Subjectivity, Structures, Hegemonies: Political-Cultural Questions in Historical Epistemology
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In the age of post-truth it is urgent to re-engage with the most fundamental problems of the theory of knowledge and philosophy of science. In this essay I deal with the theoretical impasses of today's historical epistemology summarized by a twofold crisis of the subject (according to the vision of impersonal epistemic processes) and the object (according to an opposite tendency towards radical subjectivism). I overview various tendencies -structuralist, constructivist, post-modern, post-structuralist, Foucauldian - and argue that a productive non-relativistic reassessment of the relation between knowledge and society could be achieved from the cultural-political perspective of the Gramscian theory of hegemony. This theory offers a historical approach to culture, in which the inter-relation between knowledge and society is considered relative to its material conditions as well as in connection with the collective goals set by ethical-political actors. Eventually, I point to a possible encounter between this perspective and cultural-sociological approaches to scientific thought collectives.