Seth McCall, a student in my seminar on the production of culture, commented on Garfinkel by bringing in something Charles Sanders Peirce wrote about doubt. It sounded as it could neatly balance Garfinkel on trust (1963). One could argue that the very need to trust has to be related to the (ethno-)methodological suspicion that one should always doubt, even if one does not mention, at the time of the interaction, the doubt given the competing need not to stop the development of an interaction. In brief, trust allows for the pragmatic (“let’s do this!”) without a call to the meta-pragmatic (who is “we” here? What is “this”?) even as this call is always ready to be activated as another form of “screwing around” (as all those who have tried to perform one of Garfinkel’s “experiments” have experienced).
So I went looking for Peirce paper. To my disappointment, but not necessarily surprise (given my prejudice regarding the implicit psychology of the pragmatists I have read), in this 1905 paper, Pierce has more to say about habit than about doubt:
The writer of this article has been led by much experience to believe that … every master in any department of experimental science has had his mind molded by his life in the laboratory to a degree that is little suspected. The experimentalist himself can hardly be fully aware of it, for the reason that the men whose intellects he really knows about are much like himself in this respect. With intellects of widely different training from his own, … he will never become inwardly intimate, be he on ever so familiar terms with them; for he and they are as oil and water, and though they be shaken up together, it is remarkable how quickly they will go their several mental ways, without having gained more than a faint flavor from the association. 
Belief is … a habit of mind essentially enduring for some time, and mostly (at least) unconscious; and like other habits, it is, (until it meets with some surprise that begins its dissolution), perfectly self-satisfied. 
There are versions of these comments in John Dewey’s Chapter 1 of Democracy and education (1966 ), or in many of G. H. Mead’s lectures in Mind, self and society (1934). Peirce echoes the overwhelming successful idea that “we” (each and everyone human being since the beginning of human times a few hundred thousand years ago) are “molded” by “life” “to a degree that is little suspected.” This is the foundation of “culture and personality” in all forms of anthropology, including much that is critical of the specific sub-tradition known by this phrase. It is the foundation of that Parsonian grand attempt for a “general theory of action” that grounds the social order in socialization. And, of course, it is the foundation of Bourdieu’s habitus (and possibly also of Foucault depending on how one reads the passages on the panopticon in Discipline and Punish).
The problem, as I now see it, is starting with the socialized adult (man…) as “he” conduct “his” everyday life. I always contrast this to Durkheim writing about the “constraints” (but not the determinants) of their life as the people find them. Durkheim (Garfinkel, etc.) starts with people at work given an order that requires them to keep working. This starting point remains agnostic as to the role, if any, of previous experiences. People working out any order may look “habituated” to foreigners (e.g. anthropologists of the most other) or critics (adolescents, revolutionaries, artists, professional skeptics) but there is no reason to assume that they have, as a infrastructural property of their selves, determinant personalities, identities, or what have you.
As I pondered Peirce on habit, I came to to wonder whether Ray McDermott and I should rephrase our conclusion in Successful Failure. We wrote: “we [social scientists] must above all accept that to make it a better day for [any human being], the first and perhaps only step is to turn away from [them] and to trust [them] to work with us while we examine what all others, including ourselves, are doing around him.” (1998: 217)
We could now write that one must start, not with the apparently habituated adult, but with the suffering (or playing) body amazed at what it has to endure and indexing in the here and now where we should start our investigation of what others did, nor are now doing, to make this body suffer (and, in some happy cases, have fun or profit).
What has made Rancière so appealing to me (and McDermott, and many others) is that he does start with the puzzled body. He asks us to notice what he calls the “intelligence” of the people, what Boas and those among his students who did not fall into the “culture and personality” trap wrote as “making sense.” And this is what some of us planning a book currently titled “when is education?” want to explore further.
And then, to my delight and but not necessarily surprise (given what I also know of the pragmatists as one of the sources of what is most powerful in anthropology these days), I found something else from Peirce that will now be one of my favorite epigraphs. It’s about, precisely, surprise:
In all the works on pedagogy that ever I read — and they have been many, big, and heavy — I don’t remember that any one has advocated a system of teaching by practical jokes, mostly cruel. That, however, describes the method of our great teacher, Experience. She says,
Open your mouth and shut your eyes
And I’ll give you something to make you wise;
and thereupon she keeps her promise, and seems to take her pay in the fun of tormenting us. (1903: CP 5.51 Cross-Ref:††)
A Google search suggests this is a famous quote and I am surprised (!) I had not seen it until a few days ago. It will now be part of my personal canon as another way to introduce education as the deliberate work of dealing with surprises (“when is education?” “all the time!”).
And it will also developed my wonderings about the centrality of ‘play’ in life–both fun play, deep play, and the many cruel jokes of our experiences.
Dewey, John 1966  Democracy and Education New York: The Free Press.
Garfinkel, Harold 1963 “A conception of, and experiments with, ‘trust’ as a condition of stable concerted actions.” In Motivation and social interaction. Edited by O.J. Harvey. New York: The Ronald Press. pp. 187-238
Mead, George Herbert 1934 Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Peirce, Charles 1905 “What pragmatism is.” The Monist15:02:161-181.
Peirce, Charles 1931  “Lecture II: The universal categories.” In The Collected Papers, Pp. 1686-1697. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
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