Critique of a Postmodern Philosophy Thomas Kuhn Term Paper

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Postmodern Philosophy

Philosophers over the course of history had been trying to find the answers to questions comprises of HOW, WHEN, WHO and WHAT. They apply these query terms to every phenomenon whether it is related to nature or human existence, whether it is the question formation of universe or it is about its end.

From the medieval age till 21st century, many philosophers had adopted several theories with accordance to his time and belief to answer these questions. As Dave Teague indicate that in medieval age which is spread over 700 years (800-1500 AD) European society was constituted upon collectivism, theistic and static values. They believe to be living for God and their king, whatever happened was considered to be act of faith, old believes were practiced and thinking of anything beyond them was unacceptable by the society.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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After 1500 AD due to the efforts of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) the shift occurred from classical learning to employing scientific methods to discover reasons behind existence of things. This provided new view for the thinkers to view phenomenon in wider perspectives and made them understand world and gave them chance to improve it, this age was termed as Renaissance which shifted the focus from collectivism to individualism. It was further strengthened by Rene' Descartes (1596-1650) who emphasized that everything's existence can be proved by doubting, its existence can be proved if doubt can no longer be proved. It was he who gave the concept of subject and object where individual is a subject who observe world as an object. Further Dave writes that Enlightenment (1650-1800) arose when human capabilities to reason and scientifically prove any incident was established, Isaac Newton (1643-1727) form the bases of this when he discover his law of motions and law of gravity which he proved scientifically, so then people also started believing that nature has its laws which makes the entities to work systematic. David Hume (1711-1776) questioned the enlightenment concept by inquiring about the ability of individual to objectively comprehend reality. Hume theory suggests that no person can figure out all the possibilities of occurrences such that no more exceptions could be possible. This is correct logically and even scientifically.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) answered it by giving the concept, in his work Critique of Pure Reason, of structuralism, which says that knowledge depend upon structure of mind and because we all possess same structure of mind we call perceive reality in the identical manner. This originated another debate of whether the human perception matches up with reality or not? The emphasis of Kant was basically upon the structure of mind. He considers that we must focus on mind structure to know its functioning, its processes were ignored. Later the focus shifted from structures to the processes for better understanding of human perception.

This very question paved the way toward postmodernism, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) rejected all previously existed theories and put forward a theory in which truth was considered nothing but an illusion. He describes truth to be dependent on our perception and marked absolute truth as non-existing. Truth was said to be existing in linguistic context which is socially conditioned.

According to Dave (Introduction to Postmodernism philosophy) Postmodernism emerged as the answers to two major questions, first being "How do I know the true interpretation of a text?" was the problem of textual interpretation because interpretation of any text cannot coincide exactly with author's intent. Second question was "Can language objectively describes truth?" which arose from the fact the language is bound in social context and we understand world with reference to our language games. According to Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) our perceived truth is also socially constituted. Dave also pinpoints that if Newton's work initiated orderly, modernistic view then the development in theory of relativity and quantum mechanics supported probabilities despite absolutes.

According to Dave both modernism and postmodernism theories was formed to eliminate the lacking of previously formed theories. In modernism, emphasizes were laid upon human ability of reasoning, concept of individualism and considering human as thinking self. The theory had a back draw as it ignore non-rational aspect of human nature it also lacked in defining the limits to human reasoning. It weakened the relationship between human and stressed on individualism so much that world was held back from relational and holistic view. Whereas in David point-of-view postmodernism eliminates this imbalance and reminds that human reasoning abilities are limited and world exist in relation to us.

Modernism gave concepts of materialistic and practical natures which I suppose can be true to some extend. There also occur limits where things go beyond materialistic approach and human has to rely on his perception for their understanding. For example the term "cold" can either be given particular temperature boundaries but in normal life every person's perception about cold may vary from each other.

Now the modern view of reality is that absolute truth is unknown. Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn are well-known in this regard because according to them truth is ever changing and can never be absolute (Geoff Haselhurst, 2005).

According to Karl popper (1979), "To sum up, there are many worlds, possible and actual worlds, in which a search for knowledge and for regularities would fail. And even in the world as we actually know it from the sciences, the occurrence of conditions under which life, and a search for knowledge, could arise - and succeed- seems to be almost infinitely improbable. Moreover, it seems that if ever such conditions should appear, they would be bound to disappear again, after a time which, cosmologically speaking is very short."

Karl has posted question on the truthfulness of our theories which if we analyze the probability of such success is infinite in cosmology. Karl assumed that the conditions to observe knowledge of truth are rarely occurring and their time span is limited so the whole truth is unattainable.

Postmodernism is a skeptical extreme and along with Karl popper, Thomas Kuhn also assume these assumption mentioned by Geoff that a) All truth is limited, approximate, and is constantly evolving b) No theory can ever be proved true (we can only show that a theory is false) c) No theory can ever explain all things d) Thus absolute and certain truth that explains all things is unobtainable.

According to these points all theories declare partial truth and there always lie room for searching truth which may be hidden. These assumptions are aligning with Karl's previously mention statement which assume that the conditions in which whole knowledge can be acquire is inaccessible.

Even Einstein (1940) states "For the time being we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics which can be regarded as its logical foundation" (Geoff, 2005)

Postmodernism has created a chaotic society in which reality is not observable and has given liberty of creating own rules of living and thinking. Postmodernism has given birth to world in which truth is ever changing, virtual and cultural dependent. This assumption has deprived humanity from the very foundation of true knowledge of realism.

This matter is also addressed by a.J Ayer in his theory of "Problem of Knowledge" when he states "We may make the truth of some statements depend upon the truth of others, but this process cannot go on for ever. There must be some statements of empirical fact which are directly verified. And in what can this verification consist except in our having the appropriate experiences? But then these experiences will be cognitive: to have whatever experience it may be will itself be a way of knowing something to be true. And a similar argument applies to a priori statements, like those of logic or pure mathematics. We may prove one mathematical statement by deducing it from others, but the proof must start somewhere. There must be a least one statement which is accepted without proof, an axiom of some sort which is known intuitively. Even if we are able to explain away our knowledge of such axioms, by showing that they are true by definition, we still have to see that a set of definitions is consistent. To conduct any formal proof, we have to be able to see that one statement follows logically from another."

If we consider this point-of-view of Ayer, then there must exist some true theories which are logically or scientifically proven to absolute truth, then again Ayer has also mentioned that it will be cognitively driven and as postmodernism claim that textual interpretation changes from person to person, so the interpretation of truth is again found to be indecisive.

Gary Aylesthworth (Postmodernism, 2005) mentioned that Jean-Francois Lyotard's La Condition Postmoderne in 1974 merged the theory of Wittgenstein's model of language games and speech act theory to form the basis of evolution in game rules for science, art and literature. He defines postmodernism as incredulity toward meta-narratives (Lyotard 1984) and he left science to play its own games irrespective of other previously held traditions especially… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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