Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Defining difference?

After the aggressive advertising campaign to make my blog known to the outter world, a friend told me "the issue of difference, on your blog, has not been properly introduced---it is just too vague, hanging there without a context, YOUR context" (ah, do I love the academics...)

Today's post is just about that: defining difference. My friend wrote:

"First. There are differences which are not fundamental-- all too superficial-- and those one should let the others worry about them. It may be more fruitful for your discussion to narrow down the differences which seem fundamental to you.

Second. It may be worth to probe into the source of someone's interest in difference. This concern with difference, obviously, can spring from various wells. On a most widespread scale, I would say, from negative feelings such as fear, jealousy, envy, "redneckness", ressentiment and so on. In very rare instances it can stem from strength, "objectivity," a sense of justice (as Nietzsche understood justice)---in a word, from positive and active attitudes."

These are good, valid points. But I'm coming from a qualitative tradition, one which asks not what difference is (the definition) but looks for the ways in which the definition might emerge out of trying to understand how difference is. I'm gonna let difference undefined, cause definitions belong to dictionaries. Everyday life makes and unmakes definitions.

The question of interest here is what difference counts as significant, and why? To quote from one of my favourite professors in this big small world, how is the boundary being drawn? And what is the relation between the drawing of this boundary and social structures, power, inequalities, choice and so on?

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