Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice is an unsung classic of contemporary social philosophy. It combines the first analysis by a social theorist of the practical intelligibility governing action with an exciting perspective on how the structure of social phenomena determines and is itself perpetuated by action. Bourdieu, however, misinterprets his own theory of intelligibility as a theory of the causal generation of action. Moreover, he attempts to analyze the underlying structure of intelligibility with a set of fundamental oppositions that at (...) the same time structure the social phenomena found in the worlds through which people live. It is argued that practical intelligibility has no underlying structure, that the fundamental oppositions apply at best to traditional societies alone, and that these oppositions do not even structure intelligibility in such societies but, instead, are only a descriptive scheme with which a social scientist can reconstruct social phenomena in them. The outline of a more adequate account of practical intelligibility is also presented. (shrink)
This article criticizes Bourdieu's and Giddens's overintellectualizing accounts of human activity on the basis of Wittgenstein's insights into practical under standing. Part 1 describes these two theorists' conceptions of a homology between the organization of practices (spatial-temporal manifolds of action) and the governance of individual actions. Part 2 draws on Wittgenstein's discussions of linguistic definition and following a rule to criticize these conceptions for ascribing content to the practical understanding they claim governs action. Part 3 then suggests an alternative, Wittgensteinian (...) account of the homology between practices and actions that avoids this pitfall. (shrink)
The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory is the first book to provide an exciting and diverse philosophical exploration of the role of practice and practices in human activity. It also shows how practice theory stands in opposition to numerous prevalent ways of thinking, such as structuralism, system theory, semiotics, and many strains of humanism.
This book addresses key topics in social theory such as the basic structures of social life, the character of human activity, and the nature of individuality. Drawing on the work of Wittgenstein, the author develops an account of social existence that argues that social practices are the fundamental phenomenon in social life. This approach offers new insight into the social formation of individuals, surpassing and critiquing the existing practice theories of Bourdieu, Giddens, Lyotard, and Oakeshott. In bringing Wittgenstein's work to (...) bear on issues of social theory the book shows the relevance of his work to a body of thought to which it has never been applied. The book will be of particular interest to philosophers of the social sciences, a wide range of social theorists in political science and sociology, as well as some literary theorists. (shrink)
This article delineates a new type of social ontologysite ontologyand defends a particular version of that type. The first section establishes the distinctiveness of site ontologies over both individualist ontologies and previous societist ones. The second section then shows how site ontologies elude two pervasive criticisms, that of incompleteness directed at individualism and that of reification leveled at societism. The third section defends a particular site ontology, one that depicts the social as a mesh of human practices and material arrangements. (...) The article concludes by outlining what is involved in giving site-ontological analyses of social things. Key Words: social ontology sociality individualism wholism social facts Heidegger social practices. (shrink)
This essay analyzes the time of human activity. It begins by discussing how most accounts of action treat the time of action as succession, using Donald Davidson's account of action as illustration. It then argues that an adequate account of action and its determinants, one able to elucidate the ``indeterminacy of action,'' requires an alternative conception of action time. The remainder of the essay constructs a propitious account of the time and determination of action. It does so by critically drawing (...) on Henri Bergson's notion of duration and Martin Heidegger's notion of the teleological dimensionality (past, present, and future) of existence. Whereas Bergson provides valuable insights into the continuity of activity, Heidegger illuminates the determination of action. Combining their insights yields an account of the time of activity that supplements succession with a nonsuccessive temporality: the time of activity is an overlapping continuum of action performances each of which is structured as coming towards an end starting from a motivating state of affairs. The essay concludes with brief thoughts on what justifies calling the nonsuccessive dimensionality of existence a kind of time. (shrink)
This essay is a commentary on and critique of the conception of human activity that Robert Pippin attributes to Hegel in his recent book, Hegel's Practical Philosophy. Two principal features of this conception are that it treats human activity as indeterminate and that it construes what someone does and why on a given occasion as depending on social contexts. Pippin suggests that these two features will sound strange to contemporary philosophers. The essay claims, by contrast, that these features will not (...) sound strange to philosophers who advocate one of a small family of other accounts that espouse these two ideas. The essay argues, further, that certain such accounts, namely, ones inspired by Heidegger and Wittgenstein, are more promising accounts of human activity than is Hegel's. The bulk of the essay explores the indeterminacy of activity and the dependency of activity on social context as these are analyzed in Pippin's book and in Heidegger and Wittgenstein. (shrink)
This essay examines continuities and transformations in Heidegger's appropriation of Dilthey's account of life and the accompanying picture of history between the end of World War One and Being and Time . The essay also judges the cogency of two conclusions that Heidegger draws in that book about history, viz, that historicity qua feature of Dasein's being both underlies objective history and makes the scholarly narration of history possible. Part one describes Dilthey's account of life, Heidegger's criticism that this account (...) objectifies life, and Heidegger's appropriation of those aspects of Dilthey's account - temporality, movement, and wholes - that do not result from objectification. Part two focuses on how Heidegger reworks the idea that life is movement by reconceptualizing movement as a happening (and not a stream) and by replacing Dilthey's lived experiences with actions. Part three examines how Heidegger takes over from Dilthey the idea that something is historical if and only if the past is part of its present, also attending to the type(s) of past that these thinkers consider to be part of life. A final section judges the cogency of the two aforementioned theses, defending the claim that the historicity of life is the condition of the objective nexus of actions and events called history and criticizing the thesis that the historicity of a historian's life makes the writing of history possible. (shrink)
