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Theory in Anthropology in the Nineties
Stephen P. Reyna Cultural Dynamics 1997 9: 325 DOI: 10.1177/092137409700900304 The online version of this article can be found at: http://cdy.sagepub.com/content/9/3/325
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THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY IN THE NINETIES
STEPHEN P. REYNA
University of New Hampshire
ABSTRACT Current theory in sociocultural anthropology is dismal. This article has two goals. The first is to show why one project, that of Geertzian conjecturalists, is so dismal. The second is to present an agnoiological methodology that might lift the discipline out of such doldrums. Agnoiology proceeds by revealing ignorance. It provides information of what is unknown that needs to be known to strengthen theory. The methodology is applied to certain aspects of Bourdieu’s, the Comaroffs’ and Sahlins’s work. It reveals that these scholars belong to an old, established, Hegel/Sartre theoretical order disturbed by a gaping hole. The hole, in Sartre’s terms, is an apparently ’insurmountable dualism’ between the social and subjective. Repair of this hole is suggested to be a worthy project for keeping sociocultural anthropologists off the mean streets of dismal theory.
Key Words ♦ Comaroffs ♦ Bourdieu ♦ Geertz ♦ methodology ♦ Sahlins ♦
This article contemplates four theoretical projects in anthropology. The first project is Clifford Geertz’s conjectural hermeneutics, especially as presented in Works and Lives (1988) and After the Fact (1995). The second project is Pierre Bourdieu’s practice theory, as argued in perhaps its most complete form in The Logic of Social Practice (1990). The third project is one of a Gramscian idealism that has been proposed by Jean and John Comaroff in their Of Revelation and Revolution (1991). The final project is a neo-Levi-Straussianism offered by Marshal Sahlins in his fiercely combative, How ’Natives’ Think (1995). Though these projects have their origins in the early 1970s, and though they do not exhaust the theoretical possibilities in current anthropology, they are arguably the most important theoretical alternatives competing for space in the imaginations of sociocultural anthropologists in the 1990s.1 Why contemplate them? Sherry Ortner wrote her brilliant article,
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The paper is organized into three parts. a seemingly ’insurmountable dualism.. What.sagepub. 1996: 296). Gaps and gaffes are discovered.’ for the discovery of promising areas of inquiry in theoretical orders. this methodology is applied in the third section. A more skeptical opinion. self destructing’ (1996:1). My concern is that anthropology is not good at making any theory. This will be done (1) by illuminating why anthropology has become dismal at theorizing and (2) by presenting. though not as dismal as the pessimists think. the ethnography of the body.’ The article concludes by offering three priorities. information concerning what is unknown that needs to be known to strengthen theory. suggested by the article’s arguments. So the present article’s goal is in a small way to help the discipline to see its way towards more rigorous theory.. in Sartre’s terms.Culture&dquo. etc. If the optimists think things are dismal. gaffes and holes. This methodology operates by discovering gaps. and the pessimists are booking farewell performances for the whole show. 1995: 14). Such opinions appear to be ’widely shared’ (Knauft. of course. in part because she found the discipline to be theoretically ’a thing of shreds and patches’ (1984: 126). and anthropology with it’ (Sahlins. Then. the Comaroffs’ and Sahlins’s work is shown to belong to a particular Hegel/Sartre theoretical order. Geertz prophesied that the discipline would disappear in about fifty years (in Handler. called the ’agnoiological method. suggesting that this order has tumbled into a hole. Section one explores aspects of Geertz’s thought. I have different goals in mind when thinking dismally than did Professor Ortner. however. the ethnography of performance. An optimistic conviction. a methodology that might contribute to putting the ’critical’ into critical sociocultural theorizing. Her solution to the problem was to encourage everybody to get with the (theoretical) program and this. that if fulfilled strengthen anthropological theoriz. It argues that conjectural hermeneutics manages impressions in a manner that is indifferent to their truth.326 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY ’Theory in Anthropology Since the Sixties’ (1984). Bourdieu’s. is that&dquo. There are pragmatics. Downloaded from cdy. thereby helping to make theorizing less dismal. was her version of practice theory. Her concern was that anthropology did not have the right theory. the anthropology of the nineties teems with lively projects. gender and cultural studies. is that ’recent developments’ are not ’nearly as dismal’ as the ’more pessimistic views might have it’ (1996: 1). is in the twilight of its career. The second section offers rudiments of a critical methodology.com by guest on February 10. 2013 . are the prospects for such projects? Debate concerns (as Knauft delicately puts it) whether the discipline has ’progressed in recent years or is . then perhaps it is appropriate to contemplate the dismal. It is now slightly over a decade since Professor Ortner’s intervention and things have gotten worse. subaltern and queer theory. articulated by Sahlins.. Certainly. Such an approach makes for dismal theory. one of. expressed by Knauft. and applying. 1991 : 612)..
saying he ’never really bought’ it (Handler. Geertz made no systematic attempt to inform readers when information was from the viewpoint of the gentry. or for that matter from himself. Let us explore a bit where. and the humanities. peasants.’ (1988: 63). Indonesian society at the time Geertz studied it was riven by great differences of wealth and position. This is especially evident in his Indonesian ethnography. 1991: 608). Science is concerned with systems of validation designed to provide more objective and true knowledge. or of a Cold War liberal (Reyna. 2013 . do not know whether they are being presented with the biases of landowners. The Since the Conjecturalist World of Impression Management publication of Interpretation of Cultures (hereafter IC) in 1973 no approach has been more fashionable in anthropology. REYNA 327 ing. thereby strengthening the prospects for anthropology’s varied and spirited projects. Geertz both initiated anthropology into hermeneutic mysteries and made it clear that he rejected science. which means that even though Geertz called for ’systematic modes of assessment’ he neglected to craft Geertz them. So why bother with questions of validation which. He implicitly assures readers that they do when. Similarly. he says. In the decade between the publication of IC and Local Knowledge (hereafter LK) (1983). and how.sagepub. workers. then. Geertz reveals a lack of concern with objectivity. Geertz’s position is not that true statements do not exist.. following consideration of certain assertions made by Evans-Pritchard. actually calls for the validation of interpretations according to ’systematic modes of assessment’ (1973: 24). However. Readers. My reading of the page in question is that it offers no procedures for arriving at valid attributions of meaning. it is that Geertz parts company with science.STEPHEN P. explains why he failed to deliver upon the Downloaded from cdy. As for truth. Further. of course. So D’Andrade’s judgment that Geertz’s approach exhibits ’no method of validation’ (1995: 248) seems sensible. Rather. Now Spencer has said that Geertz expends ’considerable energy on the problem of the validation of differing interpretations’ on page 30 of IC (Spencer. I take Geertz at his word when he tells readers in LK that they would not find ’much’ in the way of ’theory and methodology’ in his hermeneutics (1983: 5). ’The question is not the truth of such statements (though I have my doubts about those Bedouins and those women) . his attitude is one of indifference to truth in the sense that he acts as if distinguishing truth from untruth is unproblematic and facile. forthcoming).com by guest on February 10. 1989: 159). than that of Clifford Geertz.. There appears to be no other student of Geertz who proposes he has formulated validation procedures.
