Epistemological dissonance: from classic to non-classic

The article raises the problem of contradictory development of social - philosophical discourse, from classical social paradigms to non-classical ones. The prerequisites of classical social theories are contained in the methodological guidelines of antiquity related to the onto-theological understanding of being, of being in relation to the supreme, transcendental essence. This essence is invariable, identical with itself, while the earthly being is mobile and different. But this difference was understood as a difference in relation to identity. As a result, the classical social paradigm strictly correlated with the natural science, tying the studied objects under study in a common, absolute basis, thereby eliminating the individual person. Therefore, in the non-classical social paradigm, brought about by the further development of society, the emphasis shifts to the subject of knowledge, to the relativity of truth. But the evolution of the socio-philosophical discourse does not end there.

The evolution of social research paradigms reflects the complex, counter-dictatorial development of so- cio-philosophical discourse, the starting point of which was undoubtedly the classical socio-philosophical paradigm. The formation and development of the classical social paradigm, in turn, took place in a tight correlation with the classical natural science, from which it drew naturalistic research programs congruent to the spirit of the New Age, when in secularized Europe, despite the scholasticism and mysticism, an active spirit of scientific rationalism, hard natural determinism, reductionism and epistemological absolutism. As a result, the mechanics-reductionist installations of Newton-Laplace physics were infiltrated into the field of social philosophy.

It was in the epoch of New Time that a cardinal breakthrough in epistemological problems took place, which set the epistemological optimism in all fields of knowledge, to which the great Newton made unprecedented efforts, who «tore off the veil» of mysticism from the surrounding world permeated by the great scholastic mystery and introduced nature as a huge mechanism instituted by the Divine Absolute. In place of a heavy knowledge of God, optimistic scientific knowledge has come, forming at first an ambivalent relationship between them. The golden mean in the difficulties of the cognitive process, it seemed, was found: through the discovery of the laws of nature, man will certainly come to the solution of the Divine Truth.

New time, therefore, teaches the history of philosophy, first of all, the deistic lesson of the original syncretism of religion, philosophy and science, and, secondly, the scientist - the philosopher - spiritual (one person) firmly believes that science is called (Absolute) describe and explain the world according to the laws of its own existence. The basis of this model is a systematic and holistic explanation of the world, which is based on a deep sense of the natural orderliness of the world order, the presence of harmony and order in it (accessible to rational comprehension). The natural order prevails in the world, determined by determination chains, the knowledge of which a person should be engaged in. Moreover, tremendous progress in the development of natural science is increasingly contributing to the legitimization of the idea of a universal order and steadfast rationalism.

The prerequisites for such epistemological intentions were laid in the ancient tradition when metaphysics arose, and, appealing to the term, it was metaphysics that began to think about being «from the point of view of reality and in relation to existing: being is thought of as another being - the highest being or super- existing» [1; 5]. And it was precisely this transcendental being that was viewed as providing and determining the natural order. «It is precisely because being is thought of as super-existent, philosophy from the very beginning is established as onto-theology, or metaphysics» [1; 5].

Any ontological difference was understood in relation to identity. So, the first Ionian philosophers were looking for common beginnings of the world, the primary elements of nature, from which the whole is born. Plato, creating the dichotomy of the world of Eidos (the intelligible) and the world of material things (sensual), subjected the changeable, imperfect phenomena of sensual reality to the unchanging, indestructible, ideal, speculative world, thereby establishing philosophy as a science of Ideas, as metaphysics neutralizing physics.

Aristotle contrasted Plato's transcendence philosophy with the philosophy of integrity, according to which various states of nature are considered as a transition to realization, teleologically, and the essence of a thing is known through substantial signs. If Plato is trying to tame the ontological distinction «by taming by means of a transcendent Unified, serving as a cause and reason, then Aristotle assigns the distinction to the role of specification within integrity» [1; 19].

