- Features of the development of Western philosophy of the twentieth century
- A few words about positivism
- Logical positivism: basic ideas
- Let's talk about postpositivism
- Representatives of postpositivism
- Distinguishing Features
- Thomas Popper's views
- Kun's post-positivism: main ideas and concept
- Imre Lakatos Ideas
- Another look at post-positivism
The twentieth century is considered to be a turning point in the history of mankind. It became the period when there was a qualitative leap in the development of science, technology, economics and other sectors that are priority for a person. Naturally, this could not but give rise to some changes in the minds of people. Having begun to think differently, they changed their approach to many familiar things, which, one way or another, influenced the moral norms of social behavior. Such a transformation could not but cause the emergence of new philosophical concepts and ideas, which later transformed and took shape in the direction of philosophical science. For the most part, they were based on a change in outdated models of thinking and offered a very special system of interaction with the world. One of the most unusual currents that emerged during that period is post-positivism.
However, we can say that this philosophical trend has become the successor of several other trends that emerged in the first quarter of the twentieth century. We are talking about positivism and neo-positivism. Post-positivism, which took the very essence from them, butsingling out completely different ideas and theories from it, became a kind of final stage in the formation of the philosophical thought of the twentieth century. But this trend still has a lot of features, and in some cases contradictions regarding the ideas of its predecessors. Many philosophers believe that post-positivism is something special, which is still the subject of discussion among followers of this direction. And this is quite natural, because his concepts in some cases literally contradict each other. Therefore, modern postpositivism is of great interest in the scientific world. In the article we will consider its main provisions, ideas and concepts. We will also try to give readers an answer to the question: “What is post-positivism?”
Features of the development of Western philosophy of the twentieth century
Philosophy is perhaps the only science in which new concepts can completely refute the previous ones, which seemed unshakable. This is exactly what happened with positivism. In philosophy, this direction appeared as a result of the transformation of several currents into one concept. However, one can speak about its features only by understanding how exactly these ideas arose among the huge number of concepts that were formed in the twentieth century. After all, Western philosophy in this period of time experienced a real upsurge, building on the basis of old ideas something absolutely new, which is the future of the philosophy of science. And postpositivism has become one of the brightest of these trends.
The most popular in the last century were suchdirections such as Marxism, pragmatism, Freudianism, neo-Thomism and others. Despite all the differences between them, these concepts had common features characteristic of Western philosophical thought of that time. All new ideas had the following characteristics:
- Lack of unity. In the twentieth century, completely mutually exclusive ideas, schools and trends arose simultaneously in the West. Often they all had their own problems, basic concepts and terms, as well as study methods.
- Appeal to a person. It was the last century that turned science towards the person who became the object of its close study. All his problems were transformed into the basis of philosophical thought.
- Substitution of concepts. Often there were attempts by some philosophers to present other disciplines about man as a philosophical science. Their basic concepts were mixed together, thus forming a new direction.
- Relationship with religion. Many schools and concepts that arose at the dawn of the new century, one way or another, touched on religious topics and concepts.
- Inconsistency. In addition to the fact that new ideas and currents constantly contradicted each other, many of them also completely refuted science as a whole. Others, on the contrary, built their ideas on it and used scientific methodology to form their concept.
- Irrationalism. Many philosophical trends have deliberately limited scientific approaches to knowledge as such, directing the flow of thoughts towards mysticism, mythology and esotericism. Thus, leading people to an irrational perception of philosophy.
As you can see, all these features can be found in almost any of the philosophical currents that emerged and took shape in the twentieth century. They are also characteristic of postpositivism. Briefly, this direction, which declared itself in the sixties of the last century, is rather difficult to characterize. Moreover, it is based on currents that formed a little earlier - in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Positivism and post-positivism can be represented as communicating vessels, but philosophers would say that they still have different content. Therefore, we will introduce these trends in the following sections of the article.
A few words about positivism
The philosophy of positivism (post-positivism was later formed on its foundations) originated in France. Its founder is Auguste Comte, who in the thirties formulated a new concept and developed its methodology. The direction was called "positivism" due to its main guidelines. These include the study of problems of any nature through the real and the constant. That is, the followers of these ideas always focus only on the factual and sustainable, while other approaches are rejected by them. Positivists categorically exclude metaphysical explanations, since they are not feasible in this direction. And from the point of view of practice, they are absolutely useless.
