February 16, 2006

Feyerabend, Rorty, Derrida, Lyotard

A History of Knowledge Piero Scaruffi Editor of www.thymos.com
Skepticism affected philosophers. Paul Feyerabend argued that the history of science proceeds by chance: science is a hodgepodge of more or less casual theories. And it is that way because the world is that way: the world does not consist of one homogeneous substance but of countless kinds, that cannot be "reduced" to one another. Feyerabend took the Science of his time literally: there is no evidence that the world has a single, coherent and complete nature.
Richard Rorty held that any theory is inevitably conditioned by the spirit of its age. The goal of philosophy and science is not to verify if our propositions agree with reality but to create a vocabulary to express what we think is reality. Facts do not exist independently of the way we describe them with words. Thus science and philosophy are only genres of literature.
Another sign that a new era had started was the decline of Structuralism. Jacques Derrida accused Structuralism of confusing "being" and "Being", the code and the transcendental reality. Language is also a world in which we live. In fact, there are multiple legitimate interpretations of a text, multiple layers of meaning. Language is constantly shifting. He advocated deciphering the "archi-escriture" ("deconstruction" or "differance").
Jean-Francois Lyotard, the founder of "Postmodernism", was "incredulous" towards Metaphysics (towards "metanarratives") because he viewed the rational self (capable of analyzing the world) as a mere fiction. The Self, like language, is a layer of meanings that can be contradictory. Instead of metanarratives, that produce knowledge for its own sake, he preferred mini-narratives that are "provisional, contingent, temporary, and relative"; in other words, a fragmentation of beliefs and values instead of the grand unification theories of Metaphysics.

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