File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0312, message 263


Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 21:21:12 +0000
Subject: Re: BHA: Voloshinov etc - response to Jamie


Jamie

I tend to agree - when the argument is put in these terms - that the 
difference  resolves around the issue of the construction of 'knowledge 
formations' as you put it and secondly the tendency of realists to want 
to 'clean up the world of entities that have been proved wrong too 
brutally...' (latour) [A tendency rather amusingly evident on this 
list].  Notwithstanding these differences the issue of uncertainty and 
construction is aptly put I suspect it would not be hard to identify the 
concrete differences around specific scientific entities - Bruno Latour 
for example puts it quite nicely with his discussion of  Pasteur's 
victory over  Pouchet.

"... I live inside the Pasteurian network every time I eat pastuerised 
yoghurt, drink pasteurised milk or swallow antibiotics.  In other words, 
even to account for lasting victory, one does not have to grant  
extrahisoricity to a reseach program that would suddednly at some 
breaking or turning point, need no further upkeep. One simply has to go 
on historicizing and localizing the network finding who and what makes 
up its descendents..."  (Latour p 263 in Lorraine Daston's Biographies 
of Scientific Objects)

One of the underlying points being that a scientific entity does not 
remain in existence without an instituitionalizing structure that 
maintains its existence.  Of course Latour cheats because he allows 
Science the luxury of  an entity that exists - and is primarily 
addressing the institutional discourses and institutional structures, 
which refers to as the networks, that support the Pasteurian network  
and I am obviously biased towards those entities that do not and can 
never exist but which nonetheless impact on our human and non-human 
societies.

Under these circumstances - I think I am correct in assuming that those 
knowledges and entities which a science claims are real and which (from 
my perspective ) are ideological constructions would be understandable 
as real because they are human constructions?

regards
steve

jamie morgan wrote:

