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Human-related factors and the development of science

Journal: The Digital Scholar: Philosopher’s Lab (Vol.1, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 87-105

Keywords : humanitarian knowledge; natural-scientific cognition; empirical subject of scientific activity; transcendental subject of cognition; rational reconstruction of the cognitive process;

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The article demonstrates that the role played by the human-related factors in obtaining objectively true knowledge became the matter of consideration already in the ancient times (the author marks this question as the Protagoras-Socrates antinomy of the subject-related and the objective in cognition). The debates on this problem pervade the whole history of human thought, and these days are becoming particularly relevant. For humanitarian knowledge, it might be explained by the tense political and economic situation in the world and the increasing need for psychoanalysts. However, as for the Natural Science, it is an issue of a purely epistemological character – the possibilities of obtaining objectively true knowledge. In search of universal and necessary knowledge, the traditional epistemology excluded personal factors from the rational reconstruction of the cognitive process, treating them as carriers of a subjective interpretation of the cognitive activities. The cognizing empirical subject was eliminated from the original epistemological abstraction, and the objectivity of knowledge could only come from the supra-individual source identified with the transcendental subject of cognition. The article explores the possibilities of a partial restoration of the role that personal factors play in the Natural Science methodology and their inclusion into the rational reconstruction of the cognitive process. The author ponders the positive aspects of the personal factors in the Natural Science and analyzes several cases from the history of physics that convincingly support the hypothesis about the positive character of the personal factors for the emergence of new knowledge: the evolution of relativistic physics (Albert Einstein) and the emergence of quantum mechanics (Max Planck). The article considers the place that the “needs” and “interests” of the mind (Kant) occupy in the development of science. It is suggested that these factors often play a key role in the history of a scientific idea or a scientific area. Despite the fact that the orthodox (Copenhagen) interpretation was put forward more than a hundred years ago and is successfully operating in the methodology of physics, the needs of the mind are continuing to provoke the further search for new interpretations of quantum theory. Likewise, the interests and needs of the mind play a decisive role in scientists' adherence to the ideals of simplicity and unity of scientific knowledge.

Last modified: 2020-03-01 19:08:58