Those generalizations which are relatively low in abstraction and scope and that are derived from observations are termed empirical generalizations. it is a more modest affair of those struggling to understand certain realities through development of more objective systems of validation in order to have the truest possible statements concerning those realities.2 The types of statements science traffics in are generalizations. If Geertz’s hermeneutics is something of a guessing game then it is appropriate to label it conjectural.sagepub. unverifiable’ (Cohen. This suggests. A statement is ’true’ when ’what it asserts to be the case is the case’ (Fetzer and Almeder. revealing that Downloaded from cdy. middle-class woman. that Geertz’s interpretations were made in the absence of ’specifiable evidence’ (Crapanzano. proceeded to rape a white. Such indifference means that when it establishing the truth of interpretations. Science is interested in truth because it is the sturdiest tool humans possess for distinguishing what is from what is conjured (by rhetoric). The man released was Willie Horton. Bush’s supporters hired an advertising agency to make the Willie Horton television commercial. One suspects that a generalization is true when it is observed that events occur as the generalization states they will occur. concepts which represent that certain events will happen in specific manners in the world. During the 1988 George Bush-Michael Dukakis election. 1992: 67) which means that they are pretty much ’conjectural.328 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY promised comes modes of assessment. However. Those that are inductively derived from empirical generalizations and which are higher in abstraction and scope are theories. suburban. a person of Greek origin named Dukakis.) Now let us consider what Geertz gave to up when he abandoned science. once liberated. 1993: 135). as Crapanzano has observed.’ and (2) ’that the Greek Dukakis helps them do it.’ Dukakis lost. A scientist is above all interested in the truth of these two statements. The statement ’Dukakis helps them do it’ in the Willie Horton commercial is something of an empirical generalization. an African-American murderer who. 2013 . (Hereafter. ’You either grasp an interpretation or you do not. The advertisement. masterfully using a cinéma verité style. While those that are deductively derived from theories and which are of lower scope and abstraction are hypotheses. see the point or you do not’ (1973: 24). Rather. The science I favor is not of a get-on-your-high-horse with foundationalist banners flying variety. I shall call practitioners of such hermeneutics conjecturalists.com by guest on February 10. the observation that Horton was released as part of a work release program and not by Dukakis suggests that observed events did not occur as the commercial has them. The commercial effectively stated that (1) ’black males rape white women in the suburbs. The following incident helps to illustrate this point. These are statements of relationships between concepts. 1974: 5). reveals a frightening man being released from jail at the instigation of the then Governor of Massachusetts.
they must do so in situations that are contested and approximate. Objectivity is desired because bias can produce untruths. Do these procedures work? This is a bit like inquiring. Objectivity does not mean that either science or scientists are value neutral.’ (1981). however. is the case. One way in which this is done is through creation of procedures that foster objectivity. do contraceptive techniques work? At present. scientists who seek objectivity pursue an epistemic tolerance by suspending. such centrisms. because it is so important to distinguish what is from what is delusion that even as determined a skeptic as Derrida insists. The objective is an external realm of the objects of perceptions and thoughts. are fundamental and need to be distinguished.com by guest on February 10.STEPHEN P. 1996: 298). REYNA 329 the advertisement is not so much a truth as a racist fancy. 1995: 162). The Oxford English Dictionary offers a definition of objectivity as ’the object of perception or thought’ (discussed in Sahlins. Contested in that there are different generalizations that compete to explain the same events and in this contestation the prize goes to those statements which are ’approximately true’ (Miller. Scientists have their biases. Racial bias would have been reduced in the Willie Horton commercial if observations were made of what white men do to women. Gender bias is reduced if one observes as many women as men. These are procedures that guide the making of observations so that observers can know how accurately what a generalization asserts to be the case. What knowledge should conjecturalists produce if they lack validation procedures and are indifferent to seeking approximately true knowledges? Geertz might be construed in Works and Lives (hereafter WL) to be Downloaded from cdy. Nor are there procedures to perfectly eliminate bias. Generalizations that better fit the case have more events that occur the way they are supposed to than their rivals and so might be said to be approximately true. The subjective is a realm within a person of awareness of perceptions and thought.3Two senses. Here is a first sense of the term where it is used in opposition to subjectivity. But simple precautions do reduce the risks of unwanted pregnancies or biased conclusions. as much as is possible. Validation procedures must not only strive for objectivity. a concept with ’a large number of interrelated senses’ (Mautner. there is no such thing as a foolproof contraceptive. ’we must have truth . Perhaps. Objectivity has a different meaning in science where it is the making of observations that exhibit ’independence of awareness’ and/or ’impartiality of judgment’ (Mautner. Systems of validation are used to produce true generalizations.. 1996: 298-9). 2013 . A study of women that observes only men exhibits gender bias and would be likely to produce unreliable judgments concerning women. These are generalizations for which observations better fit the case than they do for competing generalizations. egocentrisms and ethnocentrisms. 1987).. However. where possible.sagepub. They do this by creating validation procedures that eliminate.
’ Geertz believes that ’understanding’ will not ’advance’ because he supposes there is no fixed &dquo. or &dquo. ’It was not the odd facts or even odder explanations Levi-Strauss brought forth that made of him . What. entails not an advance. Geertz says. Conjecturalists.... was there left to say when you had decided that your contribution to anthropology was to exhort people to produce unreliable knowledge? What was left to say. that of ’effective’ impressions. impression that they have had close-in contact with far out lives. became the substance of After The Fact (hereafter A TF)... Rather his only concern is with ’how they say it’ which implies that he believes that the value of an anthropological text is influenced by its rhetoric.Truth&dquo. Geertz proposes in this quotation that ’the criteria by which to judge’ anthropological rhetoric is that of how ’effective’ it is in the manufacture of impressions. Everywhere. then. and impressions. Hence..World&dquo. and explanations’) but his rhetoric (’mode of discourse’). are to be assessed in terms of whether they are ’listened to’. In discovering how such an impression is created. What Geertz asserts here is that what made LeviStrauss great was not his substance (’facts. &dquo.. In fact Geertz does separate substance and rhetoric in WL because he ignores the substance of his subjects’ work and is completely indifferent to what might be true in it. painting. an intellectual hero.Being&dquo.Reality&dquo. &dquo. &dquo.. but the restless making and remaking of facts and ideas’ (1995: 117). by their rhetorical effectiveness.. at the same time. unconcerned with validation... at all times and in all places social ’understanding. then. ’I have always thought that understanding social life entails not an advance toward an omega point.Being&dquo.. how does one evaluate a rhetoric? Geertz answers this question by noting that’. objectivity and truth.. are a bit like those advertising executives who made the Willie Horton commercial. like advertising copy. the criteria by which to judge them (1988: 6). in considerable measure. writing of LeviStrauss. It was the mode of discourse he invented to display those facts and frame those explanations’ (1988: 26). in some part.... This poses the question. Perhaps. WL examines great anthropologists seeking to comprehend what made them exceptional... or political oratory’ (1988: 27). or &dquo. some ethnographers are more effective than others in conveying in their prose the . the core of which is contained in his announcement.Reality&dquo. about which Downloaded from cdy.... we shall discover. ’that the separation of what someone says from how they say it .the World&dquo. &dquo. .com by guest on February 10..sagepub. 2013 . At one point in the text Geertz states.330 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY arguing that conjectural hermeneutics should produce knowledges distinguished. we listen to some voices and ignore others’ (1988: 6) and that the factor governing what gets ’listened to’ is that: .... substance from rhetoric is as mischievous in anthropology as it is in poetry. for they too are in the business of manufacturing a particular knowledge.
