Nonlinear Science and the Postpositivist Researcher

Clyde Smith (1999)

I wrote this essay for my doctoral candidacy exams at Ohio State.  I was attempting to connect my interests in chaos and complexity theory (nonlinear science) and postmodern and poststructural theory/practice (postpositivist research).  My perceptions of these topics were strongly influenced by study with Alan Beyerchen and Patti Lather, as I discuss in the essay.  If you’re working on related topics, I would love to hear from you.

From the Introduction:

“This essay discusses the relationship of postpositivist research and nonlinear science, particularly in terms of their importance to the educational researcher. It is frequently said that we are in a time of shifting paradigms, perhaps even a “postparadigmatic diaspora.” For at least the last few hundred years, the dominant Western paradigm has been grounded in the principals of linear science resulting in both amazing technological invention and widespread human suffering. Postpositivist researchers have been among those attempting to explore alternatives to this paradigm in the hopes of creating a better world, even when questioning the very idea of progress. Such researchers have both challenged and extended the notion of science.”

Download the Paper in .pdf Format
[Unfortunately the translating of the document into .pdf form caused a few glitches in the bibliography but otherwise the work appears to have remained intact.]

Online Bibliography