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Re: [XTalk] quick note on "reductionism"

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  • Rikk E. Watts
    Hi Bill, My impression is that reductionist, as opposed to reductionism, is a pejorative term referring to the oversimplification of a complex reality in order
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 2, 2003
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      Hi Bill,

      My impression is that reductionist, as opposed to reductionism, is a
      pejorative term referring to the oversimplification of a complex reality in
      order to fit that reality into a predisposed epistemological or ontological
      framework.

      Regards
      Rikk

      on 1/2/03 9:39 AM, William Arnal at warnal@... wrote:

      >
      > Hey folks:
      >
      > Before the holidays I noticed that Brian Trafford dismissed something or
      > another I had said as "reductionistic." This struck me as odd, but I
      > shrugged and moved on. Then today or yesterday I noticed that Bob Schacht
      > referred to NON-positivist positions as "reductionistic," which is about the
      > most puzzling thing I can imagine. Then it came to me -- some folks here are
      > using "reductionist" when, apparently, they mean "relativist."
      >
      > So just to clarify terminology here: RELATIVISM is the range of views that
      > make truth relative to (social, etc.) position, opinion, subjectivity, etc.
      > There is no stable and single Truth, but a series of positional truths. This
      > is, among other things, quite the antithesis of positivism. Conversely,
      > REDUCTIONISM is the practice of reducing a set of data from one domain into
      > the terms or generalizations of another, as if, for instance, we explain the
      > movement of the planets (astronomical data) in terms of the laws of physics,
      > that is, reduce astronomical data to physical laws that apply at a more
      > basic level. This is precisely what any good positivist WANTS to do. I throw
      > this out just to clarify things a bit, and in the interests of more precise
      > and accurate terminology.
      >
      > For what it's worth, both terms are often used as derogatory labels. But
      > both can, in theory, be defended; and in practice have been defended. So
      > simply dissing something as reductionistic, or as relativistic, is no
      > argument at all. One needs to indicate what, exactly, is WRONG with being
      > either reductionistic or relativistic (one is not especially likely to be
      > both!) vis-a-vis the data in question.
      >
      > Bill
      > ___________________________
      > William Arnal
      > Department of Religious Studies
      > University of Regina
      > Regina, Saskatchewan S4S 0A2
      >
      >
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      Dr. Rikk E. Watts (Cantab) Ph. (604) 224 3245
      Associate Professor of NT Fax. (604) 224 3097
      Regent College
      5800 University Boulevard, Vancouver, V6T 2E4
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