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CEPPA Talk (online only) – Sally Haslanger (MIT)
September 22 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Location: Teams (online only)
Title: Ideology, Culture, and Social Meaning
Abstract: My aim in this paper is to sketch a conception of ideology that draws on the critical theory tradition. This conception of ideology is a response to a particular challenge for those working on social justice: Why is it that most of us, most of the time, act in ways that perpetuate injustice? To begin to answer this question, I will develop an account, inspired by Althusser among others, that embeds ideology in social practices. Social practices enable both human and non-human animals to coordinate fluently and flexibly in response to each other and our environment; and they depend on something like a “language” – a system of signs and signals – that makes socially intelligible agency possible. I call such a framework of meaning and its material apparatus a cultural technē. I go on to argue that Grice’s distinction between natural and non-natural meaning is too coarse to provide us an account of social meaning, and drawing on Skyrms and others working on signals, I propose that a cultural technē is a framework or system of signs. I then consider how we might capture the publicity of social meanings in terms that don’t require complex metacognition. I conclude that account of ideology as a cultural technē “gone wrong” provides us the basics of a critical account of ideology.
The full paper can be read here, but attendees are not expected to have read the paper in advance.