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History and maps of layouts and buildings

We, the global collective of the world’s population, often wonder about world events and history. While we may seem to be certain about events and their causes and resulting effects on the totality of the historical chain, we do not always have the correct perspective through which to view history.

History does not exist in a vacuum – only air and dirt should be in a vacuum, anyway. History and historical events exist in a framework and are connected to each other like a patchwork pattern to a quilt. Each event must be said to have happened and occurred exactly as it did or the final product of the quilt’s design will be displeasing to the sight.

Let us take for example food, which is surely part of the entire historical record, dating back to beginning of the world – or at least to the existence of humanity in the world. Foods that we eat today and which may be thought to be a staple product in the average human diet are not the same foods that were eaten by our ancestors and predecessors. Specifically, vegetables did not look then, the same way that they do today. Please review the photos on this link to see what commonly eaten vegetables looked like before they were domesticated: heres-what-fruits-and-vegetables-looked-like-before-we-domesticated-them.

I have often heard it said that animals were domesticated, but never before known that it was possible to domesticate and totally recondition vegetables to become new produce. Talk about real genetic engineering. Unreal.

If we cannot even be sure about the appearance and texture and constitution of the foods we consume, then how can we be sure about the history we did not see? Is history written by the victors? Perhaps. There is sometimes, but not always, evidence of historical events, such as buildings and other structures. In other cases there may be videos and documents that substantiate events. We can piece together various components and make a determination about what actually occurred. Can be ever be certain.

Let us look now at the animal kingdom and take one example of an oddity. Does this animal really exist: Images of Jacob’s Sheep. Certainly, go to your local farm and you can see one in person – so to speak. You can read up on it on this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_sheep.

Let us consider one example of a historical blunder: https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-buzz/sword-discovered-off-nova-scotia. If the ancient Roman’s discovered Canada and North America centuries before Columbus, then is the history we knew, really true? From where did the original inhabitants of Canada arrive?

If we cannot be sure about major details in the historical record, then can we know anything to be certain without tangible evidence? If we rely solely on history books for details on history, then are we taking just taking someone’s word for it?

liberty statue displaying business

Did you ever hear the song: Man in the Mirror, sung by Michael Jackson? One of the lyrics is: “If you want to make the world a better place, then take look in the world and make a change. What, if anything does this phrase mean?

Perhaps Michael Jackson or whoever was the actual composer of the song lyrics for this ditty was trying to teach the world a philosophical truth. Whatever we see, hear, feel, think and experience in the world is somehow a reflection of oneself, albeit on a magnified scale.

To take another example, to demonstrate this point, let us consider the movie The Fifth Element. Near the beginning of the film the army or space army encounters some giant blob and is warned, by a spiritual leader Priest Vito Cornelius, to not attempt to destroy it: Because it is evil, absolutely evil.” What lesson can we draw from this eternal wisdom? Does this advice instruct us not to combat evil when we encounter it in the world?

We cannot, as a civilized society, allow evil to run rampant without restraint. According to the Introduction of John Stuart Mill’s treatise On Liberty: “All that makes existence valuable to any one, depends on the enforcement of restraints upon the actions of other people.” Based on this claim, everyone else can be said to free and permitted to live a valuable life due to the restrictions of the behaviors of some persons in the same society. Not everyone can be equally free to do as they wish, without infringing on the rights of others who aspire to life a full life without impediment.  “Viktor Frankl once recommended that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.”[1]

Let us return to our initial claim, whereby to improve the world, one must likewise first improve oneself. One must vanquish the evil within oneself to remove any trace element of this evil from the world. The world is after all not only the location of many places, but is also place. To ensure the removal of evil everyone must strive conversely to instead be good. One must not speak, act or think evil of others and most importantly not believe such of oneself.

One must restrain oneself from being evil, in anyway, whether through thought speech or action. This endeavor will improve the state of the world and remove any trace elements of evil. If there is no evil within anyone, then perhaps there will not be any evil to affect everyone. Let us set the goal of speaking, thinking and acting positively. It is a challenging task to complete fully, due to life’s pressures. But we can certainly achieve this feat temporarily. Perhaps a temporary suspension of evil within each person can be enough to tip the scales for the ultimate eternal good in the world!

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Frankl

 

tips in a business restaurant

Did you ever ask yourself: Who am I? What if this experience of life is an acted role upon a stage? “All the world’s a stage“, writes Shakespeare in “As You Like It.  Jaques in Act II Scene VII, says:

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Perhaps we are all here on this place called earth to perform a role. Do you know part to play in the grand production? Are you are villain, hero, champion, victim, leader, follower, celebrity, or otherwise? Possibly an actor, as we know them to be has self-identified with their true character. They have capitalized on their role in the real time movie of life.

How do we get assigned our role to play? Is there a lottery? Do we draw straws? Is the role we are assigned random? Maybe we create our part in the production by shaping our character throughout our life. By being scrupulous in business we may become honest businessman. This will be our role to set an example of how to behave in commerce.

To know one’s role and to utilize it to one’s benefit is a magnificent feat. More challenging, however, is to project our persona into the ether and make others believe that we are who we seem to be on the surface. We need to actualize out potential to magnify our positive traits and minimize our potential negative qualities.

Can one find out who oneself is by inquiring with one’s friends or family members? Is one’s role obvious when one contemplates one’s identity?

Isn’t the identity theft a strange term? While one can steal another’s identification, one cannot really become someone else. Perhaps the phrase should read as identification theft. No one can take your place in the living movie of life. You are unique, as evidenced by your fingerprint and DNA. Moreover, your character is absolutely impossible to duplicate. There may be look-alikes and imposters, but these fools are easy to spot.

Your constant contribution to the shaping of the fabric of the reality is certain. Your every word, thought and action is like a thread or fiber of a quilt. You create your own patch that is easily evident to all. Can you see it? Are you able to design the pattern you want to display?

 

buildings in business area in metropolitan area

Is it best to be robotic as relates to one’s emotions and display of same in business? The realm of business is just that an arena likened to a lion’s den. Business is a wild place to be at any time.

Survival in business requires that one be savvy at investing, direct in negotiations, exercise precision in every transaction. To be heartless and ruthless may not sound nice. But are business professional who exhibit these traits successful in commerce?

Let us take an example of prospecting a potential client. If the client tells you that they are not interested in your products or services at the present time, but that they want you to follow up with them at some set time and date. Imagine that you do follow up as agreed only to be told that the client will let you know if they are interested in doing business and will contact you when ready to proceed with deal. Due to the shyness or lack of business savviness of your prospective client you have lost time and banked on receiving money that was not every possible to acquire. Did this person steal your mind? Perhaps, only if you really invested your mind in the possibility of a deal.

