Rationalism n n Rationalism empiricism and Kant Rationalism

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Rationalism n n Rationalism, empiricism, and Kant Rationalism: the idea that human beings achieve Rationalism n n Rationalism, empiricism, and Kant Rationalism: the idea that human beings achieve knowledge because of their capacity to reason. From the rationalist perspective, there a priori truths. Progress of the intellect over the centuries has resulted from reason. Plato (428– 327 bce) and Leibnitz (Gottfried Wilhelm Baron von Leibniz, 1646– 1716)

Empiricism n n Empiricism: we are born tabula rasa–with a “clean slate. ” What Empiricism n n Empiricism: we are born tabula rasa–with a “clean slate. ” What we come to know is the result of our experience written on that slate. John Locke (1632 -17045): We see and hear and taste things; we accumulate experience; we make generalizations. We understand what is true from what we are exposed to. And so, David Hume held, we can never be absolutely sure that we know is true.

Kant (1724– 1804): a way out n n n A priori truths exist: if Kant (1724– 1804): a way out n n n A priori truths exist: if we see those truths it’s because of the way our brains are structured. The human mind, he said, has a built-in capacity for organizing sensory experience. Today, many scholars to look to the human mind itself (cognitive neuroscience) for clues about how human behavior is ordered.

Noam Chomsky and B. F. Skinner n n n Chomsky: Any human can learn Noam Chomsky and B. F. Skinner n n n Chomsky: Any human can learn any language because we have a universal grammar already built into our minds. This is why translation is possible across all languages. Skinner: humans learn their language the way all animals learn everything –by operant conditioning, or reinforced learning. Example: Babies learn the sounds of their language because adults reward babies for making the right sounds.

The dilemma of rationalism vs. empiricism n n Empiricism holds that people learn their The dilemma of rationalism vs. empiricism n n Empiricism holds that people learn their values and that values are therefore relative. Rationalism holds that there are transcendental truths, which is are not subject to the principle of relativism. Hume and others made the idea of a mechanistic science of humanity as plausible as the idea of a mechanistic science of other natural phenomena. But … I consider myself an empiricist, but I accept the rationalist idea that there are universal truths about right and wrong.

From Democritus to Newton n n The scientific method is barely 400 years old. From Democritus to Newton n n The scientific method is barely 400 years old. Its systematic application to human thought and behavior is less than half that. Aristotle insisted that knowledge should be based on experience and that conclusions about general cases should be based on the observation of more limited ones. But Aristotle did not advocate disinterested, objective accumulation of reliable knowledge.

n n n Until the 17 th century, scholars relied on metaphysical concepts to n n n Until the 17 th century, scholars relied on metaphysical concepts to explain observable phenomena. Even in the 19 th century, biologists still talked about vital forces as a way of explaining the existence of life. Democritus (460– 370 bce) was a materialist. But without the technology we have today – microscopes, compasses and sextants, computers – his work had little impact.

Exploration, printing, and modern science n n 1413: Spanish ships began raiding the coast Exploration, printing, and modern science n n 1413: Spanish ships began raiding the coast of West Africa, hijacking cargo and capturing slaves from Islamic traders. The compass and the sextant made it possible to go farther from Europe. These breakthroughs were based on empirical observation, as were those in architecture and astronomy by the Mayans and Egyptians. The development of science required more.

Johannes Gutenberg (1397– 1468) n n First edition of the Bible from movable type Johannes Gutenberg (1397– 1468) n n First edition of the Bible from movable type in 1455. By the end of the 15 th, every major city in Europe had a press. Printed books provided a means for the accumulation and distribution of knowledge. Eventually, printing made organized science possible. But writing hadn’t done it, and more was still needed.

Martin Luther and literacy n n n Martin Luther (1483– 1546) was born just Martin Luther and literacy n n n Martin Luther (1483– 1546) was born just 15 years after Gutenberg died. Protestant Reformation began in 1517: challenged the authority of the Roman Catholic church to be the sole interpreter and disseminator of theological doctrine. This required literacy on the part of everyone, not just the clergy. Literacy didn’t cause organized science, but it helped make it possible.

