'Illicit:" A Term Extensible Beyond Artifacts?
Cutting through all the complicated "nuances" of application of this term, it does seem to mean, in a very general sense, "having unclear, and reasonably suspect origins" if not provably illegal origins.
Hmm. This is a term, a word, that has genuine power. It can render an artifact uncollectible amongst the collecting fraternity, and their suppliers. It distills the essence of perceived lack of documented credible, trustworthy origins, and consequent suspicion of illegal or untrustworthy origins, in a short and economical term. Perhaps such a powerful term might be useful in discussing the origins of something other than cultural artifacts?
When we discuss the licitness of artifacts, are we not in a fundamental sense discussing their credibility to be considered trustworthy, qualified artifacts that can ethically be collected?
Credibility is a concept, a quality, that clearly extends far beyond the limited realm of inanimate artifacts. It has, for instance, traditionally been used in describing the trustworthiness of individuals. The same can be said for the word qualified. And much the same may be said for the word ethical.
An individual who is credible, qualified and ethical , as well as being knowledgeable, would be a trustworthy advisor regarding matters in which we fallible humans are not omniscient. One could appropriately use the word licit to describe the pretensions of such an individual to be an expert advisor, or commentator, upon a specialized subject in which the average citizen lacks detailed knowledge.
Conversely, an individual who is not demonstrably credible, qualified and ethical , as well as knowledgeable, would fall short of being a trustworthy advisor regarding matters in which we fallible humans are not omniscient. Such an individual could be described as a false or untrustworthy advisor or commentator.
Would it not be economical to use the word illicit to describe such an individual as a false advisor or commentator?
Would the term illicit not be particularly well suited for describing the pretensions of an individual lacking credible qualifications, yet pretending to be an expert commentator, to be qualified?
Would the term illicit not be particularly well suited for describing the pretensions of an individual who hides his past in a veil of secrecy, contrary to the practice of reputable advisors and commentators, to be trustworthy?
It seems to this observer that there are advisors and commentators who are credible and trustworthy, who publicly disclose their background and credentials, whose pretensions to expertise and knowledge of the subject upon which they comment or advise are well founded, whose qualities as advisors and commentators may justly be described as licit.
Conversely, there are advisors and commentators who are not credible and trustworthy, who do not
publicly disclose their background and credentials, whose pretensions to expertise and knowledge of the subject upon which they comment or advise are not well founded, whose qualities as advisors and commentators may justly be described as illicit.
It's obviously wise to seek out licit advisors and commentators when one desires guidance. In the subject of cultural property law, Dr. Peter Tompa is an extremely competent and well qualified resource.
One could however go badly astray in this observer's opinion, if one were to go looking for guidance in Warsaw. One might find an individual eagerly seeking to be accepted as an expert commentator and advisor whom the general public should trust regarding advice and commentary as to the licitness of portable antiquities. This individual however has not publicly disclosed credible, trustworthy credentials to sustain his pretensions for being publicly accepted as an archaeologist. This individual, according to the above reasoning, is an illicit pretender.
For details, see http://classicalcoins.blogspot.com/2010/12/unprovenanced-archaeologist.html