The above example may seem silly. But it illustrates the main point being put forth, which is should one decided to put one’s emotions into business dealings, then one will always lose, at some point in their commercial career.

While the characters in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and other objectivist novels may seem heartless and robotic, true capitalist’s practice this mindset regularly to stay immune to the many diseases running rampant in the realm of commerce!

Being direct and to the point may seem blunt and rude in one’s interpersonal communications, but it is acceptable when money is at stake. Better to offend the feelings of another by being direct and to the point, then to risk misleading another; including oneself. One must weigh hurt feelings against an empty pocketbook.

Keeping your bank account in the plus is more valuable than worrying about minuses in social graces in the business arena. Be diligent, scrupulous and thorough on all terms of a business deal. Have all terms in writing, to be reviewed often prior to signing. Even for small deals, one should utilize the services of a competent lawyer. Surely, being cheap is very expensive!

 

 

person looking for information on computer

Why does it seem as though those with less are always expected to achieve more and those with more are required to do less? This theory of behaviour is known as inverted madness.

It is quite strange that throughout history those people who were members of the working class were kept so busy that they would not have time or clarity of mind to be able to think about their setting in life, as member of their community as part of the class structure. Those with wealth had the luxury of all things, especially of the benefit of books and the time and opportunity to read them and learn knowledge.

Now that information is everywhere and is most easily accessed, versus any other time in history, why does a class structure of have and have-nots still exist? This phenomenon is likely due to the requirement of balance in an economy? On a metaphysical level this may be related to the need for equality of equations in the construct of the world. In order for some people to be rich, others must be poor. Up can only exist relative to down and so on and so forth.

Even though information is everywhere and can seemingly be universally or at least globally accessed, many people are still poor. This phenomenon may be due to the reality that there are still many people throughout the world who do not have computers and / internet access. Even if some people have access to information via the Internet the economic conditions require one to work constantly – so that there is really not much, if any, time, for the working class population to read, learn and grow in their knowledge of subjects and in their understanding of the functionality of the world.

Due to the change the structure and principles of many of the world’s prominent religions, followers who were devout or non-practicing are now left in a state of confusion. Since many economic and societal structures were initially based on religious doctrines and variance in the religious construct will have residual effects.

Economic principles are constantly be reshaped, but is this a positive or negative change. Has the world really benefited from the change of methods of governance? When the rule of the King was supreme in many of the world’s empires people understood their role in society and class levels had a purpose, in relation to the King everyone else was further down the totem pole. Also, income tax was approximately 1% versus today’s rates, which can vary according to one’s income, from 30% to nearly 50%.

How can economic conditions be rightfully said to have improved, when a person is only entitled to keep a smaller / lesser percentage of their earning than ever before? Perhaps this is the answer to the quandary that perplexes economic theorists and the average person, equally. Even with so called greater freedoms through independence from monarchial rule a class system seems to have been carried over and class levels are continually maintained.

One can only wonder what life was really like under the rule of the King. Is society better off with independent rule?

 

man staring with strong focus

Are you ready to enter into a new mind-space or state of mind? Here comes the phenomenology you have been eagerly anticipating.

The question was posed and rightly put in earlier writings in this series: Is it possible to think more than one thought at any one moment in time or in any instant of reality? It was decided, after a thorough exploration of the subject that it would be impossible for two thoughts to occur at the same moment in the same brain. Is this correct? Let us postulate that one is always thinking many thoughts, albeit on different levels of consciousness. But it is more than this and greater than that.

While one may actively processing a thought in one’s brain, other parts of the brain are functioning to ensure that one’s heart is beating and that blood is circulating and other areas of the brain are focused on the constant processes of the nervous system. Electrical impulses are constantly being sent from the brain through nerves to maintain cellular life. We will agree that it is certainly possible and in fact likely that at all times there are numerous thought processes continuously at work in any properly functioning brain.

Let us venture further into exploration of simultaneous occurrences. Is it possible for more than one event to happen at the same instant to the same person? While there may certainly be components of events that play out within a event setting and which are experienced by a person, only one event make take place at once to any one person in any instant in reality. We would not consider that a person could eat steak at their favorite restaurant in one part of the world and simultaneously be eating ice cream in another location. This would be an illogical assumption that would border on madness – not to mention the impossibility of such a situation from the realm of physics.

If any two events happened to the same person in two separate locations would this process not cause a paradigm shift of reality as we know it be? Moreover, a person cannot be said to exist in more than one moment in time. One may not be living in a future yet to be created or a past that has already existed. One must therefore, be only living in one’s mind and in reality in the current time, currently observable space and experiencing events that evidently present.

These claims do not purport to ignore mental illnesses; including depression or personality disorders, which may overcome one’s mind and one’s sense of self. One could reminisce, review the past and even live there in one’s thoughts. But is this a correct postulation? No. It is absurd and impossible. If one is physically present in the current time in the history or reality on the set day on the calendar that is before oneself, which is properly reflective of the right date, then one cannot in anyway be anywhere else in time or space. If one is imaging that one is able to live in a prior moment, then one is fooling oneself and not actually reliving or recalling that moment to one’s conscious awareness. Rather one is conjuring up in one’s mind a false construct of the past based on one’s current mindset, all the while incorporating into images and perspectives that are not real or true.

If one is here and now, then one cannot be there and then. Is this claim correct? Where is there and then? That’s right it does not exist anymore, if it ever really did as one remembers it to have been. Unless one took a picture or captured on video a scene or series of scenes, then solely from one’s memory one cannot know something to really have been as one now imagines it to be in the current reality of history.

It may seem that one’s recollection is accurate, even as one compares notes with someone else and reminisces about the joint experiences of the past. This recollection is a process of re-collecting thoughts that are bound up and connected with other emotions, experiences feelings and thoughts. When one reorders all of these components to seemingly recreate a memory, one is really recreating a history that likely never existed and is instead a conjuring of one’s imagination. There may be some accuracy when seeming to remember an event or experience, but the recollection process incorporates so many subcomponents that one not be sure that the thought is really a memory.

Could we not postulate that each time one seems to remember something that one is also altering the memory of it? Each time one recalls the thought it is somehow different. Components of the scene vary to increasing degrees and levels as one strives to focus the memory. To solidify this final part of the dialogue let us surmise by saying that any two people will not recall the exact same experience the same way and will not recollect the same details of the event. What is the reason for the certain discrepancy of each person’s seemingly clear memory? It may be like we considered earlier in this discussion – which feelings and emotions about the event will vary from person to person, therefore so will the recollection of the history or reality, which we term as memory.

