Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can Scientists Capture Behavior?

Can the logic of the universe be captured, in a bottle? Can it be "contained" — on a paper or in an essay? I always get the idea that some persons think they can put logic on the page. Of course not everyone thinks they can do this, but some writers do. I, for one, do not see why anyone at all should think that we can do that, but leave it to the white man. Those guys are so progressive. Actually they are. Of course we all try our best. But can logic be on put on pages? Do they actually think they can put logic itself on a page? I always marvel at this. Obviously, I just don't "get it."
     Can a person put the nature of logic on paper? (A perfectly good word substitution here would be [into] "language") The Western social scientists group seem to go too far with this kind of thing. This is what they seem to think they can do all the time. There seems to be a pretense that they can actually capture it, "it" being something like the wheels of the universe. In the case of so-called "social science," a term I have always despised, this has to do with capturing (or representing) certain processes that human beings engage in: these are of course certain social processes.
    The timeless, transcendental value of science is that it discovers what is the case. The stars and atoms will always operate the same way. The application of science to inorganic or very simple organic matter works because inorganic matter doesn't think. So, in that case the rules can be discovered because discovering the rules of atoms does not upset the atom in question. When dealing with simple organic matter, or with any sort of inorganic matter whatsoever, the rules can be laid bare.
    The project works. The stars and atoms do not have any opinions about what you say about them. By contrast, humans are touchy and they suffer.
    As sentient beings they suffer. Social behavior is the sum total of what upsets or does not upset particular persons.
    A scientist who aspires to extend the meaning of the word "science" thereby creating "social science" means to sit down amongst a certain human population and discern the rules by which that group operates. This, I suggest, is a dicey proposition.
    And, how can one pretend objectivity when one is oneself a human? ---- when the researcher himself is a human being, embedded in his society? So much for anthropology, perhaps. But is the situation significantly better when human beings attempt to create what they believe should be called "social science" by studying their own behavior, as sociologists, economists or so-called "political scientists"?
    The project to create "social science" seems to be a rather whack-assed project. What would "political science" be? That guy would be saying that precisely because what politicians do is practice politics, it remains for the "social scientist" to do the science part. So, because what politicians do is not science, it follows that what the "social scientist" does "ought to" be? Perhaps he thinks the world "ought to" leave a special room for scientists. But that itself does not sound to me scientific.

I say this: what is social cannot be delimited that way; it probably cannot be "captured" in a book. Writers create the illusion of containing logic right there on the page, but the logic of things can be in the things.
    This is why there is literature. This is why we have art. This is even, perhaps, why R. Crumb made his comic books. The difference between the artist (or cartoonist) and the one who tries to put the logic of the spheres onto a kind of solid form in terms of the pages of books is that the former groups give room to their sense of humor.
    The difference between artist and scientist is t hat the artist works out of an acceptance of his limits, while the scientist takes himself much too seriously, and he mistakes the idea of discovering the simple "case" with doing so. He is all taken up with his process. So, they have the arrogance of those that think they are something like omnipotent --- or is that omniscient? Whatever.
    Artists create effects, scientists facts. What would it mean to create a fact? it would mean to confine it to the page. They want to take the logic of the universe and transfer it to some contained form, some representation, be it in some kind of prosaic or technical language or by means of charts, equations, metaphor. And science has made enormous gains that way. Everyone knows it. And it is true. Naturally, as time went on, they said "we'll try to do this for society as well." and they started to call themselves "social scientists"  but before they had properly discerned whether that was possible or not.
    This of course is because they are human --- they have ambition. But can one study that tendency to have ambition? I do not think so, but it may be that there are special cases. Take Karl Polyani, for example...

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