Ever wondered why Roy Bhaskar’s books are the way that they are?

I was fascinated to learn that he writes full manuscripts by hand, dictates them into a voice recorder and then has these typed up. He describes how he writes “very quickly” in The Formation of Critical Realism and that he adopted the use of the voice recorder because his typist began to struggle with his handwriting. My point in posting this is not to attack the method but to try and suggest that there are particular characteristics of his writing (terminological proliferation, conceptual novelty, elaborate sentence structure) which make a lot of sense when you consider his method of composition. The concepts and schemas which can render his work so off putting are presumably categories in which he himself actually thinks. The problem is they are much easier for him than they are for the reader! I guess what I’m driving at is that Bhaskar’s method of composition means there is less space (for lack of a better word) between internal thought and external expression. The slightly odd idea this has given me is the possibility that sufficiently talented corpus linguists may be able to identify converging structural features of theoretical texts based on the method of composition. I’m pretty certain this has been done as a general inquiry but it would be fascinating to know how, if at all, the mode of composition does leave its mark on the structural characteristics of work produced by philosophers.

This post has since been added as a source to the ‘criticism’ section of Bhaskar’s wikipedia page. I object to this on a number of levels. I contemplated deleting this post but in the spirit of openness, thought it was best to leave it while noting my objection. 

Categories: Blog Archive, General Theory Stuff

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