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Believer of constructivism

  1. Sep 2, 2009 #1
    A friend of mine studies sociology and gender studies. She seems to be an strong believer of constructivism. The other day she try to convince me that there is no truth and other stuff I really did not fully understand or just sounded like blatant nonsense to me.

    I did not want to be so direct in saying that since she is good friend.

    What do you people here make of constructivism? It's nonsense, isn't it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2009 #2
    Re: constructivism

    What's the alternative? Everything we know about anything is simply 'information'. But what is information really?

    Constructivism is the same as saying we can't know much about what exists outside of our mental constructs, which is generally right.
  4. Sep 2, 2009 #3
    Re: constructivism

    Some of it is crap, some of it isn't.

    In a nutshell, it represents the extreme 'nurture' aspect, of the nature vs. nurture argument.

    Most people these days understand that at least part of our personality is a function of how we were raised, and the society we grew up in, and not just what tribe or species we're from.

    This is very different from how things used to be, and still are, in some parts of the world. Social Constructionism is basically a response, or reaction, to varying kinds of 'essentialism', which define people more based on their inherent nature. Born a peasant, die a peasant.

    Sexism, racism, and nationalism are often predicated on a type of essentialism:
    Women are the weaker sex.
    People with darker skin are less intelligent
    We are the conquerers, so our culture is superior.

    SC will often distinguish between sex and gender, sex being the biological facts, and gender being the learned social component. This gets even more complicated when you introduce things like Transexuality, Androgyny, Metrosexuality and Homosexuality. Then the question gets asked, what does 'sex' really mean?

    The ideas of self-identity, self-determination, and cultural relativism, are also quite central.

    Bear in mind, there are all sorts of crazy theorizing and politicking going on within the bounds of social constructionism. There is a lot of crap.

    Where science-minded people and SC people tend to butt heads most, is on the social implications of science. Scientists will tend to say that science is an unchanging, or improving, 'method'.
    They will look at science in an essentialist way.

    Whereas SC people will talk about the culture of science, and some will say how scientific truth is just as much a social convention as who takes out the garbage. That latter being the extreme view.

    Now to a certain extent, SC people are correct, but they tend to overstate it. And scientists tend to get grouchie when you question the 'Truth' of science. Even though science really doesn't address truth in an absolute way.

    The 'truth' is, scientific theories are constructed, what areas are investigated are often based on personal interest, and who advocates/accepts which theories, is often a function of societal pressures, and political interests.

    Where SC often goes too far is in equating scientific knowledge with mere opinion.
  5. Sep 2, 2009 #4
    Re: constructivism

    Thanks Wavejumper and JoeDawg.
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