The preceding returns us to the dismal. apparently unaware that Nietzsche had repudiated himself (Westphal. He just ’never really bought’ it. This is a sociocultural ontology of evanescent ’confusion’ in which there can be no knowledge of being when being is only just becoming. like Geertz’s.STEPHEN P. take or leave it! Geertz’s conjectural hermeneutics has been enormously influential. REYNA 331 there might be &dquo. However. Conjecturalists do not know the literature arguing for and against different understandings of truth. following Nietzsche. An appropriate question to pose at this juncture is. objectivity and truth and demonstrates why truth is impossible. Further. theirs. Rosaldo has asserted. Marcus and Fischer (1986). that ’conceptions of truth and objectivity have eroded’ (1989: 21). For Geertz everything is unsteady. they truly know that they represent the Other better than do scientific anthropologies. It should come as no surprise that these conjecturalists do not ’need’ what Marcus termed ’conventional social theory’ (1994: 47). twisting and turning and now and then crossing. like Geertz. 1984). 1986: 123). there is no place in any of Geertz’s texts where he confronts the literature concerning validation. What is distinctive. Rosaldo (1989) and Tyler (1987). Consequently the anthropologist must be satisfied with a world of ’accidental dramas’ (1995: 2). Important conjecturalist texts have been those of Clifford (1988). ’no one would dream of putting in doubt the immanent criteria of what we call What may.com by guest on February 10. The emphasis here is on the word fixed. separating again’ (1995: 2).. 1988: 93). 1997: ix). though they do not seek truthful theory. Rabinow (1977). Even Derrida had insisted there ’must’ be truth. if not unique about this approach. Marcus. is that its practitioners. to truth. Clifford and Marcus (1986). what reasons does Geertz advance to justify this position? The answer to the question is that in ATF ’being’ is as Geertz says it is. running together for a while. As he says. like missionaries.’ Consequently. ’It is Heraclitus cubed and worse’ (1995: 2).Truth&dquo. again without the slightest evidence of any familiarity with the relevant literature. There are no histories or biographies. reject science.sagepub. ’a distinctive interpretive approach . indeed. is a conjectural hermeneutics that tends to evaluate claims in terms of ’the emotional impact of rhetoric’ (Kuznar. ’particular events’ and ’unique occasions’ (1995: 3). but they do know it to be true that truth has been ’eroded. decided that there was no truth (Clifford. ’but a confusion of histories. Thus. One explanation of why anthro- Downloaded from cdy. As seminal a hermeneuticist as Gadamer has scientific knowledge’ (1987: 111-12).. Clifford. according to G. They do not bother to formulate arguments against truth. ’Time’ is ’larger and smaller streams. they proselytize anthropologists to repudiate scientific approaches as ’archaic’ and ’surviving’ in ’degraded form’ (Tyler in Clifford and Marcus. unique in the social sciences or humanities’ (1994: 43). be unique about conjecturalists is their indifference written. 2013 . a swarm of biographies’ (1995: 2). There emerged in US anthropology throughout the 1980s and early 1990s..
or a hypothesis-is like a necklace. F. a tool for critical theorizing. and the relationships between the concepts are strands. gaffes and holes. Flawless here means approximately true. gaffes and holes. which means that they themselves announce their indifference to truth. I would respond that it is the conjecturalists themselves who inform readers that they never ’bought’ science. A ’generalization necklace’ is a flawless representation of a real world necklace. Agnoiology languished. 1989: 58). Gaffes and Holes This section offers some basics of an agnoiological method. Ferrier. because agnoiology deals with an aspect of knowing that is as important as that . though influenced by. objectivity and validation. A theoretical gap occurs when observation reveals that there Downloaded from cdy. represented by epistemology. Gaps. The trope of a necklace is helpful in explicating gaps. explicitly rejects theory in favor of ’effective’ impression management.. Conjecturalists. Thus conceptualized. I use the term ’critical’ in a manner that is different from. but needs to know. Critical theorists sought to provide ’a critique of [the] consciousness’ of ’the established order’ (Marcuse. Knowing that there are matters of which one is ignorant facilitates eliminating this ignorance. In what follows.sagepub. Agnoiological methods are those that proceed by revealing what one does not know. Its concepts are its jewels. in order to possess fuller comprehension. indifferent to truth. Epistemology concerns knowledge. the way it was used by the Frankfurt school. of course. I am not critical of all the consciousnesses of all established orders. 2013 . critical theorizing is the search for the non-representation or misrepresentation of reality expressed in generalizations. Less well known is that. A generalization-be it an empirical generalization. Epistemology has long been a staple of philosophic discourse.. This brings us to the Scottish philosopher J.332 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY pology has become theoretically impotent is because of the fashionableness of the conjecturalist project which. agnoiology ignorance. that which can be expressed as a generalization and which represents something of an established order in a particular brand of theory. Readers may be relieved to learn that the discovery of gaps. But spat out it should be. perhaps because it is difficult to imagine how it might be spat out in the heat of parole. What investigators need to know are theoretical gaps. a theory. will rush to discredit the argument in this section by dismissing it as polemic. gaffes and holes provides an alternative to the conjecturalist world of impression management. Ferrier introduced the expression epistemology into English (1854). but only of a particular type of consciousness.com by guest on February 10. intolerant of those seeking it. he also proposed the term agnoiology. in the same work. An agnoiological method facilitates such critical theorizing.
is a situation where a generalization necklace has not been completed. i. However. Further. In this generalization necklace there are two concepts. it was suspected that the association between smoking and cancer was because the former caused the latter. This means.e. and that this was the basis of a 19th-century racism that insisted ’racial difference caused cultural difference’. 2013 . that not everybody is able to find work in capitalist economies. This knowledge is the gap. but is composed of flawed jewels and strands. then. where the jewels are missing and strands are unconnected. Gobineau’s gaffe.’ and one relationship.com by guest on February 10. that the Comte de Gobineau believed ’every race capable of developing a civilization develops one peculiar to itself’ (1856: 438). then.’ The two concepts.sagepub. 1968). Holes are located when it is observed that a number of thinkers have similar gaps and gaffes in their theorizing. Let me give an example of the value of knowing that such a gap exists. in the late 1950s it became known that there was a non-chance. there is a missing strand. for example. ’smoking causes lung cancer. The identification of holes is the discovery of a particular type of bias. Consider. it was to the credit of Boasian anthropology to have provided observations that began a tradition in physical anthropology which has observed no relationship between race and cultural change (Stocking. A gap. is that race does not accurately represent whatever it is that produces cultural some or is bit of existence where events to the difference. Many have long held the impression that smoking was harmful. for example. Attention now turns to generalizations in which there are gaffes. statistical relationship between smoking and lung cancer. racist hole. These occur when observation reveals that there are concepts and/or relationships in a generalization that do not accurately represent observed realities. then. that this gap kept reappearing in economic generalizations. the jewels. However. This suggested the generalization. It is known that it is unknown how smoking causes cancer. suggesting that there was a theoretical hole concerning employment. that many others subscribed to his view that race was a source of cultural difference. However. because it was evident that the onset of cancer did not suddenly induce people to smoke. Gaps and gaffes concern the generalizations of a single thinker. A gaffe is a situation where a generalization necklace has been completed. for which there are no concepts relationships represent reality. Consider. because no economic theorist employed a notion of unemployment. further. Consider. The gaffe. the relationship between smoking and cancer remains a mystery. Much bias is the proclivity of some intellectual community to think about Downloaded from cdy. ’race’ and ’culture. in this generalization necklace are ’smoking’ and ’lung cancer’. that of causation. However.STEPHEN P. REYNA 333 happen. as Myrdal has remarked the concept of ’unemployment’ did not enter economic theory until the late 19th century (1969: 45). was reiterated in 19th-century cultural theory suggesting that it was sunk in a deep. that Gobineau was not alone in his racism.
