Posts Tagged ‘method of cognition’

I was absent from class last time, so I am not able to type my post on class reflection.  Instead, I will reflect on the reading itself, Fleck’s Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact.  I really enjoyed reading Fleck’s work.  Dr. Wolff told me that in class everyone discussed  how we could use Fleck in our research, which is what I would like to attempt to do now.  Fleck points out that one experiment cannot explain the development of syphilis, but rather the experiences of many different experiments, observations, skills, and transformation of concepts can.  Therefore, in consideration to my own research, when researching a specific concept, I should make sure to look at the history of experiments and transformations of that concept.  As Fleck suggests, all concepts conform to a specific thought style of the past.  I am researching the GLBT community.  According to Fleck then, I am researching, not only the current GLBT community, but the  GLBT community of the past, and even the future.

Fleck suggests that throughout the history of scientific knowledge, as with other branches of knowledge, a closed system of opinions developed, which resisted, and still resists, any new ideas that contradict it.  He says there are several stages to this resistance.  First, a contradiction to the system appears unthinkable.  Second, what does not fit into the system remains unseen.  Third, new ideas are kept secret.  Fourth, experts explain an exception to the rule.  Fifth, experts continue to describe the current views only, while ignoring the contradictory views.  In consideration of these stages, I think it will be important, when researching my topic, to research contradictory views.  I should always keep in mind that just because an expert says so does not make it so, because experts frequently resist new ideas that contradict their own ideas.  Fleck says that the expert is a molded individual who cannot escape the bonds of tradition or of the collective.  In other words, when a new idea comes along that does not fit into experts’ collective boxes of traditions, they reject it, or simply overlook it, because they cannot escape the bonds of their traditions and of the collective. 

Along with these ideas, I think it will be important to consider my personal method of cognition when conducting my research.  Fleck mentions that whatever we already know influences our method of cognition, and this method then gives what we already know new meaning.  Therefore, I must consider, when doing my research, that what I already know will guide my choices in research, and how I then interpret that research.  For instance, I currently live in a social world in which the GLBT community is fighting for different rights, like the rights of marriage and adoption.  Because I live in this social world, I chose to research this community.  Further, because I live in this social  world, I have developed my own opinions and perceptions of this world, such as believing the rights of the GLBT community have been violated, which will now influence the way I interpret the readings on this topic.  As such, I must make sure to analyze my own beliefs and biases, and how they may be influencing the progression of my research, when developing my work.

Fleck also states that truth is not relative or subjective, but rather belongs to a particular thought style, namely that of a thought collective.  In conclusion, when conducting my research I will remember that what I am researching is never truth for all people, but rather truth only according to a certain group of people.  The thoughts and concepts developed from each of these groups of people is what makes up a thought collective.

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