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Jon Hellevig
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Conceptual Method of Science

The Fallacious Conceptual Method

I argue that in order to fundamentally understand the issues at stake in this book we need to recognize the fallacies of the present conceptual method of making science and the accompanying misconceived model of the so-called "scientific method." By the conceptual method, I mean the reigning tendency of scientists to approach their subject matters and research findings with their inherited rigid conceptual frameworks. Scientists take the concepts for real and what ensues is an attempt to match the, in fact, real physical and biological processes to the received concepts; this instead of doing what they should: match the concepts to the biological processes. By a study of nature and life we can never hope to find any biological correlates to concepts, by concepts we merely attempt to express our interpretations of the biological processes. Thus, for example, we cannot try to identify what kind of processes correlate with the concepts 'memory,' 'imitation,' 'learning,' 'imagination,' 'will,' 'appraisal,' 'belief,' etc. By these various psychological concepts we may merely describe perceived aspects of our cognitive behavior which are based on unified and interdependent biological processes, which I propose to denominate as 'feelings.'

Fundamentally, the underlying neural processes and phenomena to which we refer by these concepts are the same; we merely form various perceptions of the observed processes and behavior; and all kinds of considerations affect how these perceptions come about (most importantly the way we have learned through participating in social practices to perceive various phenomena). These kinds of concepts therefore mainly serve as aids for a psychological analysis of human behavior. Naturally they are also needed in neuroscience, but hereby the scientists should take care to ensure that he merely employs them as descriptive aids whereby he tries to illustrate his interpretations; but he shall not make a neuroscientific analysis of the concepts, the way, for example, Eric Kandel has treated the concept 'memory.' To remedy the dilemma caused by the conceptual method and in order to put neuroscience on right track we should recognize the process-like character of cognition and all that can be subsumed under cognitive behavior (feelings, perceptions, thoughts, volition, intentions, etc). I therefore, in accordance with my conception of the organic process model, propose to view all phenomena of life - both natural and social life - as organic processes and reflections of such processes. In chapters Memory and Kandel's Search for the Neural Correlates of the Concept 'Memory,' I will illustrate this fallacy in regards to the concept 'memory.' Here I will limit myself to a few remarks in this respect.

From the Conceptual Method to a Study of Biological Processes

The analysis of these conceptual fallacies show why we need a fundamental paradigm shift: we have to understand that instead of analyzing the concepts by which we try to illustrate our ideas we have to give priority to the study of the underlying biological processes, and try to match the concepts to the processes we observe and not the other way around as it is presently done. And doing so we shall never lose sight of some fundamental scientific principles, which are: (i) the principles of evolution, by which we should understand that all living organisms are genetic successors of lower forms of life; (ii) the evolutionary principle also entails that a complex organism incorporates both processes that run the same way and yield the same expressions as they did in the primordial forms of life, and processes that are based on the former but due to the increased complexity yield other expressions; (iii) the principle of a unitary (holistic) character of all organic processes, which follows from the previous principle; according to this principle all organic and neural processes are unified so that they all bear on the homeostasis of the organism, and through the homeostasis affect "each other"; (iv) the previous considerations also mean that all the processes are interdependent as I have depicted it with idea of the hermeneutical evolutionary spiral.

These evolutionary principles should never be let out of sight when considering any organic or social phenomenon, because each one in the very finest of its aspects has its ultimate roots in the unity and interdependency of the body and the nervous processing system operating the body in relation to the environment. From this also follows the recognition that all organs and organic abilities (faculties) are somehow in a relation of unity and interdependency to each other. All organic features, the anatomy, and organic capabilities conspire to bring out new behavioral abilities produced by the biological machinery, the parts of which have originally been developed for other organic functions, for what would seem as simpler functions. In regards to human behavior we should then realize that all the various types of behavior we recognize, or the abilities ("faculties") we perceive, only represent surface level perceptions of an infinite array of similar organic processes that lead to different outcomes - or rather perceived outcomes - in any given situation



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© 2017 Jon Hellevig