Besides Comte, English, German and Russian philosophers made a great contribution to the development of the ideas of positivism. Such extraordinary personalities as Stuart Mil, Jacob Moleschott and P. L. Lavrov werefollowers of this trend and wrote a lot of scientific papers about it.
In general terms, positivism is presented as a set of the following ideas and ideas:
- The process of cognition must be absolutely pure from any evaluation. To do this, it is cleared of worldview interpretation, while it is necessary to get rid of the scale of value orientations.
- All philosophical ideas that have arisen before are recognized as metaphysical. This brings them under removal and replacement by science, which was placed on a par with philosophy. In some situations, it was possible to use a review of knowledge or a special doctrine of the language of science.
- Most of the philosophers of that time adhered to either idealism or materialism, which were extremes in relation to each other. Positivism offered a third way, not yet formalized in a clear and precise direction.
The main ideas and features of positivism were reflected in his six-volume book by Auguste Comte, but the main idea is the following - science should in no case get to the bottom of the essence of things. Its main task is to describe objects, phenomena and things as they are now. To do this, it is enough to use scientific methods.
In addition to the above, there are several more features that are considered basic for positivism:
- Knowledge through science. Previous philosophical trends carried ideas about a priori knowledge. It seemed to be the only way to gain knowledge. However, positivism proposed a different approach to this problem and suggested using scientificmethodology in the process of learning.
- Scientific rationality is the power and basis of worldview formation. Positivism is based on the notion that science is just a tool that should be used to understand this world. And then it may well transform into a transformation tool.
- Science in search of regularity. It is typical for philosophy to seek the essence in the processes taking place in society and nature. They are presented as a continuous process with a unique ability to transform. However, positivism suggests looking at these processes from a scientific point of view. And it is science that is able to see patterns in them.
- Progress leads to knowledge. Since science was placed above all by the positivists, they naturally considered progress to be the engine that humanity needed.
Very quickly in the West, the ideas of positivism got stronger, but on this basis, a different trend arose, which began to take shape in the forties of the last century.
Logical positivism: basic ideas
There are more differences between neo-positivism and post-positivism than there are similarities. And first of all, they consist in a clear direction of the new trend. Neo-positivism is often called logical positivism. And postpositivism in this case is rather its opposition.
It can be said that the new current set logical analysis as its main task. Followers of neopositivism consider the study of language the only way to clarify philosophical problems.
Knowledge atThis approach appears to be a collection of words and sentences, sometimes quite complex. Therefore, they must be transformed into the most understandable and clear phrases. If you look at the world through the eyes of neopositivists, it will appear as a scattering of facts. They, in turn, form events that have certain objects. From events presented as a certain configuration of statements, knowledge is formed.
Of course, this is a somewhat simplified approach to understanding the essence of the new philosophical current, but it describes logical positivism in the best possible way. I would also like to mention the moment that all statements and knowledge that cannot be described from the point of view of sensory experience are rejected by the followers of the current. For example, the statement “blood is red” is easily recognized as true, since a person can visually confirm it. But the phrase "time is irreversible" is immediately excluded from the range of problems of neopositivists. This statement cannot be known through sensory experience, and, therefore, it receives the prefix "pseudo". This approach turned out to be very ineffective, showing the failure of neopositivism. And post-positivism, which replaced it, has become a kind of alternative to previous trends.
Let's talk about postpositivism
Postpositivism in philosophy is a very special trend, which was formed from the two concepts we have previously described, but nevertheless has a number of unique characteristics. For the first time, these ideas were discussed in the sixties of the last century. founding fathersPost-positivism Popper and Kuhn considered its main idea not to confirm knowledge by scientific methods, research and sensual approach, but rather to refute scientific thought. That is, it is considered important to be able to refute basic statements and thereby gain knowledge. These statements make it possible to characterize postpositivism briefly. However, such information is not enough to penetrate its essence.
This current is one of those rare ones that does not have a basic core. In other words, post-positivism cannot be presented as a clearly formulated trend. Philosophers define this direction in the following way: post-positivism is a set of philosophical concepts, ideas and currents, united under one name, and replacing neo-positivism.
It is noteworthy that all these concepts can have a completely opposite base. Followers of postpositivism can hold different ideas and still consider themselves congenial philosophers.
