This from Simon Williams’s Emotion and Social Theory:

Within the modern rationalist project–elements of which include the legislative ambitions of philosophical reason, the gardening ambitions of the state, and the ordering ambitions of the applied sciences–underdetermination, ambivalence and contingency are construed as a threat… (17; my emphasis)

Now, there is surely an argument to be made about the relationship between sovereignty and landscape gardening, between politics and pruning, and so on. But I hardly believe that this is what Williams means. Surely this is a typo. What, then, did he mean to write?

I take the correct word to be an antonym of ambivalence, just as legislative ambitions are opposed to underdetermination and order undermined by contingency. But I can’t for the life of me think of a word that sounds or looks like “gardening” that would make more sense in this context.

Answers on a postcard, please.

Otherwise, perhaps Williams is indeed referring to the horticultural side of power…

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