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Philosophy and science have always been based on the idea that the world of appearances is an illusion that both reveals and conceals an underlying reali-ty. In many instances, this idea has been attached to mystical systems of thought, as in some Eastern philosophies that view reality as a play of fictions manifested by a universal mind. In the West, it has been the intellectual under girding for rationalism and empiricism, which have given rise to contemporary science and social science.
First we should understand the main principles and issues of human nature. How does an individual define what is real? One does it through ones perception of the world, which is based on learned interpretations. This learning is social: we learn from and among persons in social interaction. The main vehicles which convey this meaning: symbols, including language, cultural myths -- larger social meanings of objects, actions, signs, episodes, the structure and practice of our institutions, our rules for congruent action. These vehicles of meaning together construct: our world-view -- our sense of how the world works, what is valuable, why things are the way they are. Our sense of ourselves, our identity, purpose, our ideologies -- our sense of the appropriateness of, the structure of, and the exercise of, power, action and roles in society. Our selves, our societies, our institutions change continually, through interaction. The "real conditions" of our existence are not subjective, however, they only have meaning through social interaction their perceived value, causes, and significance are socially produced. Reality, insofar as it means to us, is situational, or pragmatic: the context governs our interpretation.
The social construction of reality thus becomes important because it is a subjective reality, a product of the conventions of society. Without society, and the inherent conventions therein, man would man would have no way to define the reality which he perceives, and the social language which has risen up around us would not exist at all. The fact is, that the language does exist, and therein lies the significance of sociology. To address W. I. Thompson's statement is to examine the means by which man makes differentiations about reality. If the concrete world is seen to be objective, which it is' then it must be the perceptions of man that alter the way it is seen. These changes occur through value judgments and conventions, which may be so deeply embedded in the conventions of society as to be seen as innate. What they truly are subjective interpretations of reality, based on social orientation. This orientation allows man to make differentiations about reality -- that is, as a subjective interpreter of reality, man utilizes conventions to differentiat
Names mentioned in this term paper
W. I. Thompson,
Keywords referenced in this term paper
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