If you take a closer look at this current, it will appear as complete chaos, which, from a scientific point of view, is distinguished by a special orderliness. The brightest representatives of post-positivism (Popper and Kuhn, for example), modifying each other's ideas, often challenged them. And this became a new impetus to the development of a philosophical trend. Today it is still relevant and has its followers.
Representatives of postpositivism
As we have already said, this current combines many concepts. Among them there are more and less popular, havingunder a good base and methodology and very "raw" ideas. If you study most of the directions of postpositivism, it becomes clear how much they contradict each other. However, this is quite difficult to do, so we will only touch on the brightest concepts formed by talented and recognized philosophers of their time in the scientific community.
The post-positivist concepts of the following philosophers are recognized as the most interesting:
- Karl Popper.
- Thomas Kuhn.
- Paul Feyerabend.
- Imre Lakatos.
Each of these names is well known in the scientific world. The combination of the words "postpositivism" and "science" thanks to their works has actually acquired an equal sign between themselves. Today, no one doubts this, but at one time the above philosophers had to spend a lot of time and effort to prove their views and confirm concepts. Moreover, it was they who managed to formulate their ideas more clearly. They have lost some blur and gained boundaries that allow you to determine the direction of ideas. Due to this, this ideology looks more advantageous.
The ideas of post-positivism have a lot of distinctive features from those currents that contributed to its formation. Without studying them, it is rather difficult to penetrate into the essence of the philosophical direction, which has become one of the most unusual in the entire history of the existence of philosophy as a science.
So let's discuss the main characteristics of postpositivism in more detail. Worth it in the first placeto mention the relation of this direction to knowledge itself. Usually philosophical schools consider its static value. It is presented as a model of scientificity, translated into a symbolic form. This approach is typical for mathematical science. But postpositivists approached knowledge in dynamics. They became interested in the process of its formation, and then development. At the same time, the opportunity opened up for them to trace the process of dynamic change in knowledge, which usually eluded the views of philosophers.
The methodological aspects of post-positivism also differ significantly from positivism and neo-positivism. The new trend places emphasis throughout the entire path of knowledge development. At the same time, postpositivists do not consider the entire history of science as a field of knowledge. Although it is a rather bright set of events, which includes scientific revolutions. And they, in turn, completely changed not only the ideas about certain events, but also the practical approach to tasks. It includes certain methods and principles.
The main ideas of post-positivism are devoid of rigid frameworks, restrictions and oppositions. We can say that the predecessors of this trend had a tendency to divide facts and theories into empirical and theoretical. The first seemed to be a kind of constant, they were reliable, clear and unchanged in any circumstances. But the theoretical facts were positioned as changeable and unreliable. Followers of post-positivism erased such a clear framework between these two concepts and in some way even equated them to each other.
Problemspost-positivism are quite diverse, but they are all related to the search for knowledge. In this process, facts that are directly dependent on theory are of great importance. This is due to the fact that they have a serious theoretical load. Such a statement leads postpositivists to argue that the fact base is really just a theoretical foundation. At the same time, the same facts with different theoretical bases are inherently different.
It is interesting that many philosophical currents delimit philosophy and science. However, postpositivism does not separate them from each other. This doctrine asserts that all philosophical ideas, theses and concepts are scientific in their very essence. The first to talk about this was Karl Popper, whom many today consider the founder of this movement. In the future, he gave his concept clearer boundaries and worked out the problematics. Almost all followers of post-positivism in philosophy (this has been proved and confirmed) used Popper's works, confirming or refuting their main provisions.
Thomas Popper's views
This English philosopher is considered the most interesting of the positivists. He managed to force society to look at scientific knowledge and the process of its acquisition from a different angle. Popper was primarily interested in the dynamics of knowledge, that is, its growth. He was sure that this could be traced through various processes, which, for example, could include discussions or the search for a refutation of existing theories.
By the way, the Englishman also had his own view on acquiring knowledge. He seriously criticized the concepts that described this process as a smooth transition from facts to theory. In fact, Popper was sure that scientists initially have only a few hypotheses, and only then they take shape through propositions. At the same time, any theory can have a scientific characteristic if it can be compared with experimental data. However, at this stage, there is a high probability of falsification of knowledge, which casts doubt on its entire essence. According to Popper's beliefs, philosophy stands apart in a number of scientific knowledge, since it does not allow them to be tested empirically. This means that philosophical science is not subject to falsification due to its essence.
