Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, by Richard J. Bernstein

By Richard J. Bernstein

Drawing freely and expertly from Continental and analytic traditions, Richard Bernstein examines a few debates and controversies exemplified within the works of Gadamer, Habermas, Rorty, and Arendt. He argues "new dialog" is rising approximately human rationality—a new knowing that emphasizes its sensible personality and has vital ramifications either for proposal and motion.

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Additional resources for Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis

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What appears to be an anomaly or a problem that resists solution may turn out to be only an obstacle that can be overcome and explained without abandoning the prevailing paradigm. This is one reason why Kuhn thinks the appeal to falsification can be so misleading. Evidence that may appear to falsify an existing paradigm theory may turn out to be accounted for by adjusting or modifying the paradigm without -21abandoning it. 28 Nevertheless the situation may become critical when a rival paradigm is proposed, one that may be able to explain the troubling anomaly but is incompatible and incommensurable with the entrenched paradigm.

For Winch seems to be suggesting that forms of life may be so radically different from each other that in order to understand and interpret alien or primitive societies we not only have to bracket our prejudices and biases but have to suspend our own Western standards and criteria of rationality. We may be confronted with standards of rationality about beliefs and actions that are incompatible with or incommensurable with our standards. When Winch published his subsequent essay, ldquo;Understanding a Primitive Society" ( 1964), which develops the line of thought introduced in The Idea of a Social Science, he used the figure of speech of "our standards" and "their standards" of rational-27ity when speaking of modern Western society and the "primitive" society of the Azande.

But this is not the only connection that Winch made. He realized that there were analogies and subterranean connections between the type of insights that could be appropriated from Wittgenstein and those that were at the center of the tradition of interpretative sociology, especially as formulated by Max Weber (even though Winch criticizes Weber for making too many concessions to a naturalistic, scientific model of the social sciences). Winch was not only breaking new ground but was going against the mainstream of the Anglo-American understanding of the nature of the social sciences.

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