Re: unusual language [postmodernism]

Bob King (
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 13:01:51 -0400

On Fri, 11 Oct 1996, Jeffrey R Galin wrote:

> I don't think many would argue with you Bob that the epistme of Western
> culture is build on a scientific model.

Actually I was trying to say that science is based on a constructivist
model of epistemology -- to get some attention to the importance of
epistemology if we're talking epistemes! :)

Also I was trying to say (these are complex matters to talk about!)
that I think there are competing epistemologies in the West, and always
have been -- including in the monolithic modern (momo? :) Out of the
clash/interaction a kind of blend ensues, a balance of sorts, that
comprises an "episteme" -- a set of characteristics that define an era,
point towards an era's canon, etc. Gramsci's word "hegemony" works for me
pretty well here, but so does "homepage."

To me, the homepage of any episteme -- modern, medieval, pomo, etc. -- is
*always* a loosely configured and shifting alliance or "center" of basic
tenets, none of which are all that difficult to spot and name. I find it
hard to deny that constructivism is now more important and pervasive (in
the form of science) than any other competing epistemology on our current

> But, a totally scientific
> understanding of cultural change fails on a wide range of accounts to
> explain cultural shifts across the spectum of daily life, particularly in
> aesthetic pursuits.

Again, I think it's the interplay which creates the spectrum, and I'm not
arguing for a "totally scientific understanding" -- but rather for looking
at epistemologies if we're concerned about epistemes (science as a form of
constructivist epistemology).

> if science is the sole
> foundation for the current episteme, wouldn't we still be a modernist
> epoch?

I think this question gets to our difference. I think you identify
science with its positivist phase, whereas I identify science as a form of
constructivism, a form+content, material+immaterial, theory+practice,
relative+absolute kind of deal -- a complex epistemology -- "yes, there's
Truth but, Truth is, Truth changes." As Marcy pointed out, science is now
in its chaos phase or whatever -- the important point, in my read, being
that both positivism and chaos are possibilities in a constructivist

I hope some of this makes sense!