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Bourdieu Pascalian Meditations Notes
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Pierre Bourdieu - Pascalian Meditations Chapter Four: Bodily Knowledge
● Objective definition seems particularly scandalous when applied to the scholastic world - to people who seem themselves as qualified to explain rather than be explained
○ to move out of this problem we need to take on Pascal's words: 'By space the universe comprehends and swallows me up like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world.'
■ i.e. because I have a place in the material world and social structures I am able to comprehend the world
● BUT we cannot comprehend this practical comprehension without exploring what distinguishes it from theoretical comprehension and what are the conditions of both
● here the 'I' that comprehends the physical/social world isn't the subject as in philosophy, but a habitus, a system of dispositions
○ it occupies a position in the physical/social world Analysis situs
● Biological individuals are situated in a physical and social space - not placeless or in numerous different spaces
○ the ideal of the separate individual is given to us by the familiar idea of man as a living being among others, yada yada
■ but this is naive spontaneous materialism
○ the mentalist picture is inseparable from Cartesian dualism
○ but the model of the isolated, distinguished body, which is reinforced by the legal definition of the individual, is also a principle of collectivization
■ being open to the world implies conditioning and socialization - individuation is the product of fashioning by social relations The social space
● Social agents are situated in social space in the same way as physical objects are situated in physical space
○ social space is made up of a distinct set of positions
○ the relations of social space reflect the relations of physical space - high/low, left/right etc
■ e.g. he who has no place - a vagrant - lacks social existence Comprehension
● The world is comprehensible because the body has the capacity to be present to what goes on outside it; is exposed to its regularities
○ given this, the body can anticipate the regularities in behaviours which engage a corporeal knowledge of practical comprehension
■ this is distinct from intentional decoding
■ this knowledge comes from the experience of frequently encountered situations
● We need to move beyond mentalism and intellectualism, which see the practical relation to the world as a perception
○ we need to reclaim from idealism the active side of practical knowledge
■ the habitus can do this - it restores to the agent a generating, unifying, constructing, classifying power, whilst recognizing that the capacity to construct
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