Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Readers Anonymous, Or, the Non-Utopian Approach to Text

It’s been so long since we’ve met to discuss actual readings, rather than just commiserating about our overworked lives, that L Magee recently referred to us as “Readers Anonymous” – but, as promised, with March approaching, we’ll be entering a tangent on the sociology of scientific knowledge – with works carefully chosen to be relevant to various dissertations (in states of greater or lesser virtuality…) floating around the group. The proposed list of readings has already been outlined. We’ll start with Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia next week, and hopefully an online discussion of some sort will follow.

We did have a proto-discussion of the Mannheim today (limited by the fact that some of us have been rudely hording our copies of our shared text, leaving others text-deprived). Unmoored from any detailed textual analysis, our discussion wandered around the concept of “utopia”, and made its way eventually to the issue of locating ideals in any realised political system – whether in the present, or in history. LM asked how any existent system could provide a normative model; I seized the opportunity to discuss my fondness for counter-factuals – and LM expressed a certain downside to my approach:

Well, you know, it’s hard to explain in an everyday sense what it means to hold a non-realisable ideal. It’s just that you know automatically that, well, that’s just gonna take some time to explain…

Hey – do I look like someone who’s pressed for time? ;-P

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