To function at the maximum of your capacity, while utilizing the fullest of your capabilities to your ultimate potential, you need to think in the now and be present in the time wherein you believe you currently exist.  By thinking in the moment of now you will be able to live in the now and likewise act in the present. You are surely where your minds-eye is focused. Project it into the future and slide forth from the current into the reality of the future you want to create. If you can imagine your future goals, then perhaps your brain will fill in the gaps of the specifics to ensure you are able to achieve what you believe you already have accomplished. Perhaps it is just a matter of seeing what you know yourself to be and believing that you will become who know you are in a reality that in constantly be created.

constellation of the universe

Where Are You?

Do you ever ask yourself where you are? Probably not. Where are you? It is a strange pondering process. Where one is, however, is likely a very important query. This is because where one’s mind is – so one is there. Is this correct? Can it be right? A person is where they are physically present. Or are they?

If one is sitting at a boring meeting and observing a company’s financial review or a projected forecast of sales over the next year, then one’s mind may begin to wander. Perhaps because when one is paying attention to topics that are about as mentally stimulating as watching paint dry, one’s mind craves stimulation. Hence one may start to daydream. Now let us pose the question again: where are you?

Are you where you are physically present or are you rather where you mind seems to be? Are you in your thoughts or in a specific thought? Or are you where a set thought puts you at a set moment? Could you actually be there? Let us take for an example people going to see some movie. At first the movie is promoted as being interesting and exciting, so people buy tickets. Once the movie starts it begins to enter one’s mind: “Why did I come here? What is this madness I am watching? Can I get a refund? If I leave will anyone be annoyed?” If chooses to sit through the entire boring movie, then one’s mind may wander somewhere else.

Perhaps one will be in restaurant eating one’s favorite meal: Steak with gravy and mashed potatoes, with steak tomatoes and asparagus. “Can’t you just taste it?” Are you there or are you still in the movie theater watching that lame movie?

We may need a further example for those who are skeptical of the point striven to be made and impressed upon one’s mind – that people may be where they believe themselves to be in actuality. Let us consider that you are reading a book. It is right there in front of you. You are holding the book in your hands. You can feel its weight and sense the texture of the cover and of the pages. You know that the book is real. The words on the page are real words and you understand the meaning they intended to convey to you as they reader. Now you put the book down on a table before you. It is still open and you can still see the words on the page. You are no longer grasping a hold on it thought.

As you make an effort to read you mind begins to wander into various thoughts: “Wouldn’t it be great to have some ice cream? What flavor would be best?” It seems as though you are reading and anyone who observed you would determine that you were reading. You are looking intently at the words upon a page in a book – what else would you be doing? You are reading. That’s right. But your mind is focused on ice cream, by now you have even chosen a flavor and are visualizing yourself eating it. Yummy! So where are you? Are you reading or are you at the ice cream parlor savoring your favorite flavor?

Let us venture into another more example to ensure that the point well understood. It is an absolute blizzard outside and one is surely not adequately attired. One should be wearing a proper winter coat with warm insulated lining. But one is only a regular everyday jacket. The wind is furiously gusting and sending snow this way and that way about oneself. One is not there, however, it seems. In one’s mind one is actually on a sandy beach in the Mediterranean sipping Pina coladas or something other exotic drink. One can feel the hugging warmth of the Sun’s embrace. The wind is wafting gently as the breeze just seems to pass by. One cannot be sure if there is even any wind. One is seated on reclining chair sipping one’s specialty beverage. Is one on the beach or in the blizzard?

You decide where you are? Where is your mind at? Does it matter where your mind is right now? Does it matter what your current thoughts are? Will your thoughts at this instant in time determine where you really are in the construct of the reality of the world at some point in the future of your own life? Have you decided where you are? Is it where you want to be? What are you going to do about right now?

 

 

 

 

world globe with city art displaying streets and buildings

Patterning the World

Who is most integral and valuable in a medium of communication? Whether it is for a book, movie, play, song video game, video or other entertainment system; writers are the starting point for all perpetual effects. Is that correct? Or should I have instead have written that writers are the essential base from which all residual effects branch outwards? Yes, that is more literally scripted. Now for patterning the world.

Writers pen their thoughts on paper, which communicates ideas. The real idea meant to be communicated is not generally obvious. Actually the initial intent of the idea to be put forward may never truly be known by the readership. Even when the words, once put to paper, are placed upon a screen the meaning meant by the writer may not come across as it was meant to be read or said or acted out. The same can be rightly said for writers of all media. The initial code for a video game that creates its construct and relevant parameters may be overshadowed by those who compose the storyboard, as well as by designers and those who color pixels to utter sharpness.

Writers conceive ideas, which they have received from the ether (stuff in the air) and do their best to arrange them in understandable ways as ordered words upon a paper. These ideas are then received by readers, according to and by means of their filtered perception of reality and processed or shaped into varied ideas. After much effort has been made to maintain the original idea a creative type rationalizes that creativity calls for innovation and the initial spark – the idea – is no longer present. It is as though it has vanished into the ether. In reality the idea is still where it was put by pen to paper.

The focus of this discussion on the pattern that is essentially or initially created and then lost and reshaped through interpretation and implementation into realizable actuality through a technological medium of communication. Has the pattern that the writer was meant to place into the world by way of their communication of it now been patterned wrongly or improperly? It is possible? It is patterning or shaping of reality that matters most.

It could be said – based on this view or perspective of reality – that we are all writers. Each us has ideas, every second of everyday – at all times – of which we first conceive and then give birth to through our channeled expression in the right medium of communication. Some of us will choose to express our every thought, without limitation. Others will create a Blog and post many articles to share our ideas with others. Either way we are at all times creating a pattern on the world; albeit seemingly a small effect. Many small contributions collectively shared and focused make a massive impact and create a noticeable pattern.

Are we ever aware of the patter we are creating? Do we realize that the way we speak, our tone of voice, with inflection and rhythm of flow can be soothing or off-putting? Do we ever take stock to evaluate how what we say will be heard and whether it will be well received by the intended recipient and by others who were not even supposed to hear what was said?

We are at all times creating a pattern, like a patchwork that with each patch becomes a quilt. “We all live in a global quilt. We are all members of a collective society where each member of a community can and does contribute their own patch of fabric to the greater tapestry of their own community” (Zack Steel – New Canadians Forum). The fibers of the patch of fabric may initially come from many ideas / contributors who each have their own independent ideas, which they share with others. Eventually the ideas begin to shape / pattern the place where they were thought and communicated. It may take much time for a physicality to manifest from the seemingly intangible idea, but it will happen. Every word spoken, every step taken, every action and every perception, even every thought will be seen as a physical reality one day.

Is it possible that our ideas, thoughts and words that have no noticeable physical presence will take on a form or have a perceivable presence? Do these phenomena not have a physical being even now? Electrical impulses sent across synapses in the brain do exist and have somewhat of a form. Did you not ever see a flash of lightning across the sky? Was this not a manifestation of electricity in a “physical” form? What about the rays of the Sun? While unseen they are commonly accepting as existing? Just ask anyone who spent much time at the beach without sunscreen? They will tell you there are rays emanating from the Sun. How can it true? I cannot grasp a ray or store it and use it in the winter or a cloudy day. But the rays are real. Can the same not be claimed for ideas thoughts?

