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Questioning Nineteenth-Century Assumptions about Knowledge, II

Reductionism

Richard E. Lee, Immanuel Wallerstein

Publication Year: 2010

A provocative survey of interdisciplinary challenges to the concept of reductionism. During the last few decades, the fundamental premises of the modern view of knowledge have been increasingly called into question. Questioning Nineteenth-Century Assumptions about Knowledge II: Reductionism provides an in-depth look at the debates surrounding the status of “reductionism” in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities in detailed and wide-ranging discussions among experts from across the disciplines. Whether or not there is or should be a basic epistemological stance that is different in the sciences and humanities, and whether or not such a stance as exemplified by the approach to reductionism is changing, has enormous consequences for all aspects of knowledge production. Featured are an overview and subsequent discussion of this pervasive concept in the social sciences that parses reductionism into the categories of strong social constructionism and anti-essentialism, social ontology and the apathetic actor, dualisms, and individualism. Also of interest in chapters and follow up discussions are the relations between essentialism and emergentism in complex systems theory.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

PARTICIPANTS

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pp. vii-

ILLUSTRATIONS

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pp. ix-x

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FOREWORD

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pp. xi-xii

This volume is one of three in a series devoted to the theme: “Questioning Nineteenth-Century Assumptions about Knowledge.” The project was organized by Jean-Pierre Dupuy (a philosopher of science affiliated with the Centre de Recherche en Epistémologie Appliquée, Paris), Aviv Bergman (an evolutionary biologist who directs the Aviv Bergman Laboratory at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine, New York), ...

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-4

Following the 2004 meeting held at Stanford University, which dealt with “determinism,” the second of the three symposia on “Questioning Nineteenth-Century Assumptions about Knowledge” underwritten by the Gulbenkian Foundation was convened at the Maison Suger, Paris, France, 16–17 December 2005. ...

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SESSION I [Includes Discussion]

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pp. 5-56

Broadly speaking, “reductionism” is used in philosophy to refer to doctrines according to which one can explain some object by reducing it to a different, usually simpler, level—for example, the meaningful to the physical as in behaviorism, knowledge to sense data as in phenomenalism, the social to the biological as in sociobiology. ...

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SESSION II [Includes Discussion]

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pp. 57-106

The aim of this paper is to ponder a number of issues about emergence that have occupied recent philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. I will focus in particular on the concept of emergence in relation to complex (nonlinear) dynamical systems. In this context, an emergent process is said to be one that belongs to an ensemble or network of elements, arises spontaneously or self-organizes from the locally defined and globally constrained...

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SESSION III [Includes Discussion]

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pp. 107-166

Classically, a reductionist thesis posits that complex high level phenomena, structures, and processes can be reduced, as far as their scientific explanation is concerned, to underlying lower level phenomena, structures, and processes. The most paradigmatic and best-investigated example is the reduction of macroscopic thermodynamics to microscopic molecular and atomic movements...

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SESSION IV [Includes Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Aviv Bergman, and Discussion]

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pp. 167-192

I absolutely agree that the various divisions within the social sciences, the so-called disciplines, no longer have an intellectual meaning and that intellectually we should think of them as part of a single unified domain that I call historical social science. Nonetheless, there are certain techniques that are associated with the historical disciplines and I shall pretend first to be an ethnographer, and then pretend to be a traditional historian. ...

INDEX [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 193-205


E-ISBN-13: 9781438434421
E-ISBN-10: 1438434421
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438434414
Print-ISBN-10: 1438434413

Page Count: 217
Illustrations: 18 figures
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1
Series Title: Fernand Braudel Center Studies in Historical Social Science

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Dualism -- Congresses.
  • Philosophy, Modern -- 19th century -- Congresses.
  • Rationalism -- Congresses.
  • Determinism (Philosophy) -- Congresses.
  • Knowledge, Theory of -- Congresses.
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