Perplexity and Knowledge: An Inquiry into the Structures of Questioning

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It develops ———— 4 See, for instance, their acute, cogent and wide ranging critique on the emergent forms of mass culture, as well as on the emergent phenomenon of culture industry Horkheimer and Adorno, ; see also Tsekeris, Verweij, para 2. Mouzelis, But the immense pluralization of approaches seriously impeded the epistemologically healthy capacity for meta-theory — that is, for a sincere, uninterrupted and open-ended dialogue between opposing worldviews and paradigms.

The second reaction came from more constructive sociological attempts aiming to the theoretical transcendence of the existing paradigmatic boundaries. Instead, Mouzelis champions paradigmatic rapprochement over paradigmatic transcendence, as well as bridge-building over dissolution. In other words, the methodological move from the macro- to the micro-level and vice versa perceptively avoids the actor-structure conflation a la Giddens , which allegedly seeks to transcend the old subjectivist-objectivist divide.

It is obvious that by committing the serious errors of conflation central, upwards, or downwards , dissolution, or transcendence, the interplay between structure and agency, macro and micro, can no longer be objectified and investigated Vandenberghe, To put it differently, it enables us to reflexively theorize about theory, that is, to meta-theorize see e. Ritzer, ; A Response from Critical Realism An almost identical defense of the relative autonomy of the macro over against the micro, as well as of the irreducibility of the structures to the actors and 6 vice versa, has been carefully exhibited by the tradition of critical realism.

Within such an analytic framework, empirical social science should strategically seek to formulate true explanatory theories or, at least, to continue to challenge, question and criticize its theories, always keeping a minimum distinction or hiatus between objective knowledge and subjective knowledge. In the same line, the Argentine philosopher and writer Mario Bunge describes an objective reality arranged in levels and distinctly different from the conceptual world , where qualitatively new phenomena can spontaneously emerge from lower levels emergence.

These arguments have systematically been elaborated and developed by critical or relational realism. In general, critical realism primarily aims to re-explore and re-energize the possibility of naturalism in the social sciences. That is, holistic conceptual frameworks are still to be pursued, but sociological aspirations should be more humble and modest see Mouzelis, Through transcendental ontology, the sociology of science and the philosophy of science are synthesized, and the possibility of human rationality, in a long-term, collective sense, is reaffirmed Reed and Alexander, Critical realists openly reject all forms of idealism, rationalism, constructivism or solipsistic relativism, insisting instead on a real world of things independent of human beings that is, a real world which has not been created, constructed, defined or is in another way dependent on humans.

According to mainstream critical realism, there is a real physical and social world of independent macro-phenomena, which cannot be reduced to the intersubjective production of meaning semiosis , language, discursive practices or the human constructions of knowledge. So, critical realism does not really succeed to efficiently address the radical difference between two competing lines of social thought: 1.

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On the one hand, the fear of relativism or nihilism. On the other hand, the fear of epistemological dogmatism, unwarranted objectivism, scientific elitism, or ungrounded normativism. It does not naively absorb or collapse the intransitive ontological into the transitive epistemological dimension. Language, after all, does not speak about itself, but about something else: being — whether this being is human or non-human a cloud in the sky, a shower of sparks, the eruption of a volcano, a dog barking, a telephone ringing, or an airplane flying.

Thanks to language, it is ultimately opened a window to the empirical world itself beyond language. In direct response to such an unwarranted neglect, Gerald Myers reflexively observes that the crucial importance of self-dialogue and its role in the acquisition of self-knowledge, I believe, can hardly be exaggerated.

1. History

That it plays such a role is a consequence of a human characteristic that deserves to be judged remarkable. It is only slightly less remarkable that these states provoked into ———— 10 See also Wiley In other words, the cognizing human subject is not self-assured, atomistically passive and narcissistically private any more see e. In addition, it is almost a truism that knowledge cannot be analytically distinguished from its multiple complex cognitive- political practices, as well as from the multiple complex social relations that make it generally acceptable and legitimate.

For Archer, objective circumstances as shaped by socio-cultural properties are real; we cannot make what we will of them with impunity. If the descriptions under which they are known are wildly divergent from reality, then reality will have revenge, because the strategy for pursuing a project will be defective.

Archer, It is remarkable that hardly anyone in everyday performative practice actually sees knowledge as inherently circular! See e. Pels, ; Woolgar, Actors and structures are both relatively autonomous over against each other and mutually interdependent. In other words, the obsolete rigid dichotomies between interpretation of meaning and scientific explanation cannot be accepted anymore. On the one hand, human beings, as both externally determined and internally motivated, do create 20 unpredictable meaning and are inherently capable of reformulating it.

References Archer, M.

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Archer, M. Berger, P.

Plato's Meno Plot, Analysis, and Commentary on virtue

New York: Anchor Books. London: Verso. Binswanger, L. Bohm, D. London: Routledge.

The Analytic Reductionism of Computation

Bourdieu, P. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Briggs, J. New York: HarperCollins. Bunge, M.

Amherst: Prometheus Books. Cilliers, P. Wheeler ed The Political Subject. Fenwick, T. Fuchs, C. Hay, C. Stoker eds Theory and Methods in Political Science. London: Macmillan. Ho, D. Holmwood, J. New York: Herder and Herder. Kemp, C. Koegler, H. Le Boutillier, S. Lydaki, A. Lynch, M.

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Maturana, H. As these gentlemen above stare intently at what is sharply in focus.. This murk of confusion and perplexity among students when talking about words only obfuscates. To think about and explore words and then make connections to literature, poetry, history, current events and express these connections with clarity, we need precise language and precision of thought and so we plunged into an inquiry based around morphological terminology.


This was a brief 5 minute activity designed to get students talking and thinking about the terms they would later be investigating more thoroughly. Note the buzz of excitement and the questioning. Students have analysed various words in the past two weeks and peeled off affixes to reveal base elements. They worked collaboratively, built knowledge together and used data of their earlier word analysis to make carefully worded statements about each term and make connections to show relationships of the terms.

Watch students as they work on the relationships of the terms.

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  8. I was amazed by the thinking, reflection and focus the groups exhibited in making sense of the terms. I remain impressed by the thinking that occurs and the questions that follow when we ask students to make connections, when we use inquiry rather than lecture giving dry definitions and tell them to learn this. By allowing students to struggle and to continue to demand precision in their explanations, they surprise me with their insight or reveal that which I too often assume is understood.

    This activity then allows for a deeper understanding when explanations are finally given. Look at their charts below where they explore their understanding so far in this morphological journey. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

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