intellectual, scholar, scientist, academic

I’ve been musing about the above terms. In particular, I’ve been suggesting to graduate students recently that the goal of academic life ought to be to strive for one of the first three without ever becoming the fourth. Rather, academic behavior ought to be understood as one — perhaps even the best — way to institutionalize the ideals of being an intellectual, a scholar, or a scientist. Here are some quick thoughts on the distinctions:

  • Intellectual: broad thinking, crosses disciplines and potentially boundaries of the academy; integrative, synthetic.
  • Scholar: steeped in traditions of thought and writing; less likely to cross disciplines widely, though perhaps maintains cordial relations with neighboring disciplines; cautious in expansiveness of thought, but ambitious with respect to its import.
  • Scientist: approaches many matters of interest with a commitment to evidence and a clear-eyed, “show me the data” manner; disciplined with respect to conclusions but often expansive with respect to questions.
  • Academic: understands work as about lines on a CV, whether funding or publications; works on “inside dopester” lines, tends to know who is doing what but not to think all that much about it.

choices with consequences…

…or, reactivity in political history.

Forgive me if this is a rather rambling post; it combines two threads of interests that came together for me recently. The two threads are (1) my interest in time and temporality in American politics; and (2) a recent talk I gave on civil discourse. I’ll take each in turn, then make a stab at a punch line.

Continue reading “choices with consequences…”

name that foucault

There’s a concept central to Foucault’s work that has so entered the common theoretical discourse that I’m having trouble locating an original source for it. The concept is that institutions, practices, discourses produce subjects that “fit” them. People have called this a precursor to current “performativity” theories. Julia Paley documents a similar phenomenon with respect to polling and the “choice-making citizen” in Chile; I made a kind of similar argument with respect to elections in southern Africa; I’m sure there are lots of other examples. The concept is Durkheimian in a sense too (the collectivity produces the character of its individuals), but what I’m looking for right now is the Foucault version. Any leads? Thanks.