Tag: Becoming Who We Are

  • Philosophers as situated in space and time, trying to muddle their way through

    I’m currently reading Metaphysical Animals which is an energetic and profound portrait of how Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch, Philippa Foot and Mary Midgley came together as friends and the enormous contribution they made to philosophy. As a long time enthusiast for philosophical biography, I’m fascinated to understand how philosophy emerges from the life world of philosophers and expresses […]

  • The inner life of behaviourists

    I’ve often wondered about the inner life of those who deny the inner life of others. This extract from Ian McEwan’s Atonement (pg 36) captures my own experience in childhood of realising others must experience inwardness as well, even if not everyone experiences this in the same way: [W]as everyone else really as alive as […]

  • The existential challenge of the post-capitalist condition

    The existential challenge of the post-capitalist condition

    I thought this was a beautiful observation by Hugh Lemmy in his strange but thought-provoking newsletter about Frasier: It’s a state usually attributed to teenagers. This weekend my boyfriend and I took the dog for a long walk in the mountains that surround the city we live in. Realising, at one point, that we had […]

  • The strangely coherent eclecticism of our inner experience

    From Timewatch by Barbara Adam pg 15: The multiplicity of awarenesses, choices, memories, considerations as well as the trust in technology and expert systems were all present at the same time. Yet, despite this simultaneity, there was sequential order. Nothing was jumbled. Nothing happened backwards

  • Becoming who we are 

    From Figuring by Maria Popova pg 3-4: We spend our lives trying to discern where we end and the rest of the world begins. We snatch our freeze-frame of life from the simultaneity of existence by holding on to illusions of permanence, congruence, and linearity; of static selves and lives that unfold in sensical narratives. […]

  • The vulnerability of human experience to abbreviation

    This expression used by Alain de Botton in his How Proust Can Change Your Life (pg 42) stood out to me. He uses it in relation to the morning news, reflecting on how reporting inevitably strips away from the reality of what is reported on. This is an example of a broader tendency for human experience to “be […]

  • The claustrophobia of imminence

    I woke up with this phrase stuck in my mind recently, after a strange and vivid dream. It involved a landscape somewhere between Deep Space Nine and Snowpiercer, dark corners filled with metallic pools and steam hissing across braying crowds. I can’t remember the narrative of the dream but a crucial idea from it remains […]

  • The Face in the Crowd

    I saw a wonderful exhibition this weekend, collecting work by Alex Prager combining photography and film in intricately staged hyper-real scenes. The collection that has been playing on mind since seeing it is Face In The Crowd. If you click on the screenshot below, it will take you to the website where you can see the […]

  • The Sociology of Stupid Assumptions

    A few months ago, I recounted to a collaborator the details of a foolish mistake I made when planning a special occasion. Assuming the cake would be the easiest item on a long to do list, I left this till last, failing to recognise that cakes of this sort would require a lot of notice. […]

  • Understanding the agency of people we disapprove of

    Why do people do what they do? It is a question at the heart of the human sciences but it is also one we ask in everyday life. However the way we ask it often tracks our prior feelings towards the people we ask it of. For instance, as Jana Bacevic has argued, many fail […]

  • The existential challenge of changing tempo

    After the busiest few months of my life, I’ve spent the last couple of days doing what feels like nothing. I’ve been for a shave, bought a graphic novel, seen a (crap) film, had a walk, been out for dinner and had a massage. But otherwise I’ve just read, slept and watched tv. It’s obviously […]

  • Fateful moments that might have been

    One of the key ideas of my PhD was fateful moments, points in our life which constitute turning points and shape the person we become. I argued the epistemology of such moments is more complex than it might initially appear to be, as turning points have a narrative as well as a biographical existence. The stories we tell about our […]

  • From homo economicus to homo digitalis

    In a recent paper, I’ve argued we find a cultural project underpinning ‘big data’: a commitment to reducing human being, in all its embodied affective complexity, stripping it of any reality beyond the behavioural traces which register through digital infrastructure. Underlying method, methodology and theory there is a vision of how human beings are constituted, […]

  • CfP AAA2018 San Jose: Panel Digital Infrastructures

    Digital Infrastructures: Poetics, Politics and Personhood – AAA San Jose 14-18 November 2018 Lorraine Weekes (Stanford University) Gertjan Plets (Utrecht University) Government databases, digital archives, online voting systems, and e-portals enabling the submission of everything from insurance claims to income tax returns increasingly define mundane engagements between citizen-users and a suite of public and private […]

  • ‘Student Experience’ and the social ontology of the student

    What is a ‘student’? To many outside higher education, such a question would seem absurd. A student is “a person who is studying at a university or other place of higher education”. But what this means has undergone profound change in recent years, such that ‘the student’ as a category, as well as a material factor […]

  • On the Rat Race

    There’s a background to it here and a collection of his other work here.

  • Margaret Archer as neo-classical British social theorist

    While Margaret Archer’s theoretical work is widely respected, it is often categorised as little more than an elaboration of Roy Bhaskar and a critique of Anthony Giddens. This framing leaves it secondary to Critical Realism and Structuration Theory, understandable (though limiting) in the former case and deeply inaccurate in the latter case. Reading Envisioning Sociology […]

  • Narrative as interface between the subjective and the objective 

    We often think of self-narrative as something self-grounding, reflecting the truth of a person even if that truth might change over the life course. If we take issue with this, we turn to the bare objective facts of someone’s life as a counterpoint to the unreliably subjective stories they tell. This oscillation misses the important […]

  • Some thoughts on the bullet journal, omnifocus and getting things done

    I’ve been curious for a while about the Bullet Journal system. As an obsessive practitioner of Getting Things Done, I can’t see myself starting a Bullet Journal but its framing as ‘the analogue system for a digital age’ has intrigued me since I first encountered it. The video below provides an overview of how to […]

  • In defence of the individual

    The individual is an unpopular category within contemporary social thought. To be concerned with the individual is taken to imply individualism, something which falls outside the range of acceptability for the cultural politics prevalent within British sociology. This is amplified by an intellectual impulse to transcend the individual as a unit of analysis, bound up […]