Alas, there are no absolute certainties and there are no definitive resolutions of fundamental ‘crises’.
‘Phenomenology and Sociology’ by Thomas Luckmann in Maurice
Natanson, Phenomenology and the Social Sciences, vol. I1
The means selected become intermediate goals.
Mary F. Rogers, Sociology, Ethnomethodology, and Experience2
Phenomenology and hermeneutics: the modern
passage to epistemology
It always appears very fruitful, scientifically, to consider arguments in relation,
rather than in opposition. Such a
Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This book explores the arguments between critical theory and epistemology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Focusing on the first and second generations of critical theorists and Luhmann's systems theory, it examines how each approaches epistemology. The book offers a critique of the Kantian base of critical theory's epistemology in conjunction with the latter's endeavour to define political potential through the social function of science. The concept of dialectics is explored as the negation of the irrational and, furthermore, as the open field of epistemological conflict between rationality and irrationality. The book traces the course of arguments that begin with Dilthey's philosophy of a rigorous science, develop with Husserl's phenomenology, Simmel's and Weber's interest in the scientific element within the social concerns of scientific advance. In structuralism, the fear of dialogue prevails. The book discusses the epistemological thought of Pierre Bourdieu and Gilles Deleuze in terms of their persistence in constructing an epistemological understanding of social practice free from the burdens of dialectics, reason and rationality. It also enquires into issues of normativity and modernity within a comparative perspective on modernism, postmodernism and critical theory. Whether in relation to communication deriving from the threefold schema of utterance- information- understanding or in relation to self- reflexivity, systems theory fails to define the bearer or the actor of the previous structural processes. Critical realism attempted to ground dialectics in realism.
technique well when he writes of the ‘combined research into objective tendency and subjective intention’, which taken together constitute the ‘cold’
and ‘warm’ streams of a critical Marxism.15 In following this method, the
Frankfurt School situates itself in opposition to both the excessively doctrinaire approaches of Marxism in its Second and Third International form,16 and
the politically deficient subjectivism represented by phenomenology and
existentialism. The task for a critical theory of society, then, is to effectively
mediate objectivity and
Identity is often regarded as something that is possessed by individuals, states, and other agents. In this edited collection, identity is explored across a range of approaches and under-explored case studies with a view to making visible its fractured, contingent, and dynamic features. The book brings together themes of belonging and exclusion, identity formation and fragmentation. It also examines how identity functions in discourse, and the effects it produces, both materially and in ideational terms. Taking in case studies from Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America, the various chapters interrogate identity through formal governing mechanisms, popular culture and place. These studies demonstrate the complex and fluid nature of identity and identity practices, as well as implications for theorising identity.
“other side” of the science wars, those who are concerned
with context, meaning, interpretation, and intersubjectivity. In
philosophy this turn has its modern start in hermeneutic phenomenology, and that is where we need to begin. The chapter
ends by arguing for the importance of political responsibility
and of how by recasting and re-emphasising the politics of
responsibility in an intersubjective world it becomes possible to
address the current failures of our political leaders and political
Interpretation and responsibility
There are some good reasons why
articulated by phenomenology, structuralism, poststructuralism, modernists
and postmodernists, systems theory and critical realism, can certainly be considered ‘modern’ in historical terms, but in essence their concerns are of a pre-
modern and pre-scientific nature. The following chapters elucidate this critique.
Critical theory situated science within the quest for social and political
rationality. It indicated that science’s normativity –which answers the question ‘what should science do?’ –orients itself in relation to the a priori potential
of society. The latter
The mutual paranoia of Jacques Derrida and Niklas Luhmann
and with different cognitive
interests. Rather, even according to their own self-understanding, this
is a clash between two alternative worlds which oppose each other in a
way that cannot be understood as the competition of different methods,
theories or paradigms. Luhmann is engaged in an ambitious attempt to
construct a scientific theory of society as a phenomenology of
communication, in strict
between ‘system’ and
‘lifeworld’ problematic, ‘system’ and ‘lifeworld’ in
globality are tangled together across a plurality of socio-technical means. Rather it is the
normative, governmental structures that resist these means that are problematic in globality.
The globalised lifeworld is not rooted in tradition but in a phenomenology concurrent with
socio-technical means. Globality may involve a practical sublation of modernity without at the
same time carrying its (enlightened) normative content. This sublation is raised to
impressionable graduate students. I agree with Deleuze’s remark that ultimately the most basic task
of philosophy is to impede stupidity, so I see little philosophical merit in a “movement” whose most signal achievement thus far is to have generated an online
orgy of stupidity.’ See: ‘Ray Brassier interviewed by Marcin Rychter: I am a nihilist
because I still believe in truth’, Kronos (2011), available at: www.kronos.org.pl/index.
9 Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 2012), 3.
when social scientists turn
to philosophy for methodological terminology to describe
Unlearning how we think
something that is (1) not necessarily methodological and (2)
involves repurposing philosophical terms that denote particular
philosophical problems or methodologies for non-philosophical
meanings. It has become common to throw around philosophical language, using terms such as ontology, phenomenology,
and hermeneutics, in order to provide gravitas to qualitative research as though we need to compete with scientists
and their scientific jargon.9 I want to