Article ID: CBB730134048

Practice Theory and Conservative Thought (2019)


The concept of practice is thematically central to modern conservative thought, as evident in Edmund Burke’s writings on the aesthetic and his diatribe against the French Revolution. It is also the main organizing thread in the framework in the human sciences known as practice theory, which extends back at least to Karl Marx’s ‘Theses on Feuerbach’. This article historicizes ‘practice’ in conservative thought and practice theory, accounts for the family resemblance between the two, and takes apart that family resemblance to reveal differences. The ingredients of practice theory (historical inheritance, embodiment, cognitive limits, loose coupling between conscious thought and action) are in many cases also distinctive traits of conservative thought. But the similarity is deceptive. Practice theory and conservative thought constitute two distinct interpretations of practice, two disparate endeavours for connecting human science with political strategy, and two different formulas for opposing theory and practice. The present study will argue that this is primarily a political opposition for conservative thought, while it is a human-scientific opposition for practice theory. Conservative thought is initially political and then human-scientific; practice theory is initially human-scientific and then political. This article advocates for practice theory against conservative thought as differently amended versions of a politics that recognizes human finitude.

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Authors & Contributors
Killen, Andreas
Eghigian, Greg
Leuenberger, Christine
Butrica, Andrew J.
Turner, James Morton
Ffytche, Matt
History of Science
History of the Human Sciences
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
White House Studies
Journal of American History
Psychoanalysis and History
University of Chicago Press
University of Toronto
Edition Open Sources
Edition Open Access
Franz Steiner Verlag
Science and politics
Human sciences
Conservatism (political ideology)
Social sciences
Cold War
Reagan, Ronald
Freud, Sigmund
Foucault, Michel
Rothacker, Erich
Mao, Zedong
Vallisneri, Antonio
United States
Soviet Union
20th century, late
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
18th century
15th century
United States. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Royal Society of London

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