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Pascalian Meditations Paperback – February 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book will surely endure a a major classic of late twentieth-century social theory."_—Philosophy in Review


"This latest book by France's preeminent sociologist provides a compact presentation of his concerns, methods, and leading concepts. . . . The book will be an excellent introduction to Bourdieu's fruitful thought for philosophers and social theorists."—Ethics

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A synthesis of forty years’ work by France’s leading sociologist, this book pushes the critique of scholarly reason to a new level. It is a brilliant example of Bourdieu’s unique ability to link sociological theory, historical information, and philosophical thought.
Pascalian Meditations makes explicit the presuppositions of a state of “scholasticism,” a certain leisure liberated from the urgencies of the world. Philosophers, unwilling to engage these presuppositions in their practice, have brought them into the order of discourse, not so much to analyze them as to legitimate them. This situation is the primary systematic, epistemological, ethical, and aesthetic error that Bourdieu subjects to methodological critique.
This critique of scholarly reason is carried out in the name of Pascal because he, too, pointed out the features of human existence that the scholastic outlook ignores: he was concerned with symbolic power; he refused the temptation of foundationalist thinking; he attended (without populist naïveté) to “ordinary people”; and he was determined to seek the raison d’être of seemingly illogical behavior rather than condemning or mocking it.
Through this critique, Bourdieu charts a negative philosophy that calls into question some of our most fundamental presuppositions, such as a “subject” who is free and self-aware. This philosophy, with its intellectual debt to such other “heretical” philosophers as Wittgenstein, Austin, Dewey, and Peirce, renews traditional questioning of the concepts of violence, power, time, history, the universal, and the purpose and direction of existence.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804733325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804733328
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pierre Bourdieu (1930-2002) was one of the most influential social scientists of the twentieth century. A professor of sociology at the Collège de France, he is the author of thirty-six books, including Distinction, named one of the twentieth century's ten most important works of sociology.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Rubard on June 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Much as Edmund Husserl was always writing an "Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy", French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu produced many introductions to his 'logic of practice': this is the last and, I think, the best. Although Bourdieu, in keeping with his self-image as a man compelled to reveal social reality by careful scientific study of that reality, did many worthwhile "special studies" of sociological topics his insistence on continually updating his "reflexive sociology" shows that he was no 'felicitious positivist' -- and the actual mechanics of this explanation of how human beings travel like pachinko balls in carefully constrained if seemingly random social trajectories are one of the glories of 20th century social theory. Bourdieu was intent on being the most materialist of cultural materialists, denying the reality of social transcendence through values and "the finer things", and all these books are Baedekers for people bombing in life.

The titular conceit is an interesting one: Bourdieu claims he took for a time to calling himself a Pascalian when people would ask if he was a Marxist, and the actual words of the famous mathematician, philosopher, and theologian appear quite frequently throughout the book. There is none of the famous "wager", however: what Bourdieu is inspired by are statements in the line of "habit is ten times nature". Bourdieu's own concept of "habitus", a word liberated from premodern philosophical ethics in order to capture the sense in which our sociocultural make-up 'makes our decisions for us' while we unwittingly persist in an image of ourselves as free and unconstrained agents, is naturally illustrated by the reference-point.
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Excellent Sociological treatise on how the world works, how we participate in our own lives, how we are human. I love this book, although Bourdieu gets a little technical at times in sociology terms, if you stick with it you will see the light. Very good reading. Thanks
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cees Jan Mol on April 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
I think for me this book filled a gap. A big gap. Between current, or in any case, recent philosophy (i.e. postmodernism) and sociology. Bourdieu even motivates that the existence of that gap was his main reason for writing the book. How is the gap filled?

What I've found is a valuable contribution that remains theoretical, engaged, yet practical in its application. Valuable, because it contributes to an increased engagement of theorists with practice. Valuable also, because there are some basic starting points derived from theoretical issues that Bourdieu pushes forward, irrespective of domain to which these issues belong.

If you're wondering what specifically those issues are, I'm sorry to have to disappoint you. I've read the book too long ago to remember. I'm writing this, because I'm very surprised nobody has reviewed it yet. This book is much too valuable to leave unreviewed. I.m.h.o. it's a very powerful theoretical contribution to increasing sensible scientific practice. Read it!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barry A. Morris on July 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I paid regular freight, and these folks got this book to me in like two days!,
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