File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2000/habermas.0005, message 23


Date: Mon, 08 May 2000 19:47:39 -0700
Subject: HAB: Habermas & Bourdieu: a good topic for the future!


Dear Eduardo: Thanks for your stimulating comments!

Eduardo Mendieta wrote (#21: re: reflexive theory):

> When I said they are hardly comparable, ....I have not said anything about
> the one being
> correct and the other false. And, then, once we recognize that, we should
> proceed to ask why they mean such different things, that is, why did they
> come up with such different readings on the idea of "reflexivity."

Yes. Interesting.

> And here
> we would have to talk about one being German and the other French; one
> coming from the Frankfurt School, the other from French Post-War Marxism,
> etc. Comparision that require more time, space and knowledge than I have.

Also: one a social scientist influenced by philosophy, the other a philosopher
influenced by social science. This dichotomy is simplistic, of course (as all
dichotomies are), but also perhaps not, to a degree, inasmuch as philosophy
may be more than metatheory, and making this difference is central to
Habermas' sense of reflexivity: *that* there is more to reflexivity than
theory, even metatheory.

But largely, I was responding in a mode of questioning: Who *is* Bourdieu?
Everytime I open a book by him, I've not yet been drawn in, and I recognize
that I just don't know yet that much about Bourdieu. You were clearly
soliciting close attention to Bourdieu's idiom, so I wondered....wandered.

> Nonetheless, the question is an important one because it may lead us to
> recognize weakness in both positions. Further, Bourdieu is emerging as the
> most important social thinker to come out of France in the second half of
> the 20th century.

Yes, I know. *Therefore,* I rather assertively woandered, if you will.

> A good friend of mine, who lives in Germany, but studied
> in France in the 60s said to me: "Bourdieu is becoming what Sartre was
> during the sixties." And then he told me to read Bourdieu's __The Weight of
> the World__ (which in French is entitled The Misery of the World), and his
> __Pascalian Mediations__. And I am doing what my friend recommended. I also
> read something else which he did not know about, namely __Acts of
> Resistance__ a beautiful series of paper columns and articles on
> globalization, neo-liberalism, bureacracy, etc. Just comparing this last
> book, which is Bourdieu for beginner, and something comparable by Habermas,
> let us say his latest __Die postnationale Konstellation. Politische
> Essays__, you can see how different they are.

Well, then, perhaps this could be a very fruitful context that might develop
for the list, over the coming years (I'm not going to unsubscribe, anyway).
Something very worth pursuing, for those who have the time! (Not I, either,
presently).

> But Gary's intuitions are fairly accurrate, see Jeffrey Alexander's
> devastating critique of Pierre Bourdieu in the book I mentioned __Fin de
> Siecle Social Theory__, but I am less sanguine that him on thinking that
> Universal Pragmatics will solve all theoretical problems.

O, darn. No, really, I believe that Habermas intended his formulations (1976
or so) as a philosophical contribution to an interdisciplinary research
program, and this seems to have been amply shown in his discursive practice of
the past quarter century.

> I stand with
> Wittgenstein and Rorty on this one, theory should be like a tool box, you
> should reach into and take from it what you need for your task.

Hmmm. Sounds like a can of worms.

> Sorry, but have to run.
>

Thanks, though!

In solidarity,

Gary



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