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Are definitions useful?

The answer must depend on how one defines "definition"... Varenne 10:20, 19 January 2007 (EST)

What is the difference between a definition and an ideal-type?

This is partially dependent on the answer to the first question. If one agrees with Max Weber, then what he termed an "ideal-type" is just what we need when attempting to compare miscellaneous instances of human behavior within an overall conversation. An ideal-type in this way should specify the kind of things one wishes to talk about and should help others to contribute to the conversation started by the original outline. Varenne 10:21, 19 January 2007 (EST)

I'm not sure this helps me get at the distinction between a definition and an ideal-type. I need a "Whereas..." sentence after the last one above. For doesn't a definition also "specify the kind of things one wishes to talk about and...help others to contribute to the conversation..."?
neil 10:41, 22 January 2007 (EST)
Actually there may not be much of a difference between a definition and an ideal-type. It is just the case that, in my experience, people rarely give much thought to the definitions they use, including the definition of "definition." Given the importance of definitions, a discussion of the process that leads to the use of a particular one is essential. Reading Weber on ideal-type may help in this discussion.--Varenne 11:22, 31 January 2007 (EST)

I would also add that an ideal type can be a conceptual device that accentuates the features of a phenomenon so that we can further analyze moments that "fit" into into such a conceptualization. It allows us to "measure" what's taking place in society.

My question is whether values and value-systems are embedded within ideal types or whether they just exist in a "form" that's solely used for analysis. -- ThienVinh Nguyen

What might be the uses of the distinction formal/informal?

Should we worry about the convergence of theories of politics, broadly defined, with theories of education, boadly defined?

What about experience?

You spoke about and alluded to the word 'experience' when talking about indirect and direct learning but never once used the word 'experience.' Can I ask if there was a reason for this? In my head I was quietly summarizing the main points of the lesson as learning consciously and unconsciously through experience. Whether this 'experience' be formal in a school setting or in everyday life. - Liza Gilhody

'experience' is another very complicated concept. I will keep only hinting since my personal sense of the word is that it refer to a person 'experiencing' while I will be mostly talking about the construction of the settings, the mechanisms controlling the setting, and the openings for escaping control. I do prefer the connotations of 'experience' (particularly as developed in philosophical phenomenology) over 'learning' (whether developed by cognitive or personality psychologists).--Varenne 14:37, 17 September 2008 (EDT)

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