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Rouse’s Conception of Practice Theory and Existential Phenomenology

Back to issue: Phänomenologische Forschungen 2017-2
EUR 16.90

Joseph Rouse is one of the most distinctive and innovative proponents of practice theory today. This article focuses in section I on two extended elaborations with systematic intent from Rouse’s corpus over the last two decades regarding the nature of practices, highlighting in particular the concept of normativity. Toward this end, this article explains why Rouse argues that we need to bring about something like a Copernican revolution in our understanding of the intrinsic normativity of practices as an essentially interactive, temporal, contestable, and open-ended process. In section II, this article then examines some commonalities and apparent divergences of Rouse’s practice theory from the existential phenomenology of the early Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. The article draws to a close by considering two apparent divergences between Rouse’s conception of practices and existential phenomenology: (1) the degree of compatibility between the claim of existential phenomenology to reveal necessary enabling background conditions of our lived experience and Rouse’s normative conception of practices; and (2) the compatibility of “quasi-transcendental” constitution, as this is at work according to existential phenomenology, and Rouse’s argument that it is wrong to understand practices as exclusively centered on the activities of human beings.