Could you discuss two articles that investigate the SAME topic but differ in their epistemological/theoretical approach? In other words, each article should be investigating the same topic but one...

Could you discuss two articles that investigate the SAME topic but differ in their epistemological/theoretical approach? In other words, each article should be investigating the same topic but one will use a positivist theory and the other an idealist theory?

P.S. I understand this is a lengthy question, so if you could, at the very least, point me in the right direction towards an article topic, that would be very helpful!

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Within the limitations of space, time and Internet availability, I can try to get you going in a forward direction. It would help to know the purpose of your request, but I'll assume that the discussion is to provide you with an idea of how to begin the task of comparing a subject argued from the standpoint of two epistemologies. To start with, a discussion is a process by which you reason your way through pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages or strengths and weakness of an argument or a set of arguments to arrive at a conclusion, i.e., an opinion, on the argument(s) discussed. I've found brief discussions of what science is as described and defined from the oppositional epistemological approaches of Positivism and Idealism. Remember, our task is to reason our way through to make a case for or against propositions (Positivist and Idealist) presented and discussed (here, in abbreviated form).


While Positivism was influenced by the burgeoning scientific discoveries of the 1700s and 1800s in geology, geography, archaeology, biology etc, Comte applied the quantitative methods of these sciences to social science believing that behavior in the social world was equally based on natural law as in the physical world.

Comte's application of the physical schemata to the social was a reasonable extension of the discoveries being made across a wide range of sciences in light of the developments brought about by Freud and Jung during the same era.

The weakness in this development of what became social science, though, is that psychology, which undergirds any consideration of social behavior as social groups are comprised of individuals, being in its infancy was, we now know, flawed in some essential premises and was divided between two dominant theoretical approaches as represented by Freud and Jung, so Comte's reliance on a flawed theory of human psychology incorporated flaws into social science despite its use of empirical quantitative methods.

"About Idealism: An Exploration of Some Philosophical Viewpoints that Put Mind Before Matter"

Though Idealism has deep roots in philosophy and metaphysics, there are many associations with predating ideas that do not correspond to Idealism's relationship to science. For instance, the Idealist metaphysical concept of the primacy of mind over matter as practiced by Indian Yogis has no correlation to epistemological Idealist concepts of science because the primacy of mind in epistemological Idealism is not a construct of individualization or collectivisation of the personal mind as a force that can alter the material present. Rather it is a universal concept of mind that is at once the perceived and the perceiver.

While Idealism places mind ahead of matter by saying that nothing can be known that is not mind related, Idealism does not deny the material world nor does it deny such physical laws as Newtonian mechanics nor of quantum mechanics. A strength of Idealism, as is becoming more evident in this day of accelerated developments in quantum physics, is that the quantum world of energy supports the Idealist construct of mind being primary to matter: physicists are proving that energy precedes matter, which is equivalent to saying mind precedes matter. One physicist in particular, Dr. Amit Goswami, is doing much to develop an accurate understanding of the primacy of energy/mind over matter.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question