How to Join Member's Area Private Library Search Today's Topics p Login
Main Forums Discussion Tech Talk Mature Content Archives
   Nav Win
 Discussion
 Philosophy 101
 Academic psuedo-intellectualism?
 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Follow us on Facebook

 Moderated by: Ron   (Admins )

 
User Options
Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Admin Print Send ECard
Passions in Poetry

Academic psuedo-intellectualism?

 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


0 posted 05-19-2001 07:59 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Some of you already know my feelings about this but here's still another point on the folly of social constructionism:

"Notwithstanding the diversity trumpeted by humanities departments these days, when it comes to conceptions of knowledge, one standpoint reigns supreme: social constructionism. It is a simple belief system, founded upon the basic proposition that knowledge is never true per se, but true relative to a culture, a situation, a language, an ideology, or some other social condition. Its catchphrases circulate everywhere, from committee meetings to conference programs. Truisms like "knowledge is a construct" and "there is no escaping contingency" echo in book prefaces and submission requests as if they were prerequisites to publication. Professors still waging a culture war against the Right live and work by the credo "Always historicize!" Neopragmatists, post-structuralists, Marxists, and feminists insist upon the situational basis of knowledge, taking the constructionist premise as a cornerstone of progressive thought and social reform. Graduate students mouth watchwords about subject-positions and anti-essentialism as if they were undergoing an initiation ceremony, meeting admissions requirements, and learning the tools of a trade. The standpoint functions as a party line, a tribal glue distinguishing humanities professors from their colleagues in the business school, the laboratory, the chapel, and the computing center, most of whom believe that at least some knowledge is independent of social conditions."


If you have the time, please read the rest of the article:


Social Constructionism

I disagree with the general tone but agree with many of the specifics. I think social constructionism is an axiom and a good one but I'm at a loss to understand the big deal about it (unless those who complain and those who believe in astrology have a deeper connection than I imagined  ). If social constructionsim is, more or less, correct, it doesn't do or change anything. we're still stuck with the same tools we had before its current fashionability.

Brad

[This message has been edited by Brad (edited 05-19-2001).]

Greg_s
Junior Member
since 11-23-2000
Posts 36
Los Angeles, CA


1 posted 05-20-2001 07:32 PM       View Profile for Greg_s   Email Greg_s   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Greg_s

This sounds like a very interesting topic which I find somewhat relevant, being an undergraduate student in English.  I don't have time to read the article right now, but I will, then get back to you with my thoughts.
OLIAS
Senior Member
since 06-20-2000
Posts 1031
Pearl city Iowa


2 posted 05-20-2001 09:55 PM       View Profile for OLIAS   Email OLIAS   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for OLIAS

I have read the article through and I'm afraid I'm not intelligent enough to understand it except in very basic terms. I feel that any opinion I have would be too simple, but thank you for giving me the opportunity to read the Link and it will interest me to see what other people have to say, it will help me to understand the content of the article.

Regards,
Olias.
KwiatMan
Junior Member
since 05-19-2001
Posts 18
Florida


3 posted 05-21-2001 03:57 AM       View Profile for KwiatMan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for KwiatMan

Professor Brad..
I don't use those silly smilicons, so just
assume that I'm interested in a friendly
dialogue with someone that seems to be on
my side of the fence, philosophically. I
used the title only to emphasize the wide
gap that exists between us. I'm a worn-out
construction lineman with a grade school
education. (And don't call me "Joe Sixpack").

In the beginning of your dissertation, you
explain social constructionism as a belief
system wherein, knowledge is never true
per se, but true relative to some conditions.
In your last paragraph, you seem to get a
little wishy-washy in what I thought started
out as a condemnation of that belief.

Let me tell you my version of knowledge and
thought processes in general. I am guided
in my belief system by a catch term called
psycho-epistemology, first used by a Dr. Barbara
Branden. You understand it, but so you'll
see my use of it, let me explain. I won't go
into detail, just assume that I have a moral
code that justifies my existence. I have an
identity I'm proud of, and a measure of
self-esteem that probably needs deflating.

Having said that, my position on knowledge
is simple. I gather data with all the
perceptive devices I have. I conceptualize
that data by a screening process empowered
by my moral code, my full acceptance of
reality, my logic and life experiences.
Having separated the TRUE knowledge from the
extraneous garbage, I store what I don't
need at the moment, in what I call long term
memory. What I need to have readily
available goes in short term memory.