in its first sense. Sartre argued that there were two varieties of reality. Then there was a second inner reality.’ as his able commentators. The point to grasp in the preceding is that when observers identify gaps. they know what they do not know. and because aware. that is external to a particular person. Objective. US popular culture seems biased to the point of obsession with violence. ’in itself’. and which if they did know would provide greater theoretical knowledge. e. Subjective reality refers to the internal realm of consciousness. able to gather itself up for a fleeting moment into an act of self-awareness. on the other stands the reality which we ourselves are. For Sartre it was the reality of Nazi occupation. Two philosophers-G. The discovery of holes provides knowledge of a reverse bias. social reality refers to everything human. Gilson et al. because of this capacity to separate itself off from the necessary course of things. The goal of such an ethnography is to reveal a ’regional ontology’ against which investigators hold up different generalizations seeking to identify gaps.g. This. of course. before scribbling another few lines about being that was en soi and pour soi. one of awareness. T. pitiless. of the proclivity of an intellectual community to not think about certain matters. writing in the early 19th century subsequent to the devastation of Germany by France and Jean-Paul Sartre writing in the mid 20th century subsequent to the return devastation of France by Germany-have made the case for a theoretical order that is now rather old. that there is existence as it is.334 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY particular subjects. then. able to direct its own future (1966: 382). 2013 . inexorable. Hegel had said in his Phenomenology of Mind (1967) that there was a reality of a thing ’itself’ (an sich) as well as one ’for consciousness’ ( fur es)-that is. Hegel.sagepub. Hegel and Sartre’s understanding of these realities roughly corresponds to our earlier distinction between the objective. being pour sot. which is to make observations pertaining to the nature of a specific reality. blind to itself. and the subjective.com by guest on February 10. gaffes and holes. was Hegel’s ontology and it involves a double reality. Agnoiological methods. The concepts ’social’ and ’subjective’ refer to these two realities. including systems of meaning. are a form of critical theorizing that combats ignorance and bias in established theoretical orders by discovering them. inexorable in its absolute being there. gaffes and holes in established theoretical orders. perhaps because it has seemed so attractive to many. say: there stands being en soi. a monolithic mass of sheer reality. There first that of events outside of people-monolithic. and as people are aware of it. A key to agnoiology is to work ethnographically. This was that of Sartre contemplating Fascist soldiers. This suggests that there is a Hegel/Sartre established order consisting of theories with generalization was Downloaded from cdy. ’for itself’. ’On the one side. as well as the unconscious neurophysiology that effects consciousness. Objective reality for humans refers to everything external to them. pitiless.
’ (p. freedoms and necessities. Bourdieu (1990) links habitus to field when he asserts that... is a topology of powers in .com by guest on February 10. Let us turn now to the subjective or what Bourdieu (1990) calls ’social phenomenology’. REYNA 335 necklaces whose jewels are concepts that represent the social and subjective and whose strands are further concepts that represent interrelationships between the social and subjective. There are economic. educational and other fields. Sartre was worried at the end of Being and Nothingness that ’it appeared to us difficult to establish a bond between them [the social and subjective]. capital. 54). 52) that are ’deposited in each organism in the form of schemes of perception.sagepub. practical sense and practical logic. because the dispositions composing habitus are ’durably inculcated by the possibilities and impossibilities.. 54). originally published in French in 1980. 56). These are sets of objective. ’The conditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of existence produce habitus. Ultimately what ’produced individual and collective practices . was a clarification and expansion of the text which had introduced practice theory to anthropology. Such realities occur in a ’social topology’ (1989b: 163) composed of different fields. Bourdieu is explicit in LP that there is an interrelationship between the social and the subjective. The ’social physics’ of fields involves the playing of a ’game’ (1987: 248). 54) of the fields in which peoples participate. and we feared that we might fall into an insurmountable dualism’ (1966: 755). Capital. historical relations between positions varying according ’to the overall volume of capital they possess and according to the structure of their capital . A field. This ’dialectic’ is represented by five conceptsfield.’ is the ’habitus’ (p. and only available to English readers in the 1990s. Field is the major concept Bourdieu employs when considering social realities. Bourdieu shares Marx’s insistence upon the centrality of considering such social positions as Downloaded from cdy.. Practice theory The Logic of Practice (hereafter LP)..’ (1989b: 17). insert added). is his term for power (1986: 243). opportunities and probabilities inscribed in the objective conditions’ (p.. religious. 2013 . internalized as second nature . habitus. I begin with practice theory. It is with this realm that the bulk of the text in LP is concerned. This interrelationship is described as a ’dialectic of objective structures and incorporated (subjective) structures which operates in every practical action’ (1990: 41. thought and action .. 93). This latter is ’embodied history. structuring dispositions’ (p. I shall now argue that Sartre’s misgiving was prescient...STEPHEN P. Outline of a Theory of Practice (1977).. This is the ’struggle’ between organizations of positions with different amounts of capital to achieve different outcomes. a ’system of structured.’ (p. political. then. as Bourdieu says elsewhere. contention with each other..’ (p..
Practical sense.. then. It is a goalie in soccer ’sensing’ what to do the instant a ball is launched at the net. and it is this practical sense that actually ’causes practices ... If it is asserted that ’conditioning associated with a particular class of conditions produces habitus. Such generative models..’ involving a ’feel for the game’ (p. habitus and practice.. field. 53).336 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY class. These. Later I consider how effectively Bourdieu avoided a social/subjective dualism. perhaps Bourdieu’s most engaging notion.. under a Downloaded from cdy. however. practical sense and events..sagepub. as an aspect of habitus. arises from the necessary yet predictable confrontation between the habitus and the event . Bourdieu’s (1990) generalization necklace consists of three concepts. it is not so much habitus that produces practice.. social scientists may ’construct generative models which reproduce in their own terms the logic .’ (p. Practical sense. because practices are the result of the dispositions of habitus.com by guest on February 10. 92) of the dispositions that structure practice. ’The genesis of a system of works or practices . is a variant of the Hegel/Sartre established order because it seeks to explain how the social (fields) influences the subjective (the habitus) that in turn influences the social (this time in the form of the practices that are the games played in fields).. varies with social position. is unconscious ’adjustment to the demands of a field . because when the confrontation actually occurs. let us inspect more closely a single strand in this theory. it is between the ’second nature’ of habitus. Rather.’ (p. He stipulates that these concepts are causally related when he announces that the practical sense of habitus causes practice and that ’the conditionings associated with a particular class of conditions’ of fields ’produce habitus’ (p. Bourdieu (1990) thinks that they exhibit logics. Practice theory. because they use the dispositions of a habitus as the formulae of a generative calculus of practice. 66). However. The term is the central concept in behaviorist thought and refers to contingencies of reinforcement that do create different behavioral dispositions. if fields produce habitus and habitus causes practice. Thus. are not those of the logician-i. are what Bourdieu terms practical logic. Because practices occur in the manner just suggested.’ then the following questions require answers: what ’conditionings’ are being discussed under what ’conditions’? Bourdieu’s use of the term conditioning is ambiguous. that of the fieldlhabitus relationship.e. inspired by Chomskyan linguistics.’ (p. A rich person’s practical sense of how to deal with a cop who has pulled him or her over for speeding will vary from that of a poor person. then both the social and subjective are strung to each other. 69). the conscious formulation of conclusions based upon the application of the rules of a particular formal logic. Bourdieu (1990) connects habitus to practice when he states that. 2013 . However. 55).. Thus the poor display a different habitus from the wealthy due to different ’objective conditions’ of their positions in economic fields.
