Sara Ahmed, the icon of liberal progressive thought, has proposed the theoretical neologism of ‘stickyness’. It’s not when honey drips on your fingers, or when you wear your undies for a week. It concerns words and ideas that are associated with a term. She proposes this in relation to race, in which a certain term has all sorts of other things that ‘stick’ to it.

Original? Hardly. I do believe that is known as connotation in semiotic circles, but it also has a much more robust presence in the work of someone like G.E.M. de Ste. Croix. Here class is the key. When Plato asks, ‘what is good?’, it is hardly an innocent term, for it evokes all manner of ruling class assumptions, in opposition to the despised slaves and rural labourers.

About these ads