OUTLIERS, CHEESE, AND RHIZOMES: VARIATIONS ON A THEME OF LIMITATION

Authors

  • Lynda Stone

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Education
      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      LYNDA STONE is Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #3500 Peabody Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3500; e-mail <lstone@email.unc.edu>. Her primary areas of scholarship include philosophy of education, American and Continental social philosophy, and democratic schooling.
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  • I AM INDEBTED to Nicholas Burbules, Kathleen Rands, and Jim Marshall for assistance with this essay.

LYNDA STONE is Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB #3500 Peabody Hall, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-3500; e-mail <lstone@email.unc.edu>. Her primary areas of scholarship include philosophy of education, American and Continental social philosophy, and democratic schooling.

Abstract

All research has limitations, for example, from paradigm, concept, theory, tradition, and discipline. In this article Lynda Stone describes three exemplars that are variations on limitation and are “extraordinary” in that they change what constitutes future research in each domain. Malcolm Gladwell's present day study of outliers makes a statistical term into a sociological concept. Carlo Ginzburg's study of a sixteenth-century miller who challenges Church doctrine initiates the field of microhistory. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's philosophy of the rhizome offers a poststructuralist study of the doing of philosophy and the form of philosophical text. Although Gladwell's study is the only one specifically on the topic of outliers, the other two investigations are outliers as well. Overall the three studies demonstrate what can be revealed and learned when limitation is transgressed. This is an important lesson for educational research—wherein heretofore unimagined societal possibility and reform of education might result.

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