Bacon and Descartes n n Francis Bacon (1561– 1626): focused on induction, the use Bacon and Descartes n n Francis Bacon (1561– 1626): focused on induction, the use of direct observation to confirm ideas and the linking together of observed facts to form theories of how natural phenomena work. René Descartes (159– 1650): distinguished between the mind and matter and argued for the independent existence of the physical and the mental world.

n Descartes envisioned a universal science of nature based on direct experience and the n Descartes envisioned a universal science of nature based on direct experience and the application of reason.

Isaac Newton (1643– 1727) n n n Pressed the scientific revolution at Cambridge University. Isaac Newton (1643– 1727) n n n Pressed the scientific revolution at Cambridge University. Calculus, celestial mechanics and other areas of physics. Just as important: the hypothetico-deductive model of science that combines both induction (empirical observation) and deduction (reason) into a single method.

Science, money and war n n The scientific approach to knowledge making was established Science, money and war n n The scientific approach to knowledge making was established just as Europe began to experience the growth of industry and the development of large cities. Those cities were filled with uneducated factory laborers. This created a need for increased productivity in agriculture among those not engaged in industrial work.

n The new method for gaining knowledge about nature promised bigger crops, more productive n The new method for gaining knowledge about nature promised bigger crops, more productive industry, and more successful military campaigns.

Science and safe passage … n The speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Science and safe passage … n The speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives wrote to the commander of the British forces, saying n n “Though we are politically enemies, yet with regard to science it is presumable we shall not dissent from the practice of civilized people in promoting it. ” The appeal worked. Williams got his free passage.

From Newton to Rousseau n n Physics and social science were developed at about From Newton to Rousseau n n Physics and social science were developed at about the same time, and on the same philosophical basis, by two friends, Isaac Newton and John Locke (1632– 1704). A formal program for applying the scientific method to the study of humanity would come 200 years later from Auguste Comte, Claude. Henri de Saint-Simon, Adolphe Quételet, and J. S. Mill.

John Locke n n Locke: the rules of science apply equally to the study John Locke n n Locke: the rules of science apply equally to the study of celestial bodies and to human behavior. Essay Concerning Human Understanding : we cannot see everything, and we cannot record perfectly what we see, so some knowledge will be closer to the truth than will other knowledge.

n Prediction of the behavior of planets might be more accurate than prediction of n Prediction of the behavior of planets might be more accurate than prediction of human behavior, but both predictions should be based on better and better observation, measurement, and reason.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau n n (1712– 1778) Argued that humanity had started out in a Jean-Jacques Rousseau n n (1712– 1778) Argued that humanity had started out in a state of grace, characterized by equality of relations, but that civilization, with it’s agriculture and commerce, had corrupted humanity and lead to slavery, taxation, and other inequalities. Rousseau was not, however, a raving romantic. He held that the state embodied humanity’s efforts, through a social contract, to control the evils brought on by civilization.

n n The Enlightenment philosophers, from Bacon to Rousseau, produced a philosophy that focused n n The Enlightenment philosophers, from Bacon to Rousseau, produced a philosophy that focused on the use of knowledge in service to the improvement of humanity, or at least to the amelioration of its pain. The idea that science and reason could lead humanity toward perfection seems naïve today but …

Enlightenment and revolution n n These ideas were part of the American and French Enlightenment and revolution n n These ideas were part of the American and French revolutions and are reflected in the writings of Thomas Paine (1737– 1809) and Thomas Jefferson (1743– 1826). “We hold these truths to be self-evident. . . ”

Auguste Comte (1798– 1857) n Argued that the production of knowledge had developed in Auguste Comte (1798– 1857) n Argued that the production of knowledge had developed in three stages: n n n (1) religion (capricious gods); (2) metaphysics (essences); (3) positive knowledge, based on reason and observation.

