Social constructivism vs Positivism
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22-12-2012, 05:58 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
I'll kind of ignore that I'm not very familiar with constructivism vs. positivism.

As far as logical positivism, I've always found this clip funny...."Nearly all of it was false"- AJ Ayer. It's good that he follows it up by saying that "it was true in spirit".

You should probably stop yourself when you get to the point of saying "scientific knowledge"--I'd say at all, but definitely in philosophy. Science doesn't deal with knowledge; the knowledge isn't scientific. Without even questioning constructivism or positivism, it should be blatantly obvious that all knowledge comes from constructs, constructed by rational beings (think: human beings). The social part added before the constructivsm, would seem to me to be complete bullshit, if you are actually trying to indicate constructs, the constructs come from rationality. It's objective, forget what society has to say.

You're talking about constructs like: math, language, logic, morality (if you want to throw that in there). Knowledge has to come from things like that. I'd go back to a guy like Kant. He was on the right path with a lot of stuff. When you are talking about knowledge, you are dealing with what Kant would have described in this distinction: analytic vs synthetic/a priori vs a posteriori. It gets kind of confusing the way the definitions work, how you can change them up slightly and come out with types of knowledge shifting between it being synthetic vs. being analytic/a priori vs. a poseriori, etc. I had a way of explaining it from the beginning philosophically--Kant probably did too (didn't read his book(s) so I wouldn't really know)--but I don't feel like explaining.

From an obvious, quick standpoint, however, if something is true, it is true based, in one way or the other, by how it is defined, i.e. it is true by definition, or it's true because it's true. Then you have the only way to gather knowledge, which is obviously idealistically, or I guess subjectively, through a mind (again think: a human mind). That's how we gain information in order to gain understanding-- through sense data. We then use constructs (like: math) to categorize, to turn into knowledge-- math, for example, consists of it's own logic, language (symbols/numbers), definitions, etc., used by us to measure our sense data, with the result being knowledge. If something is true in math, it's true because it's true, i.e. by definition-- 1 = 1; that's the end of the story; a triangle is defined in terms of sides, angles and shape, and a triangle is a triangle, that is until you put it on a curved surface and it becomes a different kind of triangle (non-Euclidean)... I hope.

Looking at knowledge (think: J.T.B.), we believe what we want to believe, but knowledge is knowledge when it's true and justified as truth. The only way to really handle that, in my opinion, is justifying to the point where it has to be true, i.e. again, it's true by definition, where you are just simplifying it to the point where it can most easily be shown, an agreed, to be true by definition, and any other way to think about knowledge to me is just a stretch of the term, where the word 'belief' should be used.

The Paradox Of Fools And Wise Men:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts.” ― Bertrand Russell
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23-12-2012, 01:47 AM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
I'm working on the reply to ghost the formatting is annoying me at the moment.

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23-12-2012, 03:59 AM (This post was last modified: 23-12-2012 07:44 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:Science is done in all languages, including mathematics, which means it is not constrained what so ever on language alone.
Can you even conceive of science without language? How would that work?
Here's what happens when one doesn't have language.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyyjU8fzEYU
The thing is, language itself is a construction. Thus, everything that results from it, science included, is constructed.
On of my favourite parts is where she shatters the ideology of self. Self is a construction. The business card and the number pad are informative too. (Also, who's in the audience clapping? My boy Wade Davis that's who! BOOM! What what!)

Science explains her phenomenon wonderfully. I feel like you are using this example to say that reality subjectively experienced is constructed by the brain. I prefer the term it's interpreted. It stands to reason that the processes by which the brain interprets sensory input is understood by science, and recently there has been a successful mapping of neurons of the brain.

http://www.nih.gov/news/health/mar2012/nimh-29.htm

(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:Simple it's the most robust body of knowledge we have. Through the scientific method, and peer review we will always whittle away the falsehoods, incorrectness, errors, and other forms of mistakes to come to a more accurate and correct understanding of the world. Simply by externalizing your results for review, or lets say putting your work on trial, we can form a more objective form of knowledge.
That explains why science is A valid source of knowledge. You'll get no argument about that from me. The question is, why is it the ONLY valid source of knowledge.
By that I mean, you could say that vanilla ice cream is A great flavour because of X, Y and Z. But why is it the ONLY good flavour?

This is an apples to oranges comparison, according to the scientific information preferences are due to the variation produced in individuals. Again it's the most valid because of the the scientific method, and peer review.

