Sunday, September 19, 2010

Coming from a philosophy background, I am interested in epistemology- how we come to know what we know and what constitutes as knowledge. In relation to Karl's post, I feel that historiography ties in really well with this course. Much like historiography is the study of the discipline of doing history and the methods used to create history so to speak, we will be evaluating the discipline of doing research by comparing and contrasting the many different approaches to social research. History is so complicated because there is a desire to complete a picture of the past on the part of historians, when this task is impossible. Drawing on a number of different resources, both objective and subjective, there are inevitably gaps. I found it interesting that Karl touched on the notion that many historical documents that survive had nothing to do with objective record keeping. The leap from using documents that are fractions of social life to the creation of knowledge of social reality of a period in time being studied is something that should continually be subject to scrutiny. I am getting close to that word limit, so I will wrap this up. I just wanted to say that it seems as though research in the social sciences perhaps has more to do with asking the right questions and realizing that there isn’t necessarily an objective answer to the questions we ask. Perhaps ‘knowledge’ is more complicated than right/wrong objective/subjective dichotomies.

1 comment:

  1. Reading your back-and-forth with Karl I am reminded of the sociologist C. Wright Mills and his "Sociological Imagination" (1959). I think he somewhat addresses your epistemological dilemma, if I can call it that. I am not imaginative enough to capture Mills' ideas in my own words but here is one of his quotes:

    "Neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both"

    Mills goes on to provide a number of critical questions that need to be asked when trying to reach such an understanding. They inlcude:

    1)What is the structure of this particular society as a whole?...
    2)Where does this society stand in human history?...
    3)What varieties of men and women now prevail in this society and in this period?...

    Mills elaborates on this line of questioning throughout the book and may be of interest to you and Karl (if you have'nt read it already).
    I highly recommend it :)