File spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0101, message 39

Date: Sat, 13 Jan 2001 11:33:30 -0800
Subject: Re: HAB: Brave New Conditionality

Hi, Kelley.  Thanks for your encouragement.  Most people on my campus greet 
me with "Who's Habermas?" and they don't really want an answer.  That makes 
it a joy to discover that my students really do want to know and talk about 
these issues.

Is it socially acceptable to ask questions that will probably reveal that 
I'm not as well read as many of you? jeanne

At 01:20 PM 1/13/2001 -0500, kelley wrote:

>>I'm jeanne.  And I've been lurking over the HAB list for the last week or 
>>so, wanting very much to participate, but very much aware of the need to 
>>get two new courses together before school starts. But when mattP. 
>>mentioned that his was a critical sociology approach, I had to gather my 
>>courage and introduce myself. I'm a sociologist, with a specific interest 
>>in critical theory.  And I presently belong to the academy. My hesitation 
>>to speak until now was based on my not being a philosopher.
>hi jeanne.  i'm a sociologist too.  and ken isn't a philosopher, per se, 
>either.  he does religious studies.  rob schaap doesn't consider himself a 
>philosopher, either, i don't think. i don't mean to speak for ken 
>inappropriately or rob, either.  it's just that i've known both for years, 
>ken moreso because we're friends and run a list and a resource for theory, 
>research and politics.  while i've not updated it in awhile, the pages are 
>at  i imagine you might want to use it as a resource 
>and, of course, let us know if we have missed a resource or if links are 
>outdated. i think you'll recognize that the name is playful, though the 
>site is all about theory.  that's what we intended.
>at any rate, i think my point is that i wouldn't assume that everyone here 
>is a philosopher.  as you know, the ASA regularly sponsors special 
>sections on habermas.  when i presented a couple of years ago, the room 
>was just as packed as any other section, and ours was at 8 a.m.!  and, 
>frankly, as a sociologist, i find it deeply problematic that anyone in our 
>field thinks that habermas is somehow off limits or that philosophy, in 
>general, is somehow not crucial to an understanding of what it is that 
>sociologist do and, imho, ought to do, in part, in addition to the kind of 
>empirical work we are more well known for.
>>My primary interest is in teaching non-traditional  (meaning wide age 
>>range, poor, and people of color) undergraduate students to participate 
>>in scholarly discourse such as I've been reading on the HAB 
>>list.  <...>    Please, Ken and matt, may I include your last exchange on 
>>that site, so that our students can see the patterns they are following 
>>as similar to yours?  Right down to the emoticons! And how exciting it 
>>would be for them, as it was for me, to see that we sometimes even talk 
>>about the same people and issues, albeit at a more concrete and less 
>>sophisticated level.
>:)  we have a game of taking quotes from philosophers etc and replacing 
>the word reason or rationality with "stoopidity".  it can be quite funny 
>and, best, it requires some sophistication to really get just how funny it is.
>frankly, i tend to think that the way one can tell someone is really 
>well-read in a particular field of thought or with a particular theorist 
>is that they can crack jokes as ken and matt did.
>on that note, i once taught a class on research methods at a college like 
>you describe.  i'd note that i've taught at some very elite liberal arts 
>colleges and the students aren't all that different in terms of their 
>discomfort with scholarly discourse.  however, i agree that the 
>intimidation factor is a bit higher among the "non-trad" 
>population.  since i approach research in terms of methodology AND 
>methods--a classic distinction made in critical theory--then i spent a 
>good solid two weeks covering epistemology.  in one particular class, i 
>happened to be running that unit during the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal.  of 
>course, the topic invariably came up.  i let it go on as they debated the 
>questions: "what is sex" ( i had to prod them a little, i confess) and 
>"what counts as a reliable media report" and so forth.
>after a while, i stopped and told them that they all just done 
>"philosophy" and, in particular, epistemology with a little ontology 
>thrown in to boot.
>now, that worked far better than any lecture, handout, or text i'd given 
>them!  so, i think what you're doing sounds great!  it's not easy, but 
>when things happen like that above, it's very rewarding.  after all, we 
>were all "not philosophers" (or sociologists, or communications studies 
>people, etc) at one time too, right!!
>(apologies for lower case.  i have problems with  my hands and it's cold 
>today, exacerbating the condition.  easier to type lowercase)
>     --- from list ---


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