of the same painting hangs on one of the walls (Rimmon-Kenan 2002: 94).

and described by Wenche Ommundsen, who foregrounds the metatextual significance of such text-segments, considers mise en abyme as ‘an embedded self-representation or mirror-image of the text within the text. The mise en abyme may […] refer to the whole work which includes it; it may also refer to a particular element within that work, or it may take as its subject the processes of fictional creation and communication’ (Ommundsen 1993: 10 cited by Weiss).

Bibliography

Bal, Mieke. 1985. Narratology. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative (transl.).Toronto/London: University of California Press.

Boheemen. “Notes on Narrative Embedding.” Poetics Today 2.2 (1981): 41-59.

Gide, André. 1925. Les Faux-Monnayers.

Gide, André. 1958. The Coiners. Trans. Dorothy Bussy. London: Cassell & Company.

Gide, André. 1958. XIII. “Edouard’s Journal: Douviers and Profitendieu.” The Coiners. Trans. Dorothy Bussy. London: Cassell & Company. p. 358

Caws, Mary Ann. 1986. Reading Frames in Modern Fiction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP.

Dällenbach, Lucien. 1977. Le récit spéculaire. Essai sur la mise en abyme .– Paris : Seuil, 1977. The Mirror in the Text.– Cambridge : Polity Pres, 1989.


Meyer-Minnemann, Klaus, Schlickers, Sabine. 2004. “La mise en abyme en narratologie.” Vox Poetica. January 7. http://www.vox-poetica.org/t/menabyme.html

Ommundsen, Wenche. 1993. Metafictions? Reflexivity in Contemporary Texts. Victoria: Melbourne University Press.

Ricardou, Jean.1990 [1973]. Le Nouveau Roman. Paris : Seuil.

Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith. 2002. Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. 2nd edn. London and New York: Routledge.