There must be an initial physical reality of thoughts for there to later be a communication of them in form, in whatever shape it may assume; written or spoken. How we shape the idea once it enters our mind and later emerges from our brain has definite and set resulting effects that will surely has residual effects. The world itself is shaped much more by what we think, than by words or actions. It may not be obvious how this is correct. But take for an example any place where people are at all times happy and joyful, is there not in that place wealth and abundance. Can it certainly be determined which came first – the state of mind or the state of being?

To know for sure that words have more of an influence on the shaping / patterning of the world one need only consider that based on the words in a newspaper – no not only there! Even the words on a computer screen from a news website or even on the main page of a Search Engine create a pattern of reality – whether or not the news is accurate is not relevant to this paper. The essential point of interest is how we will view the news and interpret it. Moreover, what is absolutely crucial to our perceived reality is how what is written – as the news – will cause us to act in the world. Based on what we read, will we reconsider buying this product or that one? We will sell our property or make a certain investment all because of what we read? Not always verifying what reviewed. We will shape our portion of the world based on what was proclaimed by a source, printed or virtual (online).

According to J.S. Mill, in his epic work On Liberty, “He who lets the world, or his portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses the plan for himself employs all his faculties”.  Is this right? Does it matter if we are creating our own patterns according to our own desired design? Or should we pattern our portion of the world according to the conception of others? How will you choose to pattern the world? What will be your patch of the quilt look like and will it nicely blend with those nearby? More importantly what is the appearance of the current global quilt? What will the patchwork of history look like when it finished?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

woman working on a equation for work

Phenomenology – Husserl Revisited

Edmund Husserl, the founder of phenomenology embarked on his career with studies on fundamental themes in mathematics, logic and psychology. He was greatly affected by motive explainable by the development of German Philosophy, deriving from Kant and Hagel, which dissuaded him from proceeding along his early goals, as a mathematical philosophy and logician. Husserl’s philosophical work was perpetually ‘unknown’ and is still relatively not currently well known. This can be attributed to his “independent development, allowing little personal discussion with dissenting thinkers, and his create of a unique technical vocabulary, which added to the difficulties in understanding his further studies” (Faber: 1962).

A principle cause of the current misunderstanding of Husserl’s phenomenology is the failure of students to closely examine his use of the word ‘phenomenon’, “that which displays itself”. It is something that presents or ‘exhibits’ itself to the experient (Welch: 1939).  Husserl’s highly complicated philosophy is not easily translated into sociological concepts and a good portion of it is not directly relevant to sociology.

In general, Husserl believed that people view the world as a highly ordered place; actors are always engaged in the active and highly complex process of ordering the world. People, however, are unaware that they are patterning the world; hence they do no question the process by which is accomplished (Ritzer: 1992). Actors see the world as naturally ordered, not as constructed and structured by them. Phenomenologist’s are aware that patterning is occurring and that it is important for an ordering process should to be created and thereby the various phenomena be thoroughly examined. Husserl’s scientific phenomenology involves penetrating the various types of layers constructed by actors in the social world, in order to delve into the essential structure of consciousness, the transcendental ego. The idea of the transcendental ego reflects Husserl’s interest in basic and uniform properties of human consciousness. The essence of consciousness was for Husserl, the transcendental ego (Ritzer: 1992).

For Husserl, consciousness was not a place or a thing, but a process. Consciousness is not found in the head of the actor, but in the relationship between the actor and objects in the world. Meaning resides not in objects, but in the relationship of actors to objects. This conception of consciousness, as a process that gives meaning to objects is at the heart of Husserl’s phenomenology (Ritzer: 1992).

Another key element of Husserl’s work was his orientation to the scientific study of the basic structures of consciousness. What Husserl meant by science was a philosophy that was methodologically rigorous, systematic, and critical.  Husserl believed that phenomenologist’s ultimately could arrive at absolutely valid knowledge of the basic structure of actors ‘lived experience’ (especially that which is conscious). This orientation to science had affects on subsequent phenomenologists. Firstly, they kept away from the tools of modern social science research – standardized methods, high-powered statistics, and computerized results. They preferred describing and paying attention to all objects – as experienced by human beings. Secondly, they continued to oppose vague, ‘soft’ intuitionism. In other words, they were opposed to ‘subjectivism’ that was not concerned with discovering the basic structures of phenomena, as experienced by people (Ritzer: 1992).

Husserl conceived of an actor’s natural standpoint, or their ‘natural attitude’, as the major obstacle to the scientific discovery of phenomenological processes. Due to an actors’ natural attitude, conscious ordering processes are hidden to them. Through Husserl’s perspective, the natural attitude is a source of bias and distortion to the phenomenologist. Phenomenologist’s must be able to accomplish the very difficult task of ‘disconnecting’ or ‘setting aside’ the natural attitude, so that they could get at the most basic aspects of consciousness, involved in the ordering of the world (Ritzer: 1992). Once the natural attitude is set aside, or bracketed, the phenomenologist can begin to examine the regular properties of consciousness that govern all people. The phenomenologist must also set aside the incidental experiences of life that tend to dominate consciousness. Husserl’s ultimate objective was to get the pure form of consciousness, divested of all experiential content (Ritzer: 1992).

Husserl also extended his work to the world of interpersonal relations, the ‘life world’. Husserl’s phenomenological view points to the position that “phenomenology must become a science of the life-world.” The majority of Husserl’s work was focused on the transcendental ego and he did not adequately deal with sociality and social groups. As a result, while Husserl’s work largely turned inward towards the transcendental ego, Alfred Schut’s work projected outward to into inter-subjectivity, the social world, and the life-world (Ritzer: 1992).

ALFRED SCUTZ

Alfred Schutz was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1899. He received his academic training at the University of Vienna. He then embarked on a lifelong career in banking, but it did not satisfy his need for a deeper meaning in his life. Schutz, however, found that purpose in his work through his pursuit in studies and compositions in phenomenological sociology.

According to Schutz, the social world of everyday life is, always, an inter-subjective one. He believed that the world is shared with others who also experience and interpret it. He believed that his world was never wholly private; even in his consciousness he found evidence of others, evidence that this seemingly unique biographical situation was not wholly the product of his own thoughts, behaviors, perspectives, perceptions and actions – ‘real’ or ‘imagined’. Rather he held that each of us was born into a historically given world that was simultaneously ‘natural’ and ‘sociocultural’.  The world existed before Schutz came into it and continues exist now that he is absent from it. He believed that each one of us is an element in the life situation of others, just as they are in so in our own life. He felt that we all experience our common world in a similar fashion. Our experience of this everyday world is a common-sense one, because Schutz felt that we take for granted that our fellow men exist, that they have a conscious life, that we can communicate with them, and finally, that they live in the same natural, historically given, sociocultural world where we seem to exist (Zeitlin: 1973).

