Proceedings of the 54th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2010, Waterloo, Canada, Proceedings of the 54th Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences

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Mechanism and Medievalism in Contemporary Social Theory: Systems Suggestions for Transformation

Barbara Hanson


This paper examines the possibilities for the transformation of social theory via basic systems epistemology. I argue that social theory has lagged behind theoretical development in other realms of scholarship and thinking in world cultures in part because of its implicit reliance on dialectic or oppositional epistemology that is an outgrowth of mechanism.  Social theoretical activity of the past 50 years has oft criticized conceptions of modernity, science, objectivity, and reason as artifacts of Europe between the 1500s and 1700s. However, these critiques have failed to address how these ideas emerged in the context of dominant monotheistic religion in the Medieval or Middle Ages in formative Europe.  Consequently social theory bears the cast of Medieval scholarly practices to the current day. This argument appears by looking at the context of the 400s-1400s in the territories of what later became Europe and suggests the relevance of relational units for social theory.

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