Thus, ontology with the coherent term «metaphysics» initially thought of being as a materiality and essence, which are self-identical and unchanged with all their empirical differences. The substance is substantial. At the same time, it distinguishes itself in its identity. In other words, such a distinction indicates a preliminary identity, to which it is subordinated and which determines what exists in being. Therefore, first the identity, and then the difference. This is a difference in relation to identity.

However, the difference in relation to identity is the difference between the things established by man, this difference is not ontological. But since ancient philosophers believed in the cosmic order, any ontological change and distinction threatened to undermine it. Hence their desire to «tame» the empirical difference.

In Hegel's philosophy, the formal Aristotelian distinction, brought to its logical end, contradiction, from a subordinate position is identified with the beginning of being as a substance and with the formation of a subject, which leads to the completion of Aristotelian metaphysics of substance and subject. In «The Science of Logic» (as indicated by the name of the work) Hegel thinks being as thinking and the basis of being.

According to M. Heidegger, a fair remark, all metaphysics thinks of being as a foundation, existing as founded, and the difference between being and existing as the difference between basis and based. Metaphysics goes back to God, to onto-theology.

The reductionist study of sociality in classical metaphysics was accompanied by a link to some supreme organized and organizing order (Cosmos, God, Nature). The ideal of sociality was association. Happiness in the union — the state as a family in Confucius, the state as a city in Plato, the state as an organism in Al- Farabi, etc. This sociality is around something common and unified.

T.H. Kerimov identifies two reasons for this:

  1. highlighting the natural causes of sociality;
  2. objectivity of the natural sciences.

As a result, a type of theoretical consciousness arises in social cognition, based not on tradition or faith, but on research results that are not foreign to criticality. True, this criticality in the sociology of Comte, Durkheim, and Weber is within the cognitive procedure, and does not affect the characteristics of the subject of knowledge. After all, the main principle of sociology of Kont is to get to know society in a naturalistic, objective way. On the one hand, such a gnoseological approach allowed one to free oneself from metaphysical distortions and simplifications, but, on the other hand, this ambivalent gives rise to even more restriction caused by excessive objectification of society. Comte uses the expression «the natural laws of society», Simmel speaks of «social forms», and Durkheim speaks of «social facts». «In a strange way, precisely when sociology is distinguished as a private and autonomous (from metaphysics) discipline with its subject (with its truth and essence of this subject) and corresponding methods, it turns out to be in the power of metaphys- ics» [2; 10]. True, now sociology refers not to the supreme transcendental order, but to the social Cosmos, to the order that is invisibly present in society itself (by the way, the word «cosmos» in Greek means «order»). And all variants of human existence in society are only particular cases of the social cosmos. Thus, we are talking about the self-sufficiency of the social, as, indeed, in the metaphysical (ontological) concept it was about the self-sufficiency of metaphysics.

In all the theories of classical social discourse, as already noted, there is an idea of the priority of the general over the private, of society over individual social reality, up to its elimination. Congruently, this subject of research is viewed as a social system that has a strict social structure, represented in the form of social institutions and realized through social facts. We are also talking about common methods and methods of social research, and the role of the social theorist was reduced to the role of a missionary to humanity: «An essential feature of classical philosophy is its enlightenment pathos. Each thinker, putting forward this or that system of rational, ethical or aesthetic norms, did not speak on his own behalf, but, as it were, on behalf of reason as such, into whose secrets he managed to penetrate. Their author felt himself the monopoly owner of the true evidences that he had to convey to an undeveloped, limited mass, immersed in worldly anxieties and concerns» [3; 74].

According to the classical paradigm, social structures dominate in front of lively communication. The classical paradigm seeks to «theoretically embrace all aspects of social life in a single logically consistent system, which is considered as a kind of cast from the objective relations of reality itself» [4; 97].

The concepts of «social system», «social structure» exist in absolute isolation from their carriers. Ambivalent, as it turned out, the classical paradigm asserts the identity of the subjects of social sciences with the objects of nature. E. Durkheim proposes to consider social facts as things. Sociology declares itself the science of social facts.

