In The Scholastic Point of View, Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 5, No. 4. (Nov., 1990), pp. 380-391, Pierre Bourdieu writes,
I believe that there is a sort of incompatibility between our scholarly mode of thinking and this strange thing that practice is. To apply to practice a mode of thinking which presupposes the bracketing of practical necessity and the use of instruments of thought constructed against practice, such as game theory, the theory of probability, etc., is to forbid ourselves to understand practice as such. Scientists or scholars who have not analyzed what it is to be a scientist or a scholar, who have not analyzed what it means to have a scholastic view and to find it natural, put into the minds of agents their scholastic view. This epistemocentric fallacy can be found, for instance, in Chomsky (1972), who operates as if ordinary speakers were grammarians.
If Willem Schinkel is right, in the second of the papers that Kvond sent to Carl and Carl as sent to me, this is precisely the position that Latour rejects when he criticizes Bourdieu by calling him a “classical sociologist,” who claims to know more about what is happening than the actors involved in the events that the sociologist analyzes. Schinkel appeals to Foucault’s archeology of knowledge as a way of finding the common ground shared by Bourdieu and Latour. In my view, however, he could have turned more simply to Mikhail Bakhtin, who in “A Letter to the Editors of Novy Mir” remarks that all cultural understanding is based on dialogue made essential by the fact that we all have blind spots that we learn about through others’ observations.
That said, I find what Bourdieu says here not only provocative but very much in tune with, for example, the work of Kahneman and Klein in their studies of decision-making behavior, freed from the assumption that decision makers enjoy the scholar’s leisure to assess the merits of competing ideas in a playful mood freed from the pressures of urgent decisions. At the same time, I also find Latour’s pointing us to the material stuff (our bodies, our tools, our works of art or objects of worship) that affects human behavior very useful, indeed.
Would it not be more useful to focus on how to combine these perspectives than to engage in the sort of nitpicking analysis of an academic Punch-and-Judy show that Schinkel provides?