The Scholastic Point of View

Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

My scientific habitus has been exposed to so many stimuli by everything that has been said that I would have a lot to say, perhaps too much, and that I run the risk of being a bit confused and confusing. I would like to organize my reactions to what I have heard around two or three themes.

I would like first to analyze what, borrowing an expression of Austin, I will call the "scholastic point of view," the point of view of the skhole, that is, the academic vision. What does the fact of thinking within a scholastic space, an academic space, imply? What does our thinking owe to the fact that it is produced within an academic space? Isn't our deepest unconscious related to the fact that we think in such an academic space? This would be the first question.

From there, I will try to give some indications on the particular problem (it was present throughout the discussion, particularly around the notion of mimesis but also, obviously, this morning, in the presentation of Jacques Bouveresse [1989]) that the understanding of practice poses and which makes for such a difficult task for the human sciences. Does the very ambition of understanding practice make any sense? And what is involved in understanding and knowing a practice with an approach that is intrinsically theoretical?

Then, if time allows, I would like to raise the issue that has been up in the air since the birth of the social sciences: the problem of the relations between reason and history. Isn't sociology, which apparently undermines the foundations of reason and there by its own foundations, capable of producing instruments for forging a rational discourse and even of offering techniques for waging a politics of reason, a Realpolitik of reason? The scope of the problematic I adumbrate here is disproportionate to the time at my disposal. This is wht I welcome the idea of "workshop," which fits perfectly what I want to do and can do today. (Bourdieu, 380)

 About the Author

Pierre Bourdeiu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher. Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location, and symbolic violence to reveal the dynamics of power relations in social life. His work emphasized the role of practiceand embodiment or forms in social dynamics and worldview construction, often in dialogue and opposition to universalized Western philosophical traditions. He built upon the theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Edmund Husserl, Georges Canguilhem, Karl Marx, Gaston Bachelard, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, Erwin Panofsky, and Marcel Mauss. A notable influence on Bourdieu was Blaise Pascal, after whom Bourdieu titled his Pascalian Meditations.Bourdieu rejected the idea of the intellectual "prophet," or the "total intellectual," as embodied by Jean-Paul Sartre. His best known book is Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste, in which he argues that judgments of taste are related to social position, or more precisely, are themselves acts of social positioning. His argument is put forward by an original combination of social theory and data from quantitative surveys, photographs and interviews, in an attempt to reconcile difficulties such as how to understand the subject within objective structures. In the process, he tried to reconcile the influences of both external social structures and subjective experience on the individual (see structure and agency).

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