Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The status of "theory"

Stanley Fish has a nice long post up in the NY Times about "French Theory" -- and it's a good summing up of what Theory is. Essentially its a different kind of epistemology, which stresses that fact and interpretation are inextricably bound up in each other.

The key point, in my opinion is this:
That’s a loss, but it’s not a loss of anything in particular. It doesn’t take anything away from us. We can still do all the things we have always done; we can still say that some things are true and others false, and believe it; we can still use words like better and worse and offer justifications for doing so. All we lose (if we have been persuaded by the deconstructive critique, that is) is a certain rationalist faith that there will someday be a final word, a last description that takes the accurate measure of everything. All that will have happened is that one account of what we know and how we know it — one epistemology — has been replaced by another, which means only that in the unlikely event you are asked “What’s your epistemology?” you’ll give a different answer than you would have given before. The world, and you, will go on pretty much in the same old way.
Which is why I find the bilious comments that follow the post so strange. What do people feel so threatened by?

1 comment:

Joe said...

wtf! I didnt understand a word - neither of what you said nor what Fish said...