Confronting Theory: The Psychology of Cultural Studies by Philip Bell

By Philip Bell

Confronting concept provides a critique of what has end up often called concept in cross-disciplinary humanities schooling. instead of brushing aside conception writing as pretentious and summary, Confronting conception examines its valuable innovations from the point of view of educational psychology and exhibits that even supposing a lot of those analyses sound like innovative mental conception, few, if any, have empirical implications that scholars can evaluation. via contemplating the tutorial implications of cultural idea, Confronting concept will empower scholars with arguments, not only evaluations, in regards to the more and more idealist and inappropriate anti-realist curricula they confront of their humanities schooling in today’s universities.

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Andrew Murphie and John Potts speak of ‘life’ as ‘relational’; they ask that the concept not be reduced to the list of empirical qualities of a class of objects (that would be to postulate and essentialize what Massumi calls ‘dumb matter’). Their relational approach to biological concepts is consistent with the analysis proposed by many philosophers of biology such as Stephen Rose. Rose criticizes ‘reducing’ (his word also) ‘phenotypes’ (actual biological beings) to their genes. He endorses instead the view that ‘[g]enes and environment are dialectically interdependent throughout any individual’s lifeline’.

Its ambitions are unbounded, its methods untrammelled by such logical constraints as the avoidance of self-contradiction. Of course, my point would probably be dismissed as ‘bad philosophy’, as slavish adherence to ‘axiomatics’, as a mere quibble in the face of Theory’s revolutionary challenge to social science. Indeed, Cultural Studies Theory writers sometimes explicitly pose just this challenge: It is difficult to overstate the scope of Deleuze and Guattari’s challenge to social theory. What they propose is nothing less than a new ontology of the social, of social being, grounded in a philosophical ontology of Being as pure difference or becoming.

They must take care to avoid ambiguity and equivocation so that the whole community of scientists working on the one set of problems knows that it is speaking ‘the same language’ about ‘the same thing’. Inter-subjective reliability is encouraged by explicit definition of ‘low level’ (observable) and ‘higher level’ (abstract) concepts alike. Cultural Studies, however, is not only suspicious of the possibility of unambiguous concepts but also generally reluctant to define its terms in ways that would allow its practitioners to be confident that they are speaking about the same (class of) phenomena.

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