Marx formulates the materialistic understanding of history, thereby simplifying the historical process and reduces it only to the economic factor acting as a natural one, legitimizing the iron order of social development. «The paradigm of Marxism, which links it with a religious world outlook, is the recognition of the existence of the ultimate goal of development, a global historical perspective, a kind of absolute truth, potentially contained in the very objective reality, in its laws. Knowledge of these objective laws, according to Marxists, allows us to make history predictable» [5; 549]. (However, it is worth noting that the understanding of Marxist sociology is twofold. This interpretation deals with dogmatically understood Marxism. As for non-dogmatic Marxism, it also requires special consideration and discussion).

It does not change the classical tradition and structural functionalism, which extrapolates natural connections and relations to social ones. The isomorphism of the structural and functional properties of natural and social objects is affirmed. Man is a «code» of the natural mechanism, an element of the natural environment, abstract and faceless.

There is a clear disposition of the subject and object of knowledge. Own social position of the researcher is eliminated due to its undeniable limitations. Such an owner of an objective view, a scientist, has a monopoly on truth by virtue of the absoluteness of his position.

In order to achieve and as a necessary condition for achieving a firm objectivity of social cognition, various factors of a spiritual, subjective order are also subject to elimination. Religious, political, and psychological factors are eliminated from the process of the formation of social theories. Moreover, the contextuality of any knowledge that represents the main value of the research is excluded.

The categorical apparatus of the classical social paradigm and the methodology of knowledge are strict, unambiguous and universal, which gives the right to speak about methodological monism. From the standpoint of modern epistemology, idealism is evident in the striving of classical social theory for objectivity as compliance with the facts and exclusion of any external conditions for their appearance and formation.

«Social» was identified as a strict order of interaction between people, as a special force affecting society and at the same time existing independently of people, transcendental and transcendental. «A philosopher, having such a «social» at hand, could plunge any individual phenomenon of human life into some large structure and generalize it, measure and weigh there, and then also present this generalization as an explanation, for example, of a human person» [6; 15].

Thus, the classical social paradigm could in no way position itself as a socio-philosophical discourse with its claim to absolute truth. But the most «interesting» is that it was not focused on changing the studied social reality, surprisingly trying to achieve a good final historical goal.

The cognitive paradox of classical social cognition was discovered by Max Weber, who changed the perspective of research, making a bet in social life not on an abstract social individual, but on a meaningful acting, sharpened on his own spirit, manifested in social actions. Therefore, it is not society that defines individuals, but, on the contrary, an individual; his action forms society. Social actions are meaningful, motivated actions of people to achieve certain goals. Weber attempts to classify social actions by distinguishing:

  • purposeful, i.e. aimed at achieving a firmly defined goal;
  • value-rational, i.e. carried out in the mode of spiritual values;
  • affective, i.e. based on feelings, emotions, affects;
  • traditional, i.e. actions out of habit, according to established traditions.

According to the philosopher-sociologist, in social development the tendency of purpose-rational action intensifies, a vivid example of which is the emergence of a capitalist society in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries with its panrationalism in all spheres of social life, both economic and spiritual, including religious (Protestantism - rational religion). Weber stresses that it is the spirit of rationalism that generates new socioeconomic relations. The philosopher creates a so-called understanding sociology, aimed at the study of society from their actions, focused on other people. So, society as an abstraction does not exist, it is always concrete. And this concreteness concerns, in particular, their soul-spirit-mental states, which is explicitly present in the philosophy of existentialism.

M. Weber, one of the first social thinkers, began to understand that traditional philosophy looked at human existence as if from above, from a bird's-eye view, which, undoubtedly, allows to outline the contours of human life, but, alas, only contours. Traditional philosophy artificially tore up, scattered human existence, then to «sew» it in a harmonious «pattern of order», but «it was not sewn where it was torn, treated not where it was broken, looked for where it was lost» [6; 22].