Given the preceding. Their project derives from attempts that flourished in England in the Downloaded from cdy. for their generalization necklace. A Gramscian Idealism The Comaroffs in Of Revelation and Revolution (hereafter R&R) describe their project as the writing of ’history in the anthropological mode’ which accounts ’for the making of a social and a cultural world. it is inculcated . Bourdieu does not indicate whether he is using it in a behaviorist manner. ultimately consists of two jewels. This description suggests that they too adhere to the Hegel/Sartre established order. so there remains a gap between Bourdieu’s field and habitus. 1961). and readers are never told of what histories the habitus is a product. Readers are told that the habitus is ’a product of history . I conclude that the fieldlhabitus relationship is unrepresented. If it is unclear how Bourdieu (1990) uses conditioning.. But history is a pretty vast term.. Now.STEPHEN P. Certainly he has thought more about fields in Distinction (1984) and the still untranslated into English La Misere du monde (1993). 54). and he speaks (evoking Heidegger and as Merleau Ponty) of an ’ontological complicity: between the field and habitus’ (in Wacquant... My sense is that he is not. behaviorists never talk of subjective phenomena and the faintest suggestion that anything might be the ’embodiment’ of an ’immanent necessity’ would strike them twaddle.’ etc. REYNA 337 different environmental conditions (Skinner. or by what ’possibilities and impossibilities. It might be objected LP appeared at a time in Bourdieu’s career when he had not fully developed his views on the field. in one place in LP he says that habitus ’is a relation of conditioning: the field structures the habitus. though Bourdieu is clear that a field ’structures’ or ’produces’ a habitus. regardless of his intentions he has not dissolved the social/subjective dualism. This means that. which is the product of the embodiment of the immanent necessity of a field (or of a hierarchically interacting set of fields)’ (1990: 44). and that a gap exists in how he understands the relationship between the social and the subjective. 1989: 43).’ (1991: 38-9). freedoms and necessities. 2013 . For example. one ’social’ and the other ’cultural’.’ and which commits them to exploring ’the relationship of matter and meaning . and that it is ’inculcated by the possibilities and impossibilities. it is equally vague as to the conditions to which conditioning is subject. he remains unclear as to how this might occur. opportunities and prohibitions . Thus.com by guest on February 10. just as medical science concluded that there is a gap in the theoretical knowledge of the relationship between smoking and cancer...’ (p. or how this inculcation occurs.sagepub. Nevertheless. However. like Bourdieu’s. 54) of the objective conditions of fields.’ (p. with it understood that these worlds of ’matter’ and ’meaning’ are strung together in a ’relationship’.
Non-agentive power ’proliferates outside the realm of institutional politics .) Cultural fields have ’two modalities’ (1991: 27). Following Marx and Engels. Hegemony is associated with non-agentive and ideology with agentive power. in their neutral guise. and its effects are rarely wrought by overt compulsion’ (1991). ideology. hegemony is unconscious. hence.’ and so the Comaroffs believe it is appropriate to term this variety of power non-agentive. contradictory consciousness and resistance. and that ideology and hegemony are each associated with one of these. It is ’that order of Downloaded from cdy.. Agentive power is ’the relative capacity of human beings to shape the actions and perceptions of others by exercising control over the production. The latter’s are organizations of signifiers.and anti-abortionist groups in the United States.worldview&dquo. drawing upon the same culture. the Comaroffs assert that ’the regnant ideology of any period or place will be that of the dominant group’ (1991). There are no human agents in command of other humans in this second type of power. Williams. 1986. because the control is ’internalized. and in their positive guise. They assert that there are two varieties of power. The Comaroffs claim to follow in ’the Geist of Gramsci’ (1991: 21). 2013 . that this theory produces a view of history as a ’long conversation’ . The Comaroffs define ideology. Antonio Gramsci and his concept of hegemony (see Hall. circulation and consumption of signs and objects of the making of subjectivities and realities’ (1991: 22). for reasons detailed in the next section. They think of this space as a cultural field. with only a passing concern for the social. in their negative guise as constraints..com by guest on February 10. the semantic ground on which human beings seek to construct and represent themselves and others-and. Ideologies are explicitly communicated by their agents so that people are conscious of their existence. following Raymond Williams. Its effects ’are internalized. hegemony. 1977). society and history’ (1991: 21). construct different ideologies. as conventions.338 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY 1970s and 1980s to utilize the work of the Italian Marxist. a view that is a Gramscian idealism. (The following distinction can be made between Bourdieu’s and the Comaroffs’ fields. non-agentive power. as a &dquo. They do so by situating the notion of hegemony within the context of a cultural field. Culture is ’the space of signifying practice. I shall argue that their account of a cultural field approaches a theory of the subjective realm. Seven concepts are important to understanding cultural fields: culture. The former’s fields are organizations of capital or power. If ideology is conscious. What makes such a worldview an ideology is that it is ’of’ a group (1991) whose members are its agents. Different groups. as is illustrated by pro. an ’historically situated field of signifiers’ (1991: 21). as values’ (1991).sagepub. of any social grouping’ (1991: 24). one of hegemony and the other of ideology. The differences between ideology and hegemony depend upon an understanding of the way the Comaroffs view power. agentive power.