KNOWLEDGE OF OTHERS

Schutz spelled out the essentials of the common-sense, taken-for-granted, everyday world – an elaboration of Husserl’s Lebenswelt. He also employed Husserl’s notion of ‘appresentation’ to explain how we came to know others and communicated with them. Schutz exemplifies this by saying:

Only the other’s body is presented to me, not his mind. His conscious life is appresented, not presented. My consciousness receives indications of his conscious life and experiences mainly by visual perception of his body, his action, and the acitons of others upon him.

(Zeitlin: 1973)

Husserl calls these indications a system of appresentations, which in turn he regards as the source of sign systems and, ultimately, of language. In short, we grasp the physical body of the other as expressing his “spiritual I”. It is towards this “I” and its motivational meaning that each of us directs his actions. When we say, for example, that we are in empathy with one another, it is the same as saying we have grasped his meaning through appresentation.

It is the spiritual meaning of the object that we appresentationally apperceive and not its actual appearance. We constitute the object in accordance with the meaning it has for us. For instance, when you read a book, it is clearly not the book – as a material object – to which your orient yourself; rather you are drawn and striving to connect to its meaning. Similarly in face-to-face interactions with others; we do not hear words merely as external sounds, when we listen to someone talking. Instead, we hear word as ‘active conduits of meaning and context’, which enable us to comprehend the conscious intended expressions of the person to whom we are listening (Zeitlin: 1973).

 

RECIPROCITY OF PERSPECTIVES

 

When Schutz speaks of the microworld of face-to-face interaction, he also uses terms like “world within my actual reach” and “world within my manipulatory zone”. Schutz believed that people’s worlds would overlap, so that some things and events might have occurred within the manipulatory zone, for all actors involved. Yet the objects and events would have appeared differently from each respective standpoint as to their “direction, distance, perspective, adumbration, etc…(Zeitlin: 1973). The common-sense, taken-for-granted attitude that people shared was that they exchange places and if they did so, then they could each perhaps see the world as the other did previously.

Of course, this applies not only to spatial, but also to socio-cultural perspectives. The biographical situation of each of us is unique and it follows that our purposes and systems of relevance’s must differ. Nevertheless, people tend to assume that despite our private purposes and systems that ‘we’ interpret our common world in an ‘identical manner’. The typifying constructs that we share enable us to go beyond our private worlds into a common one (Zeitlin: 1973).

Schutz points out that the thesis of ‘interchangibility of standpoints’ is an idealization – even if in the relatively simple microworld (Zeitlin: 1973). People can reciprocally exchange their standpoints and their perspectives and there is some inevitable transcendence of each other’s worlds. Yet, people enter the relationship with only a fragment of the other’s personality. Their respective systems of relevance, resulting from their biographically unique situations, can never be totally congruent. The “Ego” can never make the “Alter Ego’s” system of relevance really his own. He can instead, merely understand it. For all of these reasons, people can transcend each other’s worlds. There is still another form of transcendence that becomes evident within the “We-relation”. This phenomenon, according to Schutz, belongs to the realm of meaning that ‘continuously transcends everyday life and can only be grasped symbolically’ (Zeitlin: 1973).

 

MULTIPLE REALITIES

According to Schutz, men’s interests in the world of everyday life are eminently practical, not theoretical. In their so-called ‘natural attitude’ they are governed by practical motives – they strive to control, dominate, or change the world in order to realize their projects and purposes (Zeitlin: 1973).  Schutz calls the everyday practical ‘world of working’ – is  paramount reality; for this is the area of social life in which men treat the world as a field to be dominated, as thereby strive to overcome the resistance of objects and others to their life plans. Not all aspects of this paramount world are equally relevant to ‘people’s life projects’. People select from the world, within their actual or potential reach those objects that they believe will serve their interests and the realization of those projects.

In this paramount reality our hopes, fears, and wants impel us to act, to plan, to resist obstacles, to realize our projects. The anxieties, however, of everyday life spring from our most basic existential experience: our in knowledge and our fear of death (Zeitlin: 1973). Each one of us believes that we will die and fears of dying before we have fulfilled our hopes and realized our plans. Schutz terms this our ‘fundamental anxiety’. Anxiety is an essential element our social experience of the world or our working, daily lives. We believe that we experience things as they actually / really are, as long as we have no good reason to believe otherwise. This is man’s ‘natural attitude’ in his seemingly paramount reality.

Schutz borrows the term ‘epoche’ from Husserl, but he reverts its meaning. The ‘epoche’, for Husserl, was the first or initial phase of the reduction in which one suspended belief in reality; overcoming the natural attitude by means of radical doubt (Zeitlin: 1973). Everyman, for Schutz, in his ‘natural attitude’ also employs a type of ‘epoche’. But what he suspends is not belief in the ‘existing world’, but in his doubt of / about it. People seem to doubt that the world and its objects exist differently than it appears to them. He called this the ‘epoche’ of the ‘natural attitude’.

            The ‘paramount reality’ is the ‘paramount world of meaning’, but there are also many others so termedfinite provinces of meaning’ (Zeitlin: 1973).  Schutz emphasizes that it is men who intersubjectively give an accent of reality to things, which it is of their experiences and “not the ontological structure of the objects that constitutes reality.” The coined phrase ‘finite provinces of reality’ describes the flow of people’s daily life through a variety of meaningful experiences and the corresponding flow of their consciousness (Zeitlin: 1973).

From the ‘paramount reality’ one may shift towards the world of phantoms: daydreams, jokes, play, and the like. Herein one leaves behind and divests one’s will to master the world and one’s pragmatic motives; knowingly or unknowingly. One becomes an imaging self who orchestrates and / or plays out any role and then projects oneself into / onto any world and / or perceived reality where one chooses to have an interaction. One has freedom of discretion – a specific freedom one lacks in both the paramount reality and the picturesque and highly fanciful ‘world of dreams’. In the realm of the ‘world of dreams’ events appear inflexible and the dreamer is seemingly powerless to influence what is happening in the dream state of consciousness. As well, one does not have purpose or projects, perhaps because one is unable to or cannot control the flow of one’s own life at all.

Finally, there is the world of scientific theory, which Schutz deliberately defines narrowly as an activity aiming towards the observation and understanding of the world, but not towards it actual mastery. According to Schutz, the practical and better motives are not ‘an element of the process of scientific theorizing itself’.

