In theory

Sep. 8th, 2008 02:18 pm
boyofbadgers: (Default)
[personal profile] boyofbadgers
Is praxis just an fancy synonym for practice? Or is it a bit more complicated than that?

Date: 2008-09-08 01:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Pretty much the practice of something, or the process of doing something. Praxis is, like, "doings" as opposed to "making stuff" or "finding out about stuff". It's from Aristotle originally, but it's probably got more specific nuances of meaning in different fields of thought, which other people would know a lot more about than I do.

Date: 2008-09-08 01:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Sounds like an insurance firm.

Date: 2008-09-08 01:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My recollection from Aristotle is that praxis means culmination, turning point - the edge where theory becomes practice - and by extension orgasm and the Great Goddess :) But I have not read Aristotle for over twenty years.

I think in fields such as e.g. literary theory the "edge" aspect of praxis distinguishes it from practice - it is the place you cannot identify as a shade but where black becomes white, the date you cannot identify where a word chamges its common usage, the time you cannot identify when orgasm moves from gathering to inevitable. Derrida is keying into this with theories of "jouissance" i.e. the subversive function of language where meaning constantly both is and is not as texts are written and read. But again it is at least twenty years since I dabbled in any kind of theory so this may all be total bollocks.

Date: 2008-09-08 02:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Three dimensions of human existence (in Aristotle, reaffirmed in e.g. Arendt, The Human Condition where poesis becomes the more modern 'work'): praxis is action (spontaneous and inventive, e.g. characteristic of a statesman or warrior), theoria is detached contemplation (e.g. characteristic of a philosopher), poesis is making (according to a plan e.g. characteristic of a craftsman). Generates questions such as 'should politics derive from action or from making. Theoria cannot 'generate' anything.

To be distinguished from modern worldview' which tends to re-arrange things: the idea of theoria is lost, or dismissed to religious or mythic thinking, as 'theory' becomes something like a merely relatively-abstract guide to action or poesis. Obviously this would abolish the character of action as spontaneity (leading to the attack on modern philosophy as calculative rationality). Modern thinking often reverses the characteristics of praxis and poesis (or confuses them) since art / making is supposed to be original, creative and spontaneous. All of this is roughly premised on the complimentary assumptions that the natural world and human history are either a) convertible into each other, since man can change his own nature, and the natural world [radical or debased enlightenment view i.e. science] or b) convertible into each other since man is part of nature and the force of nature acts through man [i.e. inverted enlightenment view i.e. romanticism].

There is something equivocal about the relationship between theory and praxis in this way of thinking: theoria is the highest contemplation of the good; theory by contrast is merely a deduction from praxis, and therefore secondary to practice but sometimes accrues kudos by seeming to be more rigorous and methodical than mere action.

The 11th thesis on Feuerbach is the classic statement of modern philosophy as the desire to reconcile theory and praxis i.e. in contrast to the Young Hegelian claim that we can change the way men act, and therefore the world itself, by changing the way they think, Marx suggests that only changing the way they act upon the world (praxis as work i.e the production of the history of man) will change the way they think.

Date: 2008-09-08 02:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Didn't actually answer your question - which is probably 'that's how it's used, but it shouldn't be because it obscures more than it clarifies'.

Date: 2008-09-08 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] abi
It's all Greek to me.

Date: 2008-09-08 05:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Just to add to the useful stuff you've already got,

Praxis is a term that doesn't just, in contemporary work, describe 'doing stuff', but describes the doing of stuff in terms of a dialectical relationship to theory, the two feed each other and/or bleed into each other. Thus:

praxis and theory are related dialectically - praxis acts as a corrective of theory and theory modified by praxis transforms the given situation.
-- The Mystery of the Triune God, John Joseph O'Donnell: Sheed & Ward, 1988

Date: 2008-09-08 05:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
also, do you have a specific context in mind?

Date: 2008-09-08 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Those fucking Greeks...
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