Why It’s Easier To Destroy Than It Is To Build

Eddie Ejjbair
4 min readJun 9, 2024

Every so often, protestors take to the street to call for the abolition of some institution (e.g. the police, the monarchy, etc.). Their reasoning is often very logical and, contrary to the claim that they do not know what they would replace said institution with, they have several well-thought-through suggestions in that regard too. The problem, however, is not with their reasoning, but with what their reasoning cannot account for. Institutions, as the philosopher Hans Blumenberg has argued, are not rational, but the product of unconscious selection, for reasons unbeknownst to those who inherit them. As Robert Wallace explains:

The term institution is used here in the special sense given it by the recently deceased German philosopher-anthropologist Arnold Gehlen. It designates a mode of behavior or thought structure that has not been rationally or purposefully constructed (as “institutions,” in one common sense, are thought of as being or having been), but rather is simply inherited and taken for granted, without any explicit justification, as “the way we do things” or the way we think. (One major sense of the Latin root, institutio “custom,” expresses this idea.) Blumenberg contrasts the rich variety of ‘institutions’ — social, cultural, and mythical — that have been produced by millenniums of “selection” with the (comparatively, at least) unfulfilled promises…

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Eddie Ejjbair

‘Gradually it’s become clear to me what every great philosophy has been: a personal confession of its author and a kind of involuntary and unconscious memoir’