Re: [xmca] Nobel prize talks stupid things about human intelligence

From: Paul Dillon <phd_crit_think who-is-at yahoo.com>
Date: Wed Oct 24 2007 - 09:43:18 PDT

aEirik,
   
  I disagree with your point that Watson in some way represents a countercurrent to the prevailing Zeitgeist. The Bourdieu passage concerning the elite school environments is only part of his much broader critique of academic practice. Genetic determinism is a major element of the prevailing academic zeitgeist despite a sprinkling of intellectuals who oppose it. Do you really believe that Watson isn't a major representative of genetic determinism?
   
  Furthermore, the issue doesn't concern political opinions in general, it has to do with (1) Watson's use of genetics as a "warrant" (a la Toulmin) for those opinions, and (2) the power his words, in general, carry due to his stature in the broader scientific community, his sanctified position in his own field, and the extension of genetic engineering into all aspects of society via promises and claims (I'm a Zulu) that are completely unsupportable.
   
  At no time have I used ad hominem nor ad populum arguments in my posts concerning Watson. I did say he was a thief but this is based on the testimony of playboy and co-discover of DNA, Francis Crick, in his book, "The Double Helix", concerning the break-in and burglary of the cristallographic images that enabled them to see what was wrong with Linus Pauling's model.
   
    In sythesis, I have argued that (1) no causal relationships have ever been demonstrated between genetic traits and socio-cultural activity ; (2) Watson's behavior is unethical since he should make that clear before making those assertions. None of his recantations have ever disavowed his underlying faith (e.g., based on no science) in genetic determinism.
   
  Paul
   
   
  

"E. Knutsson" <eikn6681@student.su.se> wrote:
  Paul,

You were the one who "smuggled" Bourdieu into this discussion: "... that
[diversity, conflicting views] isn't really how the academic practice of homo
academicus actually works according to Bourdieu, that's not the real problem
with your argument."

So I thought it would be helpful to take a look at what Bourdieu actually had
to say in that context. Bourdieu, as earlier mentioned, referred to "the
universe of prejudice, repression, and omission that everyday successful
education makes you accept, and makes you remain unaware of, tracing out that
magic circle of powerless complacency in which the elite schools imprison their
elect" (Bourdieu quoted in Reed-Danahay, Deborah. Locating Bourdieu.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2004:51).

You pointed out that this ‚€œpoints precisely to the absence of the open, free
discourse in institutionalized education, the presence of which I thought you
had earlier used to defend Watson's statements.‚€

Actually, I agree with the first part of that sentence, but it is not true that
I defended JW‚€™s statements as such (neither their content nor form), only his
right to express his opinion, without facing social ostracism and moral panics.
You then asked the question ‚€œwhere is the ‚€˜universe of prejudice, repression,
and omission‚€™ more apparent than in the elevation of genetics to level Watson
CLEARLY claims for it?‚€

The relevance of Bourdieu‚€™s statements vis-a-vis JW in this context seems to be
exactly the opposite, since JW does not represent the mainstream "universe of
prejudice, repression and omission that everyday successful education makes you
accept." One of those prejudices is (possibly, probably) that science should
march in step with the (unstable, constantly variable) Zeitgeist and its moral
sensibilities, making scientists look like Jesuitical high priests, guardians
of morals.

In Homo Academicus, Bourdieu wrote that "it is not, as is usually thought,
political stances that separate people‚€™s stances on things academic, but their
positions in the academic field which inform the stances that they adopt on
political issues in general as well as on academic problems."

You then asked the question whether I was saying that ‚€œsince Watson's politics
reflect his academic position, that I should simply accept this academic
deformation as a basis for pronouncements whose potential political
consequences are all too well known, without challenging that genetic
determinism with arguments, such as those already presented in this thread [‚€¶]‚€

Except for the fact that my humble person is in no position to tell you what to
accept or not, I salute any challenges to JW and others with SCIENTIFIC a-r-g-u-
m-e-n-t-s, such as some of those already presented in this thread. Speculations
(‚€œ...whose potential political consequences are all too well known‚€),
argumentum ad hominem/ad populum etc. etc. should, however, not be counted as s-
c-i-e-n-t-i-f-i-c arguments.

Eirik

On 2007-10-23, at 07:21, Paul Dillon wrote:
>
>
> Eirik,
>
> Your first citation of Bourdieu:
>
> "the universe of prejudice,repression, and omission that everyday successful
education makes you accept, and makes you remain unaware of, tracing out that
magic circle of powerless complacency in which the elite schools imprison their
elect"
>
> points precisely to the absence of the open, free discourse in
institutionalized education, the presence of which I thought you had earlier
used to defend Watson's statements. And. where is the "universe of prejudice,
repression, and omission" more apparent than in the elevation of genetics to
level Watson CLEARLY claims for it?
>
> Later you seem to equate Durkheim's "mechanical solidarity" with the
transmission of a body of knowledge which in itself is a form of "secondary
habitus". I'm unclear as to what you mean by "body of knowledge" in this
context. Neither mechanical solidarity nor habitus can be considered bodies of
knowledge without extending the meaning of "knowledge" to such generality as
to beg the question. Bourdieu talks about dispositions, those horizons of of
discourse that function as structuring structures and for that very reason can
never be made a direct subject of that discourse.
>
> Your final Bourdieu citation:
>
> "it is not, as is usually thought, political
> stances that separate people's stances on things academic, but their
positions
> in the academic field which inform the stances that they adopt on political
> issues in general as well as on academic problems."
>
> perfectly fits Watson's behavior.
>
> So am I to take it that you are saying that since Watson's politics reflect
his academic position, that I should simply accept this academic deformation
as a basis for pronouncements whose potential political consequences are all
too well known, without challenging that genetic determinism with arguments,
such as those already presented in this thread, arguments that only find
support in Bourdieu's theoretical frameworks even when his texts are
decontextualized.
>
> Paul
>
>
> __________________________________________________
> Do You Yahoo!?
> Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
> http://mail.yahoo.com
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca

_______________________________________________
xmca mailing list
xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca

 __________________________________________________
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
http://mail.yahoo.com
_______________________________________________
xmca mailing list
xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
Received on Wed Oct 24 09:45 PDT 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Nov 20 2007 - 14:25:43 PST