(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:This is a simple question. What are the minimum requirements for an organism to survive? One is to convert energy from on form to another, and the second is to reproduce. All that human beings had to do was to manage to eat food and survive long enough to reproduce.
It seems self evident that no matter what you think about the world, the world will continue to operate according to laws. If a human tribe is able to hunt and gather, what they worship in error in their free time makes no difference to their survival. If their religions did interfere with their ability to hunt and gather in a negative way their way of life would surely fail.
That doesn't address the question at all. "Positivism assumes that there is valid knowledge (truth) only in scientific knowledge." If it is the ONLY valid knowledge, then how did we exist successfully without it? According to positivism's assertion, that should have been impossible.
This one took me a while to understand. I had to put my self in the constructivist's view point and see if I could break positivism.
Here you seem to compare the knowledge of science, to the ability for early human beings to hunt and gather with out science. Science it a way to explain the world in which we live. This explanation of the world lead to the greatest acceleration of human knowledge and power we have ever known.

Now with out the explanatory power of science, people can and will discover rudimentary methods of survival, but they are always constrained by what is possible.
(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:To expand on that is to say some natural phenomena act in a way that is
counter intuitive. Like for instance the double slit experiment. Here is
the cannon ball experiment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcotHEhNSIk

I don't understand how this explains why intuition is rejected.

The point here was that Richard Dawkins intuition is to move out of the way. His knowledge of science prevents him from doing so although every fiber in his body is telling him that he will be damaged.

According to the laws of physics the ball will lose energy, encounter wind resistance, and not hit him in the face.
(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:That is a loaded question. It already supposes constructivism is valid, but I have yet to be shown that it is.

It's only loaded if you have some adverse reaction to the facts. Biology, from the central nervous system, to sensory input, to signal induction, the the brain, to cognition, to language, all point to the fact that humans do not process the universe on a 1:1 basis, but rather on a mediated basis that requires us to abstract all of the information into manageable chunks and then assign meaning, in rather arbitrary ways, to those discrete chunks of information, forming a massive constructed model in our mind that, as is clearly demonstrable, we can manipulate and alter at will with near impunity. All of that is irrefutable. Then we look at politics, ideology, psychology, anthropology, dramaturgy, all of them clearly illustrate that the most important thing in society is agreement and that everything we understand and take for granted is rooted in agreement and that those culutres outside of our own necessarilly come to different agreements, meaning their construction of reality itself is fundamentally different, their narrative of how things came to be this way is different and that none of them are objectively true. None of that is controversial. The leap from that information to socially constructed reality is short. But if positivism tells us that all valid knowledge comes from the sciences, and the sciences tell us all of that, how can any of that be ignored?

This reminds me of Hume. The truth is the ability to relate pieces of information to words, and ideas is what the brain is capable of doing. Science also explains this process quite will.

(22-12-2012 04:10 PM)Ghost Wrote:  
Quote:"In reading The History of Nations, we find that, like individuals, they
have their whims and their peculiarities, their seasons of excitement
and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole
communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object and go mad in its
pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with
one delusion, and run after it, till their attention is caught by some
new folly more captivating than the first." - Charles Mackay

This is the constructivist view in action.

I need to be clear. The constructivist view makes absolutely zero value judgements. It's not saying that people are good or bad, or that some things are moral and others are not. All of that is irrelevant. The only question is, what is reality and how is it arrived upon? The evidence points to the fact that it is the sum of the relationship between what is and how we interpret it. It is not what is, because we do not have direct access to that.

Quote:Because constructivism lends it's self to the crowd. What ever a society
"constructs" as truth is true. Including the idea that if society deems
deems some anti-constructivist positions as true it is, thus leading to
self refutation.

What do you mean by, it lends itself to the crowd?

In relativism, we make a distinction between Truth and truths. Truth, capital T, is objective. The Truth. Truths, small t, are the things that make up our individual constructions. Life's a bitch is a truth. Life's a gas is a truth. Life's a struggle is a truth. The difference is that truths begin and end within a very restricted cultural framework. There can be overlap between different cultures (for example, Americans, Canadians, Germans, Brazilians, Russians, Chinese and Norwegians all believe that the pursuit of unlimited growth is a good), but truths are not objective. The Truth is. But what relativism and the constructivist view point to is the notion that even if Truth exists, we cannot know it. We can only know truths.

