Science educators and those who investigate science learning have tended, for good reason, to focus their attention on students' conceptual development, Such a focus is, however, too narrow to provide full and proper understanding of the complexities of original science learning. Recently developmental cognitive psychologists have called on the work of postpositivistic philosophers of science, especially Thomas Kuhn, to bolster their research into conceptual development in science acquisition. What these psychologists have not recognized is that Kuhn's position is actually a (...) derivative of Wittgenstein's methodological nominalism, a viewpoint far more favorable to behaviorism than cognitive psychology. After drawing out some of the consequences of this fact for the developmental cognitive psychologist program for studying science learning, we suggest our own radical alternative. Drawing on Floden, Buchmann and Schwille's idea of “Breaking with Everyday Experience” we propose an alternative notion of original science learning in terms of Alfred Schutz's modification of Williams James' many worlds thesis. The many worlds thesis will allow us to better understand students' difficulty in learning idealized worlds such as science, worlds that represent a discontinuous break with ordinary everyday practical experience. (shrink)
At the center of this important writer’s thought lies a paradox in his constant implicating of ethical norms in historical writing while simultaneously deriding all forms of moral judgment in history. This article investigates the relationship between Butterfield’s ethics and his religion in order to suggest ways of resolving the paradox. It focuses on his unconventional style of Augustinianism and the levels of historical analysis involved in what he called “technical history,” on the one hand, and his own search for (...) a history that went beyond it, on the other, during a century that threw up particular challenges in barbarous war and genocide. The project requires some consideration of Butterfield’s own substantive historical writing against the background of such events, but also silhouettes something more decisive: the degree to which he came to see the enterprise of historiographical analysis as itself ethical. What emerges from the argument is a framework within which Butterfield’s search for meaning in the past can be laid beside his hostility to moral judgments of past actors on the part of historians without the contradictions that are often assumed. A further implication of the study is that Butterfield was often his own worst enemy in conflating distinctions that he himself had made and blurring lines of argument that demanded sharp separation. (shrink)
The last thirty years have brought about a fundamental revision of historical epistemology. So intense a concentration on the nature of history as a form of inquiry has diminished attention given to the thing that history inquires into: the nature of the past itself. Too readily, that entire domain has turned into a place for dreams, as Hayden White put it: a lost world only available now through the imagination of the author and subject to aesthetic whim. The next thirty (...) years will, I propose, be the period in which ontology returns to the center of historical theory. And nothing short of the reconceptualization of the past—indeed of time itself—must be its objective. It must achieve that objective, moreover, in establishing arguments that are congruent with what revisions of epistemology have taught us about the limits of historical knowledge and the inevitability of textual representation. This paper enters this field by discussing some of the issues involved in rethinking the place of time in historical constructions since Bergson. It demonstrates the confusions inherent in spatial reductions of temporality, which historians have done so much to entrench rather than eradicate, and argues that historians have yet to accommodate the fundamental conceptual shifts inaugurated by Heidegger. It then moves to propose a methodological doctrine to which I have given the name "chronism" and seeks to sketch the utility of such a doctrine for bringing one form of presence—that of authenticity—back into the domain of historical study. Doing so invites a number of conceptual and practical difficulties that the paper will address in its conclusions; these may disturb those who have closed their minds to anything beyond the present. Taking ontology seriously interferes both with structuralist assumptions about the nothingness of time and with some of the styles of historical representation that have become fashionable in the postmodern climate. There may be painful lessons to be learned if we are to rescue the past from its current status as a nonentity. (shrink)
This essay raises the question of gender in relation to the question of intellectuals in Britain, commenting on the gender blindness that made their exclusion so automatic in Collini's study. It looks at some women who might have been included, focussing particularly on Virginia Woolf as one who was not only a very significant public intellectual, but who in her essays entitled 'The Common Reader' also provided a definition and analysis of the role of an intellectual which is very different (...) from that suggested by Collini. Rather than offering expert advice, Woolf sought to help readers to develop their own critical insights. (shrink)
This short article reflects critically on the method, politics and epistemology of Stefan Collini's Absent Minds. Collini's method involves a long meditation rather than anything systematic. In comparative history, he is at east with France and America, but less so Germany and Eastern Europe or Russia. Without announcing an overt set of political principles, Absent Minds develops a master-narrative of social-democratic intellectual leadership, but this commitment is undermined by Collini's presentation of epistemology as a non-problem.