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Subject:

Re: Design and research (dihotomies, bicycles, and knowledge of any kind knowledge of any kind)

From:

"Lubomir S. Popov" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Lubomir S. Popov

Date:

Fri, 13 Oct 2000 12:11:31 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (101 lines)


I decided to write again after several strange posts about science.
(Actually, strange only for me, may be customary for the rest of the list.)

> (Rosan's text)I was hoping someone would tap on a feeling that I had:
this dichotomy is a construction and it is a reflection of a particular
frame of mind or a particular value system. (I am slowly learning to
recognize and state my own intention more accurately),

(REPLY) Of course, Rosan, it is a construction, but not because of the
reasons modern leftists put forward, but because both activities are human
constructions and humans have control over them. They are human games and
Homo Ludens can change the rules. If you can make an activity that
integrates science and design, you welcome. I mentioned that a hundred
times, but it does not fit to your gut feelings.  

>(Rosan's text) I think, please correct me if I am wrong, that in the above
quoted statements, science is equated with research. And subsequently, the
rest of the argument is framed within this particular perspective and that
any other kind of approach to inquiry  can easily be dismissed as ‘not
research’, a necessary dichotomy.
>Please note that I am not doubting the differences between the practice of
science and design, (not this moment at least), I am questioning the
effects of ‘science’ being interchangeable with ‘ research’ on any
discussion about research.  

(REPLY) It is astonishing how many people (many of them professors and
doctors) have incorrect understanding about science. Science is a social
institution. Most of the people equate science with the positivist paradigm
in science. When science emerged and the process of institutionalization
started, the predominant, if not the only mode of thinking was the
positivist one. 

Some of you might reply that science is what positivists do. But I will ask
you, if this is so, then, what about the notion of paradigms? If science
and positivism are one and the same phenomenon, then there is no room for
and need of the concept of paradigm. The very fact that such a concept was
constructed (concepts are artifacts, they are constructed) indicates that
within the social institution of science there are multiple ways of
thinking, not just positivism. 

The understanding of science as only what positivists do is an Anglophone
notion. In the Germanic cultural region, the concept of science is much
more inclusive and it embraces all existing paradigms, not only the
positivist one. Germans have the term Kulturwissenschaften or sciences for
culture. In the Anglophone tradition, these sciences are referred to with
the term humanities and actually are excluded from the realm of science.
This has serious implications for the development of science and the
scientific community in the Anglophone tradition and the exclusion of other
paradigms that are different from the positivist strands. 

Now, about science and research. Research is only one of the sub-areas of
science. The others are Theory and Methodology.  Methodology refers
exclusively to the methods of theorizing, although in some sub-traditions
it may contain also the methods of research. (Research retains
field-oriented features and techniques.) (The delineation of Methodology as
a sub-area might be controversial, it depends on the tradition.) The
conceptual delineation of these areas might be different across different
paradigms.

In the Anglophone tradition, the most important thing in the world is to
collect data. (Sometimes mindlessly, but never mind.) Theorizing is looked
upon as simple speculation. This is actually the legacy of positivism in
all its strands. In addition, the contemporary university institution in
some countries degenerated research into a kindergarten play where
undergraduates collect clippings and read their own textbooks to come to
the conclusion that 2+2=5. (I know that in some branches of physics 2+2 is
not equal to 4!). 

You can make science in a phenomenological way (e.g. Ethnomethodology), in
a structuralist way (Levi Strauss), in a Marxist way, and so on. Verstehen
Sociologie is not positivist, yet it is sociology as well, and Max Weber
was making science as well.

And last, about the "gut" feelings. You can be proud with your gut
feelings, but the major difference between science (in the sense stated
above) thinking and everyday thinking is that science goes beyond gut
feelings. You may start with the gut feeling, but you should question it
until you can find proof for it. Not vice-versa - question everything until
you find something that might slightly support your gut feeling. Science
emerged with that purpose - to eliminate the biases of the gut feelings. By
reinstituting the gut feeling at the top of the pedestal we are not going
to do something new - we just repeat the old. I do not reject the role of
intuition in discovery, I just oppose the attempts to make a new science
with gut feelings simply because we have not been trained to think in a
scientific (in the sense mentioned above) way. I do not support
positivists, I am just scared by the thought that there are people who want
to make a living by changing science to play their own game.

Regards,

Lubomir Popov
 






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