This paper combines views of Wittgenstein and Heidegger into an account of mind/ action. It does this by suggesting that these two philosophers be viewed in part as descendants of Life?philosophy (Lebensphilosophie). Part I describes the conception of life that informs and emerges from these thinkers. Parts Two and Three detail particular aspects of this conception: Wittgenstein on the constitution of states of life and Heidegger on the flow?structure of the stream of life. The Conclusion offers reasons for believing their (...) combined viewpoint. (shrink)
This essay examines how nature pertains to social life. Part I describes the social ontology the essay employs to address this issue. This ontology is of the site variety and is opposed to ontologies of both the individualist and socialist sorts. Part II describes where nature appears in this ontology. Artifacts are differentiated from nature, and much of ?nature? is shown to be second nature, a type of artifact that looks and feels like nature. Part II concludes by disputing the (...) idea that nature forms a backdrop against which society develops semi-autonomously. Part III examines the idea of human history as a natural history. Opposing construals of natural history that treat human-social existence as a piece of nature, it defends the necessity of maintaining distinctions between social life and nature and between social history and natural change. None the less, it continues, human history is a natural history. These claims are held together via a neo-Marxian conception of human natural history as the development of humankind through its entanglement with nature. Elements of the ?metabolism of humankind with nature are described. (shrink)
In this paper, a Wittgensteinian account of the human sciences is constructed around the notions of the surface of human life and of surface phenomena as expressions. I begin by explaining Wittgenstein's idea that the goal of interpretive social science is to make actions and practices seem natural. I then explicate his notions of the surface of life and of surface phenomena as expressions by reviewing his analysis of mental state language. Finally, I critically examine three ideas: (a) that the (...) goal of interpretive inquiry is realized through a descriptive, context-constructing method that enables investigators to grasp the instincts, mental states, and experiences (Geist) expressed in surface phenomena; (b) that uncovering rules plays a minor role in this enterprise; and (c) that surface phenomena not only can be made natural but also have causes and are subject to causal explanation. (shrink)
This critical review of Aviezer Tucker's Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography examines the character, scope, and limits of scientific historiography, the overall topic of Tucker's book. The review begins by arguing that the book both unwittingly juggles two criteria for scientific, as opposed to nonscientific, historiography - the production of knowledge and Kuhnian disciplinary matrices - and wrongly construes the subject matter of such historiography to be present evidence for the past as opposed to this evidence (...) in addition to the past itself. There ensues a lengthy discussion of the role of theories in scientific historiography that (1) contests Tucker's thesis that theories of information transmission and grand social theories are central to the enterprise, (2) criticizes his failure to distinguish technical from theoretical terms, and (3) claims that scholarly historiography is more of an art than a science. The review concludes by arguing that scientific historiography as Tucker conceives of it cannot meet the many needs society has vis- -vis the past. (shrink)
This paper combines a phenomenological account of the types of causal transaction found in social reality with a critique of two theories, one structuralist and one Marxist, that contravene it. Part I argues that there are three types of causal transaction in social life in addition to physical causal transactions: people bringing about states of affairs by acting, states of affairs bringing about actions by inducing responses, and entities and states of affairs bringing about what makes sense to people to (...) do by making certain factors determine this. It is also contended that social formations and structures cause actions and other social formations/structures only by way of participating in these types of transaction. The conditions under which this occurs are discussed. Part II criticizes Peter Blau's account of structural effects and Jean?Paul Sartre's version of a materialist theory of history, two theories that either advocate or require causal transactions between social structures/ formations which do not reduce to transactions of the types described in Part I. The paper concludes by suggesting that social entities that make actions possible do not thereby cause them. (shrink)
The paper outlines how Wittgenstein and Heidegger's views can be combined to form a general account of mind and action. It accomplishes this by interpreting Heidegger of the "Being and Time" era and Wittgenstein of the "Philosophical Investigations" onwards asdescendents of the School of Thought called life philosophy. Heidegger is construed as analyzing the occurrence of The Stream of Life, while Wittgenstein is understood as examining (a) The appearances of The Stream in The World and (b) The linguistic articulation tracking (...) their appearances. (shrink)
This article argues that two significant implications of Wittgenstein’s writings for social thought are (1) that people are constitutively social beings and (2) that the social context of an individual life is nexuses of practice. Part one concretizes these ideas by examining the constitution of action within practices. It begins by criticizing three arguments of Winch’s that suggest that action is inherently social. It then spells out two arguments for the practice constitution of action that are extractable from Wittgenstein’s remarks. (...) Part two contrasts the conception of the social context of individual life as practices with three historically significant conceptions of such a context: totality; sui generis reality; and abstract structure. It also circumscribes that contemporary movement - practice theory - that develops the Wittgensteinian position and represents, perhaps, his most significant legacy for social thought. (shrink)
I offer responses to criticisms about and questions concerning my book, Hegel's Practical Philosophy: Rational Agency as Ethical Life, 1 first raised at a conference at Kalamazoo College and now published in this issue of Inquiry. There are responses to Richard Peterson, James Bohman, Hans-Herbert Kögler, David Ingram and Theodore R. Schatzki.
