Features of Exchange Form D, Overall Structure of this Essay, Liberal Attitude

4 min readJun 9, 2021


Decentralized Socrates (Part 4)

Antislavery medallion ca. 1787 Josiah Wedgwood British https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/191076
Antislavery medallion ca. 1787 Josiah Wedgwood British

The previous article is here.

The Socratic method of dialogue, which I mentioned at the end of the last article, is an example of the “exchange form D” proposed by Karatani in “The Structure of World History” and “The Origin of Philosophy."

Exchange form D is characterized by:

  • The assertion of universal values (God, Nothingness, Tao, etc.) exists apart from the values restricted to the communities.
  • Reciprocal emotional relationships (called exchange style A), such as gratitude and devotion, love and hatred, are restored to universal values = “ return at a higher level.”

The exchange form D denies the biases only understood within a particular family, village, or organization (men are superior, elders are more significant, slaves are necessary, etc.). The denial process itself is made an object of faith as a universal value (i.e., “God” or “Nothingness”).

Of course, God or Nothingness is also just a value in the community of “Christianity” or “Buddhism.” This denial process has no end. The “exchange form D” is the never-ending “exchange” between “bias removal work” and “the emotion of faith.”

In Karatani’s view, the various forms of exchange correspond to the structure of world history (exchange form A (reciprocity) = community, exchange form B (state) = nation, exchange form C (market) = globalization). However, the corresponding structure for exchange form D is not clear.

As a clue to the relationship between exchange form D and institutions, “The Origins of Philosophy” discussed Ionic culture, the “Socratic Method of Dialogue,” and the “Platonic Philosopher-King.”

I intend to explain these “political systems” that are highly dependent on the qualities of individuals. But before I do that, it would be better to briefly summarize the structure of this essay series as a whole and why we need to discuss these issues now.

This essay will be structured as follows.

Issue = Finding out what only a distributed autonomous organization (DAO) can do

  • Current status of decentralized autonomous organizations
  • Description of the “exchange form D-like political systems” that rely on individual spirits
  • A sketch of how to decentralize it
  • Provide an insight into the possibilities that only DAO can realize.

Our commentary on the current state of DAO has come to an end, and here is just before we move on to an explanation of the exchange-form D-type political system.

The relativity of “universal values” and the communal nature of universal values themselves are now becoming evident in many parts of the world. “Basic human rights” and the “treatment of women according to Islam” must both claim to be “universal values of their own. It is impossible to implement them simultaneously against the same person. We can attribute no universal value to either. Suppose we accept that universal values are also beliefs tied to a particular community. The remainder is not the significance of ideological belief but the balance of power and geopolitics in the communities supporting such values. This attitude, which could be called realist or cynical, seems to be a common one in 2021.

The argument that, under these circumstances, “continuation of the removal of communal bias = universal value” seems to be outdated, as the topic is only relevant to ancient Greece. If that type of universal value is labeled a “liberal attitude,” it must also be a relative one.

Karatani does not clearly answer the question regarding the relativity of the liberal attitude, according to my interpretation. But amongst the various “universal values,” “liberal attitudes” are intended “only to remove the bias of the community” and do not present any positive goals or beliefs. In this sense, liberal attitudes differ in level from various other universal values.

Any universal value, as it becomes more explicit and formalized into communal procedures, becomes a skeleton of a “community-specific practice. Such is the case with all of the “former universal values” that are now competing for the balance of power. However, the attitude itself (i.e., the “liberal attitude” in this case) may be free of any skeleton if the only goal is to remove whatever communal bias exists. It does not have an active goal. Therefore, it does not follow the route of clarification, formalization, and skeletonization.

Nevertheless, in the long run, “liberal attitudes” will inevitably turn into a type of skeleton in which people stand on the sidelines or continue to criticize the status quo for their satisfaction. Leaving such a skeleton of liberal attitudes unchallenged tends to create a reactionary vector of thinking that “power and realization (or implementation) is all that matters” (rather than bystanders and complacency). There is a short distance from this perspective to the totalitarian attitude. “ I dare to devote myself to the realization of the extermination of the Jews, the establishment of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, even though I know that they are meaningless ideas. It is to acquire power and sublimity.”

This essay aims to look for an idea that inherits the “liberal attitude” but can have positive goals differently.

In the following article, I will return to the main topic concerning the Socratic method of dialogue and the Platonic philosopher-king.

Next entry here