This also doesn't mean that truths cannot be shared near universally. Almost every culture in existence has some variation of the truth, it is bad to kill people. But we all know that that is not an absolute Truth.

Furthremore, if a society says that a non-constructivist position is true, that does no constitute a self-refutation. The constructivist view holds that people can believe whatever the hell they want. But what they believe is a truth. The constructivist view itself is a truth. It is a model. It is wrong. But it is useful. The constructivist view is an observation, not a prescription.

It's trippy to think that all thoughts are constructions, including the notion that all thoughts are constructions. But that's what's what.

There is one physical reality. Brains interpret that reality in different ways, through their senses. Any interpretation may have some utility, it may reflect some aspects of reality, but science is by far the most complete interpretation we have. Science *knows* more than any other interpretation, because it constantly tests itself against actual reality, and corrects itself when it is wrong, and does so on a global scale

No matter what society does, or thinks collectively experimentation and explanations will function independent of society's whims.

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26-12-2012, 12:26 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

I'll respond in more detail when I get home, but you managed to dodge every single question (Except the intuition one. That was a very direct answer. Thank you for that). I'm happy to have this conversation with you, but I'm gonna need you to be more direct. Otherwise I'll lose interest.

Again, I implore you to ask me some questions about the constructivist view. Having read all of your responses, I get the very strong feeling that you do not entirely understand the constructivist view. It would please me very much to address any confusions you might have.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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27-12-2012, 09:18 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

Quote:Science explains her phenomenon wonderfully. I feel like you are using
this example to say that reality subjectively experienced is constructed
by the brain. I prefer the term it's interpreted. It stands to reason
that the processes by which the brain interprets sensory input is
understood by science, and recently there has been a successful mapping
of neurons of the brain.

Yes, science is wonderful. No one is debating that here.

I am not saying that. That doesn't make much sense.

It's like this. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle that can be solved several different ways. I throw all of the pieces to you and you put them together and get an image (because you can't make sense of them when they're in a heap). Someone else does it and they get a different image. Another goes it and they get a different image. None of you got the wrong image because there is no right one; as long as you avoid a non-image. If any of you look at the image (say it's of a pelican) and exclaim, "That right there is a pelican," you'd be nuts. This is the analogy for the brain. It takes all of the information and constructs something it can make sense of. That construction is not reality itself. It's just an image.

Science understands a lot of things. This is one of the things I've been pointing out quite strenuously. Science understands a lot about human cognition and there is no dissent within the ranks, the human brain strains out the bits of information that it thinks are important from the unending stream of sensory input and using those pieces, it puts together something that represents whatever is out there.

The thing is, and Plato said this thousands of years ago, we cannot do any of that except through some form of mediation. If you speak zero languages, you can't think. End of story (Just watch The Miracle Worker - Helen Keller's story). Any language that you use is itself a constructed thing. English only is what it is because of a series of agreements spanning centuries. It makes decisions about what's important and what isn't. It telescopes and limits. We use that construction to help us make other constructions. When we conduct scientific experiments, the questions we're asking are being asked in language. The results we're getting, we're getting in language. The conclusions we're making, we make in language. It's all one giant interdependent lattice of constructed ideas that form one giant construction. It's a house of cards. A damn useful one, but one nonetheless.

So to get back to your original point, science is made possible only through language. Without language, there is no science.

Quote:This is an apples to oranges comparison, according to the scientific
information preferences are due to the variation produced in
individuals. Again it's the most valid because of the the scientific
method, and peer review.

That's circular reasoning. It's valid because it's valid. Like I said, I'm not suggesting in any way shape or form that science is not valid. My question is, positivism claims that it is the ONLY valid source of knowledge. Why is that? Listing the qualities that make it valid doesn't touch that question. If the reason it's the only valid source of knowledge is the method itself and peer review, then WHY does that make it the only valid source of knowledge? I'm looking for something very specific: How does positivism support it's claim that science is the ONLY valid source of knowledge?

Quote:Here you seem to compare the knowledge of science, to the ability for
early human beings to hunt and gather with out science. Science it a way
to explain the world in which we live. This explanation of the world
lead to the greatest acceleration of human knowledge and power we have
ever known.



Now with out the explanatory power of science, people can and will
discover rudimentary methods of survival, but they are always
constrained by what is possible.

That's nonsensical.

Whatever science's role in the "acceleration of human knowledge",
the statement of positivism isn't about acceleration. It's zero sum. It
says science is the ONLY valid source of knowledge.

