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Social Sciences | Societal Dynamics - Understanding Social Knowledge and Wisdom

Societal Dynamics

Understanding Social Knowledge and Wisdom

Betz, Frederick

2012, XXIV, 344 p.

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  • Explores the fundamental dichotomy between achieving social knowledge vs. wisdom, and the roles played by the physical and social sciences in explaining and promoting a balance
  • Uses dramatic examples from recent history (e.g., the Bolshevik Revolution, China’s Cultural Revolution, and the rise of Nazism)
  • For researchers and students in the social sciences (political science, sociology, history), ethics, economic and social theory

At both a micro-information level and a macro-societal level, the concepts of “knowledge” and “wisdom” are complementary – in both decisions and in social structures and institutions.  At the decision level, knowledge is concerned with how to make a proper choice of means, where “best” is measured as the efficiency toward achieving an end.  Wisdom is concerned with how to make a proper choice of ends  that attain “best” values.

At a societal level, knowledge is managed through science/technology and innovation.  And while science/technology is society's way to create new means with high efficiencies, they reveal nothing about values.  Technology can be used for good or for evil, to make the world into a garden or to destroy all life.  It is societal wisdom which should influence the choice of proper ends -- ends to make the world a garden.

How can society make progress in wisdom as well as knowledge?  Historically, the disciplines of the physical sciences and biology have provided scientific foundations for societal knowledge  But the social science disciplines of sociology, economics, political science have not provided a similar scientific foundation for societal wisdom.  To redress this gap, Frederick Betz examines several cases in recent history that display a fundamental paradox between scientific/technological achievement with devastating social effects (i.e., historical events of ideological dictatorships in Russia, Germany, China, and Yugoslavia). He builds a new framework for applying social science perspectives to explain societal histories and social theory.  Emerging from this methodological and empirical investigation is a general topological theory of societal dynamics.  This theory and methodology can be used to integrate history and social science toward establishing grounded principles of societal wisdom. 

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Epistemology - Knowledge Management - Scientific Methodology - Scientific Paradigm - Social Science - Social Systems - Social Theory

Related subjects » History of Economic Thought - Social Sciences

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