cultural fields. Gramsci never offered. 29). This thrusts previously hegemonic ideas into a hurly-burly of ideological struggle because as contradictory consciousness ’gives way to ever more acute..’ (p. To understand how this might occur. ’Between the conscious and the unconscious. Gramsci appropriated this concept from Marx and Engels. then. 25).. relations and distinctions. Hegemony is ’shared .. 2013 . it may also be a source of more acute. as do the Comaroffs from Gramsci. the more ful that groups are success- asserting ’control over various modes of symbolic production . once made can also be transformed back into ideology. what happens in What. The Comaroffs (1991) believe that ideology and hegemony exist ’in reciprocal interdependence’ within a cultural field (p.STEPHEN P. and what happens in such fields. ’consists . of things that go without saying because. a notion of contradictory consciousness is needed. throughout a political community’ (1991: 24) and like Bourdieu’s notion of habitus. articulate resistance’ (1991: 26). For the Comaroffs... that is the greater the gap between the way a hegemony posits things should be and the way they are actually apprehended. contradictory consciousness is ’the discontinuity between (1) the world as hegemonically constituted and (2) the world as practically apprehended.sagepub. certainly seems an idealism. 1985: 568).’ (1991: 23). a precise definition of hegemony (Lears. as the Comaroffs acknowledge. as the Comaroffs reiterate in a number of places.. images and epistemologiesdrawn from an historically situated cultural field-that comes to be takenfor-granted as the natural and received shape of the world and everything that inhabits it’ (1991: 23). and ideologically represented. REYNA 339 signs and practices.com by guest on February 10.. 243).’ (p. 213. Hegemonies.’ the ’silent signifiers and unmarked practices’ of hegemony ’rise to the level of explicit consciousness. It is in this sense that hegemonies are ’ineffable’ (1991: 24). ’the more that unremarked truth and unspoken conventions will become remarked. by subordinate people . a Leninist rotting in a in Downloaded from cdy. This interdependence appears to be that of a ’long conversation. He was. being axiomatic. Then. however. 25). ’the more their ideology will disappear into the domain of the hegemonic ... as the Comaroffs are aware. is history? History is largely. in R&R. however. is the ’long conversation’ just described (1991: 171. they come without saying . In the Comaroff version. articulate consciousness of contradictions. unconscious forms of perception and conception of social and natural being. the greater the contradictory consciousness. the unvoiced. reopened for debate’ (1991).’ (p.’ (1991: 26). of ideological assertion . then the Comaroffs’ theory of historical realities as a ’long conversation’ oscillating between ideological and hegemonic ideas.. 198. Such an idealism may not be especially Gramscian.. 26). 1984: 199)...’ Sometimes in these conversations. If idealism is a view that reality ’depends upon (finite or infinite) minds or (particular or transcendent) ideas’ (Bynum et al...
sagepub.. The analysis now turns to the handling of the social in R&R. then. I suggest. The Comaroffs provide no evidence demonstrating that the former was more important than the latter in producing hegemony. This involved the slaughter. in making subjects. and (2) they emphasize concepts whose empirical significance has not been established. they insist that the European missionaries ’were to prove themselves every bit as effective.’ that allowed a ’dominant. 2013 . Jean Comaroff had herself acknowledged that there had been a ’Realpolitik of oppression’ (1985: 261). wounding. for example. parts of whose ’evangelical Downloaded from cdy.’ (1991: 4). missionaries were ’the most active cultural agents of empire’ (1991: 6). they do downplay it. because hegemonies are ’unconscious. the case of violent force.. readers should grasp that the third moment is that of ’military forces’ (1988: 207).com by guest on February 10. Colonial southern Africa may have had its ’long conversation’ but it equally had its long butchery.340 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY Fascist jail. with the mediation of the second’ (Gramsci. 1988: 207). with a keen sense that history ultimately resulted from changes in different ’relations of force’... as just noted. More specifically. that they are chasing a Poltergeist. as were the storm-troops of colonialism’ (1991: 200). because they ignore force. was often violent. 80). For example. Why diminish the importance of violence? After all. The Comaroffs think they follow the Geist of Gramsci. fundamental group’ to impose a ’general direction . The Comaroffs offer an account of how the social influences hegemony with two generalizations: a first suggesting what happened and a second identifying the agents of what happened. on social life’ (1971 : 12. These changes involved continual fluctuation ’between the first and the third moment. It was a product of the systematic application by Boer and British of physical violence for four hundred years. Without launching into an exegesis of the Gramscian moment. rape and imprisonment of African children.. women and men by Europeans. underplays colonization’s violence because it insists that colonization was ’less’ coercive than persuasive. They acknowledge the significance of violence when they say they do not ’deny the coercive. of course.. I have two concerns: (1) the Comaroffs de-emphasize observations that need conceptualization. though they do not deny the actuality of violent force. What happened was that ’colonialism. Such an assertion. Consider. The Comaroffs’ understanding of hegemony has people acquiring hegemony after a ’long conversation’ and.’ ineffably consenting to their domination. Rather they merely assert that this was the case. violent bases of class antagonism and racial inequality here (in southern Africa) .. This force.. This allows them to conclude that ’The European colonization of Africa was often less directly coercive conquest than a persuasive attempt to colonize consciousness’ (1991: 313). gave rise to a new hegemony amidst-and despitecultural contestation’ (1991: 18). Gramsci’s hegemony involved ’a combination of force and consent. However.
European hegemony). civilization) rather resembles that of the 19thcentury jingoists who asserted that colonialism produced civilization (i. what these ideologies meant by ’civilization’ was European conceptions. it is premature to offer conclusions concerning the importance of European missionaries as hegemonic agents until observations have been made that clearly establish the relative causal importance of other suspected agents.e. some working . This may well be the case but there is no elaboration of how this might occur. In addition there were teachers. then. changed hegemonies cause changed practices.com by guest on February 10. This means that their doctrine that colonialism produced European hegemony (i.. violent force goes unrepresented in the Comaroffs’ account.. Such a view of civilization resembles the Comaroffs’ definition of hegemony as a ’dominant conception’ (1991: 23). However.. REYNA 341 message insinuated themselves into the warp and weft of an emerging hegemony’ (1991: 12).’ (1991: 247). There also appears to be a problem with the specification of how hegemony influences the social. The preceding suggests a gaffe in the Comaroffs’ position. Observation of southern African history documents the reality of a long butchery. journalists and military personnel who also dispensed European notions.STEPHEN P.e. R&R does not conceptualize social realities known to be important. However. that is to say there are no concepts to represent how a change in hegemonies would produce a change in practices. 2013 . there should be a skepticism regarding the Comaroffs’ belief that missionaries were the key agents of the insinuation of hegemony. 19th-century ideological justification for colonialism and these two generalizations. but the Comaroffs themselves furnish evidence that suggests this may be something of a misrepresentation. appears to be a potential gaffe. while it does conceptualize others. merchants. missionaries. This is because observations that they report suggest it is by no means certain that missionaries really were all that important. This is a gap. Imperial propagandists justified colonialism because they believed it brought civilization to benighted folk. of unestablished importance.sagepub. Readers might detect a similarity between a major. Hence. Clearly. hegemony ’took root’ as a result of the ’long conversation’ conducted by missionaries.’ (1991: 30). They quote a 19th-century observer who describes services in which ’Some would be snoring. Of course. The word ’generate’ is a synonym for cause. There Downloaded from cdy. R&R states that new hegemonies ’seem to have the capacity to generate new substantive practices . The relative significance of these latter agents of hegemony compared to that of European missionaries is nowhere established in R&R. Rather.. Here. This is something quite social and might be thought to be relevant to producing hegemony. This means that the Comaroffs are tentatively offering the generalization. The Comaroffs say that European missionaries did not actually convert ’many’ (1991: 311). those pertaining to violent force. others laughing.
