RE: social construction & realism

Thanks Anthony I will check out your website


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:owner-foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]On Behalf Of Anthony
Sent: 17 November 2002 18:17
To: foucault@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: RE: social construction & realism

What I mean is that I agree with the postmodern critique of the idea of an
unchanging self inasmuch as I can see how we construct and re-invent
ourselves all the time through our personal narratives etc. However I
that this approach goes too far if it denies any usefulness or validity to
the notion of a meaningful continuity of the self. The common human
experience of a sense of authenticity seems to suggest a 'centre of
at least.>

I eschew the centre of gravity idea if only because I have issues with
Newtonian thinking on gravity :) , in that the discursive 'construction'
(sorry!) of gravity is almost identical to the discursive 'construction' of
quantitative/behavioural power, but I do adhere to the concept of
disposition, which I understand as a consistency of relationship to
uncertainty, a composite of the various structures of expectation that we
negotiate in the working assemblies of our experience. Without going into
details, which are on my website, I do not myself use the concept of self or
centre, but I do understand my experience as adaptative, associative,
structured, cumulative, and individually-negotiated in social interaction.
In that sense, I don't think in terms of construction, as that pretty much
relies on a Subject, or in terms of Creation, likewise, or in terms of
reception, rather in terms of 'negotiation' in ways that seek to bypass the
subject or the object as the basis of experience. Continuity and its partner
disontinuity constitute a discursive binary that I am wary of.

Anyway, even if you do allow no essential reality to the self, it would be
theoretically possible to hold a realism about the external world, ie
there really is something 'out there', that intuitions against idealism or
solipsism should be taken seriously, that reality is more than simply

By understanding consciousness, knowledge, and whatever I refer to as
reality as a constant and dynamic experience of expectation I take it that
there is a there there, but that the there is never a matter of the
elimination of uncertainty, never solely a matter of 'objective' or
'subjective' experience, never a matter of 'presence' without a constant
balance of uncertainty which is also experienced as dynamic, always
experienced as a tension of fluidity. Solipsism and idealism are two
philosophical standpoints that for me seek to eliminate uncertainty. Seeing
as how a basic position of mine is that there is a balance of certainty (not
certitude) and uncertainty in the experience of expectation, then for me to
seek to eliminate uncertainty in these ways is to grossly misrepresent our
experience of experience. Reality and the social interactional quality of
our experience I understand in terms of, among other things, not
consensuality but varying degrees of expectational dissonance and resonance,
both always a part of our experience.

What I suppose I'm seeking to find out is whether, when the word 'realism'
is used in social science, it has a more limited/specific usage than it
in philosophy as a whole - so that someone might be a non - realist
(constructivist) view of self but a realist with respect to the world.>

I haven't yet managed to read any of the literature on critical realism so
I can't say. My own position is quasi-pragmatist in some ways. I take
consciousness, existence, god, for example, each as unproblematic, neither
requiring a yes or a no, for either answer requires a rhetorical position of
certitude. I am interested in appropriate responses to 'what is actually
going on' which for me requires us to beat back all of those rhetorical
devices and deployments that, often in the cause of the elimination of
uncertainty, take us away from acknowledgment and understanding of 'what is
actually going on' in terms of power relations and effects of power. That
may be a sort of realism, possibly. I was called a realist to my face over
dinner once, so perhaps yes! :) Not sure if any of this is in line with
anything you are thinking, but the long version, in terms of first
principles, is to be found on my website, chs 7-9 of the dissertation.

Nor sure if I communicated any of that properly, but you can ask me
questions if you're curious :)

All the best


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