Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

By Gerard Delanty | Go to book overview

5
Deconstructionism and
Postmodernism:
Implications of the
Cultural Turn

Introduction: The Postmodernist Alternative

In the previous chapter I argued that reconstructive critical hermeneutics was an attempt to provide a synthesis between the competing approaches of Marxist critical theory and hermeneutics. In the 1960s and 1970s the debate on the philosophical foundations of the social sciences was primarily formed around positivism and the understanding/explanation controversy. Habermas and Apel argued, as we have seen in the previous chapter, that neither an exclusively Marxist critical theory nor a hermeneuticalinterpretative approach was an alternative to positivism and its modern neo-positivist successors, such as Popper’s critical rationalism. While these debates were mostly conducted in Germany and circles in North American universities with strong links with German thought, at about the same a new post-positivist debate was emerging in France which quickly spread to Francophile universities in North America and also had a major impact on British theorists. This new philosophy goes by various names - poststructuralism, deconstructionism, postmodernism - and is not merely an attack on positivism but argues for the abandonment of the entire intellectual culture of modernity, and in particular of Marxism.

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