The mastery of nature metaphor n n Some people are very uncomfortable with this The mastery of nature metaphor n n Some people are very uncomfortable with this “mastery over nature” metaphor. But few people would give up the material benefits of science. Over-prescription of antibiotics leads to drugresistant bacteria. Will we stop using antibiotics? Or will we rely on more science to fight the new bacteria? The same principle applies to air conditioning and its consequences.

n Understanding begins with questions about how things work. n n Do good fences n Understanding begins with questions about how things work. n n Do good fences really make good neighbors? Why do women earn less, on average, for the same work as men in most industrialized countries? Why is Barbados’s birth rate falling faster than Saudi Arabia’s? Why is there such a high rate of alcoholism on Native American reservations?

n n n Why do nation states, from Italy to Kenya, almost universally discourage n n n Why do nation states, from Italy to Kenya, almost universally discourage people from maintaining minority languages? Why do public housing programs often wind up as slums? If advertising can get children hooked on cigarettes, why is public service advertising so ineffective in lowering the incidence of high-risk sex among adolescents?

The reaction against positivism n Ferdinand C. S. Schiller (1864– 1937): since the method The reaction against positivism n Ferdinand C. S. Schiller (1864– 1937): since the method and contents of science are the products of human thought, reality and truth could not be “out there” to be found, as positivists assume, but must be made up by human beings.

Wilhelm Dilthey (1833– 1911) n n Argued that the methods of the physical sciences Wilhelm Dilthey (1833– 1911) n n Argued that the methods of the physical sciences were inappropriate for the study of human beings. Human beings live in a web of meanings that they spin themselves. To study humans, he argued, we need to understand those meanings.

Humanism n n This humanist argument goes back to Protagoras’ (485– 410 bce) dictum: Humanism n n This humanist argument goes back to Protagoras’ (485– 410 bce) dictum: “man is the measure of all things” – truth is decided by human judgment. Humanism has been historically at odds with the philosophy of knowledge represented by science.

n Humanists do not deny the effectiveness of science for the study of nonhuman n Humanists do not deny the effectiveness of science for the study of nonhuman objects, but emphasize the uniqueness of humanity and the need for a different (that is, nonscientific) method for studying human beings.

n n Similarly, scientists do not deny the inherent value of humanistic knowledge. To n n Similarly, scientists do not deny the inherent value of humanistic knowledge. To explore whether King Lear is to be pitied as a pathetic leader or admired as a successful one is an exercise in seeking humanistic knowledge.

n The answer to the question cannot possibly be achieved by the scientific method, n The answer to the question cannot possibly be achieved by the scientific method, but examining the question and producing many possible answers leads to insight about the human condition.

History of anthropology n Anthropology developed in France, England, and Germany and from the History of anthropology n Anthropology developed in France, England, and Germany and from the beginning, there was tension between scientists and humanists.

n In the 19 th century, this split played out between those who wanted n In the 19 th century, this split played out between those who wanted to focus on culture and those who wanted to focus on biology – between those who wanted to study the diversity of human behavior and thought across the world and those who were more interested in the diversity of the human form across the world.

Racial thinking n This reflected racial thinking, an ancient explanation of differences in culture Racial thinking n This reflected racial thinking, an ancient explanation of differences in culture and behavior: n people who are shaped and colored so differently from us (whether us was ancient Chinese or ancient Greek or 19 th century Europe) must practice their different ways of life because of those physical differences.

n Racial thinking remains with us today, though the arguments have gotten more sophisticated n Racial thinking remains with us today, though the arguments have gotten more sophisticated and, as a consequence, more dangerous.

n More about this later. For now: n There is no evidence that differences n More about this later. For now: n There is no evidence that differences in people’s values or behaviors are in any way caused by differences in their genes at the population level.

Slavery and anthropology n n The Society for the Observers of Man was founded Slavery and anthropology n n The Society for the Observers of Man was founded in France in 1799 by “a union of naturalists and medical men” to promote the study of natural history. They mounted a three-year expedition to what would become Australia and the surrounding islands. Among the scientific crew were a couple of anthropologists whose duty it was to carry out measurement of bodies and customs.

n n n The Society for the Protection of Aborigines was founded in London n n n The Society for the Protection of Aborigines was founded in London in 1838. England abolished slavery across the empire that year; Sweden had done so in 1813; Spain in 1821. In France, the Ethnological Society of Paris was founded as a scientific, rather than as a philanthropic institution. A similar group was founded in New York.