Now the  psycho portion of the term
psycho-epistemology comes into play. I have
to focus on a subject. That's called
thinking. Using whatever degree of ability
that I garnered, through genes, environment,
mentoring, tutoring, family discipline,
etc., I have to retrieve the necessary
knowledge from my memory, apply the tools of
logic, realization, awareness, etc. to it
and tada, I'm thinking.

I take anyones assertion that knowledge per
se is untrue, and can only be found with
certain strings attached, as wrong.
Knowledge and reality cannot be separated.
If it isn't reality, it isn't knowledge. I'm
sure that all of the above would wither
under the microscope of superior education,
but I also have to think, and I should be
allowed to know how and why in my own
vernacular or jargon.

Therein lies a problem. Why would someone of
your caliber write a book that only someone
as smart as you can understand. To use my
favorite defense retort. You can't tell them
nuthin', they know it all. But you can tell
me, just speak my language. Am I tying a
string to the knowledge I ask for, to make
it true? I have no knowledge of your writing
a book so realize I was making a point. I
wanted you to know how people like me have
to look at these deep subjects or just sit
in beer gardens and talk baseball.

I hope you'll respond in any manner you
choose and if I came across as anything
other than a pleasant mannered individual,
I offer my apologies, sincerely.
Jan...      (corrected spelling)
            (corrected Barbara Branden spelling)
To answer the unasked.. I am an individual, as you
are. I am an individualist, nothing more, nothing
less. I search for truth and reality. I don't
identify myself with any social doctrine, such as
objectivism, individualism, or any other "ism".
I am not an atheist by Webster's definition. I am
not a believer in mysticism or superstition. I am
not searching for identity or havens. I am under
educated and extremely well read. Handling the
knowledge I garner has always been a chore, but
one I accept. I have a moral code that allows me
to function in society, yet retain my identity. I
am not a sociopath. If I find myself affected by
cognitive dissonance, I remove the cause of
the dissonance. I do not adjust to it.(kissing the
Masonic Order goodbye as a 32nd degree Mason
instead of kissing the bible is a fair example) I
have two primary rules of existence. Other entities
in society are viewed by me as assets, liabilities,
or invisible. I never initiate force, I always
retaliate. My chosen life style and occupational
hazards demand of me, all of the above. I am often
alone. I am never lonely. Having answered the
unasked, let me say that I don't intend to match
wits with you or anyone else as I will surely lose.
I just want your thoughts on true knowledge and how
to recognize it as such. I think that's where we
started. Having put my business in the street,
which rubs like sandpaper, let's continue.
Jan...


[This message has been edited by KwiatMan (edited 05-21-2001).]

Severn
Member Rara Avis
since 07-17-99
Posts 8273


4 posted 05-21-2001 08:03 AM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

'To believe that knowledge is a construct, that truth, evidence, fact, and inference all fall under the category of local interpretation, and that interpretations are more or less right by virtue of the interests they satisfy is a professional habit, not an intellectual thesis'

Hey Brad - I read about half of the article...(tis midnight here and I'm tired lol...)

The above statement is something I agree with. It seems like an over-obvious thing to say really. Yes knowledge is principally a construction. (Though I've been studying Pinker a little and I like how he debunks 'the blank slate' theory.) I also tend toward post-structuralist theories (with structural-functionalism thrown in if one omits the tendency toward synchronic analysis and ignoring the processes of change...)

Why the big deal? In my small opinion I'm going to suggest something rather basic. People like explanations don't they? We want to explain why this and why that...why is knowledge? How is knowledge? Ah yes, it's a social construction. Let's market a theory and teach it to students...never mind if it doesn't provide new insightful answers...

It's common enough knowledge that most social theories are just remarketed anyway - building on the ones before...under that premise therefore, Social Constructionism is not an intellectual thesis, new in itself, because it is merely a merging of the old.

Under a nice sounding label.

It looks good doesn't it?

Social Constructionism..an explanation. (After all the humanities ARE comprised of scientists and we all know scientists must come up with explanations to validate themselves heh...)

K


[This message has been edited by Severn (edited 05-21-2001).]

Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


5 posted 05-21-2001 09:04 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't have time to go into everything right now but I was shocked -- someone's actually worried about offending me?  

Please, please, that's the last thing you have to worry about.

Quick note: Jan, are you sure you don't mean Barbara Branden?

Where's Angel Rand when you need her? Angel Rand is a very nice person who posts here occasionally.

Brad
KwiatMan
Junior Member
since 05-19-2001
Posts 18
Florida


6 posted 05-22-2001 01:23 AM       View Profile for KwiatMan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for KwiatMan

Brad..
I made a substantial addition to my first
post in this string.

