Social constructivism vs Positivism
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21-12-2012, 05:14 PM (This post was last modified: 21-12-2012 09:02 PM by fstratzero.)
Social constructivism vs Positivism
Time to flesh out both positions and try to demonstrate the truth of either one or both of them.

Social constructivism

Social constructivism holds that truth is constructed by social processes, is historically and culturally specific, and that it is in part shaped through the power struggles within a community. Constructivism views all of our knowledge as "constructed," because it does not reflect any external "transcendent" realities (as a pure correspondence theory might hold). Rather, perceptions of truth are viewed as contingent on convention, human perception, and social experience. It is believed by constructivists that representations of physical and biological reality, including race, sexuality, and gender are socially constructed.

Giambattista Vico was among the first to claim that history and culture were man-made. Vico's epistemological orientation gathers the most diverse rays and unfolds in one axiom – verum ipsum factum – "truth itself is constructed". Hegel and Marx were among the other early proponents of the premise that truth is, or can be, socially constructed. Marx, like many critical theorists who followed, did not reject the existence of objective truth but rather distinguished between true knowledge and knowledge that has been distorted through power or ideology. For Marx scientific and true knowledge is 'in accordance with the dialectical understanding of history' and ideological knowledge 'an epiphenomenal expression of the relation of material forces in a given economic arrangement'.

Positivism

Positivism is a philosophy of science based on the view that in the social as well as natural sciences, information derived from sensory experience, and logical and mathematical treatments of such data, are together the exclusive source of all authoritative knowledge. Positivism assumes that there is valid knowledge (truth) only in scientific knowledge. Obtaining and verifying data that can be received from the senses is known as empirical evidence. This view holds that society operates according to general laws like the physical world. Introspective and intuitional attempts to gain knowledge are rejected. Though the positivist approach has been a recurrent theme in the history of Western thought, the concept was developed in the modern sense in the early 19th century by the philosopher and founding sociologist, Auguste Comte. Comte argued that society operates according to its own quasi-absolute laws, much as the physical world operates according to gravity and other absolute laws of nature.

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22-12-2012, 01:17 AM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

I'm glad you brought up race. Fact. Biologists have proved incontrovertibly that there is no such thing as race. In terms of genetics, it is utterly meaningless. Race is 100% a social construction (and more importantly, one that is not shared universally among humans). But when we try to deconstruct the ideology of race, hegemony kicks in to try and re-establish the common sense view of, "Of course there is race." Unfortunately, the common sense view is utterly insupportable. This is but one example of how fabricated notions like race are viewed as self-evident truths.

Gender is another example. Gender assignment is often arbitrary and incorrect just as often. Then there's the very idea that humans require gender roles. Here is an example of a family challenging that part of the ideology of gender, and the consequent backlash of people trying to re-assert the ideology (like the rocket science team at The View).




The first person to suggest socially constructed reality was actually Plato through his allegory of the cave. That's still taught, some 2 500 years later. Because he got it right.

Physiologically, as well as in terms of linguistics and semiotics, it is an incontrovertible fact that human cognition is a system whereby external stimuli (which are themselves just stimuli and not reality somehow magically entering our bodies) are transmitted to the brain via signal induction, that the brain then processes these signals and abstracts them, then assigns discrete mental symbols to those abstraction, a process that facilitates both thought and language, two things that cannot function without one another.

Fact. We do not understand the world on a 1:1 basis. Our understanding is mediated.

The process through which we assign these symbols is almost entirely arbitrary. Members of the same society agree on these arbitrary decisions, which allows them to share both thought and language. Other societies may very well, and often do, agree on entirely different arbitrary decisions. The important bit is that abstractions, but definition, are not the thing they represent. All manner of information is left out for various reasons. This is why Box states that all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Verum ipsum factum. Love it.

So question number one. Why is scientific knowledge the only valid knowledge? Part two is, how does science explain two million years of successful humans on the planet prior to the knowledge of science? How could we have survived with invalid knowledge?

Question number two. What is the difference between positivism and empiricism?

Question number three. For what reason is intuition rejected?

Question number four. Why is social constructivism rejected in favour of positivism, when biology and the social sciences both support social constructivism?

Question number five. What is positivism's response to humanism?

Question number six. Setting aside the fact that you embrace positivism, why do you feel that it is important to deny socially constructed reality?

Please feel free to ask me any and all questions about the constructivist view. This thread is an exploration of both ideas. I don't want the entire war to be waged on your turf as it were.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-12-2012, 01:36 AM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
I'd like clarification on the whole "race" term.

When thought up, was race supposed to have been the term "breed" applied to humans? Domestic dogs are all one species, but with hundreds of breeds.
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22-12-2012, 08:35 AM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  So question number one. Why is scientific knowledge the only valid knowledge? Part two is, how does science explain two million years of successful humans on the planet prior to the knowledge of science? How could we have survived with invalid knowledge?

Humans have practiced science for thousands of years. Animal tracking, weather prediction, astronomical prediction, medicine have all been done scientifically by various groups. Not reductionist science, but observational, fact-based science.

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22-12-2012, 10:57 AM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, Chas.

That's a bit of a cop out for two reasons. 1 - The scientific method is only a few hundred years old and positivism younger than that. 2 - While many cultures in the last 2 million years may have employed somerhing analagous to science, many did not. The question is about those peoples. So how does positivism explain those socieites that were successful without science?

Hey, Pool.