Thomas Popper was very seriously interested in scientific life. He introduced its study into the problems of postpositivism. In general terms, scientific life was positioned as a scientific field in which theories are fought without interruption. In his opinion, in order to know the truth, it is necessary to instantly discard the refuted theory in order to put forward a new one. However, the very concept of "truth" in the interpretation of the philosopher takes on a slightly different meaning. The fact is that some philosophers categorically refute the very existence of true knowledge. However, Popper was sure that finding the truth is still possible, but practically unattainable, since along the way there is a high probability of becoming entangled in false concepts and theories. From this follows the assumption that any knowledge is ultimately false.
Popper's main ideas were:
- all sources of knowledge are equal;
- metaphysics has the right to exist;
- trial and error method is considered as the main scientific method of cognition;
- the main analysis is the process of knowledge development itself.
At the same time, the English philosopher categorically denied the very possibility of applying any ideas of regularity to phenomena occurring in public life.
Kun's post-positivism: main ideas and concept
Everything written by Popper was repeatedly criticized by his followers. And the most striking of them was Thomas Kuhn. He criticized the entire concept of the development of scientific thought, put forward by his predecessor, and created his own trend in postpositivism. He was the first to put forward the terms, which later began to be actively used by other scientists in their works.
We are talking about such concepts as "scientific community" and "paradigm". They became basic in Kuhn's concept, however, in the writings of some other followers of postpositivism, they were also criticized and completely refuted.
Under the paradigm, the philosopher understood a certain ideal or model, which must be checked in search of knowledge, in the selection of solutions for problems and in identifying the most pressing issues. The scientific community was presented as a group of people who are united by a paradigm. However, this is the simplest of all explanations of Kuhn's terminology.
If we consider the paradigm in more detail, it becomes clear that it includes a lot of different concepts. She cannot exist withoutstatic models of teaching, the values of the search for true knowledge and ideas about the world.
Interestingly, in Kuhn's concept, the paradigm is not a constant. It performs this role at a certain stage in the development of scientific thought. During this period of time, all scientific research is carried out in accordance with the framework established by it. However, the process of development cannot be stopped, and the paradigm begins to outlive itself. It reveals paradoxes, anomalies and other deviations from the norm. It is impossible to get rid of them within the framework of the paradigm, and then it is discarded. A new one, chosen from a huge number of similar ones, comes to replace it. Thomas Kuhn believed that the stage of choosing a new paradigm is very vulnerable, since at such moments the risk of falsification increases significantly.
At the same time, the philosopher in his works argued that it is simply impossible to determine the level of truth of knowledge. He criticized the principles of the continuity of scientific thought and believed that progress cannot influence scientific thought.
Imre Lakatos Ideas
Lakatos has a completely different post-positivism. This philosopher proposed his own concept of the development of scientific thought, which is fundamentally different from the two previous ones. He created a special model for the development of science, which has a clear structure. At the same time, the philosopher introduced a certain unit that made it possible to fully reveal this structure. For the unit, Lakatos took the research program. It has several components:
- protective belt;
- set of rules.
Each item of thislist philosopher gave his description. For example, all irrefutable facts and knowledge are taken as the core. The protective belt is constantly changing, while all known methods are actively used in the process: falsification, refutation, and so on. The specified set of methodological rules is always used. A research program can progress and regress. These processes are directly related to the protective belt.
Many scientists consider the concept of Lakatos one of the most perfect. It allows you to consider and study the development of science in dynamics.
Another look at post-positivism
Paul Feyerabend presented post-positivism in a different light. His concept is to use debate, criticism and refutation to understand the development of science. The philosopher in his works described scientific development as a one-time creation of several theories and concepts, among which only the most viable will be confirmed in the controversy. At the same time, he argued that everyone who creates his own theories must deliberately oppose them to existing ones and proceed from the opposite in them. However, Feyerabend was also convinced that the very essence of scientific thought lies in the inadmissibility and impossibility of conducting a comparative analysis of theories.
He put forward the idea of the identity of science and mythology, completely rejecting rationalism. The philosopher in his writings proved that in cognitive and research activities it is necessary to abandon all rules and methods.
Such ideas have often been heavily criticized,because, according to many prominent scientists and philosophers, they meant the end of progress in science.