Out of the Parisian conjuncture-structuralism. thereby furthering the dualism that Sartre had worried about. two firmly established theoretical orders.sagepub. 1985). hereafter HNT) was the fiery product of that fury. Commentary upon the polemics in HNT and ACC has been of the ’sports commentator’ variety. argued that there had been. Sahlins in CPR found every theory of practical reason wanting.com by guest on February 10. and were. the Comaroffs’ version of the Hegel/Sartre established order comes with a gap had an idealist tilt. Sahlins’s understanding is that this happened because Hawaiians believed that Cook was their god Lono. Additionally he suggested that Sahlins was. Obeyesekere thought this was wrong and wrote The Apotheosis of Captain Cook (1992. theory that is a variant of the Downloaded from cdy. Earlier it was suggested that R&R it is because of this that they are so unable to think about the social or its complicity with the subjective. a Levi-Straussian structuralist. Sahlins used Oceanic peoples to show cultural reason facilitated the understanding of Pacific realities (1981. He further claimed to have discovered that the founding father of US anthropology. It appears he heard Sahlins speak about his (Sahlins’s) interpretations of Hawaiian interpretations of why they cannibalized Captain Cook. hegemony/practice relationship. hereafter ACC) to reveal that Sahlins was a ’lonotic’. In conclusion. Attention turns to Sahlins. which justified this metamorphosis. N eo. with the chief goal to fathom which of the combatants won. I shall not discuss HNT in this manner because I am convinced that its value lies in the theory Sahlins cobbled together to support his interpretation of Cook’s murder. This is a gaffe. does not represent an important social reality. 2013 . existentialism and recreational rioting-emerged a new man.342 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY need to be concepts that detail the are none. missionaries holding long conversations. Then came a problem. Perhaps and a gaffe. in Sahlins’s recounting of the affair. Boas. This is a gap. had believed in a cultural reason. Over the years following publication of CPR. How ’Natives’ Think. Culture and Practical Reason (1976.Lévi-Straussian structuralism Sahlins went to Paris in the 1960s as a cultural materialist. Gananath Obeyesekere developed an ’ire’ (1992: 8) regarding one aspect of Sahlins’s work. There It is clear that what they do want to theorize about. Sahlins responded in rage. Furthermore they seem reluctant to address how the subjective is linked to the social. violent force. Practical reason amounted to theories that in some way explained human cultures as being ’formulated out of practical activity’ (1976: vii). those of practical and cultural reason. an agent of ’Western violence and imperialism’ (1995: 18). be it of economic or ecological varieties. About Captain Cook For Example (1995. hereafter CPR).
HNT puts some agency into the pencil of Levi-Straussian structuralism. They see a goose. Further. and this is crucial. hamburgers). However. 2013 . just as Levi-Strauss’s scheme ’governed. then.e. This occurs when Sahlins is concerned to convince readers that there is a ’cultural organization of empirical objectivity’ (1995: 160). that objectivity. etc. like Levi-Strauss. smell a goose cooking.. This theory might be termed neo-LeviStraussian because it adds something new to the old structuralism.’ Sahlins’s ’organized’. Sahlins’s argument is as follows. The term ’governs’ is strong. ’is culturally constituted’ (1995: 169). Sahlins in CPR expressed no opinion as to how schemes governed practice. Kin groups had structures. smell. Remember that when Sahlins returned home from Paris and published CPR he had decided that there were cultural reasons. Myth. Starting in the 1970s a number of scholars. then both Levi-Strauss and the Sahlins of CPR were indifferent to questions of agency. while Americans à la Sahlins had their schemes of bourgeois cultural reason that organized their titanic consumption of fat-saturated death patties (i.’ because what a perception comes to be judged as depends on ’criteria of objectivity’ (1995: 162). i. So Australian foragers à la Levi-Strauss had their binary schemes which governed their marriage classes. P. Further. He further believed that cultural reason involves the existence in people of ’a definite symbolic scheme’ (1976: viii) and that the way people lived was ’according’ to this scheme because it ’organizes’ their lives (1976: 176). causes. Sahlins. from Bourdieu (1988. Something that governs something else causes what the something else does. REYNA 343 Hegel/Sartre established order. From these they make ’empirical judgments’. dances and recipes had structures.’ This is because the particular scheme of particular cultural reasons confer properties upon Downloaded from cdy. Later in his career this notion of fundamental structures was replaced by that of a ’conceptual scheme’ which ’governs and defines practice’ (1966: 130).e. Thompson (1979).STEPHEN P. However. these structures even shared deeper structures that came from ’fundamental structures’ of the mind (1949). began to complain that an inability to deal with questions of agency was an intolerable defect of structuralism. Just what this novelty might be is the subject of the next few paragraphs. for practices. Levi-Strauss was unconcerned with how this causation occurred. ’a sensory perception is not yet an empirical judgment. These latter ’criteria’ are understandings of the objects of perceptions that are ’culturally constituted. wherever he looked. i. Economies had structures.com by guest on February 10. If the term ’agency’ refers to how humans do things.sagepub.. Sahlins’s symbolic scheme was LeviStrauss’s conceptual scheme. in the first sense of the term as it is defined in this article. Levi-Strauss. etc.e. discovered structure. 1989a) to E.’ They see. Since concepts involve symbols. Now. had become Lévi-Straussian by accepting the proposition. ’Schemes cause practices’. Humans make ’sense perceptions.
344 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY perceptions. (3) empirical judgments form the basis of practices. This project.com by guest on February 10. Now we are in a position to offer a few statements which can begin to put some agency into the proposition that ’schemes cause practices’. Sahlins appears to be on to something with the notion of ’scanning’. These statements are that: (1) people make sensory perceptions. who had the savvy you acquire on the meaner streets of Queens. He was scanning. he notes. be these perceptions of the external world or those of one’s own thoughts.. I was impressed. ’Look... as these operated during early contacts with Europeans. a dead rat’. probably an owl. When comparing Hawaiian with Melanesian schemas. Sahlins does not divulge to his readers how scanning operates. very flat squirrel. It is a process of taking a sensation of objects and looking through the cultural definitions of sensations in one’s scheme to match the perception with its cultural understanding. However. and it is this that makes Sahlins a neo-Levi-Straussian because it adds something new.. the realization that it is scanning that translates schemes into practice. because of their Hawaiian scheme of things. Lono-a judgment that pretty much cooked his goose! What people actually do when they formulate empirical judgments out of sense perceptions is dealt with in an en passant fashion by Sahlins. a subjective scheme and a social practice. of course. However. Not something I felt compelled to comment upon. it was something that in his scheme of things he knew and he cried out. it would appear to be a process whereby people take their sensory perceptions and scroll them across the corpus of their schemes to arrive at an empirical judgment. is in the Hegel/Sartre established order because it has a generalization necklace composed of two jewels.. and thus achieve a satisfactory interpretation’ or empirical judgment (1995: 180). I drove him down a dirt road to impress on him the bucolic charms of rural life. I perceived the same thing and judged it ’roadkill’. Then we drove past a run-over. The wildlife did their damnedest.. Cook was awarded the empirical judgment. 2013 . Thus. very dead. when Hawaiians experienced sensory perceptions of the object. Deer darted out. The city kid perceived a squished animal and judged it a ’rat’. ’Did you see that?’ He said nothing. Cook. How comfortable can investigators be with the scanning generalization? This question is answered by considering the following and then posing another question. I live in the country and last summer was visited by a city kid. to find whatever parallels they could . A huge bird swooped. with the jewel of subjectivity strung to that of the social by the process of scanning.sagepub. Appreciate that Sahlins provides evidence in HNT that Downloaded from cdy. (2) perceptions are scanned across the elements of schemes to form empirical judgments. The second statement might be called the scanning generalization. direct reports of Melanesians show them scanning their traditional knowledge . ’In ways reminiscent of the story of Cook .
