Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Main idea's in Claude Levi-Strauss theory:
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Robert Merton belongs to the functional paradigm in sociology and in the "Structure of Society and Anomie" goes out to some extent against Parsons and represents a critical current that accepts the functional assumptions about the social system and dynamics and points out shortcomings that the social structure brings with it.
Anatomy according to Merton - This is a situation where there is no fit between the norms and the values, this mismatch will create the social problems he presents in the article. (Unlike Durkheim who led the interest in anomie).
Merton’s explanation is structural, he tries to say how people will react to what is happening in the structure. There are certain norms that limit the ways in which we will reach the goal, there may be a contradiction between the norms and the values, there may be a change in values but there is not enough change in the norms, technical norms may be used - the goal sanctifies the means. In American society there is a growing change, the technical norms are the effective way to reach the goal, for this Merton gives the example of sports scholarships.
American society is moving according to Merton to a state where the goal sanctifies the means, the crooks are valued, they manage to fulfill the values of the company and reach the goals.
Merton gives in "Structure of Society and Anomie" a long example of the sanctification of the values of success in American society, each of us can be a millionaire, but in fact there is an anomie - the means today do not really allow to reach the goal and yet American society tries to convey the message that anyone can succeed.
Different Patterns of Individual Adaptation:
Society according to Merton is made up of a group of individuals, although Merton divides them into socio-economic classes this is his view of society. The emphasis on the individual increases the functional aspect in him. According to the different position of each individual in the social structure there is a greater chance of a certain adaptation. Society puts pressure on everyone, some can reach a high status and some not, according to the social position there is a high probability that the individual will react in a certain way.
Conformity - In order for society to be stable, the majority must be in this group, these are the people who work hard, take advantage of opportunities by conventional means, not necessarily to say that they will succeed in achieving goals.
Innovation - stems from anomie, it's finding new ways because there are no existing ways, Merton claims that people are much more criminal than we think, the question is how much. He is referring here to white-collar crimes - upper and middle class, for the lower class it is an organized crime that brings social prestige. For Merton the people themselves are fine, the problem is in the functional structure, the class structure is not really open and most crime will take place in the lower class. Ceremonies - Bureaucratic people, Merton says most of them will be from the middle class because there is an education for certain values. Since they are middle class they will not reach the goals, they act according to the norms but do not really try to reach the goals
Abandonment - Homeless people, nomads, drug addicts, etc. are a foreign element in society and since they do not take part in the system of norms and values of society they are not really part of it, their adaptation is private and isolated, most of them will be from the lower class.
Rebellion - takes the individuals out of the social structure, they do not accept the norms and offer an alternative, these are immigrant classes, middle / lower class who rise in social hierarchy, they are marked as traitors in society, there is an opening to talk about change, in the future they can organize groups The future in the social structure.
Criticism – Merton’s critique of functionalism is great but it does not offer an alternative, it is in the structure of Parsons but leaves an opening for future discussion.
Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo is a classic book by British anthropologist Mary Douglas, and is considered one of the most important works in anthropological literature in the 20th century.
For a short version see Purity and Danger - short summary
"Purity and Danger" deals with impurity and dirt from an anthropological point of view and includes an analysis of rituals, religiosity and lifestyles that challenge, according to Douglas, Western perceptions of pollution, while trying to show how these perceptions are understood from a cultural and historical context. At the heart of the book is Douglas' question: Why do cultures attach certain importance to certain things, while other things are considered so polluted that they are taboo? In an attempt to answer this question, Douglas traces the laws of impurity and purity of Zaire tribes while comparing them to Jewish laws of kashrut in the Book of Leviticus. Douglas' main argument in the book is that what counts as dirt in a given society is everything that is considered out of place (food is not dirty by nature, but food stains on clothes are considered dirt; dirt is not dirty unless it enters the house and so on.