We see that ‘the finite provinces of meaning’ are not separate states with definite perceivable boundaries. They are simply the names one gives to the range of meaningful experiences that one has, both in conscious and during / throughout unconscious life / ‘actively aware existence’.  Ultimately, all of these experiences are communicable to one’s fellow man / woman in language and through action.

 

COMMON SENSE AND SOCIAL SCIENCE  

The social scientist studies a world that has already been preselected by the living, thinking and acting subjects within it. People orient themselves and cope with the everyday world, by means of common-sense constructs and thought object / processes. The social scientist constructs refer not to a mindless, meaningless world. Rather, the constructs refer to a socially constructed world of meaning. According to Schutz, “the constructs used by the social scientists’ are – so to speak – constructs of the second degree; namely constructs created / made by the actors on the social scene, whose behavior the scientist observes and tries to explain in accordance with the procedural rules of his science (Zeitlin: 1973).

For Schutz, the natural and social worlds are therefore structured differently. He does not conclude, however, from this realization that a social science is impossible or that it is based on fundamentally different rules of procedure. Instead, he dissociates himself, both from those who deny the possibility or a social science and from those who have opted for a behaviorist method, which ignores or radically departs, from the common-sense concepts men employ in their everyday lives (Zeitlin: 1973). For Schutz, the Social Sciences present special difficulties that could be overcome through specific methodological devices, which would attain objective and verifiable knowledge of a subjective meaning structure. This requires systematic attention by the social scientist, to the relation of the typical constructs of common-sense types and social science types.

Schutz also advocated that the social scientist should be a ‘disinterested’ observer. The social scientist should not any vital or practical interest in the situation observed, but could have a cognitive or theoretical stake in it. The social scientist must be uninvolved in the hopes and fears of the participants and not share their anxiety about the outcomes of their actions / behaviors. The social scientist should be, in short, ‘detached’.

THE TYPICALITY OF EVERYDAY EXPERIENCES

“The individuals common-sense knowledge of the world is a system of constructs of its typicality”, writes Schutz. The world, of each of us, has always been pre-experienced and pre-interpreted, so that our knowledge of the world is always based on the experiences of predecessors, as well as on our own experience and that of our generation (Zeitlin: 1973).

 

Bibliography

Barber, Michael D. (1987). The Constitution and the Sedimentation of the Social in Alfred
Schutz’s Theory of Typification. Modern Schoolman 64: 111-120.

Farber, Marvin. (1962). The Foundation of Phenomenology. New York: Paine-Whitman
Publisher.

Michaud, Thomas A. (1998). Schutz’s Theory of Constitution: An Idealism of Meaning.
Philosophy- Research-Archives 13:63-71.

Landgrebe, Ludwig. (1991). Reflections on the Schutz-Guwitsch Correspondence. Human
Studies
107-127.

Ritzer, George. (1992). Classical Sociological Theory. New York: The McGraw Hill Companies
Inc.

Welch, E Parl. (1939). Edmund Husserl’s Phenomenology. Los Angeles: The University of
Southern California Press.

Zeitlin, Irving M. (1973). Rethinking Sociology. New York: Meridith Corporation.

research beakers for science on a table

In this critical analysis of testing in the sciences,  we will examine the various issues for test in the human and natural sciences. We will examine the theories of Searle, Taylor and Popper. In this analysis, we will strive to uncover which of the theories, which they represent; best explains the Philosophy of Social Science. The claims made by Searle and Taylor for studying natural and social science, will be compared with Popper’s Account for Testing in the Social Sciences, in order to examine the various methods currently being employed in studying the Philosophy of Social Science.

Natural Science is divided into two distinct categories: Physical Science and Life Science. Physical Science includes the study of physics, as well as Atomic Science. Life Science is the study of various species and their roles in the economy of nature. Social Science involves utilizing a method of study to examine factors of human life; including social, economic and human development. Natural Science can be studied according to the scientific method and scientists would develop a hypothesis and then test, using various apparatus and experimental strategies. Social Scientists might limit their study to examining the social interaction of human beings. Therefore, Social Science cannot be studied using the same methods as Natural Science. Social Science examines human beings and social life, which is a domain that contains far too many variables to be calculable. Natural Science can be studied and experimental results can be empirically tested and retested, successfully.  The study and testing of experimental results is possible because Natural Science examines substance(s), which scientists proclaim to be calculable.

We will begin our discussion by analyzing the claims made by Searle for studying Social Science. Searle presents four points about human science:

Searle’s first point is “the that explanations of human behavior are casual…but that such explanations whether of individual behavior or collective behavior, make references to a special kind of causation – they require a certain form of mental, or as I like to call it, “intentional” causation.

(Searle, 1991: 35)

We might perceive Searle’s first point to be that not only is human behavior causal, but so are the explanations that we might ascribe to human behavior. This claim might require the additional support of the supposition of collective intentionality, which Searle discusses in his book, On the Construction of Social Reality. Searle also appears to claim that such explanations of individual or collective behavior make reference to a special kind of causation. Before we examine the remainder of Searle’s first point, we must first examine this aspect of his claim very closely. If there is a special kind of causation to which explanations of individual and collective behavior make reference, then there might be more than one type of causation. Hopefully, Searle will explain the various types of causation that exist. Proceeding with Searle’s first point, it appears that he claims that the special causation, to which explanations of individual and collective behavior make reference, requires a certain form of mental state, which he refers to as “intentional” causation.

This might suggest that the mental – that which involves the mind – produces “intentional” causation. It also forces us to wonder if there are other kinds of causation (which are not mental and which are not intentional), yet are still forms of causation nonetheless. A possibility exists that perhaps these other kinds of causation are natural processes. Nevertheless, “intentional” causation which occurs as a result of the mental (or in the mind) would be the product of human will to cause something to exist or have an existence, even if only occurring in one individual’s mind, or possibly in the mind of the collective.

Searle’s point might be that the explanations of human behavior occur in the mind of the social scientist(s) who study the behavior. This varies from natural scientific study, in which the explanation might only be perceived in the mind of the scientist, while evidence is present in or on the apparatus. Searle might be suggesting that Social Science is not testable in the same way as Natural Science, because social science experiments are conducting by observing and examine the behavior of test subjects. After the observations are made, the data is then analyzed and conclusions for the experiment are produced according to the methods implemented the social scientist(s). The difference between this kind of experiment, which is done by the social scientist and one performed by a natural scientist, is that a scientist of natural phenomena tests and retests his experimental data; by using various apparatus and his conclusion is based on physically evident results. If conducted according to the scientific method of conducting an experiment, likely, other scientists will be able to duplicate the experiment and observe similar results.

