Pluralism of pluralisms [Post 32]

Science as culture: understanding different objects and methods

A multidimensional view considers human behavior is an object of experience radically different from that of natural objects. Broadly, objects of study may be ideal, natural, cultural and metaphysical. There is a distinction, however, in the way different objects are apprehended (i.e. known) by a subject.

More specifically, each kind of object requires a specific methodology for its comprehension and a particular way to articulate the relevant knowledge. Furthermore, the same object may offer different angles depending on the realm of reference. For example, law for a unidimensional view such as rationalism may be defined and characterized as “norms” while for another unidimensional view such as empiricism law is defined and characterized as “human conduct.” A multidimensional view considers all these different views and accepts they may “exist” in different realms (i.e. ideal, natural, cultural and metaphysical). Depending on the realm of reference, therefore, different sciences and scholars from the same discipline may refer to the same object but from a different standpoint.

Without an acknowledgment of the aforementioned standpoint or realm of reference, it is common to see in scientific work different views and conceptions of the same object and seemingly unresolvable discrepancies. However, these discrepancies have to do with the scientific point of view that does not acknowledge its a priori methodological choice rather than the object of study itself.

When different disciplines go beyond simple concepts and explore more complex objects such as cosmopolitanism and sovereignty it is relatively easy to foresee different and often opposite positions about the same issue making them more intricate than they are. Consequently, the lack of peaceful and permanent resolution of some apparently never-ending problems such as territorial disputes is unrusprising.

The following paragraphs characterize briefly different kinds of objects (i.e. ideal, natural, cultural and metaphysical) to offer a basis notion of each of them.

Objects: ideal, natural, cultural and metaphysical

Ideal objects are not real. That is, they simply are but do not properly exist empirically. They are not in the experience (not apprehensible through the senses), they are timeless and they are neutral to value judgments (they do not imply any axiological qualification). Examples of ideal objects are found in logic and mathematics.

The natural objects studied by the various sciences of nature are for their part real, they have existence, they are in the experience, they are in time and they are neutral to value judgments. Their being is not good or bad, just, unjust, beautiful, or ugly, useful and useless. Consider a stone or a bird and it is possible to verify in both cases all these characteristics with our senses. To claim there is beauty in flowers and birds is not logical because it is not, for example, a botanical or zoological property. The landscape, for example, does not exist by itself but integrated by the viewer as a portion of qualified nature. 

Cultural objects or goods created in some way by humans acting according to their volition are themselves real, they are in the experience, they are in time and they are valuable with a positive or negative sign such as fair or unfair, beautiful or ugly, useful or useless. Their properties can qualify their being and they must always have at least one class qualification. 

Finally, metaphysical objects are real, they exist, they are not in experience and they are valuable. For example, God who is conceived as a reality and the highest goodness is not in the experience, since He cannot be seen anywhere, nor can it be accessed through any other of our senses.

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Methods and epistemological act.

Author of:

Territorial Disputes and State Sovereignty. International Law and Politics (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2020).

Sovereignty Conflicts and International Law and Politics: A Distributive Justice Issue (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2017).

Monday 14th June 2021

Dr Jorge Emilio Núñez

Twitter: @DrJorge_World

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