Yes, I did mean Barbara Branden.
I see that Angel Rand has 24 posts in
PIPTalk forums. I plan to read them on
a liesurely basis. I'm not familiar with
Ms. Rand. I read one or two posts and her
profile signature so I'm aware of her
existence. Now I need to focus on her
philosophy. I'm sure that she isn't a
resurrection.

I'm not a tail-wagging fan of Ayn Rand or
Objectivism, but I read all things relevant
to my existence. Objectivism and naturalism
are two doctrines that have dominated my
reading. But compared to what? I have
no "born again" agenda for myself or others.

If there is a life force and I believe there
is, it's called survival. To me, every
action I take, every decision I make
consciously or subconsciously, has a primary
driving force of enhancing my survival
opportunities. So, no doctrine created by
others can be accepted by me at face value.

I suppose I have painted a dreary life style
but my life is family oriented, full of
happiness and the beauties of nature. It
just isn't dominated by others. I've faced
enough death with my loved ones to know
that we all die, it's just a matter of when.
In the meantime...I've got my priorities
straight. Thanks for the Angel Rand info.
Jan..


Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


7 posted 05-23-2001 03:51 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

There's a lot to talk about here but, first, let me say I believe in social constructionism; I'm not comfortable with absolute or common sense truths. There's an irony in the article that I thought was hilarious (he's discussing the social constructedness of social constructionism.) Of course, he means to demean the thesis itself (which has been discussed and contemplated at least as far back as Nietsche) but, to my mind, uses it to his own ends. That's fine and I think he's probably right about a lot of cases. The mistake is that he thinks such a thesis drops truth from the glossary and that just isn't true. Truth, as it always has been, is determined by what works within any given social context.

From this point, many have argued that then morality drops out, that there is only 'might makes right'. This statement is true only in the most general sense of a tautology -- might is whatever works in any given situation and therefore right but might is also tempered by the same socio-cultural-historical boundaries (these boundaries are not static by the way but constantly changing) already present. You can't get out of that.  Nobody can.

For example, Jan, you call yourself an individualist but don't believe in any "-ism"; yet, individualism is precisely a target in the part of the world I live in (Korea). It is considered selfish, aberrant, and ultimate detrimental to the very individual it claims to satisfy. It is only through collectivism, the sacrifice of one's self for the greater good of the many that society can work and an individual can be content. To many Americans, wouldn't such thinking seem, well, unreasonable?

I don't believe in Asian collectivism by the way, not completely anyway (I'm still from America) but I just wanted to point out that cultural influences are sometimes so pervasive that we don't even see them until we're outside it.

More later,
Brad

PS In America, the true non-conformist is the individual who preaches conformity -- the person who consciously realizes that conformity is a necessary part of society and not always a bad thing.

PPS Of course, it's not always such a good thing either.
White Wolf
Member
since 09-18-99
Posts 384
Somewhere in the vast wastelan


8 posted 05-24-2001 01:16 AM       View Profile for White Wolf   Email White Wolf   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for White Wolf

Ok somehow I am not able to understand this thread.  Which is unusual to me but I have had a lot on my mind lately but from what I gathered there it seems that knowledge and if that knowledge is truth is the basic thing being debated here.  One question.  Am I correct?

If life is just a game, when does it end cause I want to get to what is real.

Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


9 posted 05-24-2001 03:33 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

This seems to be trickier than I thought. I certainly don't think intelligence is the issue but rather that most people haven't really been exposed to these ideas yet. For at least the last fifteen years (longer if one confines him/herself to Literary Studies), there has been this thing called the Culture Wars and a subset of arguments that has come to be called the Science Wars. The Culture Wars are basically a political argument between those who believe that some ideas, some traditions should not be challenged, that at least some of what we know is true and won't change, and those who believe that all our current knowledge is socially constructed and therefore subject to change.

But what does socially constructed mean?

Social construction simply means that we can't get outside ouselves, that there is no way to independently verify truth claims, that our knowledge will always be tainted by axioms that can not be logically proven.  These axioms, however, do not magically pop up from nowhere, from Heaven (or hell), from a soul, but from a society.

This is not the same thing as relativism or a "I can believe anything I want" way of thinking but that any belief system will ultimately be influenced by a specific history, a culture, a way of thinking that can not be rationally or empirically shown to be true outside of these limitations.

To claim knowledge independent of these limitations is to claim God knowledge, not human knowlege. As a result, no argument is based on objectivity as such, but also no argument is ever subjectively based but always socially based. That is, all ideas, identities, theories, feelings are socially constructed.

