David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Inquiry 43 (3):289 – 317 (2000)
This paper presents an 'internal' criticism of Winch's seminal 'Understanding a Primitive Society'. It distinguishes between two contrasting approaches to critical social understanding: (1) the metaphysical approach, central to the whole tradition of critical philosophy and critical social theory from Kant, through Marx to the Frankfurt School and contemporary theorists such as Habermas and Searle; (2) the descriptive approach, advocated by Winch, and which derives from Wittgenstein's critique of philosophical theory. It is argued, against a long tradition of 'critical theory' depicting Wittgenstein's philosophy as irredeemably 'conservative', that the descriptive approach is perfectly apt for generating a critical understanding of central Western institutions. Rather than seeking to provide an explanatory theory through which to discern what allegedly is imperceptible to theoretically unaided perception (i.e. the metaphysical approach), the descriptive approach aims for a 'perspicuous presentation' of our everyday practices and institutions in such a way as to see their 'irrational' and 'alienating' dimensions. Winch's basic position in 'Understanding a Primitive Society' is endorsed, but it is argued that ultimately he fails in his descriptive intent. In place of the Christian prayer analogy that Winch invokes in order to make sense of Zande witchcraft, it is proposed that Western commodity production and exchange provide a more appropriate, instructive, and critical comparison.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Anne Warfield Rawls (2011). Wittgenstein, Durkheim, Garfinkel and Winch: Constitutive Orders of Sensemaking. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 41 (4):396-418.
Peter Winch & Raimond Gaita (eds.) (1990). Value and Understanding: Essays for Peter Winch. Routledge.
Michael Weston (2010). Forms of Our Life: Wittgenstein and the Later Heidegger. Philosophical Investigations 33 (3):245-265.
W. W. Sharrock & R. J. Anderson (1985). Iv. Understanding Peter Winch. Inquiry 28 (1-4):119 – 122.
Julián Marrades (1996). Sobre Las Condiciones de la Comprension Transcultural (on the Conditions of Transcultural Understanding). Theoria 11 (1):161-183.
Kevin Schilbrack (2009). Rationality, Relativism, and Religion: A Reinterpretation of Peter Winch. [REVIEW] Sophia 48 (4):399-412.
John Gilbert Gunnell (2009). Can Social Science Be Just? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (4):595-621.
Harvey Siegel (2008). Autonomy, Critical Thinking and the Wittgensteinian Legacy: Reflections on Christopher Winch, Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking. Journal of Philosophy of Education 42 (1):165-184.
Berel Dov Lerner (1995). Understanding a (Secular) Primitive Society. Religious Studies 31 (3):303 - 309.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads38 ( #86,274 of 1,725,834 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #348,700 of 1,725,834 )
How can I increase my downloads?