Graduate studies at Western
Inquiry 43 (3):289 – 317 (2000)
|Abstract||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)|
|Through your library||Configure|
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.
Berel Dov Lerner (1995). Understanding a (Secular) Primitive Society. Religious Studies 31 (3):303 - 309.
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.
John Gilbert Gunnell (2009). Can Social Science Be Just? Philosophy of the Social Sciences 39 (4):595-621.
Kevin Schilbrack (2009). Rationality, Relativism, and Religion: A Reinterpretation of Peter Winch. [REVIEW] Sophia 48 (4):399-412.
Julián Marrades (1996). Sobre Las Condiciones de la Comprension Transcultural (on the Conditions of Transcultural Understanding). Theoria 11 (1):161-183.
W. W. Sharrock & R. J. Anderson (1985). Iv. Understanding Peter Winch. Inquiry 28 (1-4):119 – 122.
Michael Weston (2010). Forms of Our Life: Wittgenstein and the Later Heidegger. Philosophical Investigations 33 (3):245-265.
Peter Winch & Raimond Gaita (eds.) (1990). Value and Understanding: Essays for Peter Winch. Routledge.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads31 ( #44,894 of 739,399 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #61,680 of 739,399 )
How can I increase my downloads?