“At any given time, Rorty claims, most areas of culture will share a vocabulary that ensures that their ways of talking have form of “normal discourse” (the correlate of normal science).” (Rorty 20)

After making this statement, Rorty continues to discuss how the main topics of conversation in the past are now seen as insignificant. In this sense, even conversations that we have had within the past year that seemed dire at the time serve no purpose to discuss now. Every now and then I will go through my Facebook messages or history of emails from a year or so ago and it shocks to me to see the topic of discussion. Popular search engines such as Yahoo and MSN display weekly news articles that are popular among our current media. Rorty makes the point that issues we are talking about now will soon be replaced by new problems.

When I considered this idea of replacement, it reminded me of Kuhn’s theory in regards to paradigms and scientific revolutions. At a certain time a community, “stands for an entire constellation of beliefs, values, techniques…” (Kuhn 175). This paradigm seems prominent too its community until someone proposes a new way of looking at the belief. This is when the community discovers that the paradigm no longer serves its purpose, “In both political and scientific development the sense of malfunction that can lead to crisis is prerequisite to revolution” (Kuhn 92). Once this crisis occurs, the community begins to look at the new paradigm as if the previous one never occurred. Our society is constantly discovering new ways of looking at issues with the assistance of the Internet we are able to broadcast our findings amount mass amounts of people. Although much of our discourse is replaced by more up to date dialogue, Foucault reminds us that there are genres of discourse that our societies strive to remember. Foucault states, “We know them in our own cultural system: religious or juridical texts, as well as some curious texts, from the point of view of their status, which we term ‘literary’; to a certain extent, scientific texts also” (Foucault 6). This being said, much of our discourse over the years will soon be considered insignificant but our cultures will continue to follow tradition in protecting our history pertaining to religion, significant world events such as wars and advancements in medicine and science.
Both Rorty’s and Kuhn’s reading reminded me of a previous reading I had a JMU by Leila Green in her book Communication, Culture and Technology.
Leila Green.jpg

Although we did not read the entirety of the novel, the section we read focused on a few topics that we are currently looking at within our class. Green mentions the differences between technological determinism and social determinism which we covered in last week’s reading. She also touches upon paradigm shifts and how when we “replace” previous paradigms our communities begin to see concepts differently. The book also goes into discuss how paradigm shifts fuel technological change. Overall the excerpts from the book I read seem very prevalent to the information we are learning throughout CCT. Has anyone else read any excerpts from this book?

Rorty, Richard. Philosophy, Metaphor, Redescription and the Consequences of Vocabularies. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.
Kuhn, Thomas. "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. 2nd. II. University of Chicago Press, Print.
Foucault, Michael. The Discourse on Language. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, Print.

Emily Fuerst

A Second Look at Snow

In C.P. Snow’s, “The Two Cultures and Scientific Revolution,” he confronted a major disconnect between scientists and literary intellectuals. Snow analyzed the two as almost speaking different languages without an interpreter. As I would generally characterize myself amongst those striving to become a literary intellectual and I generally find myself amongst those who are scientists or working toward becoming scientists, I was especially stricken by this piece.

In an article, featured in psychologytoday.com, Christopher Badock Ph.D. explains work done by Jiro Tanaka. The basis of Tanaka’s work says instead of looking at the two as completely opposite sides with no connection, should look at them as if they are on a continuum that ranges from mechanic (scientists) to mentalistic (literary intellectuals) thinking.

Badock also goes on to explain Tanaka believes psychoanalyses belongs more within the mentalist structure than the mechanic structure. Badock explains this is very interesting as Freud had believed psychoanalyses should belong within the sciences, but as we can now see, Freudians are not generally found in psychology departments, but in social science departments.

I had not thought of this conflict as something which could be constructed on a continuum, but I can see how Tanaka came to this conclusion. This middle ground could be the key to making a connection between the two cultures.

Image from psychologytoday.com, Site is cited below.
Image from psychologytoday.com, Site is cited below.

Baddock, Christopher. "Diametrically Beyond the Two Cultures." Psychology Today. 29 Aug 2012: n. page. Web. 18 Sep. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-imprinted-brain/201208/diametrically-beyond-the-two-cultures>.
Snow, C.P. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. New York, NY: The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press, 1959. 1-58. Print.

Kassie Barroquillo


Astronomers were in dire need of reform around the time of Copernicus’ birth in 1473. Geocentrism had been under attack. The Occamists, led by William of Ockham, an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, were busy developing a new philosophy and executing controversial scientific studies. The Catholic Church was in the throes of a call for reform and wary of radical ideas; it is a known fact that Copernicus had been a canon previous to the reform and had dedicated his book “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium Libri Sex” to Pope Paul III. He barely had a chance to see a copy of his great work published, for a copy is believed to have been brought to him at Frombork on the last day of his life, when he died in a coma on May 24, 1543.

Thomas Kuhn in “The Copernican Revolution” presents the astronomer as a visionary whose technical prowess was outdone by his lack of forethought in the disruptive consequences of his new world view; creating a paradigm shift. With humanity taking a lesser role in the grand scheme of things, original and creative thinking began to move into the mainstream. On the other hand, using Foucault’s deconstruction gives us a view into how Copernicus feared retribution and lacked clarity in the laws of discourse. Facing competing paradigms shifts with the advent of the Reformation and the technical innovation of the printing press, he felt pressured but did not want to be ridiculed by his peers. Although he had ample opportunity to publish his work between 1512 and 1539, he was afraid of the power struggles between the heads of the Catholic and Lutheran churches. He also feared official censure.

Fear classifies as one concept that has no absolute truth or validity, and only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration (Relativism, definition). According to Rorty’s perspective in Philosophy and Social Hope (1999), Copernicus must have been one of the most imaginative and creative thinker of his time. Unbeknownst to him, this gave him power above and beyond any formal authority figure. Rorty’s premise that in a foundation-less world, creative, secular humanism must replace the quest for an external authority (God, Nature, Method, and so forth) to provide hope for a better future proved true with the advent of the "new science" brought forth by "Copernicus’ Revolution". Mr. Rorty also characterizes the future as being free from what self-proclaimed social “authorities” think truth and goodness should be. I characterize it as a future free from the perception of irrational fear.

Kuhn, T. 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edn, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
Rorty, Richard (1999). Philosophy and Social Hope. Penguin Books.
The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/, September 19, 2012.