Philosophy and Culture
"Contention and Contestation: Aesthetic Culture in Kant and Bourdieu"
Manu Chander, Brown University
1 While Foucault is by
no means the only "structuralist" against whom Bourdieu positions his
sociology of culture, he is, I would argue, the most important figure,
for, as I discuss below, Foucault's theory of culture is in many ways
in line with that of Bourdieu. Thus, by reducing Foucault to a "structuralist" whose
work reflects the same problems as more obvious targets (such as the
Russian formalists and statistical analysts), Bourdieu is able to distance
himself not only from "pure" structuralists, but also from every shade
of structuralist analysis that competes with his own.
2 I am, for the sake of
brevity, eliding two separate points of analysis in Bourdieu's work
when I suggest that the theory of position-takings critiques the substantialist
presumptions of aesthetic genius and of aesthetic judgment (or taste).
The critique of genius is primarily concerned with cultural production,
while the critique of the theory of aesthetic judgment is primarily
concerned with cultural consumption (the former critique is the
project of The Field of Cultural Production, while
the latter is the project of Distinction). In both
cases, Bourdieu emphasizes positionality over substance, relationality
over autonomy. See especially Distinction 230-232, where
Bourdieu discusses the homology between the production and consumption
of cultural goods.
for example, Martin 9; for a more unequivocal remark about the label,
see Foucault's statement, "I have never been a Freudian,
I have never been a Marxist, and I have never been a structuralist" (Foucault
4 On the
distinction between these two adages, see Ferry 48-53.
5 This sense
of necessity more closely reflects Kant's earlier claim in the Analytic
of the Beautiful that "there must be coupled with [the
judgment of taste] a claim to subjective universality" [ es muß damit
ein Anspruch auf subjektive Allgemeinheit verbunden sein ] (51;