Science has been around for a few hundred years. Homo sapiens have been around for a hundred thousand or so. The Homo genus has been around maybe a million five, maybe two million years. If science is the ONLY valid source of knowledge, how does science explain the other two million years? How does it explain the humans living today that don't use the scientific method?

Now if you are saying that other forms of knowledge are in fact valid, are you not refuting one of the central tenets of positivism?

Quote:The point here was that Richard Dawkins intuition is to move out of the
way. His knowledge of science prevents him from doing so although every
fiber in his body is telling him that he will be damaged.



According to the laws of physics the ball will lose energy, encounter wind resistance, and not hit him in the face.

Thank you. That was a very direct answer.

I can see the value of his experiment (although I think he's overriding instinct, not intuition) but are there no other applications of intuition? Is this rejection of intuition universal? Does not the pursuit of knowledge require intuition? How does one hypothesise without intuition?

There's an excellent book from the great Canadian Humanist writer John Ralston Saul called "On Equilibrium." There's an entire chapter dedicated to intuition. I recommend it. I scanned it looking for a good sound bite, but his writing resisted it.

At any rate...

Quote:The truth is the ability to relate pieces of information to words, and
ideas is what the brain is capable of doing. Science also explains this
process quite will.

HOW does science explain that process so well?

Quote:There is one physical reality.

Quite counter-intuitively, that's actually a very controversial statement. I would like to hear support for that claim.

Quote:Brains interpret that reality in different ways, through their senses.
Any interpretation may have some utility, it may reflect some aspects of
reality, but science is by far the most complete interpretation we
have. Science *knows* more than any other interpretation, because it
constantly tests itself against actual reality, and corrects itself when
it is wrong, and does so on a global scale

Science is great. Sure. But I'm still waiting for the explanation as to why all other forms of knowledge are to be jettisoned because of science's abilities.

Furthermore, science has a number of shortcomings. I can't imagine a purely scientific world. I've dedicated my life to the arts and let me tell you, there are a number of places that science simply cannot go. I wouldn't give it up for a million bucks mind you, but I wouldn't put all of my eggs in one basket either.

Just a little example of the limitations. Science is excellent at telling us what a forest is (we don't actually know according to David Suzuki, but we have a pretty good idea) but what does it tell you about the sort of relationship that you should have with it? If another people learn to live in exquisite harmony with their forest, not because they understand taxonomic nomenclature or ecology, but because they consider the trees blood relatives, how is that less valid? Their way of life, the Amazon becomes one of the most lush and fertile places in the world as a direct result of deliberate human intervention. Our way of life, we hack it down and desertify it every day. Which one seems more reasonable?

PS: I didn't get to say this the other day. Merry Christmas, fst.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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30-12-2012, 02:33 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
I feel like this portion of the debate can go on forever and therefore isn't productive.

I'd rather ask questions at this point.

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30-12-2012, 03:20 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Cool beans, brother.

I await with excitement Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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30-12-2012, 03:31 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Does social contructionism apply to animals?

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30-12-2012, 04:00 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

Other than humans, not that we know of. While it's obviously true that many animals live socially, there is no evidence that any other species has the requisite cognitive and language skills. Without those brain functions, they would be unable to abstract the world and assign symbols to it; the cornerstone of social constructivism.

Ian Tattersal Wrote:When we speak of "symbolic processes" in the brain or in the mind, we are referring to our ability to abstract elements of our experience and to represent them with discrete mental symbols. Other species certainly possess consciousness in some sense, but as far as we know, they live in the world simply as it presents itself to them. Presumably, for them the environment seems very much like a continuum, rather than a place, like ours, that is divided into the huge number of separate elements to which we humans give individual names. By separating out its elements in this way, human beings are able constantly to re-create the world, and individual aspects of it, in their minds. And what makes this possible is the ability to form and to manipulate mental symbols that correspond to elements we perceive in the world within and beyond ourselves. Members of other species often display high levels of intuitive reasoning, reacting to stimuli from the environment in quite complex ways, by only human beings are able arbitrarily to combine and recombine mental symbols and to ask themselves questions such as "What if?"

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Matt
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30-12-2012, 08:22 PM (This post was last modified: 30-12-2012 08:39 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Well I do think that's interesting because according to some new research it does seem that some animals are quite able to do something akin to what you are exactly describing. Although at a very stymied level, say at that of a 3 year old human.




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