Postclassicism / Postclassical Theory
Opposed to, and succeeding, classical thought.
Like the other posties (postmodernism, poststructuralism, etc), postclassicism claims, by its very name, to define itself against something: in opposition to, and as a successor of, classicism. Here, that “classicism”, or “classical thought”, refers to some broad philosophical ideas that have dominated European-derived thinking more or less since Plato.
Mathematics, Science, and Postclassical Theory, edited by Barbara Herrnstein Smith and Arkady Plotnitsky
In 1997, Duke UP published the collection Mathematics, Science, and Postclassical Theory The book advertised itself as “Science Studies”, and came, in part, from a 1993 conference on “Mathematics and Postclassical Theory” at Duke's Center for Interdisciplinary Studies in Science and Cultural Theory.
Barbara Herrnstein Smith
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Note that as far as I'm aware Smith and Plotnitsky don't use the term postclassicism; I'm using it here to mean an orientation toward the “postclassical theory” they describe and include in the collection.
From the introduction to MSPT:
“various critical analyses ... around ... a cluster of quite general but problematic concepts [such as] knowledge, language, objectivity, truth, proof, reality, and representation”
A longer version:
While the term “postclassical theory“ can be given a range of meanings in relation to more or less radical developments in [mathematics, science, theory, and philosophy], its use here is intended primarily to evoke the various critical analyses and efforts at reconceptualization ... that have emerged in the humanities and social sciences around a cluster of quite general but problematic concepts, notably, knowledge, language, objectivity, truth, proof, reality, and representation, and around such related issues as the dynamics of intellectual history, the project of foundationalist epistemology, and the distinctive (if they are distinctive) operations of mathematics and science.
Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth, and the Human, Barbara Herrnstein Smith
The scandal in question is the reflexive problem of epistemology: how can we know that we know anything? There are, Smith says, three ways of dealing with this problem: ignore it (as most people do), attempt to refute epistemological scepticism (as the philosophy of science typically does), or mobilize that scepticism to critique the conception of knowledge itself - which of course is what she's doing. Most postclassical theory has been disciplinary and descriptive - analyses of particular practices and so forth - so here Smith is laying out a philosophical (normative) description of postclassical epistemology. It complements Plotnitsky's focus on the postclassical acknowledgment of the limits of epistemology's domain (what we can know about) with a focus on the limits of epistemology's range (what sorts of things we can know about it). And because Smith is interested in arguments over postclassical thought, several of the chapters include extensive rhetorical analysis.
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