Samstag, 24. März 2018

Two kinds of science:

"A well-known German chemist, W. Ostwald, once wrote a book on the two types of scientist he considered to be representative of alternate ways of doing science; he called them the ‘romantics’ and the ‘classics’. The romantics were the more extraverted, creative types of scientist, constantly producing new ideas, innovative and original; the classical type of scientist was more likely to be introverted, concentrating on single issues, and trying to achieve perfect closure. This theme was taken up by the German psychiatrist, E. Kretschmer, in his book on genius. Following his theories of personality and body build, he postulated two extreme types of genius, the cyclothyme (extraverted) and the schizothyme (introverted). His description of these two types is not too dissimilar to that given by Ostwald. Last but not least, we have the distinction made by the philosopher of science, Thomas S. Kuhn, whose theories postulate a clear-cut division between ordinary science and revolutionary science, with the former resembling Ostwald’s classical and Kretschmer’s schizothyme types, and the latter Oswald’s romantic and Kretschmer’s psychothyme types.
Clearly my own contribution has been of the romantic, cyclothyme, revolutionary variety, and this perhaps inevitably had led to a considerable amount of misunderstanding and controversy escalating in the manner described above to physical assaults and verbal misrepresentations."


"The fact that I am, as it were, on the ‘revolutionary’ side of science, rather than the ‘ordinary’ side, immediately suggests that while my contributions may be original in many ways, they are unlikely to be correct in every detail. It is, as Kuhn has pointed out, characteristic of revolutionary ideas that at the time they arise they have comparatively little support, they confront an established array of facts which have to be reinterpreted (not always to the delight of those who have worked with them along traditional lines!), and they are liable to change very quickly under the impact of the new facts that are being unearthed as a result of the presentation of the new theories. I never had any illusions that the new ideas I was putting forward, and the new theories I was elaborating, would be ‘correct’ even in the rather limited sense which philosophy allows to apply to scientific theories. They were usually, if not always, in the right direction, part of what Imre Lakatos, a well-known philosopher of science, called ‘a progressive problem shift’, as opposed to a ‘degenerative problem shift’, i.e., programmes of research that advance knowledge, rather than programmes of research that fight a rear-guard action by ad hoc explanations of anomalies which proved destructive to the programme."

Hans J. Eysenck

(Hans Eysenck: Consensus and Controversy)

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