Criminal Justice/Social Justice: Interpassivity Versus Interactivity

Susan R. Takata, University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Jeanne Curran, California State Univ. - Dominguez Hills

The concept, interpassivity, was originally developed for the discourse of contemporary art where it had a strategic value in criticizing the predominant notion of interactivity. For ritual theory, the concept of interpassivity can serve to clarify the idea that ritual came before myth; to the point out the critical value of this key thesis of the so-called "ritualists" (Robertson Smith, Wellhausen, Freud, Wittgenstein) without succumbing to the anti-ritualists conclusions that can be drawn. With the help of the concept of interpassivity, we can show what it means to insist on this thesis, and we can, then, insist on it without regarding cultures that have only rituals, but no myths, as primitive. Obviously, the concept of interpassivity is opposed to that of interactivity. What is at stake in the thesis of the ritualists, is therefore not the "primitivism" consisting of lack of mythology. Rather, it is the idea that even in so-called "high" cultures, the social imaginary can be organized in a different way. Objective, "interpassive" belief can stand for itself. And such an organization of the social imaginary is not a mark of primitive societies, but rather a mark of culture. In other words, ritual comes before myths means that also high cultures are able to avoid the barbarism of succumbing to ascetic ideals. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how "interpassivity versus interactivity" can help to clarify our understanding of criminal justice/social justice.

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Updated 05/20/2006