Abstract: In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce argues there is good reason to think that the “moral sense” is a biological adaptation, and that this provides a genealogy of the moral sense that has a debunking effect, driving us to the conclusion that “our moral beliefs are products of a process that is entirely independent of their truth, … we have no grounds one way or the other for maintaining these beliefs.” I argue that Joyce's skeptical conclusion is (...) not warranted. Even if the moral sense is a biological adaptation, developed moralities (such as Aristotelian eudaimonism) can “co-opt” it into new roles so that the moral judgments it makes possible can come to transcend the evolutionary process that is “entirely independent of their truth.” While evolutionary theory can shed much light on our shared human nature, moral theories must still be vindicated, or debunked, by moral arguments. (shrink)
Richard Rorty’s philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism.
Richard Rorty (1931–2007) developed a distinctive and controversial brand of pragmatism that expressed itself along two main axes. One is negative—a critical diagnosis of what Rorty takes to be defining projects of modern philosophy. The other is positive—an attempt to show what intellectual culture might look like, once we free ourselves from the governing metaphors of mind and knowledge in which the traditional problems of epistemology and metaphysics (and indeed, in Rorty's view, the self-conception of modern philosophy) are rooted. (...) The centerpiece of Rorty's critique is the provocative account offered in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979, hereafter PMN). In this book, and in the closely related essays collected in Consequences of Pragmatism (1982, hereafter CP), Rorty's principal target is the philosophical idea of knowledge as representation, as a mental mirroring of a mind-external world. Providing a contrasting image of philosophy, Rorty has sought to integrate and apply the milestone achievements of Dewey, Hegel and Darwin in a pragmatist synthesis of historicism and naturalism. Characterizations and illustrations of a post-epistemological intellectual culture, present in both PMN (part III) and CP (xxxvii-xliv), are more richly developed in later works, such as Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989, hereafter CIS), in the popular essays and articles collected in Philosophy and Social Hope (1999), and in the four volumes of philosophical papers, Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth (1991, hereafter ORT); Essays on Heidegger and Others (1991, hereafter EHO); Truth and Progress (1998, hereafter TP); and Philosophy as Cultural Politics (2007, hereafter PCP). In these writings, ranging over an unusually wide intellectual territory, Rorty offers a highly integrated, multifaceted view of thought, culture, and politics, a view that has made him one of the most widely discussed philosophers in our time. (shrink)
This paper examines the four counterexamples offered by Lehrer and Richard in 'Remembering Without Knowing'. The analysis which Lehrer and Richard's purported counterexamples attempt to discredit is that remembering p requires knowing that p and believing that p. The counterexamples are considered individually and all are rejected as counterexamples to knowing as a necessary condition of remembering.
Richard Rorty's philosophy has two basic commitments: one to postmodernism and the other to liberalism. However, these commitments generate tension. As a postmodernist, he sharply criticizes the Enlightenment; as a liberal, he forcefully defends it. His postmodernist liberalism actually explains liberalism using irrationalism. /// 罗蒂哲学有两个基本承诺，一个是对后现代主义的承诺，一个是对自由主义 的承诺。但是这两种承诺之间存在着紧张关系: 作为后现代主义者，罗蒂对启蒙提 出了强烈的批评; 作为自由主义者，他又在极力地维护启蒙。罗蒂的后现代自由主 义实质上是以非理性主义来解释自由主义。.