n n From 1839 to 1871, while British anthropology was thrashing itself into a n n From 1839 to 1871, while British anthropology was thrashing itself into a series of disciplines, American anthropologists were gathering data about American Indians. Slavery was the political issue on both continents, but the need for data remained a constant as well.

n In Europe, gathering data about the diversity of human cultures required long expeditions n In Europe, gathering data about the diversity of human cultures required long expeditions – in the day of sailing ships, with month-long crossings of the Atlantic and no Internet cafes.

n In the U. S. , scholars had to go no further than the n In the U. S. , scholars had to go no further than the remnants of American Indian communities to find what was, to them, exotic kinship systems, foods, marriage customs, child-rearing practices, ways of acting in war, and so on.

n While the Europeans invented anthropological field research, they did increasingly little of it n While the Europeans invented anthropological field research, they did increasingly little of it because of political obstacles. The countries were at war with one another over colonial expansion rights.

Unilinear evolutionism n n n After Darwin, the idea of evolution swept the scientific Unilinear evolutionism n n n After Darwin, the idea of evolution swept the scientific world. Lewis Henry Morgan (1818– 1881) and others sought schemes to account for the diversity of human customs across the world. In the spirit of the time, they assumed that a universal evolutionary sequence that mirrored the universal biological sequence that was emerging for humanity.

n n n They assumed that Europeans were at the top of some cultural n n n They assumed that Europeans were at the top of some cultural evolutionary ladder. All peoples went through the same evolutionary phases to get from simple to complex. The details of the schemes varied, but the idea was the same: savagery, barbarism, and civilization.

n The level of any society was measured in terms of how closely it n The level of any society was measured in terms of how closely it matched Western Europe in key areas of custom: religion, kinship, and economic and political behavior.

Edward Westermarck’s challenge n n 1891: Westermarck publishes the History of Human Marriage. All Edward Westermarck’s challenge n n 1891: Westermarck publishes the History of Human Marriage. All combinations of marriage customs exist in all levels of society. The idea of universal, historical evolutionary schemes, was crushed. Cultural evolutionary schemes of different stripes went on until the 1920 s, but in the U. S. , at least, it died.

Franz Boas n n 1889: Boas comes to the U. S. and is appointed Franz Boas n n 1889: Boas comes to the U. S. and is appointed to the first chair of anthropology, at Clark University. Moves to Columbia University in 1899. Alfred Kroeber graduates in 1901. Historical particularism – kinship terminologies and marriage customs could diffuse anywhere in the world, as new words do in languages.

Historical particularism n The real work of anthropology, then, was the historical reconstruction and Historical particularism n The real work of anthropology, then, was the historical reconstruction and the recording of the different cultures as faithfully as possible.

British functionalism: biological model n n 1910– 1930: Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown British functionalism: biological model n n 1910– 1930: Bronislaw Malinowski and A. R. Radcliffe-Brown promote functionalist explanations for cultural diversity. The biological model: People have basic needs; the institutions of society meet those needs.

The structural model of functionalism n n The structural model: societies are organisms and The structural model of functionalism n n The structural model: societies are organisms and institutions adapt to those needs. Both are part of a revolt against both evolutionism and historical particularism.

n n n Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim: social realities are separate from biological n n n Auguste Comte and Emile Durkheim: social realities are separate from biological and psychological realities and deserve their own study, on their own terms. A. R. Radcliffe-Brown took this up and focused on the whole social system and its needs rather than on the needs of individuals. Institutions are functional when they serve to perpetuate the whole social system, and dysfunctional when they don’t.

n People in this scheme, were like molecules in a system. T n n n People in this scheme, were like molecules in a system. T n n he molecules could be replaced by functionally similar ones that played similar roles in service to the longevity of the organism, and the proper object of study, therefore was society itself. Radcliffe-Brown rejected what he called fanciful reconstructions of institutions or customs – like where religious symbols come from.

