Last Updated: 10-19-2000
The definitions, in most cases, were taken from Walter Truett Anderson's book "Reality Isn't What It Used To Be". Page numbers for the quotes are given from Anderson's book, unless otherwise indicated, and they appear in italics.
[NOTE:This page is still under development and is far from complete.]
- Absolutism-a belief that there are some basic universal ideas that are true, not to be doubted or questioned.
- Beliefs-mental acceptance of the validity of certain ideas about inanimate objects, animate objects and persons. Belief systems are ideas that help one define what is felt to be the real world and dynamics that influence reality.
- Chaos-a disordered state, lacking organization, confusing and unpredictable.
- Community-Community is a term that has many different definitions. In a recent issue of Contemporary Sociology, Amitai Etzioni a sociologist who has written much on community defines it as: "a combination of two elements: A) A web of affect-laden relationships among a group of individuals, relationships that often crisscross and reinforce one another (rather than merely one-on-one or chainlike individual relationships). B) A measure of commitment to a set of shared values, norms and meanings, and a shared history and identity - in short to a particular culture".
- Culture-Socially transmitted (learned) behavior patterns (norms), arts, beliefs, and institutions that enable a society to survive for many generations.
- Cognitive (Neuroscience) Science- A science of the brain that combines the work of cognitive psychologists and neurobiologists.
- Constructivistp (p. 67) Constructivism "..studies not only the processes of thought, but also the processes of reality creation". It".. explores the operations by which we explore our experiential world".. On p. xi, Anderson says "..according to the constructivist view, people may have not only different political opinions and religious beliefs, but different ideas of such basic matters as personal identity, time and space.".
- Critical Theory- How to think about thinking. It attempts to liberate one from particular beliefs of how society "ought" to be or persons "ought" to behave. It aims to uncover the biases of particular ideologies and constructions of reality. It is the application of deconstruction.
- Deconstruction- is about the limitations of language, about the impossibility of a single representation that all will agree is true. It tries to work backwards from an interpretation of reality to identify the biases, meanings and preconceptions of those who constructed a particular reality in the first place.
- Discourse-Discourse, as postmodernists view it, is more than mere discussion. Discourse is tied to a worldview, or a point of view. That is why Republicans converse in a vocabulary that is has different meanings from that which Democrats use. Republicans believe in trickle down economic policies whereas Democrats believe in trickle-up policies. Gergen writes, on page 10 of "Realities and Relationships", that, as I see it, the discourses of, say one political party or group of believers "are constituent features of its structures of punishment and privilege". Discourse includes consideration of the worldview and the power that the political party or university research department exerts over its members. Non-believers are denied privileges.
- Epistemology-Studies the nature of knowledge, its presuppostiions and foundations, its validity, how we know.
- Faith-Belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or ideology. Go to Fowler's definition now
- Fundamentalism- A belief system that emphasizes following a particular set of basic principles and opinions.
- Meta-narrative- The following is slightly revised from Curran & Takata. Meta refers to overall, totalizing. Some, such as Lyotard rejects the narrative that is assumed to be the ultimate universal narrative. He, like many postmodernists, believes that the Enlightenment tendency to look for universal myths and laws under which we can subsume all of human nature has obliterated the local, the unique, the creative. Habermas, as the scion of Frankfurt's Critical Theory, understands and accepts the harm of the metanarrative, but believes that we must still rely on some universal perspective for criticism.
- Normatively constructed- Means that the whole collective or community shares in expectations and enforcement of the norms, and that the individual was affected by his/her emotions that were assumed to come to them "naturally," as though such emotions or expectations, or desires were inevitable. This is from Durkheim who believed that individuals were less than completly free to choose their emotions and arguments independent of the community.
- Norms-(p. 260) "..a pattern of behavior that is somewhere along the road of reification, taking on a certain sanctity - becoming accepted as a way that people ought to behave." Some norms are supported and justified by tradition and religious beliefs. Others are legislated into laws. Sociologists view norms as expected behaviors.
- Objectivist- emphasizes hard evidence as a source of factual knowledge. Their view of the world assumes that one can eliminate personal feelings and biases in observations of the world. Constructivists disagree and try to include knowledge of how the brain works to include the effects of personal feelings and biases upon knowing.
- Paradigm- is a conceptual model that is used to communicate descriptions of the component how parts of a theory, a policy, a belief system or a worldview and how they interact and are interrelated.
- Postmodernism- A worldview that emphasizes the existence of different worldviews and concepts of reality. Whereas modernism emphasized a trust in the empirical scientific method, and a distrust and lack of faith in ideologies and religious beliefs that could not be tested using scientific methods; postmodernism emphasizes that a particular reality is a social construction by a particular group, community, or class of persons. See Chapter 1 in Anderson's "Reality Isn't What It Used To Be".
- Relativist-One who believes that conceptions of truth and moral values are not universally applicable or absolute, but are believed and constructed by a particular community that holds them to be absolute.
- Social Construction of Reality- (SCR)(p. analysis of "..how societies created and maintained realities", more specifically their own conception of reality.
- Sociology of Knowledge- (p.38) "the study of how societies create and perpetuate structures of reality." The term was first used by Max Scheler in the 1920's and according to Berger and Luckmann,(pp. 3 & 4) the sociology of knowledge is "..concerned with the relationship between human thought and the social context within which it arises", and "..concerned with the analysis of the social construction of reality".
- Subjectivist-Subjectivist considerations include an awareness of the personal biases that can vary from person to person and effect how they perceive objects and behavior.
- Symbol-a word or thing that represents a complex of events and/or ideas. The meaning of a symbol is often generated by emotion-evoking events. Our nation's flag symbolizes many different meanings.
- Tradition-Sets of norms, values and beliefs contained in the culture of a society and passed down from generation to generation.
- Values-Norms that are deemed by a community to be the most important for the survival of the community or society. Social institutions such as the family, education, economy and polity all control and regulate the permormance of society as a whole. Thus, those norms related to procreating, nurturing children, teaching children, distributing the resources of a society among all members of the society, and so on are highly valued, especially by persons who believe that these particular norms are fundamental to the functioning of the society.
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