Richard Goldschmidt was one of the most controversial biologists of the mid-twentieth century. Rather than fade from view, Goldschmidt's work and reputation has persisted in the biological community long after he has. Goldschmidt's longevity is due in large part to how he was represented by Stephen J. Gould. When viewed from the perspective of the biographer, Gould's revival of Goldschmidt as an evolutionary heretic in the 1970s and 1980s represents a selective reinvention of Goldschmidt that provides a contrast to (...) other kinds of biographical commemorations by scientists. (shrink)
The English Puritan Richard Baxter (1615-1691) developed an account of forgiveness that resonates with twentieth-century virtue ethics. He understood forgiveness as one component of a larger disposition of character developed in community as human beings recognize themselves as sinful creatures engaged in complex relationships of dependency and responsibility, with both God and one another. In the midst of these relationships, persons experience divine and human forgiveness and discover opportunities to practice forgiveness in return. Baxter thus negotiated a distinctive relationship (...) between Christian hope for reconciliation and more stereotypical Puritan emphases on punishment, civil order, and justice. At the same time that recent moral reflection allows us to raise questions about some features of Baxter's argument (such as his treatment of anger), his work provides important resources for correlating dispositions with concrete obligations, establishing a place for forgiveness in the public realm, and counterbalancing the modern emphasis on individual rights. (shrink)
Quando consideramos a extensão da obra dramática de Richard Wagner, não causa estranheza que seus textos teóricos sejam praticamente desconhecidos. No entanto, um de seus escritos, intitulado Beethoven, influenciou decisivamente a elaboração de um livro famoso, hoje considerado um capítulo importante da história da estética, O nascimento da tragédia. Este artigo pretende analisar este escrito de Wagner na intenção de desvendar o que pode ter sido tão determinante na leitura que Nietzsche fez dele, e que o levou ao ponto (...) de citá-lo de modo efusivo no primeiro prefácio da sua obra de estréia, dedicado àquele que, até então, era seu grande mestre e amigo e, como veremos, uma influência não só musical, mas também teórica. (shrink)
El neopragmatismo norteamericano en la actualidad integra una serie de discusiones que ponen en tela de juicio el carácter fundacionalista de la filosofía. Una de ellas es justamente que al repensar el arte y la estética desde la experiencia se repiensa también el papel de la filosofía actual. El mayor promotor de esta idea es Richard Shusterman quien inspirado por Dewey en este sentido, desarrolla su pensamiento en íntimo diálogo con la tradición continental en una abierta crítica a la (...) estética analítica y a las hermenéuticas universalistas, donde propone de paso la filosofía como forma de vida, la hermenéutica de la comprensión, la legitimidad del arte popular y la somaestética. (shrink)
Richard Koch1 became known in the 1920s with works on basic medical theory. Among these publications, the character of medical action and its status within the theory of science was presented as the most important theme. While science is inherently driven by the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, medicine pursues the practical purpose of helping the sick. Therefore, medicine must be seen as an active relationship between a helping and a suffering person. While elucidating this relationship, Koch (...) discusses the fundamental elements of medicine found in natural philosophy and the relationship of medicine to its own history. One of his aims is to unite natural history and the history of ideas without reducing intellectual processes to biological ones. Koch considers free will as something intuitively certain. It must serve as an axiom which will capture human as well as non-human reality. Based on the fact that human free will, considered a psychic quality, evolved out of inanimate matter, Koch grants matter (proto-) psychic qualities. They are evoked through specific constellations of matter. – With regard to history, Koch rejects the notion of constant progress. The history of medicine has provided insights that cannot be surpassed but can be obscured. Historical self-contemplation serves as a means for avoiding any deviations which may prevent medicine from fulfiling its ultimate purpose. Koch connects nature and history through the concept of a unity between natural history and the historical development of medicine. Medicine is considered an especially complex development of a purposive reaction to harmful stimuli, a reaction which can already be encountered in unicellular organisms. Without intending to reduce historical and mental processes to biological ones, Koch sets for himself the aim of gathering different phenomena and presenting them in one encapsulating unity. (shrink)
Richard Koch first made his appearance in the 1920s with works published on the foundations of medicine. These publications describe the character of medicine as an action and the status of medicine within the theory of science. One of his conclusions is that medicine is not a science in the original sense of the word, but a practical discipline. It serves a practical purpose: to heal the sick. All medical knowledge is oriented towards this purpose, which also defines the (...) physician’s role. One kind of knowledge is diagnosis, which is strictly understood in relation to therapy, and is at the core of medical thinking. Diagnosis is not the assignment of a term of a species to a patient’s disease: this would not do justice to the individuality of a clinical manifestation and would fail to provide a reason for individual therapy. Nevertheless, the terms assigned to diseases, although fictitious, are not useless, but assist in differentiating various phenomena. These conclusions carry ethical consequences. Because the task of helping the sick constitutes medicine, morals not only set ethical limits: medicine originates in a moral decision. If there are no diseases but only individual sick people, disease can not be defined as an abnormality. The individual benefit to the patient must not necessarily be the complete restoration of health. With its object being incalculable, medicine cannot guarantee its own success. Here the physician has to develop principles that allow for the best possible response to the challenges faced in varying situations of conduct. (shrink)