Bourdieu – Wittgenstein’s reader or the influence of “the following a rule” on the theory of habitus
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rule, ability, language games, habitus, practical sense, social game, practical strategies

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Yosypenko, O., & Dondiuk, A. (2020). Bourdieu – Wittgenstein’s reader or the influence of “the following a rule” on the theory of habitus. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, 2(1), 86-99.


In this article we have a comparative analysis of Wittgenstein’s reflections on “following a rule” and Bourdieu’s attempts to explain regular social behaviors that cannot be directly regulated by the concept of habitus and practical sense. It is shown that Wittgenstein’s concepts of “language games”, “rule”, “ability” have become a powerful methodological resource for the Bourdieu’s concepts of “social game”, “habitus”, “social strategies” and “practical sense”. The differences in the contexts in which the reflections of both authors develop are revealed, their main opponents are identified: when Wittgenstein criticizes the intellectualist and mechanistic understanding of a rule, Bourdieu polemics with methodological objectivism (structuralism) and subjectivism (Phenomenological sociology) in the social sciences. It is established that the common approach for both authors in trying to avoid aporias of understanding human orderly action is the transfer of the problem of rule-following from the theoretical plane to the practical plane, as well as emphasizing the physical and social nature of the ability to act by the rule. Both thinkers draw attention to the ambiguity of the concept of the rule, which could denote and conscious instruction and acquired in learning a tendency to a certain method of action, and also explanation of certain behavior by the observer. Bourdieu, in order to avoid this ambiguity, introduces, instead of the concept of rule, the concepts of habitus and practical strategies to denote the principle that guides the actor in his practice activity. The main difference between Bourdieu and Wittgenstein’s approaches and concepts is established in the article. It is due primarily to the fact that Wittgenstein’s thoughts unfold in the conceptual plane, while Bourdieu analyzes specific socio-historical phenomenons and develops the necessary terminology and methodology. That is why his concept of habitus and practical sense have a status of explanatory principles, and the concepts of Wittgenstein’s rule and ability are purely descriptive. For plus, Bourdieu’s concepts are a strong form of dispositionalism, while Wittgenstein’s concepts are very weak form of dispositionnalist approach, which he himself considers as a form of mechanism. After all, Wittgenstein’s rule is not preceded by any objective necessity, it is itself a source of logical necessity, while Bourdieu’s habitus is incarnation of the objective requirements of the “fields of action” that precede and form them.
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