This was the impetus for the emergence of another type of socio-philosophical discourse - non-classical social paradigm. The reasons for the formation of a non-classical social paradigm are associated both with intrascientific changes and with the influence of the context, first of all, the context of the philosophy of science. These reasons include a new vision of social reality as unstable and variable, a change in the ideals and norms of science, a pressing need to consider the development of science as the embodiment of the active activity of a socio-historical subject. The development of non-classical paradigm was also influenced by scientific achievements, for example, the change of the classical deterministic picture of the world with the probabilistic-statistical picture, the development of general and particular scientific information theories. Within the framework of the non-classical social paradigm, such theories emerged as social phenomenology, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, exchange theory, and a number of other theories.

Non-classical social paradigm «understands» society as a set of individual actions. The norms of functioning and development of society are divided. In the study of society takes into account its variability, nonlinear development, disequilibrium. The values of society do not correspond to the socialization of existing social actors.

The social theorist should be aware that he is part of the society being studied, his position is not absolute, the field of study is limited to the research interests themselves. At the same time, reflection of the means and methods of cognition is necessary, and also, in the words of P. Bourdieu, «objectification of the subject of objectification ... The process of objectification is aimed at explicating everything that is contained, remaining unnoticed, in integrating the researcher, first, into the common social space ; secondly, in the field of specific production; and, thirdly, in the scholastic universes ...» [7; 10, 11].

It should be noted that in the non-classical social paradigm the idea of multiplicity, complementarity of descriptions of reality and research methods arises. According to this idea, social reality can be thought of in numerous ways, each of which has its own «observer».

Social theory is no longer seen as a one-to-one reflection of social reality, as a simple description of experimental data; it is understood as simplification, idealization, rationalization. Social theories in the framework of the non-classical paradigm create a system of concepts through which social theorists look at the world and, in fact, create this world. The interpretation of events proposed by social theorists transforms both their own self-awareness and changes the script in the course of the action.

The main goal and value of social cognition is to achieve relative truth. The classical paradigm focuses on the moment of social stability, on social statics, and the non-classical paradigm emphasizes the relativity of any social institutions, schemes of social activity, considering social processes from the standpoint of dynamics. The understanding comes that the study of society and human interactions is an endless process that does not fit into the settings of classical epistemology.

Thus, between the classical and non-classical social paradigms there is a cognitive dissonance caused by the complexity of social reality and prepared, in turn, the post-non-classical social paradigm based on the understanding of society as a complex unpredictable system based on orderly chaos. In society, there is a qualitative increase in the uncertainty of many human and social realities. In the «elusive society», there are reflexive actors. There is a complication of the structure of social reality, increasing its integration. Homogeneous social space is transformed into a polystructural one, in which there are many local centers of activity. The national-state organization of social life is being eroded under the influence of the global processes of modern times.



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  4. Giddens, A. (1990). The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990.
  5. Rahmatyllin, R.Iy. (2013). O metafizicheskikh osnovaniiakh vneistoricheskoho v prave [About metaphysical foundations of the out-historical in law]. Molodoi uchenyi - Young scientist, 11, 549-552 [in Russian].
  6. Kemerov, V.E. (1996). Vvedenie v sotsialnuiu filosofiiu [Introduction to social philosophy]. Moscow: Aspect Press [in Russian].
  7. Bourdieu, P. (2005). Vvedenie v sotsiolohiiu sotsialnykh nauk: obieektivatsiia subieekta obieektivatsii [Introduction to the sociology of social sciences: the objectification of the subject of objectification]. Sotsiolohiia pod voprosom. Sotsialnye nauki v Poststrukturalistskoi perspektive - Sociology in question. Social Sciences in a Post-Structural Perspective, 9-15. Moscow: Praksis [in Russian].
Year: 2019
City: Karaganda
Category: History