I've also wrestled with this question of reconciling postmodern conceptions of truth, with attempts to "really understand" the world in some positivistic way. Reading this encouraged me to start to articulate some of my thoughts.

The framework I think I've come away with is to adopt an instrumentalist orientation, where we are all just embodied information processors optimizing objective functions, with more or less useful models of the world at our disposal.

With this approach, one can say the social world is often so highly complex and noisy that the cognitive algorithms in two different minds can fit equally predictive, but mutually inconsistent models to the same data.

While some models will have less internal coherence than others--so complete postmodern epistemological explosion can be avoided--there really is much more latitude to descriptions of the world--especially the social one--than a positivist-minded thinker would comfortably admit.

This approach also sheds light on the power question: with two equally predictive models of a system, an embodied information processor optimizing an objective function (that is, you or me) chooses the model that has the added benefit of cybernetically feeding back into the system itself to steer it in a favorable direction.

So I view the big postmodern like, "There's no truth and it's power all the way down," statement as more of an aesthetic posture than the most useful epistemological model available. But that doesn't mean there aren't deep insights there that can serve as components of a more useful model.

...my two cents, lol

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Dave, this is so tightly-packed and abstract, it is hard to respond to lol

Here's my attempt to make epistemology more concrete. I define truth as "a map of the territory of reality." This image fits varied approaches to truth:

- Aquinas: the map corresponds to the territory

- Popper: the map is made through repeatable and falsifiable measurements

- Postmodernism: but who made the map, and what are their biases?

- Critical Theories: remake the map for the powerless ✊🏾

Predictability or usefulness as a feature stems from the values of science and technology. Those who consider social justice as more important than predictability or usefulness will end up with a very different map. So I think theirs is an ethical posture (mercy over truth). I explore this in the essay I will publish next weekend. Here's the draft in case you're interested to be an alpha reader. Would love to hear your thoughts (you can comment on the doc) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f8dokzx4pZATHdvt6Ksn0YhjDakt-cVXJqpmSHDsHa0/edit#heading=h.ewotmbwtg6xz

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