Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bryant Watch: Digging Out, But We Need New Tools

Levi Bryant's singing another variation on the tune "Critique is Over." Sounds like he's digging himself out of a hole, perhaps one of those holes of perpetual withdrawal.

This, of course, is good.
The point is that today we need to find the will to believe a little, to affirm a little, and to commit a little.
One object at a time?
Only where we abandon our foundationalist, obsessional assumptions, our desire to have the truth before we pursue the truth, our intoxication with epistemology, will we be able to move beyond this paralysis.
How about abandoning the idea that the interpretive mode is the only mode of thought a humanist needs? It's all well and good to abandon critique, but without a richer and more robust conceputal tool kit, the affirmative conceptual structures will become tangled in their own verbal complexities. And that will lead to calls for another round of critique to clean up the mess.

No, critique isn't the problem. It's a sympton of the problem. The problem is trying to get too much conceptual mileage out of nothing more than verbal constructs. As I argue in this report on undergraduate education in the human sciences, we need to learn the USE of structural tools from linguists, mathematicians and software engineers and the USE of statistical tools from social and behavioral scientists.

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