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112 the minnesota review Nadia Khouri and Marc Angenot The Discourse of Prehistoric Anthropology: Emergence, Narrative Paradigms, Ideology The criteria of factualness, verifiabUity, demonstrabiUty, and objectivity utilized to define scientific activities as opposed to non-scientific ones, have undergone a radical re-evaluation at least since Gaston Bachelard's Naissance de l'esprit scientifique. As we know, various approaches to the problem of the cognitive objectivity of science, including Max Weber's much disputed principle of Wertfreiheit (axiological neutraUty) eUcited trenchant objections from the representatives of "Kritische Theorie" from Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse to Jürgen Habermas among others.1 The controversy has waxed hot between neopositivists and the spokesmen for dialectical criticism, about whether there was indeed a clear-cut Une of demarcation between the "prescientific" moment determining the ideological choice of scientific activity, and the actual "scientific" analysis supposedly freed from the initial ideological motivations.2 Whether there is indeed a chasm between the "pre-scientific" and the "scientific" moment, usually, if not always, becomes a negligible issue as soon as the scientific exercise is in full course: how many experimental psychologists engaged in stimulting aggression centers within the hypothalamus of a monkey actually stop to reflect upon the position which has determined their activity, that of their colleagues, or that of their forerunners? Perhaps the question to be asked here is not only whether a given ideological position influences the emergence of a particular science, but also to what extent an already estabUshed scientific system (or "paradigm" in Thomas Kuhn's terminology3 ) is capable of influencing human behavior and action in given social situations. Following Jürgen Habermas's analysis of the impact of interest on knowledge ("erkenntnisleitendes Interesse"4) and on the social milieux of work, communication and domination which routinize specific forms of knowing and which may block the development of others, we shaU maintain that the conditions of emergence of a science, of its intelligibility, acceptance, and transmission, are part and parcel of its very development. Thus, such questions as why Behaviorism hegemonically flourished in the United States (though it may have been 113 Khouri/Angenot exported elsewhere), or what determines the choice of a preventive medicine over a curative one, are political questions as well as scientific ones; they are tied to various forms of social interests including financial investments and relations of power. They are not extrinsic to the science, and they significantly determine its method and application. Every science depends on two types of strategies: (1) the basic ideology of that science, and (2) some sort of scientistic ideology or indeed rhetoric of objectivity serving to becloud the former. Hence, the tendency of every scientific position is to endeavor to create a radical break between "scientific" and other practices, in order to impose itself as science. Furthermore, the capability of self-correction that science apparently displays (as opposed to "myth") also confers upon it the iUusion of a self-generated cognitive autonomy. In this connection, the analysis of a given scientific discourse should be conducted on two levels: (1) a criticism of the ideology of objectivity as such, and (2) an exposure of those ideological presuppositions supporting a given science, and yet camouflaged by the illusion of objective detachment. On the other hand, if the ideology of objectivity is specific to scientific attitudes in contrast with, say, fiction, the same cannot be said about their hidden ideological presuppositions. For these do not pertain to science only but may be found in multiple formations of the socio-cultural web: in relations of everyday life, in systems of social behavior, in political configurations, religious beliefs, forms of economic exchange and relations of production , in the norms regulating various institutions. In this sense, science is caught in the totaUty of social realities and discourses, and it may often reproduce, distort, and reinstate them in one form or another. In other words, scientific texts, just like literary ones, are to be described not only as genres built around sets of immanent and recurrent traits, but also as intertextual appratuses that select, absorb and exclude images, commonplaces , ideological axioms, discursive strategies traversing the whole of the social text. It will therefore not be surprising to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 112-131
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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