A Structure of Deviation

The final exam in French I took today was composed of two parts: translation and grammar. In the first, I had to focus on the meaning. In the latter, I had to remember and follow some rules. So part one focused on the meaning: the latter, on the tools to capture and create said meaning.

When doubting results of scientific research, you’re only allowed questioning the tools, not the meaning. That’s how academia, how science works. Some idioms makes no sense in French unless they’re seen and read together, and not under the same rules of grammar. There’s no immediate correlation of grammar between “ça va?” and “how are you?”, but one of meaning.

I belong to academic branches which question and research said meanings, compered with the tools, socially and historically speaking. They question meanings with certain sets of tools. Whatever result we get, it’s based of tools and data we have to expose. In some areas of research, the social scientist is required to expose herself before laying down her results and tools. It’s called “reflexivity”. It’s a shield and a measure to make social research better and more accurate, and it’s not merely apologetic (as I mostly like to joke).

When a political body affects a scientific body in nonacademic way, demands to question the results rather than the tools, a line is crossed. Moreover, there’s a problem of equilibrium. If one wants to affect academia professionally, one has to submit himself to scientific rules and tools, not to impose himself on another structure of social life.

In a way, all human beings have is a set of tools. We cannot expect to speak a language (affect reality) if we’ve got no tools to speak it. For that reason alone, scientists aren’t politicians (if, in this case, a scientist is a person who is focused on tools, whereas politician on meaning).

In other words, dear Im Tirzu: learn how to play the game, or fail the class.


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