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.
This collection expands the history of Chinese medicine by bridging the philosophical concerns of epistemology and the history and cultural politics of transregional medical formations. Topics range from the spread of gingko’s popularity from East Asia to the West to the appeal of acupuncture for complementing in-vitro fertilization regimens, from the modernization of Chinese anatomy and forensic science to the evolving perceptions of the clinical efficacy of Chinese medicine. The individual essays cohere around the powerful theoretical-methodological approach, “historical epistemology,” with which scholars in science studies have already challenged the seemingly constant and timeless status of such rudimentary but pivotal dimensions of scientific process as knowledge, reason, argument, objectivity, evidence, fact, and truth. Yet given that landmark studies in historical epistemology rarely navigate outside the intellectual landscape of Western science and medicine, this book broadens our understanding of its application and significance by drawing on and exploring the rich cultures of Chinese medicine. In studying the globalizing role of medical objects, the contested premise of medical authority and legitimacy, and the syncretic transformations of metaphysical and ontological knowledge, contributors illuminate how the breadth of the historical study of Chinese medicine and its practices of knowledge-making in the modern period must be at once philosophical and transnational in scope. This book will appeal to students and scholars working in science studies and medical humanities as well as readers who are interested in the broader problems of translation, material culture, and the global circulation of knowledge.
Historical epistemology and the making of
modern Chinese medicine
The history of Chinese medicine is undergoing a sea-change. Scholars have
engaged independently and collectively in re-imagining the discipline, contextualizing it in an unprecedented way within a broader context of the translation, transmission, and global circulation of knowledge.1 This is in many
ways a new and exciting field, informed by questions that are meant to explore
the emergence of different ways of knowing in and beyond modern China,
rather than taking the existence of
his book has aimed to examine dialectics in modern epistemology and to
compare it with critical theory, not ‘in order to’ but ‘because’ the latter can
offer innovative means of dialectical theorizing. In this way, critical theory has
the potential to advance twenty-first-century epistemology.
The prevailing idea in critical realism, as elaborated in the final chapter, was
that dialectics can provide the best path to innovation in the science. The book
attempted to avoid old and traditional modes such as ‘biographies’ of scientific
Die Aufklärung, die ein radikales Verstehen bewirkt, ist immer politisch.
Jürgen Habermas, Hermeneutik und Ideologiekritik1
[T]he sciences are too important to be left exclusively to scientists, and
indeed they have not been.
Norman Stockman, Antipositivist Theories of the Sciences2
Is there a winter of epistemological
Epistemology should be the axe that breaks the ice of a traditionalism that
covers and obstructs scientific enlightenment. This is an idea inspired by the
work of Franz Kafka.3 Critical Theory and Epistemology is a
means of an introduction to systems
In his work, Luhmann attempts to redefine communication, and associates it with information. For Luhmann, communication is distinct from action
(Handeln), and the rationality of the scientific system resides in the notion of
Zweck, or in the ends of the sciences towards action. For the first time in the
Critical theory and epistemology
epistemological history of modernity, rationality is understood as a certain
scientific purpose of action and not as the critique of scientific truth and validity of reason. The
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
persistence in constructing an epistemological understanding of social
practice that is free from the burdens of dialectics, reason and rationality.
Critical theory and epistemology
The main bone of contention for structuralism, and soon afterwards, if not
concurrently, for poststructuralism, remains the understanding of theory as
the bearer of practice or the prioritization of practice instead of theory.
In this chapter, I argue that no matter how hard the structuralists and poststructuralists try to avoid dealing with scientific dialectics, or as much as they
, as he maintains,
encompass both perception and the laws that guide science towards predictability. Bhaskar’s conception of dialectics is already apparent in his A Realist
Theory of Science,4 and it governs all his work until his Dialectic, which is
probably one of his final contributions to the issue of science and epistemology. In the present chapter, I argue that his idea of predictability in science
through mechanisms is of a pre-critical character and that he fails to acknowledge that norms generate rationality.
Bhaskar’s counter-enlightenment epistemology
Modernism and postmodernism
O gentlemen, the time of life is short!
If life did ride upon a dial’s point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
And if we live, we live to tread on kings.
William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1 5.2.82–7.
So we should not expect Foucault to give us a philosophical theory that
deploys … notions. Still, philosophy is more than theories.
‘Foucault and Epistemology’ by Richard Rorty in David Couzens Hoy
(ed.), Foucault: A Critical Reader1
Foucault: the catcher in the modern rye
When discussing modernity, one