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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Over subtle

I used the worry that my ideas were rarefied and over-subtle. But not really. You have to work up to your full potential. I noticed yesterday in class when students were trying to come up with Althusserian examples (of ideology), a tendency to fall back on a sort of easy denunciation of right-wing ideas, that almost anyone could come up with. It was hard for them to distinguish between examples that really illustrates Althusser's ideas, versus simple examples of right-wing ideas they found objectionable. Only a few students could really do it.

I remember very vividly in Grad school, taking my first theory course, and having a student in the class make the statement that scientific ideas in a capitalist society were produced in the same way that products were. When I asked for an example, she said that science was used to justify racism, or something like that. Not at all an example of the generalization she had made. But nobody seemed to notice! I didn't argue that point because I didn't want to be a jerk and I felt a bit humiliated, in fact. Of course I knew about misuse of science for nefarious ends! That wasn't my question at all.

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