>Steve, you're posiiton doesnot strike me as anti-realist in many of its
>assertions - you focus mainly on the unknowability of a base reality and the
>manner in which the human creates and is trapped within ideology - you are
>anti-certainty, and pro-construction in knowledge formations - so are most
>realists - if these are part of the real which in the most truistic sense
>they must be since they are human activities within the world - you are
>asserting a form of realism, at least from a  CR perspective - the important
>point of dispute becomes - to what degree is human knolwedge uncertain (how
>does knowledge link to other aspects of reality?) to what degree is
>construction enabled and constrained by the rest of reality (including the
>powers and capacities of human?), and to what degree is the real
>contingent/mutable etc. - these are not illicit questions that square the
>circle of realism i/e/ by tacitly introducing foundations - they are
>presuppusitions of both your anti-realism and our realism - they always
>stand behind the rational position that neither you or we are solipsists
>----- Original Message ----- 
>From: "steve.devos" <steve.devos-AT-krokodile.co.uk>
>To: <bhaskar-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU>
>Sent: Wednesday, December 17, 2003 11:59 AM
>Subject: Re: BHA: Voloshinov etc
>
>
>  
>
>>Jamie
>>
>>A difficult set of questions in an email form... and obviously I cannot
>>give a comprehensive justification of an anti-realist position. However
>>basically I would state that a more accurate understanding is that the
>>Real is impossible to grasp or even encounter. That is to say that as a
>>human being what we consider to be reality is merely 'ideological' and
>>completely infected by the social - and that whilst we can in science be
>>seen to be addressing the empirical real because our sciences can never
>>be seen to avoid the ideological impacts of the social they cannot be
>>said to be addressing the Real. The critical difference here is that I
>>am not arguing that the human sciences are ideological, this is obvious,
>>but rather that all sciences are. (To construct a rough model  then what
>>we looking at is Human-Subject - empirical real - Real -  as opposed to
>>an understanding that implies that in some sense a science can directly
>>interact with the Real). The question of whether the 'Real' can actually
>>be said to exist, which I think is implicit in your question, well I
>>have severe doubts that it makes any sense to make such a claim.
>>
>>My philosophical and cultural training, including the philosophy of
>>science and scientific work has always been on the anti-humanist and
>>non-realist side. I agree that as a consequence my understanding of what
>>constitutes realism is probably strange if considered at from a realists
>>position. But then when I read "...there is a need for concrete
>>scientific utopianizing by socialist economists, architects and human
>>scientists in general..."  I wince just as I do when some idiot
>>scientist claims that a gay gene exists. I do understand that Bhaskar is
>>not addressing those areas of science that I am most interested in
>>understanding anti-realistically.  But from my position whenever a
>>scientist speaks in utopian terms it is necessary to closely read the
>>ideology underlying the statement and  immediately  work to reject it
>>and I see no reason why Bhaskar should be an exception to this axiom.
>>If the discourses of economics, psychology and architecture are to be
>>regarded as sciences then they cannot be excepted from this and
>>consequently Bhaskar is just wrong
>>
>>To clarify then the underlying reason why it is wrong to be a
>>philosophical realist in science is because science is predominantly an
>>ideological activity. I suspect that to be a philosophical realist in
>>relation to science is to accept science as being the best method
>>available to interact with the 'Real' (which is impossible) - as in
>>earlier days philosophers accepted religious myths as doing this.
>>Science is not as scientists often claim about the expansion of 'human
>>knowledge' but about  fulfilling an ideological vision. From Newton and
>>later Max Planck through 20th C high energy physics and into psychology
>>and genetics - it is an ideological activity. This is not say that in
>>the last instance the real does not exist, but it is only in the last
>>instance that can never arrive (to mutate a phrase from Althussar).  The
>>Real will always be hidden behind the reality that is presented as as
>>true. An individual theory may be presented with all the relativity of
>>'probability' and 'experimental proofs ' but Science presents itself
>>overall as a Realism, as the best means available to interact with the
>>world. Consequently then a proper philosophical relationship to science
>>is to severely question whether this is what science is doing, it is not
>>to blithely accept that science is a realism. Richard Dawkins (who in
>>most circumstances I'd support...) explains "There is a fashionable
>>salon philosophy called cultural relativism which holds, in its extreme
>>form, that science has no more claim to truth than tribal myth...."
>>(after some spurious discuission about the moon he goes on "....Show me
>>a cultural relativist at 30 thousand feet and I'll show you a hypocrite.
>>Airplanes  built according to scientific principles work...." For a
>>philosopher this is questionable as he is confusing science and makng
>>things (aka engineering) but Dawkins then makes the more interesting
>>cardinal error of assuming that science in general represents truth
>>because "Scientific beliefs supported by evidence and they get
>>results".   There is remarkably little evidence to support this
>>statement, for  the majority of scientific beliefs are mere ideological
>>statements made to support a given society at a given social-historical
>>moment.
>>
>>I realise that I have schematically  only responded to points 1 and 2 -
>>I will respond to 3,4,5 somewhat less polemically...
>>
>>rough notes for a wednesday morning...
>>
>>regards
>>steve
>>
>>jamie morgan wrote:
>>
>>    
>>
>>>Steve, you're notion of realism seems curious - perhaps this is a failure
>>>caused by the nature of debate in this forum but:
>>>1.are you a 'realist' in relation to the world-universe-outside your
>>>      
>>>
>self?
>  
>
>>>2. If so why is it misguided to be realist about science - is science
>>>      
>>>
>about
>  
>
>>>something? Is this an ontological issue for philosophical dissection in
>>>addition to whatever else we discuss about it? This matter of ontology is
>>>what links people interested in CR, not their various political
>>>      
>>>
>persuasions
>  
>
>>>and other commitments that are pursued in terms of forms of realism.
>>>3. What is the link in your notion of linguistics or semiotics between
>>>representing and constituting?
>>>4. What would you choose to defend from Saussurian linguistics? What is
>>>plausible about it for you?
>>>5. Is there no defencible form of realist semiotics or linguistics? What
>>>does realist lingusitics mean to you and why must it be a blackhole?
>>>
>>>
>>>----- Original Message ----- 
>>>From: "steve.devos" <steve.devos-AT-krokodile.co.uk>
>>>To: <bhaskar-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU>
>>>Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2003 8:53 PM
>>>Subject: Re: BHA: Voloshinov etc
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>Tobin/all
>>>>
>>>>Being a 'realist' (in relation to science) is whilst misguided but
>>>>probably understandable, but being anti-psychoanalysis as well as
>>>>anti-(saussurian style) linguistics - quite probably we'd come to
>>>>serious intellectual blows over such reactionary positions...
>>>>
>>>>The statement rather proves the point I was trying to make - to make
>>>>your materialist linguistic theory dependent on a singular marxist
>>>>position is to guarantee that the 'linguistics' will fail. To make it
>>>>dependent on realism, dialectics is to reproduce the theoretical black
>>>>hole I was condemnning Volshinov for. Curious that you mention Lacan who
>>>>does precisely that in his adoption of Jakobson's linguistics, creating
>>>>the unavoidable error of making his psychoanalysis dependent on a
>>>>theoretically questionable science and ideologically bound science...
>>>>
>>>>yours laughing...
>>>>
>>>>steve
>>>>
>>>>Tobin Nellhaus wrote:
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>        
>>>>
>>>>>Ah, gotcha.  I think the glitch is in what one means by "marxist."  If
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>it
>  
>
>>>>>refers only to Marx's analysis of capitalism, then yes, founding a
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>theory
>  
>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>of
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>linguistics on that would be, hm, clunky at the *very* best.  If on the
>>>>>other hand one understands "marxist" as meaning a mode of analysis
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>(e.g.
>  
>
>>>>>historical materialism, realism, dialectics, etc) without any necessary
>>>>>direct connection to economics -- in other words the philosophical
>>>>>underpinnings -- then I think a marxist philosophy of language is
>>>>>intelligible.  That's the approach that Voloshinov/Bakhtin was taking,
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>I
>  
>
>>>>>believe, as the title of his book indicates; and it's what I usually
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>have
>  
>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>in
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>mind by "marxist," given that I don't work on economics or political
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>theory.
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>As for Saussure, there are other reasons than CR or marxism for
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>rejecting
>  
>
>>>>>him, but it's not an issue I can pursue right now (as I have an article
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>due
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>in less than a week, eek!).  You might check out the poet and essayist
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>Paul
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>Goodman.  FWIW, I have and always have had a visceral antipathy to
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>Saussure,
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>and also Lacan and Richard Schechner (who you've probably never heard
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>of,
>  
>
>>>>>and just as well).  But that may be because I have a visceral and quite
>>>>>possibly erotic relationship with language.  Saussure will never
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>understand.
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
>>>>>Cheers, T.
>>>>>
>>>>>---
>>>>>Tobin Nellhaus
>>>>>nellhaus-AT-mail.com
>>>>>"Faith requires us to be materialists without flinching": C.S. Peirce
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>   --- from list bhaskar-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>          
>>>>>
>>>>    --- from list bhaskar-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>        
>>>>
>>>    --- from list bhaskar-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu ---
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>      
>>>
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