One of the main ideas of “Purity and Danger” is " Secular Defilement", according to which modern hygiene practices are not structurally different from the "primitive" ones. In "Purity and Danger" Mary Douglas first proposed the idea that the kosher laws of the Jews were not primitive health regulations as is commonly thought or arbitrary rules expressing the Jews' commitment to God. Instead, Douglas argued that kosher rules reinforce symbolic boundaries of Jewish culture. Kashruth laws are in fact part of the system of diagnoses and symbols that Jewish society has created to distinguish between the underlying categories, such as purity-impurity, good-evil; The exceptions are the unclean. Prohibited foods according to Halacha (Jewish law) were those that did not fit into any defined category. For example, the place of pigs in the natural order is not unequivocal because they are hoofed but not live, so they "break" the sorting criterion. Douglas therefore concludes that impurity is an expression of anomaly and disorder, and one of the ways to deal with unusual phenomena that cause a person noticeable discomfort is through the removal of the anomalous object and its definition as unclean.
Douglas tries to clarify the differences between holy, unclean and defiled in different cultures and times in the world. To understand impurity she takes a structuralist approach, following in the footsteps of Emil Durkheim and Claude Levy-Strauss who have explored culture as a system that reflects the universal nature of human thinking. Douglas states that impurity is the result of transgressing the boundaries of order, going beyond the boundaries of sociocultural organization. Another distinction found in “Purity and Danger” is the connection between the personal dimension and the public-political dimension. According to her, rituals that express anxiety about the body's perforations - blood, pus, semen, etc. - stem from the desire to protect the political and social unity of a minority group. According to her, the Jews' concern for the integrity of the physical body reflects the threat they felt to their bodies.
According to Douglas, modern perception is not pollution-oriented (at most pollution is perceived as a matter of aesthetics, hygiene or ethics and the only problem it can create is discomfort). In contrast to tribal perceptions among tribes where there is no “differentiation” and everything is one percent in another, the infection is perceived as a sin.
"Purity and Danger" was inspired by the work of Emile Durkheim such as Elementary Forms of Religious Life, the Sacred and the Profane or "The Genesis of the Notion of the Totemic Principle or Mana" and was itself inspiration for works such as "Powers of Horror" by psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva.
In his major work “Conjectures and Refutations” philosopher Karl Popper seeks to distinguish between science and virtual science - between an empirical method and a method that uses observations and experiments, but does not meet scientific criteria. For Popper theories such as Marxism, individual psychology, and psychoanalysis impersonate the sciences, but have more in common with primitive myths than with science. These theories are descriptive and their believers have easily found corroborations for them. According to Popper, any case can be interpreted according to these theories and hence their weakness. He compares them to Einstein's theory of relativity. Every form of human behavior, so every behavior validates them. Einstein's predictions involved risk - if the observation proves that the phenomenon does not exist, then the theory is unfounded. This is in contrast to the previous three theories, which are consistent with every form of human behavior, so that every behavior validates them.
Popper arrives at a number of conclusions:
- · Confirmations can be obtained for almost any theory, if only one seeks such.
- · Valid confirmation is only confirmation of a forecast that involves risk.
- · A good scientific theory is one that forbids the occurrence of certain things.
- · A theory that no event can refute is not scientific.
- · A real test of a theory is an attempt to disprove or contradict it.
- · Confirmatory evidence is only that obtained in an unsuccessful attempt to disprove the theory.
- · Adding an ad-hoc reinterpretation to a theory in order to succeed in confirming it destroys its scientific status.
For Popper the criterion for determining the scientific status of a theory is the possibility of contradicting or refuting or examining it. This criterion comes to separate the claims of the empirical sciences from the other claims = the "delimitation problem" - whose solution is the key to solving most of the fundamental problems of philosophy as a science.
The "Induction Problem": According to Hume There is no possibility of inferring theories or providing them with a rational justification from observations. This is because observations give an idea only of what is actually observed. Based on what appears to us to be imagination, is allowed to affect us.
Recurrence cannot be absolute, but cases with similarities to each other. Hence - cold recurrence from a certain point of view. Hence - there must always be a point of view first and only after a recurrence. That is - not similar events but similar interpretations.
Popper argues that scientific theories are not the essence of observations but inventions - hypotheses that must be put to the test and rejected if they do not fit the observations.
Observation is a selective matter, task-dependent, interest-based, point of view. Objects can be classified and they become similar or different as needed.
