Tag Archives: power

Gyges, drones, invisibility, impunity

In classical mythology Gyges was a shepherd who discovered a magical ring that could make him invisible.  Armed with his new power, Gyges eventually killed the king, married the queen and seized the throne.  ‘Invisibility’, [Grégoire] Chamayou notes, ‘conferred upon him a kind of invulnerability.’  In Plato’s Republic the story is used to ask searching questions about virtue and justice: what happens to morality, to virtue, if it becomes possible to evade responsibility for one’s actions?

The dilemma is no longer confined to the realm of story-telling or philosophical speculation, Chamayou argues, because the thought-experiment has been realised through the political technology of the drone.  The modern answer to Plato’s question is now all too clear: invisibility produces not only invulnerability but also impunity.

via geographical imaginations | war, space and security. August 8, 2013

The point to be noted is that the positions in dispute, no less than the interactions among them, are constructed out of, and propelled by, logics of the imagination as much as they are by logics of capital, politics, religion, or any other regime of power and authority because the interpretive energies and capacities of the imagination so often determine the way other logics can be construed and employed.

Giles Gunn, Ideas to Die For: The Cosmopolitan Challenge (2013)