January 19, 2014

Nisbet, Wilson, Bourdieu, and Derrida

 A broader view of his entire body of work reveals Bourdieu as a theorist of social transformation as well. Gorski maintains that Bourdieu was initially engaged with the question of social transformation and that the question of historical change not only never disappeared from his view, but re-emerged with great force at the end of his career.
The contributors to Bourdieu and Historical Analysis explore this expanded understanding of Bourdieu's thought and its potential contributions to analyses of large-scale social change and historical crisis. Their essays offer a primer on his concepts and methods and relate them to alternative approaches, including rational choice, Lacanian psychoanalysis, pragmatism, Latour's actor-network theory, and the "new" sociology of ideas. 

We Have Never Been Modern by Bruno Latour
The critics have developed three distinct approaches to talking about our world: naturalization, socialization and deconstruction. Let us use E.O. Wilson, Pierre Bourdieu, and Jacques Derrida – a bit unfairly – as emblematic figures of these three tacks. When the first speaks of naturalized phenomena, then societies, subjects, and all forms of discourse vanish. When the second speaks of fields of power, then science, technology, texts, and the contents of activities disappear. When the third speaks of truth effects, then to believe in the real existence of brain neurons or power plays would betray enormous naiveté. [...]
Unable to believe the dual promises of socialism and ‘naturalism’, the postmoderns are also careful not to reject them totally. They remain suspended between belief and doubt, waiting for the end of the millennium.

The more somber social interpreters of our time, such as Robert Heilbroner, Robert Nisbet, and L. S. Stavrianos, perceive Western civilization and ultimately mankind as a whole to be in immediate danger of decline.

One Cosmos under God: The Unification of Matter, Life, Mind and Spirit by Robert Godwin 
According to Webster’s dictionary, the word evolution is etymologically linked to the French evolvere, which referred to the unrolling of a scroll, or book. And as Sri Aurobindo expressed it above, “All time is one body, Space a single book.” Or, putting it in a Western context, in the words of Aldous Huxley, “all science is the reduction of multiplicities to unities.”46

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