The ‘Ontological Complicity’ of Habitus and Field: Was Bourdieu an ‘Externalist’?

In Duncan Pritchard, Orestis Palermos & Adam Carter (eds.), Socially Extended Epistemology. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Our aim in this chapter is to contribute to a greater appreciation of Bourdieu’s work within debates on embodied, extended and distributed cognition, grouped under the general heading of externalism (Rowlands 2003, Carter et al. 2014). We seek to draw out several pertinent elements of Bourdieu’s theory of social practice, and show how they variously resonate with, enrich, or problematize key externalist theses. We begin with an overview of the main elements of Bourdieu’s theoretical enterprise, in order to provide essential background for the ensuing discussion. We then address a number of themes connecting Bourdieu’s theory with facets of cognitive externalism, which we organize under the headings of diachronic co-dependence, instrumental dependence, and co-constitutive dependence. Following this we turn our attention to epistemic externalism, where we find promising ground for dialogue with Bourdieu in recent developments in virtue epistemology, focusing our analysis on a recent proposal concerning knowledge-how by Carter & Pritchard (2015). We conclude with an assessment of Bourdieu’s standing with respect to these currents, and prospects for further engagement.



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Nikolaus Fogle
Villanova University
Georg Theiner
Villanova University

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