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From Empiricism to Postmodernism - Essay Example

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The researcher of this essay aims to explore Empiricism to Postmodernism. By the end of the modern era, a new tradition stepped into the scene. This was called postmodernism. Postmodernism, on the other hand, serves as a critique of the modern project…
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From Empiricism to Postmodernism
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Download file to see previous pages The essay "From Empiricism to Postmodernism" states Empiricism and Postmodernism. The nature of knowledge has evolved throughout history. During the modern period, that is “since the 17th century scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, we have assumed there is a single objective reality, and science and reason offer the most effective method of discovering it”. This was highlighted during two modern philosophical traditions, i.e. rationalism and empiricism. Rationalism, which began with Rene Descartes, claimed that knowledge stems from reason alone. However, by the time John Locke came into the scene, the nature of knowledge began to shift towards the empiricism. This was at its peak with the empiricist, David Hume. Contrary to rationalism, empiricism claims that knowledge stem from our experience alone. What we can know is that which we can perceive and experience through our senses. Nevertheless, despite the contrast between these two traditions, both characterized knowledge as something structured. It both aimed towards an objective truth, which serves as the foundation of all knowledge. However, by the end of the modern era, a new tradition stepped into the scene. This was called postmodernism. Postmodernism, on the other hand, serves as a critique of the modern project. While modernism emphasized on structure, postmodernism emphasized on de-structuralizing knowledge. The new movement implies a shift from the signified to the signifier: and so there is a perpetual detour on the way to a truth. that has lost any status or finality” (Sarup 1993, p.3). Postmodernism deconstructs foundational concepts such as causality, identity, truth and knowledge. Postmodernists attack the view that there is a single unified body of knowledge. Rather, knowledge, for postmodernists, is relative. There is no single truth so to speak but a multiplicity of truths. It argues that “the human subject does not have a unified consciousness but is structured by language” (Sarup 1993, p.3). In this paper, I shall focus on two philosophical traditions that have shaped the way by which we perceive reality, i.e. empiricism and postmodernism. I shall show how these two traditions differ in their epistemological approaches. In doing so, I shall argue that postmodernism does not serve to give us a clear picture of knowledge. Thus, if philosophy, in its epistemological concerns, aims to search for foundations of our knowledge, then so it seems that postmodernism contradicts the very nature of philosophy in its goal to achieve a reliable and foundational theory of knowledge. Therefore, although empiricism relied too much on observable facts, it nevertheless gave us a consistent theory of knowledge, as opposed to the postmodernist epistemological approach. Given the aforementioned background, I shall divide this paper into three main parts. The first part will discuss the empiricist tradition with regards to its epistemological approaches, while the second part will discuss the postmodernist approach. Here, I shall emphasize on the difference between the manner by which both traditions define the nature and acquisition of knowledge. Finally, the third part will be devoted to my analysis regarding the issue at hand. This will serve as my conclusion. In this final section, I shall give my argument on what I believe is the more consistent and reliable framework for epistemology. In doing so, I shall defend the empiricist view on epistemology as that which upholds rather then rejects the nature of philosophy. For, structure is a necessary factor in any theory of knowledge. Postmodernism deconstructs this structure of knowledge that philosophers, since the ancient period have developed. I shall argue that postmodernism dissolves the very nature of knowledge, and this nullifies the nature of philosophy itself. Postmodernism only serves as a critique to empiricism, but it does not suffice to create a reliable framework of a theory of knowledge, that is, of epistemology. Empiricism and Epistemology There are four ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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