Essays in the History and Philosophy of Science
In the end, the kind of objective knowledge that historical andcultural sciences may achieve is precariously limited. An action canbe interpreted with objective validity only at the level of means, notends. An end, however, even a “self-evident” one, isirreducibly subjective, thus defying an objective understanding; itcan only be reconstructed conceptually based on a researcher’sno less subjective values. Objectivity in historical and socialsciences is, then, not a goal that can be reached with the aid of acorrect method, but an ideal that must be striven for without apromise of ultimate fulfillment. In this sense, one might say that theso-called “value-freedom” (Wertfreiheit) is asmuch a methodological principle for Weber as an ethical virtue that apersonality fit for modern science must possess.
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Building on the Neo-Kantian nominalism outlined above [2.1], thus,Weber’s contribution to methodology turned mostly on thequestion of objectivity and the role of subjective values inhistorical and cultural concept formation. On the one hand, hefollowed Windelband in positing that historical and cultural knowledgeis categorically distinct from natural scientific knowledge. Actionthat is the subject of any social scientific inquiry is clearlydifferent from mere behaviour. While behaviour can be accounted forwithout reference to inner motives and thus can be reduced to mereaggregate numbers, making it possible to establish positivisticregularities, and even laws, of collective behaviour, an action canonly be interpreted because it is based on a radically subjectiveattribution of meaning and values to what one does. What a socialscientist seeks to understand is this subjective dimension of humanconduct as it relates to others. On the other hand, anunderstanding(Verstehen) in this subjective sense is notanchored in a non-cognitive empathy or intuitive appreciation that isarational by nature; it can gain objective validity when the meaningsand values to be comprehended are explained causally, that is, as ameans to an end. A teleological contextualization of an action in themeans-end nexus is indeed the precondition for a causal explanationthat can be objectively ascertained. So far, Weber is not essentiallyin disagreement with Rickert.
As a cultural movement, existentialism belongs to the past. As aphilosophical inquiry that introduced a new norm, authenticity, forunderstanding what it means to be human—a norm tied to adistinctive, post-Cartesian concept of the self as practical, embodied,being-in-the-world—existentialism has continued to play animportant role in contemporary thought in both the continental andanalytic traditions. The Society for Phenomenology and ExistentialPhilosophy, as well as societies devoted to Heidegger, Sartre,Merleau-Ponty, Jaspers, Beauvoir, and other existential philosophers,provide a forum for ongoing work—both of a historical,scholarly nature and of more systematic focus—that derives fromclassical existentialism, often bringing it into confrontation withmore recent movements such as structuralism, deconstruction,hermeneutics, and feminism. In the area of gender studies Judith Butler(1990) draws importantly on existential sources, as does Lewis Gordon(1995) in the area of race theory (see also Bernasconi 2003). Matthew Ratcliffe (2008) develops an existential approach to psychopathology.
Essays on Galileo and the history and philosophy of science
"The important thing was that [Johnson] was a man of conscience. I had hardly till now encountered principles in anyone so nearly of my own age and my own sort. The alarming thing is that he took them for granted. It crossed my mind for the first time since my apostasy that the severer virtues might have some relevance to one’s own life. I say 'the severer virtues' because I already had some notion of kindness and faithfulness to friends and generosity about money -- as who has not till he meets the temptation which gives all their opposite vices new and more civil names? But it had not seriously occurred to me that people like ourselves, people like Johnson and me who wanted to know whether beauty was objective or how Aeschylus handled the reconciliation of Zeus and Prometheus, should be attempting strict veracity, chastity or devotion to duty."
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As for the socio-political dimensions of his philosophy at this stage, he seems in fact to have abandoned an earlier interest in politics, rooted in his boyhood, during this period. When Lewis, an Irishman, was very young -- under the age of eleven -- he appears to have been interested in politics. In addition to penning an essay in 1908 on the pros and cons of Irish Home Rule, the boy Lewis wrote numerous stories about Animal-Land, which, imaginatively combined fantasy and politics. These stories owed a considerable amount to Lewis’s politically-minded father. Nevertheless, after Lewis’s mother died, Lewis became less attached to his father and (perhaps as a corollary) less interested in politics. As he wrote to Greeves during the war, "if a man talks to me for an hour about golf, war & politics, I know that his mind is built on different lines from mine." Indeed, while we can only guess what Lewis’s only realist novel, simply entitled The Ulster Novel (1918), would have been like if he had finished it, we do know that throughout the latter part of his Lucretian materialist phase, Lewis maintained that if he were ever to become interested in politics, he would "probably become a nationalist" -- that is, a supporter of Irish Home Rule.
Science in Saffron Skeptical Essays on History of Science
On a more analytical plateau, all these disparate processes ofrationalization can be surmised as increasing knowledge, growingimpersonality, and enhanced control [Brubaker 1991, 32–35].First, knowledge. Rational action in one very general sensepresupposes knowledge. It requires some knowledge of the ideationaland material circumstances in which our action is embedded, since toact rationally is to act on the basis of conscious reflection aboutthe probable consequences of action. As such, the knowledge thatunderpins a rational action is of a causal nature conceived in termsof means-ends relationships, aspiring towards a systematic, logicallyinterconnected whole. Modern scientific and technological knowledge isa culmination of this process that Weber called intellectualization,in the course of which, the germinating grounds of human knowledge inthe past, such as religion, theology, and metaphysics, were slowlypushed back to the realm of the superstitious, mystical, or simplyirrational. It is only in modern Western civilization, according toWeber, that this gradual process of disenchantment(Entzauberung) has reached its radical conclusion.