For the social scientist, the results of his experiment are merely the product of his mind, while examining the data. It is unlikely that other social scientists will find similar conclusions if they duplicate the same experiment. Also, while test subjects, in social science, have a physical existence and are comprised of substance) according to natural science), their behavior is not tested using a physical apparatus in an absolutely controlled environment) as in the natural sciences.

The second point I want to make is that there is a class of social facts having certain logical features that make them quite unlike the phenomena of physics and chemistry. In the case of phenomena such as marriage, money, divorce, elections, buying and selling, hiring, firing, wars and revolutions, the phenomena are – to speak vaguely at this stage – permeated with mental components; furthermore, the facts in question are self-referential in an odd way because they can only be the facts they are if the people involved think that they are those facts.

(Searle, 1991:335-336)

Searle’s second point is extremely diverse, therefore, we will examine it in three parts: Firstly, he claims that there is a class of social facts (but not necessarily all social facts), which by having certain logical features, make them quite unlike the phenomena of physics and chemistry. There is a class of social facts that are applicable, yet there is also a class of social facts to which Searle’s second point would not apply. The remaining claims (referring back to his second point) suggest that some social facts that humans have labeled are tangible and tradable, while other so-called social facts are merely institutional facts, such as marriage and divorce. The social fact of money (which is tangible) is a social fact that is tangible as currency, yet money is also an institutional fact, in the case of credit and debt economics.

Most importantly, in Searle’s claim regarding the phenomena, is that they are permeated with mental components. This suggests that these phenomena, while they are observable in the physical world, are items that have been labeled and defined as institutional facts and social facts. Towards the end of his claim, he explains how these social and institutional facts are maintained. Searle clarifies that the facts in question are self-referential in an odd way, because they can only be the facts that they are, only of the people involved think that they are those facts. This claim seems to be very persuasive.

If the facts that Searle presents us with in his second point are self-referential, then it would lead us to believe that if we did not refer to these facts at all, then they would not exist. It would, however, not be sufficient for us to deny, ignore or fail to acknowledge the existence of these facts. Collectively, we would need to abstain from using these facts, and only then, they might cease to be recognized as facts. But Searle does not explicitly discuss this possibility. He does divulge though, that these ‘facts’ can only be the facts that seem to be, if the people involved think that they are those facts. Searle might be demonstrating that the existence of these facts does not necessarily depend on everyone accepting these facts, or affirming their purpose or existence. Instead, he illustrates these facts, to which he is referring, can be seen as ‘facts’ only by the people involved within the institutional structure where these facts are maintained. Whoever is not involved within the institutional structure and does not make use of these social facts, would not affect these ‘facts’ whatsoever.

Most compelling, of Searle’s arguments, is the differentiation between social and institutional facts and natural scientific facts (such as physics and chemistry). Natural scientific facts do not need to be permeated with mental components. They exist and operate independently, within the economy of nature, regardless of human acknowledgement or definition of them. This persuades us to believe that natural facts have an existence independent from social reality. Perhaps this notion will help us assess the testability of natural and social facts. Social facts are easier to test, simply because they exist within institutional structures that have been defined by human beings. Therefore, the social and institutional facts that exist can only be understood by people living within that particular institutional structure (who have previously defined these facts as ‘facts’). They are then referred to as either social facts or institutional facts. Natural phenomena are more difficult to test than social phenomena, because testing it involves the introduction of an apparatus and other items that might affect the phenomena being tested. The introduction of other an apparatus and other items might affect the phenomena to such a degree that the test would be invalid according to the scientific uncertainty principle as proclaimed by Heisenberg.

A third distinction between the social and natural sciences is a direct consequence of the nature of intentional causation. The prepositional content given by the theorists in the explanation of the behavior must be identical with the prepositional content in the actual mind of the agent or agents whose behavior is being explained; otherwise, the behavior is not properly explained.

(Searle, 1991: 337)

It now appears that the problem of testability in the natural and human sciences is more complicated than we had originally believed. Rather than the testability of social science being more reliable than natural science, it might in fact be more unreliable and more difficult to understand. This problem is emphasized by Searle’s claim regarding the nature of intentional causation. If “the prepositional content given by the theorists in the explanation of the behavior needs to be identical with the preposition content in the actual mind of the agent for the behavior to be properly explained, then where this were not the case, the behavior would not be accurately perceived.” (Searle, 1991: 337).

A fourth feature of social phenomena is also a consequence of its intentionality. It is this: For this reason, then name of the phenomenon is often partly constitutive of the phenomenon so name. The phenomena are completely unlike, for example, such physical phenomena as gravity or kinetic energy and such biological phenomena as diseases or hereditary traits. Whether or not something is a certain disease or whether or not certain relations of gravitational attraction exist between two entities is a fact that is completely independent of how it is represented. They exist independently of what anybody thinks about them. But in the case of social facts, the beliefs and the terms that people use are partly constitutive of the facts.

(Searle, 1991: 339)

In Searle’s fourth elaboration on social phenomena, he attests to what might be the greatest problem for the testability of social science. He then further demonstrates how and why natural science and the phenomena that it studies are testable in a fashion that social facts are not. Whether or not a fact in natural science is represented appropriately, regardless, the conception of a fact does not negate its testable qualities. Even if a natural fact is misinterpreted in explanation, the fact can still be studied and tested by another scientist, thereby achieving similar results. On the contrary, in social science, where a social fact is misinterpreted as a different social fact, the actual portrayed fact will be the one that will be tested and perceived.

Just as technical jargon (usually Latin) is employed in the natural sciences, technically specific language is the main tool used for studying social science. If the terminology is flawed and categorical imperatives are not clearly established in the social sciences, then the experiment will be faulty. In contrast, even if the terminology in natural science is inaccurate, the experiment would still be useful, as long as the phenomena being studied is correctly portrayed through visual means (or can be derived by scientific deduction).

Let us now examine the claims made by Taylor (as explained by Staunch) and determine whether or not they are in agreement with Searle’s viewpoints.

Where the natural sciences were seen to be using explanation of phenomena based on theoretical laws formulated as a result of empirical observation of behavioral regularities, the human sciences were held to be involved in the attempt to understand the meaning of the behavior that composes the phenomena of its domain.

(Searle, 1992: 338)
According to Staunch, the natural sciences employs explanations of phenomena based on theoretical laws derived from empirical observation of behavioral regularities, whereas, human sciences involved in understanding the meaning of the behavior that composes the phenomena of human beings. Human science is directed at applying theoretical laws to observations of the behavior of test subjects. The difference between the two approaches taken by these fields of study is very obvious. Natural scientists examine data gained from conducting experiments and derive laws from repeatedly testing the data. Social scientists, on the other hand, continue to examine human interaction and human institutions, in an effort to understand the relationship of human to their environment and the reasons for human reaction to socially constructed phenomena.

