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SY203 Readings - Simone.docx

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Richard Christy

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SY203 Readings Pg 26-34 Modern Social Thought and the 19th C Theories of Knowledge - Three dominant philosophies by the end of the 19th C 1. Classical Idealism a. Originated in 480 BC w/ work of Socrates and Plato b. Acted as guidelines for investigating the existence of a realm of concepts thought to be beyond the physical world c. Got its name from a branch of knowledge which believed that the most important task of philosophy was to inquire a realm whose existence could only be grasped by theoretical activity than by straightforward observation or straightforward logical reasoning d. Direct response to the very straightforward philosophical view which insisted reality was to be regarded as nothing more than what can be determined with the senses and by sense perception in relation to physical reality e. Two tendencies: first, view that only the world of physical reality exists and that knowledge of physical reality can be apprehended and brought to light only by the senses, second, took the view that the proper object of philosophical investigation were the ‘ realities’ and ‘concepts’ which involve the well-being and equality of the social and political community f. Distinction between ‘physical and natural’ things and ‘human’ things was the central starting place g. ‘Ideal’ functions: principles, practices and standards of society which relate to the system of human conduct – organized in reference to human and political things, ‘ideal’ can be described simply as anything relating to the human political community h. Three distinct characteristics: reliance on a conception of philosophy as a body of thought aimed at understanding existence by means of universal concepts, philosophical relation between knowledge of universal concepts and the knowledge of the structure of human societies as associations, reliance on a form of knowledge which attempts to develop theories of society, history and existence 2. Hegelian Idealism and the Theory of Historical Development a. Emerged in Germany with writings of Georg Hegel, known for developing a complete system of idealist framework b. Writings were central to the social and political thought of the time in several respects: forced philosophy to confront historical and social questions, acted as a theoretical background Marx’s and Engels’ economical and political works, shaped Comte’s critique of philosophy known as ‘positivism’ c. Attempted to explain human existence as a process of development d. Believed ‘ideal’ and ‘material’ realms belonged together 3. Empiricism and the Growth of the Scientific Outlook a. Empiricism = experience b. General name given to the doctrine in philosophy which holds that knowledge of the material world must be based on straightforward observation and sense perception c. Knowledge in the product of a straightforward perceptual encounter with the natural world d. Reliance on sense perception, expressed in a number of key assumptions, first assumes that things in the material world remain the same over time and are subject to observation and description, second knowledge is the straightforward grasping or apprehension of the object in the material world, third validity of observation must be given, fourth tendency to commit error in the formation of knowledge can only be reduced when we increase our reliance on observation and measurement 4. Development of Positivism a. Scientific movement which began to create reforms in the way knowledge was acquired b. Two basic premises by Comte: first speculative philosophies of knowledge would be replaced by the methods of the natural sciences, second positivism was the highest possible stage in the development of knowledge c. Stressed reliability of observation as basis for theory of knowledge d. Key characteristics: premised on the assumption that a search for universal truths of ideals be abandoned in favor of a search for law-like regularities, only legitimate objects of scientific investigation were those which were subject to observation, stress on observation, progress and reform depended on orientation to facts e. Study of politics and social inequality abandoned for study of facts PG 35-41 – Karl Marx Historical Context of Marx’s Work - Born in German Rhineland, grew up in middle class Jewish household converted to Protestantism to escape social difficulty, Marx’s father was a lawyer, Marx entered Uni of Bonn at 17 as law student, left there for Uni of Berlin where he was first introduced to Hegel - Got doctorate, unable to find academic employment, became journalist, moved to Cologne where he studied Ludwig Feuerbach, writings shaped by Hegel - Moved to Paris, read works of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, formal study of political economy and economic history, social revolution in France, started reading Engels and became friends - Left Paris for Brussels, collaborated with Engels attacking Young Hegelians for their views, Marx became involved in workers’ movement - Marx left Brussels for London, pursued economic questions, detailed analysis of capitalism, formed lifelong interest in life of industrial workers Theoretical Influences on Marx’s view of Society and History: The Shift to Materialism - Marx’s break with Hegel’s idealism philosophy, helped devise a method that was suitable to study of society and history - Introduction of materialism and the materialist outlook, saw human beings had to satisfy their everyday material needs before anything else Rejection of Hegel and Idealist Philosophy - Marx early writings were reaction to Hegel’s thinking - Turning point for Marx was when he realized that the everyday world of human experience was not an object of philosophical contemplation - Marx began to question Hegel’s philosophy - Marx work moved towards an understanding of reality and history and ultimately the material world of experience, focused his attention on social existence and economic necessity - Rejections of Hegel on four central theoretical premises o Marx took the view that the categories put forward by Hegel referred neither to concrete human activity nor physical reality, but only to abstract processes grasped as ideas o Marx took view that Hegel’s ultimate stress on reality of ideas led him to misrepresent the essential nature of human social life o Hegel thought society developed out of what he called forces of the spirit in history and the ‘actualization of the ethical’, Marx rejected this view by stating that Hegel created the illusion that inequality and human hardship were natural outcomes rather than resulting from social disadvantages o Hegel claimed human hardship and suffering originate from conscious thought rather than material obstacles, Marx thought opposite Materialism as a Theoretical Perspective - Theoretical perspective which looks at human problems by studying the real conditions of human existence - Basic pre
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