By S. Aronowitz
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Additional resources for Against Orthodoxy: Social Theory and Its Discontents
Finally, when we are relieved of the pointless questions associated with Williams’s work in literary theoretical terms and can come to terms with his position as a public intellectual, the contemporary relevance of his work for cultural studies is crystal clear. What we learn from the vast corpus is that the point of cultural studies is to empower ordinary people to take control of their own lives by, among other things, fully appropriating cultural things, whatever their status in the hierarchy.
If David Hume (1978) was right to call attention to the unreliability of the senses in the accumulation of knowledge, Immanuel Kant’s (1929) solution—to posit subordinate knowledge of the senses to the categories of mind and to install the primacy of method, grounded both in observation and in algorithms of verification and proof—is held as the corrective. Kant’s philosophy remained framed in the epistemological premise of Cartesianism: the problem of knowledge derives from the separation of subject and object.
It became also a noun of process specialized to its presumed configurations in a whole way of life. ”15 Thus it cannot be understood as a category of the superstructure within the framework determined by the economic infrastructure. This conclusion permeates all of Williams’s work in the last fifteen years of his life, and in consequence it is not difficult to discern his skepticism about the effectiveness of the base/superstructure distinction as well as its premises, the reflection theory of knowledge and the correspondence theory of truth, themselves grounded in epistemological realism.