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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 Nov 3.docx

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Vanina Leschziner

Understand what an episteme is , think about thought style and cognitive style Foucault will be talking about two ways of thinking in Europe, two epistemes and ways of thinking in both times is very different. Try to understand… he goes back and forth What are the basic ways of categorizing stuff, knowledge in both periods, he will talk about many different disciplines and patterns and ways people classify knowledge, look for those things, do not get caught up in details. Look for grand patterns SOC483Y1 – November 2, 2011 Readings :  Ludwik Fleck, “How the Modern Concept of Syphilis Originated,” chapter 1, and selections from “Epistemological Conclusions from the Established History of a Concept,” chapter 2 in Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact (The University of Chicago Press, 1979), pp.1-19, 20-23, 38-51.  Michael Baxandall, selections from “The Period Eye” in Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy (Oxford University Press, 1972), pp. 29-40, 94-102. Today: Cognition Looking at it from different perspectives – two studies of one history of science and the other art history The reason we read them is not for the science or art history but they show interesting studies of more general thinking of shared activities (1) syphilis (2) people appreciating art They have different approaches but are similar in the way they show people come to think in a particular way in a given space or time which really shapes their perception of a particular thing (1) syphilis or (2) art That come from other activities: everyday life, currencies, measurements, Fleck from astrology, religion F and B show a certain cognitive schema is originating somewhere else, not in the particular under study in particular Contrast and compare the concepts they use Fleck uses “thought style or thought collective” Baxandall uses notion of cognitive style = thus they are related “Paradigm Shift” – Khun – developed paradigm shift notions which is a popular idea today to explain how science changes, how it does not change cumulatively but in growths and spurts while we come to an understanding… theory of relativity is a paradigm. Until a lot of problems start arising within that paradigm so when sufficient problems arise there is a paradigm shift. This was a revolutionary idea and still present today because in past science thought of as always growing but this paradigm shift shows it grows in spurts. Khun was Fleck’s student and thus paradigm shift comes from Fleck – his book 1935 “Genesis and development of scientific fact”  So idea of paradigm shift is developed in Fleck’s work we read FLECK 1896-1961 – physician and biologist - Notion of the “thought collective” is a really important concept for the philosophy and sociology of science so together without thought style, the collective explains how science changes over time in terms of ideas - This same idea is present in Foucault, similar way of thinking, when concepts used to explain ways of thinking “episteme” derive from Fleck’s work - Thought Collectives: group of people interacting, they share a certain way of thinking and that thought style - Thought style: similar to a paradigm (a way of thinking), an idealization structure with consequences because it demands interpretation o Ex. Of thought styles Fleck talks about: o Uses syphilis to explain: understanding has changed because our thought styles and collectives change. Those within thought style, so long as knowledge culturally bounded, scientists in different thought styles cannot understand each other so for ideas to travel from one paradigm to another depend on understanding so his study of syphilis shows maybe even if new discoveries, they cannot incorporate new findings if new thought styles o This way of thinking was revolutionary with Fleck writing in 1930s and positivism was present back then saying science always growing but something Fleck overthrew and showed it is not a constant progression o Fleck also debunks any idea of truth – the understanding that any scientific finding is agreed upon, no truth but Fleck refuses to talk about syphilis but rather concept of “syphilis” because may not be syphilis after all just how we perceive it… he shows how much it has changed over time given the thought style of each time that it kept shifting into different phenomena o Also interesting- some of the early understandings remain- though there is change there is still some constant, the early moral idea of syphilis still remains (moral failing to getting syphilis, some misbehaviour)  Over centuries we have not been able to shed that from the disease- that is interesting - Fleck was really quite beyond his time when writing, some may not seem that way to us but if you put it into context, 80 years ago, he was beyond his time - The notion of facts that to this day we think we discover facts, Fleck argues they are invented, so this is not a matter of some kind of passive observation of reality but rather an active instance of creation of a fact - Which is why he talks about syphilis concept in quotations. - He goes even further to argue viewing scientific facts as discovered is a social construction, a certain understanding of the scientific endeavour. - Every scientific fact is culturally conditioned AT the beginning of the book there is an introduction where he says we distinguish theories from facts because theories culturally mediated given a certain world view or thought style and we tend to perceive facts as definite permanent from cognition construction but that they are both subject to our ways of thinking or thought styles Fleck begins by talking about how the modern concept of syphilis originated and begins in 15 th century- Astrology was a big part of it + religion as understanding it as a punishment + this time had a lot of disease (15 century) = development of diagnosis but very confused (acc. To Fleck) But because there were so many diseases* it became more important than it used to be to try and diagnose one from another- astrology and religion influenced the beginning understanding of syphilis Fleck claims any explanation will be accepted in a society if it conforms with the prevailing thought style Zerubavel – more advanced societies relative to certain societies – more differentiation with different groups Fleck’s active and passive connections– this understanding helps understand Fleck’s view What is a thought style? Is it something within one discipline? Or is it larger? Connection with Durkheim’s collective consciousness – similar in that understanding that it goes above and beyond the individual – so Durkheim’s society has an existence in and of itself which can be said the same for the thought collective (has existence beyond just sum of individuals) Zeitgeist- spirit of the time – a general concept about ideas of a given time Thought style- so general? What are the boundaries of thought style? Within one discipline or bigger? It is hard to gauge because we are reading a case study. This and episteme Foucault – a thought style for fleck is really tied to the thought collective, just as society is not a thought collective, the thought style is the counterpart to the thought collective, that they are really associated- a thought collective creates a certain thought style or within a thought style we see a shared thought collective We can see how different thought styles influence one another – how syphilis understood- but those are different thought communities and thought styles Fleck is not Durkheim – the only thing similar is that once a certain way of thinking grows it is independent of individuals so only in that sense they are connected Thought collective- ? Zerubavel criticizes and says in c
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