2005_11_30_sss - Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and...

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Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and Global Dimensions Wednesday, 30 November 2005 TOPIC: Professional authority and cultural hegemony continued: Deconstruction and postmodern/ post/structuralism. II. Second example, reading. Gary Peller – “Reason and the Mob” shows how hegemony works tries to lay bare for the reader a lot of things usually hidden and esoteric tries to show that the difference between reason/sentiment, truth/myth, mind/body, knowledge/superstition are deeply embedded in our culture and are taken for granted, a culture that is itself a product of the Enlightenment period - beginning in 16th century continuing for several centuries - about creating the 'light' of reason/ truth/knowledge. (Note: labels for historic periods, processes are creations after the fact by observers/ scholars.) the text begins with a stream of consciousness depiction of the moment when we come to believe the dominant Enlightenment teaching of the aforementioned dichotomies – Peller argues that the distinction between each of these is a political process, with social hierarchies attached to different sides of each pair Peller offers a deconstructivist argument, in which he takes apart that which has been layered, that which we take for granted and don’t notice. Further, he tries to show how oppositions are buried in texts, oppositions that constitute uncritical values, assumptions. We cannot separate knowledge and truth from the action of constructing it – knowledge/truth is made, all attempts to re present a truth work through a medium/method . All representation has to have a medium and a method – Peller discusses the one embedded in language and writing . All of our methods of representation have biases – they are not without politics, there is interest and social action. His argument is that there is “ no objective reference point separate from culture and politics” (p. 29) . Science, economics, philosophy – all are 'texts' (malleable human creations), to be read and interpreted. What has been presented as knowledge/truth/objectivism/reason are actually the effects of a particular form of social power, the victory of a particular way of representing the world that presents itself beyond interpretation but as (unvarnished, unconstructed, transcendent) truth itself. If what separates the rational from the irrational is the claim that the rational approach is able to purify itself of ideology and mere social conventionality, the deconstructionist wants to challenge reason on its own ground and demonstrate that what gets called reason and knowledge is simply a particular way of organizing perception, communication, a way of organizing and categorizing experience that is social and contingent but whose socially constructed nature and contingency have been suppressed. When the particular way that knowledge and legitimacy have been organized is rejected, the traditionalists see an abyss of meaning, and therefore charge that the
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2.158 taught by Professor Ericajames during the Spring '03 term at MIT.

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2005_11_30_sss - Power: Interpersonal, Organizational, and...

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