Emotions as neurophysiological constructs

Are emotions real? Are they hardwired to our physiology? Are they pre-cognitive and purely affective? Was Darwin right in speculating that facial expressions are human universals that accurately represent a small repertoire of emotional experiences (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals)? Or instead are emotions a part of the cognitive output of …

Elder-Vass on social realism

Dave Elder-Vass's arguments for the real causal powers of social structures have been considered here several times (link, link).  Elder-Vass's recent book, The Reality of Social Construction, addresses this subject from a different point of view.  Here he is interested in the question of the collision of social realism and social constructivism, generally thought of as being …

Sociology of knowledge: Berger

Sociology of knowledge: Berger I've treated several approaches to the sociology of knowledge in the past month.  Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann describe their book, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, as fundamentally a contribution to this subject as well.  So this post will examine the assumptions they make about …

Making Peter Berger

Peter Berger declared himself a humanistic sociologist throughout much of his career, including in his important book with Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. This isn't exactly a common identification for an American sociologist in the 1950s. So how did he get there?This is an interesting question in …

Components of one’s "social identity"

A social identity is a complex thing. It involves the ways in which one characterizes oneself, the affinities one has with other people, the ways one has learned to behave in stereotyped social settings, the things one values in oneself and in the world, and the norms that one recognizes or accepts governing everyday behavior. …

Realism for the social sciences?

Scientific realism is the idea that scientific theories provide descriptions of the world that are approximately true. This view implies a correspondence theory of truth -- the idea that the world is separate from the concepts that we use to describe it. And it implies some sort of theory of scientific rationality -- a theory …

Social construction?

It is common to say that various things are "socially constructed". Gender and race are socially constructed, technology is socially constructed, pain and illness are socially constructed. I am inclined to think that these various statements are reasonable -- but that they mean substantially different things and are true in very different ways. So it …

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