मंगलवार, 4 मार्च 2008

Philosophy as Methodology

-Dialectical Materialism (A.Spirkin)

The general concept of methodology:

A methodology is a system of principles and general ways of organising and structuring theoretical and practical activity, and also the theory of this system। Genetically methods go back far into the past, when our distant ancestors were acquiring, generalising and handing down to new generations their skills and means of influencing nature, the forms of organising labour and communication. As philosophy emerged, methodology became a special target of cognition and could be defined as a system of socially approved rules and standards of intellectual and practical activity. These rules and standards had to be aligned with the objective logic of events, with the properties and laws of phenomena. The problems of accumulating and transmitting experience called for a certain formalisation of the principles and precepts, the techniques and operations involved in activity itself. For example, in ancient Egypt geometry emerged in the form of methodologically significant precepts concerning the measuring procedure for the division of land. An important role in this process was played by training for labour operations, their sequence, and the choice of the most effective ways of doing things.
A characteristic feature of the development of philosophical thought in the 20th century is the rapid growth of methodological research and the increase of its specific share in the general system of scientific knowledge। This is due to the conversion of science into a direct productive force, to the rapid development of science as a special form of intellectual production and to the differential and integrative processes occurring in it, which has led to the specific changes in the classical disciplines and the appearance of many new ones। The development and perfecting of methods is a crucial element in all scientific progress. Contemporary society is confronted with global problems whose solution demands large-scale programmes that can be carried out only through the collaboration of many sciences, programmes designed to cope with the problems of ecology, demography, urbanisation, space exploration, and so on.
There are several classifications of methodological knowledge. One of the most popular is the division of methodology into substantive and formal methodology. The former includes such problems as the structure of scientific knowledge in general and scientific theory in particular, the laws of the generation, functioning and mutation of scientific theories, the conceptual framework of science and its separate disciplines, the definition of the explanatory patterns accepted in science, the structure and Operational composition of the methods of science, the conditions and criteria of scientificalness.

According to another classification, methods are divided into philosophical, general scientific, and special scientific methods. Yet another classification relies on different methods of qualitative and quantitative study of reality. The distinction between methods depending on the forms of causality—determinist and probability methods—is of considerable importance in modern science. For example, in biology dialectics is seen through the prism of general scientific methods (systems analysis, the principles of self-regulation, etc.), in specific research projects through apply ing special scientific methods and systems of methods (electronic microscopy, the method of tagged atoms, etc.). One or another method makes it possible to know only separate aspects of the object of research. In order to comprehend all the essential aspects of the object, there must be complementarity of methods. The whole system of methodological knowledge necessarily involves a world-view interpretation of the basis of the research and its results. It should be stressed that general methodology is always at work in the brain of every scientist but, as a rule, it is kept in obscurity, as the intellectual background of a searching mind. This obscurity is sometimes so complete that the scientist may even deny that he acts according to any philosophical methodology, and insist that he is in general free of any philosophy. But this is merely an illusion of the consciousness.

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March 3, 2008 1:01 AM