If you're used to an individual/society dichotomy this can seem rather counter-intuitive but the terms are far more general than that in that they combine to become one: society is made up of individuals but individuals are made by society -- not exactly a new idea, right?

I think this is a nice place to start but it really doesn't do all that much if it does anything at all. To say to a person who you disagree with that his/her argument is socially constructed is silly because your objection is just as socially constructed -- nobody gets out of the above limitations (unless you have a higher power as the source of knowledge).

Nobody lives in a vacuum.

Does that help? If so or if not, please let me know. It's not your fault if I can't explain it right.  

Brad
Severn
Member Rara Avis
since 07-17-99
Posts 8273


10 posted 05-24-2001 06:17 AM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

'Social construction simply means that we can't get outside ouselves, that there is no way to independently verify truth claims, that our knowledge will always be tainted by axioms that can not be logically proven.'  

Almost Foucauldian Brad...

K

White Wolf
Member
since 09-18-99
Posts 384
Somewhere in the vast wastelan


11 posted 05-24-2001 12:55 PM       View Profile for White Wolf   Email White Wolf   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for White Wolf

Thank you Severn.  Does anyone know why this is true.  I do.


The White Wolf

If life is just a game, when does it end cause I want to get to what is real.

Stephanos
Deputy Moderator 1 Tour
Member Elite
since 07-31-2000
Posts 3496
Statesboro, GA, USA


12 posted 05-25-2001 12:25 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Brad,

Once again (not to bring us into another 50 post debate, but...LOL), this concept is only true if there is (in reality) no such thing as Divine revelation to humanity.  Either there is or there is not.  Someone who believes there is not will say that the claim of Divine revelation is also purely "socially constructed".  Those who believe there is will say that there is a "society" seperate from and above us (metaphorically) which can construct realities quite independent of us.  And either one side or the other is correct.  They can't logically both be right (or wrong).

As you know, since I believe in Divine revelation, I do not believe all knowledge is socially constructed.  At least one particular kind of knowledge has another source, though the conduit (human society) may be the same.

Stephen.
Brad
Member Ascendant
since 08-20-99
Posts 5896
Jejudo, South Korea


13 posted 05-25-2001 03:11 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Stephen,

You're 'absolutely' right.  

Brad
Greg_s
Junior Member
since 11-23-2000
Posts 36
Los Angeles, CA


14 posted 05-25-2001 04:37 AM       View Profile for Greg_s   Email Greg_s   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Greg_s

The last several remarks remind me of a Wittgensteinian sense of philosophy, and how I remember that his ideas seemed to imply that, up to the present, philosophical models were seen as only partially complete.  By this, I mean a philosophy could be constructed that would explain everything, except itself.  This leads to the viscious cycle of then constructing a new philosophy to explain that one, which requires another to explain it...

My point is, this is what the idea of social constructionism seems to imply if one doesn't factor in a Divine Revelation principle.  It seems that no matter what you think, your ideas are a part of a social constuction.  Thus, even ideas about social construction are socially  constructed.  Once again, terrible circular.

But I disagree.  I wonder, why not think thoughts about social constuctionism, and have those thoughts be divorced from the social constructs of society.  If I were to consider, as a whole, what I have been taught and what parts of this seem to be part of a constructed knowledge, I do not see why I should not be able to think about such a device without the threat of looming social constuctionsm if I feel that some of my learning (at least) has been objective.

I want to examine the idea of construct a bit more closely.  It is apparent that in literature, until recently, the style of writing has been very phallagocentric.  This is therefore a version of a social architecture.  When writers like Stein, Joyce, and Genet broke from the phallagocentric structure of writing, I think this is indicative of a break from social constructionsim entirely.  It seems that they achieved Wittgenstein's goal of breaking the cycle of repetitive philosophies that only lead to confusion.  These writers, in a sense, stopped using the outdated, center-containing process and wrote against architecture, broke free from the center.  They seemd to have crossed the line that Kristeva draws between life and the abject.

In the sense of social constructionism and also Divine truth or revelation, what happened when these writers broke free of the male-centric structure of writing was an affirmation of a truth outside of a socially devised, pre-determined scheme.  One may argue that it was, however, the fact that Joyce left his homeland, his church, and his family, and was thus socially molded by his rejection of these things, but I think that what modern writers have achieved goes beyond this.  What is truly modern (Lyotard gives a nice definition of the modern) seems to give its truths beyond the architectured axioms of society.  I think the most evident proof of this comes in the interpretation of such texts.  To use the socially constructed methods of critiquing do not yeild satisfactory results.  