“Thus the distinction that Taylor draws between the natural and social sciences is based on the ontological difference, and this makes Taylor’s position quite close to Dilthey’s who also sees the difference between the human and natural sciences as difference of ontology” (Staunch, 1992: 342). If the difference between these two science in ontological, then we might reasonably question what is meant by the term ‘ontology’. If ontology refers to the origination and the source of these sciences (which are different for the social and natural sciences), then the ways that these sciences evolved are not necessarily relevant. Instead, the ontology of Social Science (according to Searle), is derived from collective intentionality and intentional causation.

Where the differences between these sciences are evident, these differences highlight the Social Sciences as a being easier to tracer to its roots. On the other hand, the phenomena in natural science can be tested and these tests might provide result that natural scientists could readily use to better understand the natural world. Natural scientists can also derive theoretical laws for the world by testing various phenomena. The study of phenomena in the Social Sciences does not result in the derivation of theoretical laws, because the phenomena observed are the actual objects of study. Humans, as well, as their mental states and social creations, are the phenomena of social science. The phenomena can be ontologically traced back to the collective intentional imposition of participants, belonging to the society where these social facts exist (Searle, 1995).

“Rorty, who has subsequently argued that the only distinction worth making between thee sciences is a moral one that does not depend on either a methodological or an ontological basis” (Staunch, 1992: 340). If Rorty’s reasoning is correct, the it would not be worth distinguishing between natural science and social science (the only distinction worth making would be a moral one). Rorty emphasizes that methodology and ontology are not factors when establishing the moral differences between these sciences. His assumptions might be correct, but his argument lacks evidence. Despite the fact that there appears to be no methodological differences between these sciences, they should still be studied using the same methods, making use of the relevant apparatus. Yet, bear in mind that the apparatus in social science is language and social constructs. The methodology, therefore, would not be exactly the same for both sciences. The ontology of these sciences, however, might be very similar. Social Science and social facts could have developed from natural processes that have been developed in human beings; thereby influencing various characteristics within them. Natural science might be the ontological source of social science; whereas Social scientists are more concerned with studying the behavior of human beings in the social world. This is far more significant than analyzing how the social world might have been biologically derived from natural phenomena.

“Thus social scientists carry an additional, or at least a different, responsibility relative to natural scientists. For social theory plays a creative role in the social order and continuation of human practices and institutions in a way that natural science doe not” (Staunch, 1992: 342). Social scientists have an additional responsibility relative to natural scientists. This responsibility is twofold; as well as studying human being as products of natural phenomena within their natural and social worlds, social scientists must examine the socially constructed world and human relationships within it towards and it. Social scientists’ carry a burden with them that is unique, yet respectably equal to the pursuit of natural scientists’, in discovering the processes of development in the world.

“Consequently, the social sciences are involved in a double hermeneutical practice because they must interpret what is already an interpretation” (Staunch, 1992: 347).

Let us refocus on the claims made by Searle (specifically his second point), and determine how Popper’s claims either agrees with or refutes Searle’s claims.

Popper’s theory of explanation in the social sciences is intended to avoid the errors of those social theorists who have either ascribed too much reality to social groups (social classes, the nation-state) or have, contrarily attempted to reduce all phenomena (law, money) to the psychology of individuals. On the one hand Popper has asserted that it is wrong – both factually and morally – to ascribe to social whole a will of their own. And it is a mistake to regard it as the taks of social sciences to prophesy the life-cycle of these super-individuals…Popper asserts because our social action can have effects quite the contrary of our intentions.

(Berkson, 1989:160).

 

Searle’s second point exemplifies ideas that are exactly the opposite of what Popper claims should not be done. That is ascribing too much reality to social groups and reducing all phenomena (i.e. law, money) to the psychology of individuals. But Popper is not only declaring that this approach is loaded with errors. He also claims that it is wrong to ascribe a will to their own social wholes. “This view must be mistaken, Popper asserts, because our social actions can have effects quite the contrary of our intentions” (Berkson, 1989: 61). Searle argues the contrary viewpoint to Poppper. Searle argues the contrary viewpoint to Popper. Searle claims that facts, whether social or institutional, are self-referential and they can be only the facts that they are if the people involved think that they are those facts (Searle, 1991:335-336). We cannot be certain which viewpoint is actually correct, when we contrast and compare Searle to Popper. Yet, it is evident that there is contrasting evidence in the social sciences that is persuasive and compelling, which would allows us to accept two claims as competing theories (neither or which being more persuasive than the other). This is similar to the theories in natural science. Theories simply remain theories in natural science and do not become scientific laws. This mainly occurs for two reason: Either empirical studies cannot be replicated to achieve the identical results of the original study or because the contemporary theory conflicts with an already established (or equally compelling) theory.

In Popper’s closing remarks, it is explicitly demonstrated that he drastically refutes the position taken by Searle. “Popper asserts because our social action can have effects quite the contrary of our intentions” (Berkson, 1989: 160). Searle agues the opposite side of this claim:

Social facts differ from natural facts in that they contain mental representations. But they differ from other facts in that the mental representation have the element of self referentiality that I was just attempting to adumbrate. The thin is only what it is if people think that it is what it is.

(Searle, 1991: 341)
Searle also claims that, “in the case of social facts, the beliefs and the terms that people use are partly constitutive of the facts” (Searle, 1991: 339). He then proceeded to argue the following:

Intentional causation differs in an important respect from the sorts of causal phenomena that we are familiar with when we discuss things such as gravitation or nuclear forces, for intentional causation is that form of causation involving mental state in virtue o actual content of the mental states.

(Searle, 1991: 337)
Popper might be correct in his assertion that ‘our social actions can have effects quite the contrary of our intentions’. If Popper’s assertion is correct, then it is difficult to determine what we can make of Searle’s claims regarding intentional causation or collective intentionality. Searle’s claim represents the norm social actions, and in contrast, Popper’s position asserts that there are exceptions to the rules of social action. Social actions, like much of social science, might therefore be theoretical and not empirical. This might be the determining factor that distinguishes it from natural science.

In the physical sciences, theories are routinely testable, and the value of testability is unquestioned. In the social sciences, however, testability is not the general norm, and in fact the social scientists who want to produce testable theories of society faces a dilemma.

(Berkson, 1989, 157)

In summary, Searle proclaims that, “indeed there is a sense in which, for the most part the social sciences have not advanced theoretically beyond a kind of systematized common sense” (Searle, 1991: 336).

Bibliography

Berkson, W. (1989). Testability in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 19, 157-171.

Searle, J.R. (1991). Intentionalistic Explanation in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 21,  332, 344.

Searle, J.R. (1995), The Construction of Social Reality. New York: The Free Press.

Staunch, M. (1992). Natural Science, Social Science, and Democratic Practice: Some Political Implication of the Distinction Between the Natural and Human Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 22, 337-356.

 

 

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