Every living thing has innate expectations but they may be misguided. One of them is the tendency to look for regularity. The tendency to look for regularity leads to dogmatic thinking and behavior, to search for regularities even when they are not. Experience and maturity may produce a careful and critical and not necessarily dogmatic approach. The dogmatic approach is related to the attempt to verify laws and patterns by attempting to blame them, even to the point of ignoring rebuttals.The critical approach is willing to examine them and even contradict them. Hence - critical approach = scientific approach. Dogmatic approach = imaginary scientific approach. The critical approach is directed against dogmatic beliefs.
Hence, science must begin with a critique of myths. Theories are applied not as examples, but with the challenge of discussing and improving them. It is an approach of insight, rational. The most rational procedure for explaining phenomena is trial and error - hypothesis and refutation. The most competent theory is arrived at by refuting less qualified theories.
From Popper's conclusions in Conjectures and Refutations:
- · Induction - Inference based on many observations, is a myth.
- · Science works through hypotheses and rushes to draw conclusions.
- · Observations and repeated attempts are used as a test for hypotheses, attempts to refute them.
- · The need for a delimitation criterion, which only the inductive method can provide, reinforces the erroneous belief in induction.
- · The perception of such an inductive method, as the principle of possibility of verification, means poor delimitation.
- · Induction gives theories only a degree of reasonableness and uncertainty.
The logical problem of induction stems from (a) The discovery of a day that a law cannot be justified by ignition or experiment, (b) From the fact that science proposes and uses rules. (C) The principle of empiricism according to which only observation or experiment can confirm or reject claims.
According to Popper, there is no conflict between these principles - science accepts a law or theory as a temporary acceptance only, for experience. They can be rejected on the basis of new evidence without necessarily abandoning the previous evidence that motivated us to accept the theory or law in the first place. According to Hume - it is not possible to prove a theory from observation arguments, but it can be refuted.
Why is it likely that undisguised claims are preferable to hidden claims? - because un-refuted theories can still be true.
- · The demarcation problem — how to distinguish between science and magic.
- · The problem of the rationality of the scientific process and the place of observation in this process.
- · The problem of rationality arises when we accept theories for scientific and practical purposes.
Scientists, Popper concludes “Conjectures and Refutations”, are looking for theories that are costly and unreasonable. But the only thing they can do is to seek to confirm and not to verify.
Sunday, January 3, 2021
Readerly and writerly (or lisibile and scriptable.) texts are two opposite terms identified with cultural scholar Roland Barthes and his post-structuralist theory. Barthes’ theory of readerly and writerly texts is presented and illustrated in detail in his book S / Z (analysis of Balzac's story "Sarrasine"). The proposed distinction is between a "readable" text - a bourgeois text that meets the reader's expectations, and a "writable" text - an innovative and provocative text that does not meet conventions and problematizes the relation to the world described.
The readerly text presents itself as reflecting reality as it is, and invites the reader to a passive, receptive and devoted reading to the author's voice. It is the realistic, classic text that describes existing things and creates communication with the reader. This text addresses cultural codes and conventions shared by the author and the reader. It can be read easily and with pleasure, because it matches the classic narrative structure with which the reader identifies
The writerly text, on the other hand, highlights the gap and seam between the text and the world, thereby activating the reader to active reading, to the creative activity of writing the text through reading. The writerly text creates resistance to passive and automatic reading of its meaning. This happens because the writerly text does not allow the reader to connect to the position of the subject to which he is accustomed. This text creates in the reader a crisis of representation in relation to the world described. As a result, the world is perceived as insecure - a world that does not provide the protection and quiet of the bourgeois taste offered by the "readerly text".
Barth's Model: Roland Barth's model belongs to the semiotic models. Barth wanted to explore the image - meaning and culture. According to Barth, the whole world is a system of signs. The sign is anything that carries meaning. The sign can be divided into two components: the signifier which is what is seen, heard or written. The thing that can be felt in the senses, the thing that we see with the (visual) eye, and the signified that is the conceptual concept that comes to mind, the concept behind the signifier, the meaning that the signifier carries. The signified also consists of two components and they are the denotation and the connotation.
Denotation: A term used by Barth in his semiotic model. According to Barth, denotation is one part of the two marked elements. The direct, literal dictionary meaning of the sign, and the first that comes to mind.
Connotation: A term used by Barth in his semiotic model. According to Barth, the connotation is one part of the two marked elements. The connotation is the socio-cultural association of the sign, this is the meaning that accompanies the signifier.
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