In this theoretical essay, my primary task is to develop a methodology for engaging the conceptual normativity, or common sense ideas, at work in the popular discursive practices of modern society. To do so, I will draw upon theories associated with continental philosophy, Deweyan pragmatism, and sociological theory that trace their lineages to the works of G.W.F. Hegel in order to construct a methodology for the clarification of terms and concepts of popular discourse that works within and through conceptual failure and contradiction. It is an approach that is at once ontological, epistemological, and methodological. My secondary task is to articulate the utility of the method developed here to the sociological consciousness implicit in philosophic inquiry. There is an active component to such philosophical tasks as clarifying the conceptual knowledge informing public policy and social action that is rooted in the link between knowledge and action, between understanding and activity. This is an issue of particular importance to theorists in an applied field such as educational theory.

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