Teleology n n Functionalism is an excellent model for fieldwork and for understanding how Teleology n n Functionalism is an excellent model for fieldwork and for understanding how things work. But it is inadequate for explaining the diversity of cultural forms because of its teleological reasoning.

n n n Cultural materialism: This paradigm holds that culture and social institutions are n n n Cultural materialism: This paradigm holds that culture and social institutions are shaped by infrastructural conditions. Cultural materialists argue that the structural components of society – including the economy and governance – ultimately are shaped by the infrastructure. Agriculture was selected for, in the history of human experience, by peoples who found it more advantageous.

n Cultural materialism is based on the principle of the priority of the infrastructure n Cultural materialism is based on the principle of the priority of the infrastructure and goes beyond Marx’s materialist paradigm by including the needs of reproduction, as well as the needs of production in the mix of things that shape structural and superstructural components of society.

n n Marxism is dialect materialism – the needs of the so-called base, including n n Marxism is dialect materialism – the needs of the so-called base, including the means of production, continually feed back into the infrastructure and then the structure of society. Cultural materialism places the mode of production in the infrastructure itself.

n It also is not based on the Marxist ideology against capitalism. Cultural materialists n It also is not based on the Marxist ideology against capitalism. Cultural materialists see capitalism as an emergent phenomenon, based on changes in the infrastructure around the world.

Against materialism n n Structuralism: Claude Levi-Strauss. “The structuralist paradigm in anthropology suggests that Against materialism n n Structuralism: Claude Levi-Strauss. “The structuralist paradigm in anthropology suggests that the structure of human thought processes is the same in all cultures, and that these mental processes exist in the form of binary oppositions (Winthrop 1991). Some of these oppositions include hot-cold, male-female, culture-nature, and raw-cooked.

Cognitive structuralism n n n Structuralists argue that binary oppositions are reflected in various Cognitive structuralism n n n Structuralists argue that binary oppositions are reflected in various cultural institutions. The job of anthropology is to analyze expressions of culture and to discover the underlying schema. Cultural schemas are contained in kinship, language, art, and other expressive behavior.

n n From a materialist perspective, structuralism is a plan for studying one component n n From a materialist perspective, structuralism is a plan for studying one component of society, the mental superstructure. Materialists and structuralists are both concerned with understanding myth, but they have different perspectives on first principles.

Symbolic anthropology n n Symbolic and interpretive anthropology is most associated with Clifford Geertz. Symbolic anthropology n n Symbolic and interpretive anthropology is most associated with Clifford Geertz. The goal of ethnography, says Geertz, is to understand the cultural context that produces symbolic behaviors, like a purposeful wink.

Geertz on winking: n n What makes symbolic behaviors meaningful to members of a Geertz on winking: n n What makes symbolic behaviors meaningful to members of a culture? Beliefs must be understood in context – in terms of a cultural system that gives meaning to both everyday events and extraordinary events.

n n n It follows that action is driven by meaning. The materialist paradigm n n n It follows that action is driven by meaning. The materialist paradigm is inappropriate for this level of analysis. Symbolic analysis is often applied to religion, myths, and performance, but it can be applied to any outcome, behavioral or artifactual, and to organizational structures.

Post-modernism n n n Postmodernism is a critique of science as a so -called Post-modernism n n n Postmodernism is a critique of science as a so -called project of modernity. Two components to the modernist perspective: one is epistemological and the other is ideological. Like the humanists who rejected 19 th century positivism, post-modernists assert that our essential subjectivity makes truth elusive.

n n Furthermore, science has worked against the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people. Jean n n Furthermore, science has worked against the legitimate aspirations of oppressed people. Jean Baudrillard, Jean-François Lyotard and others argue that we are in postmodern times – a time when meaning has been destroyed.

n n Today, anthropology is a very complex discipline. Medical anthropology, ecological anthropology, political n n Today, anthropology is a very complex discipline. Medical anthropology, ecological anthropology, political anthropology, economic anthropology, post-structural archeology, ethnoscience… n The various paradigms and epistemological perspectives are represented in these fields.

n n n Religion and science have both failed to provide clear answers to n n n Religion and science have both failed to provide clear answers to questions in which we are all interested – not just questions about life and death itself, but questions of the moment. Post-modernism and relativity: As a consequence, people look for answers anywhere they can. The dilemma of relativism remains.




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