The limits of dispassionate knowledge

Posted on Jun 24, 2012 in Everyday Life, Research Methodologies

“The contemporary habit in academic writing of assembling more or less trite summaries of other people‚Äôs work, and disfiguring the prose at the end of every second sentence with a scattering of references, seems to me calculated to turn thought to lead and the eager reader into concrete.”

~ Fred Inglis, Culture (Cambridge: Polity, 2004), vii.

“In academia, the scholarly life is often premised on the suppression of passion. Historians are warned about over-identification with their subject matters; students of literature are taught to radically temper their emotional responses, in case they make an ‘affective fallacy’ (getting all weepy is considered decidedly unprofessional). Those in the social sciences are given countless safeguards to stop the passions encroaching on the business of producing reliable knowledge, while the harder sciences make a value out of every thing the passions are not: testable, logical, rational […] My argument is not that the values of dispassion are bad, simply that they are disingenuous and obscuring of many of the ways we know the world, including scholarly knowledge.”

~ Ben Highmore, A Passion for Cultural Studies (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 16.