Pascalian Meditations

Pascalian Meditations

Pierre Bourdieu

Language: English

Pages: 264

ISBN: 0804733325

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A synthesis of forty years' work by France's leading sociologist, this book pushes the critique of scholarly reason to a new level. It is a brilliant example of Bourdieu's unique ability to link sociological theory, historical information, and philosophical thought.

Pascalian Meditations makes explicit the presuppositions of a state of "scholasticism," a certain leisure liberated from the urgencies of the world. Philosophers, unwilling to engage these presuppositions in their practice, have brought them into the order of discourse, not so much to analyze them as to legitimate them. This situation is the primary systematic, epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic error that Bourdieu subjects to methodological critique.

This critique of scholarly reason is carried out in the name of Pascal because he, too, pointed out the features of human existence that the scholastic outlook ignores: he was concerned with symbolic power; he refused the temptation of foundationalist thinking; he attended (without populist naïveté) to "ordinary people"; and he was determined to seek the raison d'être of seemingly illogical behavior rather than condemning or mocking it.

Through this critique, Bourdieu charts a negative philosophy that calls into question some of our most fundamental presuppositions, such as a "subject" who is free and self-aware. This philosophy, with its intellectual debt to such other "heretical" philosophers as Wittgenstein, Austin, Dewey, and Peirce, renews traditional questioning of the concepts of violence, power, time, history, the universal, and the purpose and direction of existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

of the cult of pure form, which places him on the radical wing of autonomous literature, he refuses submission to external functions and the respect for official norms, whether it be the moralizing precepts of the bourgeois order for the spiritualistic poets or the cult of work for the 'Ecole Moderne'. But he rejects just as strongly the social withdrawal of the devotees of pure form (to which must be added the 'pagan school' or 'the Greek poet, M. de Banville') in the name of the exaltation of

project' ,18 an expression of the dream of being causa sui which goes hand in hand with a horror of genetic thought, and accepting that the true 'subject' of the most accomplished human works is none other than the field in which - that is, thanks to which and against which - they are accomplished (or, which almost amounts to the same thing, a par­ ticular position in the field, associated with a particular constellation may partially be formed elsewhere than in the It is true to say, with

of involvement, ten:Slun which constructs the world and it meaning. Habitus, a particular but constant way of entering into a relation­ ship with the world which contains a knowledge enabling it to present, without any the 'forth-coming' ll'a venirJ distinguishes it from a mens momentanea Exposed to the world, to sensation, feeling, suffer­ ing, etc., in other words engaged in world, in play and at stake in the world, the body (well) disposed towards the world is, to the same extent, oriented

faith') what determines can say that they determine themselves the situations that determine them, it is chosen the principle of their choice, that is, their habitus, the schemes of construction they apply to the world have themselves been constructed by the world. One can also say, following the same logic, that habitus helps to determine what transforms it. If it is accepted that the principle of the transformation of habitus lies in the gap, experienced as a positive or negative surprise,

confid­ ence of others, and can only be perpetuated so long as it succeeds in obtaining belief in its existence. Initial pedagogic action, especially when it aims to develop suscept­ to a particular form of symbolic capital, finds its mainspring in this original relationship of symbolic dependence: 'Glory. - Admira­ tion spoils all from infancy. Ah! How well said! Ah! How well done! How well-behaved he is! etc. The children of Port-Royal, who do not receive this stimulus of envy and glory, fall

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