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[Xmca-l] Re: Margaret Archer


Some questions from the Archer review mike attached that came up for me while reading:

1. What is meant by "structure" when discussing morphogenesis/morphostasis

2. What is meant by a "holder" of an idea? Is this a person? Or some inert object, like a book? A container?

3. Is aesthetic interest a material interest?

4. How does play relate to "material interest"? Or enjoyments?

5. Archer's take on "well-ordered sociocultural conditions" and their suppression reminds me of Richard Wright's Non-Zero, but he sounds far more optimistic about it because he doesn't the see conditions as suppression but more like contagion that gains speed over time.

6. How is morphogenesis different from syncretism?

7. I wonder if it is correct to position history as an add-on, rather than a central position? I'm referencing this question to: "In her opinion, one should add analytical histories of emergence to this format."

8. The concept of conflations going upward or clustering in the middle or going downward is a little confusing to me. Is this in relation to class? Or individual to collectives?

9. The distinction of three worlds, physical, mental, and ideal seems Cartesian to me, albeit disguised, because there is a separation between mental and ideal. The notion of an idea being within a book means that the ideal world captured in objects, makes them physical, right? I'm not sure I follow this very well. Especially if the objective world (is that the first, second, or third world? or a fourth world?) is conceived as culture. How would a song be defined in this system?

10. AHA! This is all tied up and explained nicely in the critique here:
(p 7) "By applying analytical dualism to both structure and culture, Archer turns cultural processes into a mirror of structural processes. When material interests determine the cultural domain, this implies that this domain is subsumed under the structural domain. The autonomous dynamism of culture, in which mental processes mediate the relationship between objective culture on its material foundation, as in Popper's theory, has been cut out of Archer's theory. Instead, she lets vested material interests be the connecting link between objective culture and its material foundation. Thinking, then, does not become decisive for the development of culture. On the contrary, the material advantages of thinking become decisive for this development. In this way culture is subsumed under structure."

11. The subsequent critique from there seems to also show the dangers of blending theories by cherry picking. What I make of this is that it is a dangerous practice, in the sense that it results in a theory with wide holes and gaps with a structure not supported by empiricism, in this case "analytical histories of emergence." 

This was a great critique! I learned a lot.

Thanks mike!

Kind regards,