John Searle and Pierre Bourdieu: Divergent perspectives on intentionality and social ontology [Book Review]

Human Studies 26 (1):67-96 (2003)
Abstract
Despite Searle''s claim of theoretical proximity between his concept of the Background and Bourdieu''s concept of the habitus, there is at least one substantial difference in the respective ways in which these concepts have been elaborated: the Background is conceived as a nonintentional neurophysiological reality whereas the habitus is fully intentional, or rather constitutes a nonrepresentational level of intentionality completely overlooked from Searle''s standpoint. Moreover, each concept implicates a distinct perspective on social reality: the former suggests that significance is superimposed yet essentially external to this reality; the latter indicates that significance is immanent. I elaborate on the comparison between the two concepts/perspectives from different angles in order to highlight the existing differences as well as explore possible underlying affinities, which depend upon reconsidering the conventional understanding of intentionality as an exclusive attribute of mental phenomena. I show that Searle''s analysis of the Background is inundated with indications of the undeniably intentional character of something he attempts to define as a nonintentional reality. Finally, I discuss the connection between the immanence of significance in Bourdieu''s account of social reality and the conflict-centered orientation of this account. This dimension is noticeably absent from Searle''s theorizing of the social.
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