I think part of the problem is that it is fuzzy. A clear sign that something is purely ideological is when people say "of course it's true" but cannot begin to explain why. Clear sign that it's received wisdom.

Breed too is a fuzy term that really applies to other animals and flora. It's often used pejoratively. I for example am considered a half breed by some.

The biggest thing about race is that it denotes some sort of absolute difference, when really, there is none. Genetically there is more diversity within the so-called races than between them. What constitutes a race is fuzzy and often arbitrary. The morphological differences are merely the result of genetic drift and, as I am proof of, are shattered instantly by gene flow. There is no genetic basis for the notion of race. It is an invention of the mind.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-12-2012, 03:11 PM (This post was last modified: 22-12-2012 03:21 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, fst.

I'm glad you brought up race. Fact. Biologists have proved incontrovertibly that there is no such thing as race. In terms of genetics, it is utterly meaningless. Race is 100% a social construction (and more importantly, one that is not shared universally among humans). But when we try to deconstruct the ideology of race, hegemony kicks in to try and re-establish the common sense view of, "Of course there is race." Unfortunately, the common sense view is utterly insupportable. This is but one example of how fabricated notions like race are viewed as self-evident truths.

Gender is another example. Gender assignment is often arbitrary and incorrect just as often. Then there's the very idea that humans require gender roles. Here is an example of a family challenging that part of the ideology of gender, and the consequent backlash of people trying to re-assert the ideology (like the rocket science team at The View).

We agree on these points.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teyvcs2S4mI

(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  The first person to suggest socially constructed reality was actually Plato through his allegory of the cave. That's still taught, some 2 500 years later. Because he got it right.

Physiologically, as well as in terms of linguistics and semiotics, it is an incontrovertible fact that human cognition is a system whereby external stimuli (which are themselves just stimuli and not reality somehow magically entering our bodies) are transmitted to the brain via signal induction, that the brain then processes these signals and abstracts them, then assigns discrete mental symbols to those abstraction, a process that facilitates both thought and language, two things that cannot function without one another.

Fact. We do not understand the world on a 1:1 basis. Our understanding is mediated.

The process through which we assign these symbols is almost entirely arbitrary. Members of the same society agree on these arbitrary decisions, which allows them to share both thought and language. Other societies may very well, and often do, agree on entirely different arbitrary decisions. The important bit is that abstractions, but definition, are not the thing they represent. All manner of information is left out for various reasons. This is why Box states that all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Verum ipsum factum. Love it.

Science is done in all languages, including mathematics, which means it is not constrained what so ever on language alone.


(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  So question number one. Why is scientific knowledge the only valid knowledge?
Simple it's the most robust body of knowledge we have. Through the scientific method, and peer review we will always whittle away the false hoods, 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.
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Part two is, how does science explain two million years of successful humans on the planet prior to the knowledge of science? How could we have survived with invalid knowledge?

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.
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Question number two. What is the difference between positivism and empiricism?

Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience. Where as positivism includes non intuitive exploration of the world through mathematics, logic, and the scientific method.
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Question number three. For what reason is intuition rejected?

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

(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Question number four. Why is social constructivism rejected in favour of positivism, when biology and the social sciences both support social constructivism?

That is a loaded question. It already supposes constructivism is valid, but I have yet to be shown that it is.

(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Question number five. What is positivism's response to humanism?
That is a good question, and I am ignorant to how the two views contrast but I did find a book on it and will take some time to read it. After all I can not honestly reply with out doing some research.

(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Question number six. Setting aside the fact that you embrace positivism, why do you feel that it is important to deny socially constructed reality?

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.

"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

That is to say any random act of delusion become true as long as the entire society believes it as so.
(22-12-2012 01:17 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Please feel free to ask me any and all questions about the constructivist view. This thread is an exploration of both ideas. I don't want the entire war to be waged on your turf as it were.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
I will.

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22-12-2012, 03:39 PM (This post was last modified: 22-12-2012 04:05 PM by fstratzero.)
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
So how does a constructivist determine objective fact from subjective opinion.

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The atheist is a man who destroys the imaginary things which afflict the human race, and so leads men back to nature, to experience and to reason.
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22-12-2012, 04:10 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

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.





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!)

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 false
hoods, 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?

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.

Quote:Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes
only or primarily from sensory experience. Where as positivism includes
non intuitive exploration of the world through mathematics, logic, and
the scientific method.

Very well.

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.

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?

Quote:That is a good question, and I am ignorant to how the two views contrast
but I did find a book on it and will take some time to read it. After
all I can not honestly reply with out doing some research.

Fair enough. And I salute you for your very honest answer.

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.

Quote:Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves. Here's Tom with the weather.
-Bill Hicks

This has been enjoyable so far. Again, I encourage you to ask me questions so that this isn't just about me questioning you and you defending yourself. I am more than happy to have this discussion on home ice.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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22-12-2012, 04:13 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
Hey, fst.

Quote:So how does a constructivist determine objective fact from subjective opinion.

Well, that doesn't really apply. Because there are no objective facts in the constructivist view.

I'd answer in more detail, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know how to.

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Matt
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22-12-2012, 04:17 PM
RE: Social constructivism vs Positivism
(22-12-2012 04:13 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, fst.

Quote:So how does a constructivist determine objective fact from subjective opinion.

Well, that doesn't really apply. Because there are no objective facts in the constructivist view.

I'd answer in more detail, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know how to.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt


I'm positive you could construct something. Drinking Beverage

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