Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Fear, and the question of what disciplinary educations are good for

I was thinking about my talk yesterday (which went fine, nice to meet Tim Jordan, and to see Kate O'Riordan), so I was thinking about my talk and noticing that when I write sociologically, or at least, for sociologists, I feel as though I'm charting my progress through the argument by trying, above all else, to avoid pitfalls, rather than stepping more surely, more positively. I feel defensive; and I think the writing probably betrays my defensiveness. There are probably two things I'm defending against: 1. the kinds of arguments and maxims of sociological argumentation that I don't care to heed (in other words, steering by my own interests in tension with my tolerance for that which bores me but which is probably either important or necessary) and 2. that which I probably should know (about sociological argumentation) but don't, because I never learned it, because it's not embedded deep in the strata of my education.

All of which suggests to me a reasonable (but probably no better than reasonable) answer to the question of what disciplinary educations are good for (in other words, an answer that isn't merely defensive or territorial): they create the conditions under which one, at the best of times, can step surely through an argument, following one's own interests more than a cringing, fearful sense of all which might potentially undermine one's argument (following one's interests more than one's discipline).
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