Why Does It Have to Be So Complicated?

People often complain about the difficulty level of readings in the humanities and social sciences, especially when it comes to critical theory. Why does it have to be so complicated?  Why so technical? Why so many neologisms? Why doesn’t the author use everyday, common sense language and terms?

My response is usually to point out that no one would say that about a textbook for astronomy, or physics, or chemistry. You expect physics to be hard. Why? Because the physical world is complicated. And guess what, our social world is also complicated.

I was happy to see Pierre Bourdieu say something similar in Pascalian Meditations:

I have … acquired the conviction that the social world would be better known, and scientific discourse about it would be better understood, if one were able to convince oneself that there are not many objects more difficult to understand, especially because it haunts the brains of those who try to analyse it, and because it conceals under the most trivial appearances, those of daily banality for daily newspapers, available to any researcher, the most unexpected revelations about what we least want to know about what we are.

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