Brighenti, Andrea (2006) Paradigms en abyme in the Cultural and Theoretical Construction of Europe and its Other. UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)
The paper raises a conceptual issue in the study of culture which, it is argued, has major impact on contemporary European political and legal landscape. The point concerns the epistemological problem of positioning theory vis à vis its own objects. Specifically, when the object at stake is the phenomenon of socio-cultural diversity, the question is whether, and to which extent, theory, as well as normative discourse, are in themselves part of such diversity. Most academic discourse aims at positioning itself on a distinct – usually conceived of as more general – level than the objects it strives to explain. The same holds for most normative European philosophical and legal discourses vis-à-vis the subjects they claim to apply to. Hence, the question can be articultated as follows: is theory at the service of one of the Weberian warring gods, or is it a sine ira nec studio view over the world? Interestingly, these two alternative views can, in their turn, be understood either as descriptions of the actual relationship between theory and objects, or as prescriptions about the correct way to imagine the proper role of theory.
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