In my own experience, as an English student in college, I have heard grad. students sounding alarmingly like the ones that are made fun of in the opening paragraph of the article.  Their science seems to be the type that begs to be always analyzed, never understood.  For them, social constructionism is the only way to arrive at an interpretation, and that what may lie outside the prescribed architechture is invalid.  But I must go to bed now.
jenni
Senior Member
since 09-11-99
Posts 511
Washington D.C.


15 posted 05-25-2001 02:52 PM       View Profile for jenni   Email jenni   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jenni

Greg--

I think it’s much more plausible to say that James Joyce or Gertrude Stein, for example, or Picasso, Braque, and other artists of the early 20th century, were socially constructed themselves, and not artistic superbeings.  Sure, they broke through the old forms, and each had a unique “take” on the world, but I find it hard to believe that their vision came entirely out of nowhere.  Rather, I think that they are very much the products of their life experiences and their times – of the gross socio-economic inequalities and inhumanities caused by  industrialization, of advances in science, especially the physical sciences and the new field of psychology, of the destruction of the old order that culminated in the shocking holocaust of World War I – the same as any other artist in any other time.  My point, I guess, is that it was no accident that Stein, Joyce, Genet, or whoever, broke from the “phallagocentric structure of writing” (as you put it, ugh) when – and where – they did, and in that sense I think they are, indeed, “socially constructed.”  And it does not follow that they necessarily have broken from the cycle of social constructionism simply because their work is free of any ties to the pre-modern old order, and that, in time, in some brave new world of the future, their vision and entire artistic approach will not be every bit as “outdated” as all those old, “phallagocentric” artists.  

That being said, Joyce (or whoever) may well have “affirmed some truth outside of a socially devised, pre-determined scheme.”  To that I’d say, nice work, Jimmy.  But so, in their own (socially constructed) ways, did Homer and Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Rembrandt, Mozart and Chopin, all the “greats” in whatever field of art; we study and appreciate them today, for to some extent, they still are relevant even in the 21st century.  I don’t think modern writers or artists can lay any special, exclusive claim to transcendent truth.

jenni
Greg_s
Junior Member
since 11-23-2000
Posts 36
Los Angeles, CA


16 posted 05-25-2001 05:50 PM       View Profile for Greg_s   Email Greg_s   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Greg_s

jenni-  your point is well taken.  i think you've pointed out some flaws in my reasoning.  I still wonder though.  Is is so impossible to divorce a work from the social context that it was created in, or from the social constructs of the now?  I mean, isn't the abilty to transcend and the lasting value of certain artists what would allow one to look at a piece free from the restraint of the social architecture?  For example, isn't it the lasting quality of a Picasso cubist piece or a Goya "Third of May" that distinguishes and allows the separation of piece from social structuring, when compared to a landscape from Constable, which really doesn't seem to leave any lasting value unless one considers the social architectures within which Constable was working?  I mean, what Pollock did that was so revolutionary was paint someting on the floor, horizontally rather than vertically.  This is important within the parameters of social constuctionism.  However, now that his paintings are hanging on a wall, to me they have been divorced from thier original meaning, and are now free to be looked at how they are.  I think it is possible to look at them and decide what I think about them and how they make me feel without equating these conclusions to social constuctionism.  I do not deny that the influence of such architectures can be pervasive, but I believe that thinking people can recognize when they are applying a social standard or when they are just reacting to how the piece makes them feel.  I can like something, detest it, be confused by it, or be ambivalent without having to acknowledge that, say, I find a nude painting of a woman pleasing simply because my social constuct of masculinity tells me I am to like the female nude.

I may still be mistaken about the pervasiveness of social constuctionism.  However, I read the article, and my reaction was one of agreement, or rather, me saying, "Social constuction is not necessary for one to find truth."  Either way, I think I recognize better when my professors are resorting to socially constructed methods of interpretation and criticism.  I think that it is a useful tool, but it should not become one's philosophy.
 
 Post A Reply Post New Topic   Go to the Next Oldest/Previous Topic Return to Topic Page Go to the Next Newest Topic 
All times are ET (US) Top
  User Options
>> Discussion >> Philosophy 101 >> Academic psuedo-intellectualism? Format for Better Printing EMail to a Friend Not Available
Print Send ECard

 

pipTalk Home Page | Main Poetry Forums

How to Join | Member's Area / Help | Private Library | Search | Contact Us | Today's Topics | Login
Discussion | Tech Talk | Archives | Sanctuary



© Passions in Poetry and netpoets.com 1998-2013
All Poetry and Prose is copyrighted by the individual authors