Overweening Generalist

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Sociology of Knowledge: a Micro-View

A simple tripartite system, circular-causal, easily modeled as your own way of being, phenomenally, in the world.

I have randomly numbered each of the three parts, but any one can come first, second or third, as they are always interacting with each other. I hope you cop an intellectual buzz from this simple system, which you may find "profound," to varying degrees, depending on who's reading/thinking about it:

1.) Externalization: Everyone is pouring forth themselves, their "being" into the world, whether physically, or with mental activity. I'm doing it right now as I write this. "Reality" becomes a human-produced byproduct of externalization, and we cannot help ourselves. We externalize. It is an anthropological necessity. Whether you're building a treehouse, gossiping at a cocktail party, or planning an invasion of Yemen, you are externalizing.

2.) Objectivation: There seems something - call it "omnipresent hypnosis"? although some sociologists and other thinkers would vigorously dispute using "hypnosis" here - that has us constantly attaining the products of other people's physical and mental activity. Other people's externalizations flow through us and confront us - and, it seems the producers of externalizations themselves - as somehow "facts" that are external to all of us, and, further, appear as if in the order of the natural world, although there seems some crucial differences between these human-made "products" and oceans, butterflies, microbes, and the West Wind.

3.) Internalization: We take in other peoples' objectivated "reality," let it work around in our own nervous system, try to make sense of it all. We therefore transform that objectivized "reality" into part of our own subjective world. "It" becomes part of our consciousness, and then...see #1 above.

And on and on and on and on it goes, seemingly to some sort of eschaton...
The above heavily indebted to Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, but especially Berger. Both sociologists were heavily influenced by Alfred Schutz, yet another emigre from fascist Germany/Austria, who worked at The New School for Social Research in New York. Schutz was in turn heavily influenced by the phenomenologist Edmund Husserl, and William James the great American pragmatist.

Husserl was very much influenced by Franz Brentano. Brentano influenced Sigmund Freud.

Freud seems to have been influenced by a plethora of the most interesting thinkers in Vienna and the entire European scene of the 1870s-80s, but also he seems to have chewed, swallowed and digested the entire Western canon, and then externalized himself with his books, his psychoanalysis, which in 2011 university life, seems to mostly be read by literary critics and teachers, historians, and other social scientists. Which seems ironic to me, because what he wanted was for his thought to be a "hard" physical science.

Say what you will about Sigmund Freud, but I applaud him for his heroic artistry as a cartographer of the human mind, an invisible landscape, and for pointing out the correct idea that most of what goes on in our nervous system is non-conscious, or at least not available to ourselves.

This simple/profound phenomenological model and daisy-chain brought to you by:

The Overweening Generalist, blogging since May 6. See the OG on most any Internet connexion!


ARW23 said...

Virtuoso! Whoever can express a complex issue with simplicity, I consider a genius.(That's just my formula.) So, my hat goes off to you, as someone who really understands the moving social energies and beyond and has the ability to express it in only three short paragraphs!? Warning: "DADA IS NOT DEAD. WATCH YOUR OVERCOAT". (Just in case!)

Perpetuum mobile......

"Future events like these will affect you in the future."
- Plan 9 From Outer Space

"Say what you will about Sigmund Freud, but" he was also an avid rug collector, he covered the couch on which he saw patients with a rug made by the Qashqai nomads from southwestern Iran.

michael said...

I remember I had a Psych Professor who spoke with a southern drawl, but was from somewhere in the Midwest. And when he lectured on Freud he couldn't help but show contempt - or was I imagining it? - and then, sure enough, after talking about Freud's ideas about the function of the Superego vs the Id and the price of civilization, he told us all that when he was studying this in college he and his friends called him "SickMan Fraud." It was then that I realized there were some teachers who really didn't have all that much to offer me, but some course credit.

Eric Wagner said...

"You've got to get out to get in." I do love "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway".

I once got a Liberty University catalog. They offered a class on eschatology.

I just finished teaching a high school psychology class for the first time. I find it interesting how Freud haunts the discipline, and how Reich and Leary seem to have disappeared from orthodox psychology. Jung's influence seems far less than I had thought. When I got assigned the class, I studied some Jung last summer, only to learn later the small role he plays in contemporary textbooks. (He doesn't make the top fifteen figures referred to on the AP Psychology exam, for instance.)

Yet another terrific blog. I look forward to reading your new book.