It is not uncommonly observed that different individuals of some common grouping of people. that at a subsequent form inform that they judgments practices. is a gap. with presumably the same scheme. The term is never mentioned in the index. the Comaroffs’ and Downloaded from cdy. that form. We know that we are ignorant of the specifics of the transformation of perception into judgment.STEPHEN P. scanning? This question goes completely unanswered in HNT. If X and Y are necessary causes of Z.e. Z’s. Such an observation suggests the knowledge that while perception and scanning may be necessary conditions of judgment.com by guest on February 10. for it appears to always be the case that judgments are formed after perceptions and scanning. But what does it really mean to ’scroll across a scheme’? Here. and that the acquisition of such knowledge would strengthen the scanning hypothesis’s ability to account for the production of practice. But. The generalization ’perceptions are scanned across the elements of schemes to form judgments’ is causal. At present there is no concept. Z will always follow. 2013 . REYNA 345 perceptions. Steve saw the flattened squirrel and judged ’roadkill’. subsequent judgments. Sufficient conditions are ones that are always followed by the events of which they are a cause. There is a second area of ignorance in the scanning generalization which has to do with the difference between necessary and sufficient conditions in causal statements. i. The reader is left to her or his own devices to speculate. or concepts. When used it is undefined. so. nevertheless form different empirical judgments. cause. in turn. There is no attempt to specify the precise relationships between events that correspond to scanning. to represent these events. they are not sufficient conditions. A hole in the old established order? The preceding agnoiological analysis of Bourdieu’s. X’s and Y’s. time cause at some antecedent time humans make practices.sagepub. Perceptions and scanning of schemes are antecedents. then Z will never occur without X and Y. Persons making the same perceptions with the same schemes can make different judgments. that during an time causes a intervening scanning metamorphosis of perception into if what is judgment. Here is a problem. that scanning involves scrolling of perception across the elements of a scheme. and finally. Necessary conditions are ones that must occur if events of which they are causes are to occur. then whenever X and Y occur. The city kid saw the exact same thing and judged ’rat’. then. This is further indication of the size of the gap in knowledge concerning how perception and scanning form judgments that. who make the same sensory perceptions. This means that there are certain types of events of which we are ignorant that are sufficient conditions of different judgments. Scanning and perception seem to be necessary conditions. as I did. If X and Y are sufficient conditions of Z.
A final point. This means that Sartre was correct. gaffes and holes. The subjective concepts were those of habitus for Bourdieu. Though it did seem that the Comaroffs’ insistence that the missionaries brought a new hegemony to the Tswana was probably something of a misrepresentation and. gaffes and holes are found to be repaired. a gaffe in their understanding of how colonial social practices related to subjective cultural fields. their virtue would be to show how Downloaded from cdy. which point is to discover ignorance to get rid of it.com by guest on February 10.346 THEORY IN ANTHROPOLOGY Sahlins’s theorizing has suggested that in different ways they are all variants of the Hegel/Sartre established order.sagepub. Finally. Such an arrogance vitiates the point of critical theorizing. and schema for Sahlins. one way that greater knowledge of scanning might be acquired would be for biological anthropologists to investigate the neurophysiological events that transpire between the reception of perception and the formation of judgment. Gaps are filled by finding approximately true concepts that represent unrepresented realities. The old established order of which Sartre himself was so able an exponent languishes in a hole of an ’insurmountable dualism’ between the social and subjective. Perhaps. These gaps suggest a hole. For example. the Comaroffs could better represent social realities in colonial southern Africa if they added some notion of violent force to their generalization necklace. there seems to be something of a gap in Sahlins’s neo-Levi-Straussian project concerning how perception and scanning allow schema to organize practice. 2013 . hence. however. Now because perception and scanning utilize schema that occur within the brain. theories riddled with gaps. This is done in the case of gaffes by replacing concepts that misrepresent realities with those that represent them with greater approximate truth. an ethic of the agnoiological methodology is not one of contempt for. Gaps. to be three gaps in representations of social/subjective interrelationships. or rejection of. The Hegel/Sartre order has not been so good at theorizing about how the social and the subjective are interrelated. The objective concepts were field and practice for Bourdieu. Important here would be an understanding of the biological structures in which schema operate. Such studies would not be a biological reductionism. it seems clear that there is a gap in Sahlins’s knowledge of how perception and scanning allow schema to cause practices. the social and the subjective and (2) two relationships representing how the social relates to the subjective and the reverse. cultural field for the Comaroffs. missionaries or practice for the Comaroffs. and practice for Sahlins. Rather. for example. The gap in the Comaroffs’ Gramscian idealism appeared in their representation of how hegemonies in cultural fields influence practices. There was the gap in Bourdieu’s practice theory concerning the representation of how fields influence habitus. The analysis did not reveal so many gaffes in the established order. Remember that this order is distinguished by having (1) two concepts. There did appear.
when more truthful knowledge is feasible? However. Conclusion Some serious contributors to anthropology suppose the jig is up. Application of agnoiological methods means that one is not interested in the past purely to better understand it. Theory. needs to be known. studies past theory in context for the sake of understanding past theory. in the sense of starting with a particular. Critical thinking requires a second priority. Anthropology is in its ’twilight’. Why produce unreliable knowledge. The first of these priorities arises from comprehending the lesson of the conjecturalists. objectivity and truth means that conjecturalists do little to distinguish the knowledge they produce from that of advertising executives. Rather the past is scrutinized to find gaps. Such a priority involves a reorientation of the role of the history of anthropological theory within the discipline. 1968). for it is historical researches that reveal what needs to be theorized about. hence. however. Geertz certainly believes there can be no ’advance’. Anthropological history has been sidelined on the margins of the discipline. gaffes and holes in established theoretical orders to discover their ignorances so as to know what is unknown and. however.sagepub. The third priority follows from our application of agnoiological methods more Downloaded from cdy. REYNA 347 cultural schema and neurophysiology interact in the production of judgment. reposition the history of anthropology at the center of theorizing. Such agnoiological methods.STEPHEN P.com by guest on February 10. on the other hand. which is the strengthening and application of agnoiological methods. that the establishment of three priorities could promote theoretical advance in the 1990s and beyond. needs to be reviewed critically in order to move in these directions. such knowledge will only be possible in anthropology if the formulation of systems of validation becomes a central priority of anthropological enterprise. Theoretical advance may be understood as the movement of theory in general and approximately truer directions. however. the only presumption that agnoiologists start with is one of guilt. This lesson is that indifference to validation. Historicist research. Agnoiological methods are not whiggish. Its studies have tended to be imagined as either ’whiggish’ or ’historicist’ (Stocking. present theoretical order and seeking to show how past theory justifies this order. 2013 . Actually. Such knowledge may be ’effective’ in that it is ’listened to’ but it remains mere impressions of unknown reliability. Whiggish researches seek to employ past theory to justify present theory. I believe this article’s arguments suggest an alternative conclusion . All theoretical orders are guilty of ignorances so that the road to theoretical advance is one of establishing the specific ignorance of which specific theories are guilty.
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