Knower and the Known

  • David D. Franks
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Sociology book series (BRIEFSSOCY)


The purpose of this chapter is discussed and different epistemologies are identified. The nature of the human brain is noted. What emotions do for the brain per se is discussed. The new social behaviorism is described as an epistemology. The dangers of either/or thinking as well as dualism are addressed. Next, the chapter attends to the arguments between the old enlightenment epistemologies of empiricism and idealism as well as the futility of the either/or thinking that characterized the discussion. A formula is presented for avoiding this. Criticisms of analytical philosophy follow from a neurosociological point of view. Emotion and reason as opposing dualisms are critiqued, and emotion is shown to be necessary for reason. The important fact is presented that all of our senses are transducers as a reason why we cannot know the world objectively, the “way it is” like the enlightenment empiricists presumed. Reasons for retaining the notion of truth are given regardless of postmodern positions to the contrary. Modern social behaviorism is described as well as its avoidance of the “stimulus error.” The place of “affordance” in modern social behaviorism is addressed. The concepts of relativism and relationalism are contrasted, and some criticisms of postmodernism follow from this contrast.


Modern social behaviorism Enlightenment empiricists Idealists Transducers Emotions Dualism Stimulus error Affordances 


  1. Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Garden City: Double day Anchor Books.Google Scholar
  2. Brothers, L. (1997). Friday’s footprint: How society shapes the human mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Christian, J. (1977). Philosophy introduction wondering. New York: Holt, Rhinehaert and Winston.Google Scholar
  4. Damasio, A. (1994). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason and the human brain. New York: Avon Books.Google Scholar
  5. De Sousa, R. (1989). The rationality of emotion. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dewey, J., & Bentley, A. (1949). Knowing and the known. Boston: The Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Edelman, G. (2004). Wider than the sky. The phenomenal gift of consciousness. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Emirbayer, M. (1997). Manifesto for a relational sociology. American Journal of Sociology, 103(2), 324–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). The philosophy of the flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to Western thought. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  10. Laughlin, R. (2006). A different Universe: Reinventing physics from the bottom down. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  11. Northrop, N. S. F. (1948). The logic of the sciences and the humanities. New York: The MacMillian.Google Scholar
  12. Parsons, T. (1949). The structure of social action. Glencoe: The Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David D. Franks
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

Personalised recommendations