Download Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, by Richard J. Bernstein PDF

By Richard J. Bernstein

Drawing freely and expertly from Continental and analytic traditions, Richard Bernstein examines a few debates and controversies exemplified within the works of Gadamer, Habermas, Rorty, and Arendt. He argues "new dialog" is rising approximately human rationality—a new figuring out that emphasizes its functional personality and has very important ramifications either for concept and motion.

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Using Kuhn's language, we might say that the "conversion" required for understanding an alien or primitive society is far more extreme than the type of conversion involved in understanding a new scientific paradigm. Winch's work, like Kuhn's, touched off a wide-ranging and tangled dispute about the meaning (meanings) of rationality and the sense (senses) in which there are (or are not) universal standards of rationality. 42 This dispute has raged not only among philosophers but has also spread rapidly to practicing social scientists, especially anthropologists, for the issues concern not just a philosophic understanding of the social disciplines but the practice of these disciplines -- the types of questions that are addressed and the proper ways of explain- ing and understanding alien societies.

The primary reason why the agōn between objectivists and relativists has become so intense today is the growing apprehension that there may be nothing -- not God, reason, philosophy, science, or poetry -- that answers to and satisfies our longing for ultimate constraints, for a stable and reliable rock upon which we can secure our thought and action. Thus far, I have given a preliminary characterization of what I mean by objectivism and relativism; have explained why this dichotomy is helpful in making sense of many of the philosophic conflicts that have broken out recently; and have singled out what I take to be the basic anxiety that underlies these conflicts.

16 Nietzsche himself thought of such a relativism as a form of nihilism, the prevailing sickness that was spreading throughout Western culture and that he explored with such acuity. Yet it is a deeply troubling and perplexing question whether Nietzsche shows us any way out -any way to escape the nihilism that is so characteristic of modernity. Until recently this struggle about the status and nature of morality has been developed against the background conviction that at least in science -- especially in the natural sciences -- we have clear -14and rigorous standards of objectivity, truth, rationality, progress, and the growth of knowledge (although we can also find a questioning of this dogma in Nietzsche).

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