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Author Topic: Cosmopolis and functional specialization  (Read 57807 times)

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2012, 08:46:57 PM »
Lonergan calls the first functional specialization “Research,” but I prefer to call it “Data Construction.”

I regard data construction as a functional specialty in sociology; I believe that I cannot make good judgments without referring to data.  Texts in research method often speak of “collecting data,” but I think this is misleading.  Data are not like wildflowers in a field, just there waiting to be “collected.“ Researchers construct data by recording their experiences in a system of symbols.  My experiences on archaeological digs illustrate this.  When we uncover an artifact, it is not “data” until we locate it precisely within the 3 dimensional grid within we we excavate.  The artifact is described in terms of that grid, assigned a number that specifies it’s locus, photographed, and drawn.  We have then constructed a datum!

When we use numbers as the symbol system to record our experiences, we are more likely to designate our data construction as “measurement.”  When we construct data relevant to testing a hypotheses, we are engaged in what Lonergan calls “special research.”  When we construct data without any intention to verfify or falsify a hypothesis, it is was Lonergan calls “general research.”  He says this:

General research locates, excavates, and maps ancient cities. It fills museums and reproduces or copies inscriptions, symbols, pictures, statues.  It deciphers unknown scripts and languages.  It collects and catalogues manuscripts, and prepares critical editions of texts.  It composes indices, tables, repertories, bibliographies, abstracts, bulletins, handbooks, dictionaries, encyclopedias.  Some day, perhaps, it will give us a complete information-retrieval system (MT 127).

I have to paraphrase this in my own words for it to be useful to me.  I begin by eliminating “general research” as the subject of active verbs. (I am mildly obsessed with avoiding reifications and personifications of abstractions.)  Here is a first try:  All data construction that is not guided by efforts to verify or falsify hypotheses can be characterized as “general research.”  Those who emphasize description can be said to be doing “general research.”  Maps, archaeological digs, ethnographies, surveys and critical editions of texts are examples of this.

To these activities,as a sociologist I add such things as the mapping of a wide range of contemporary phenomena (not just cities), census taking, the keeping of various sorts of statistics by governmental and non-governmental organizations, the reporting of the news, sample surveys, and observational studies.  In terms of the ideal of a complete information-retrieval system, it would also be necessary to include the posting of information to the internet, and the construction of more efficient ways of retrieving electronically stored data.

Just as the artifacts discovered and recorded by archaeologists were not originally created so that archaeologists could find them and transform them into scientific data, so also people are continually creating symbolic representations of social reality without intended them to be transformed into sociological data.  Sociological data construction requires recording things within a system of symbols, a sociological frame of reference.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2012, 08:44:41 PM »
Lonergan's second functional specialization is "interpretation."

While sociologists recognize that data construction – or data “collection” – is a functional specialization, we often treat “interpretive sociologies” as distinct schools of thought or paradigms within sociology.   Some sociologists say that interpretive sociology is more “humanistic” than “positivist sociology.”  I do not deny that there are differences between self-styled sociological humanists and positivists, but I deny that it is only the humanists who engage in interpretation.  Positivists eagerly talk and write about what their data mean.  That’s interpretation.  In theology, interpretation is most often of written texts, but in sociology we also interpret a wide variety of non-verbal symbols, such as statistical data, tests of significance, rituals, music, and the visual arts.  Of the interpretation of texts in theology, Lonergan says that it “grasps meaning in its proper historical context, in accord with its proper mode and level of thought and expression, in the light of the circumstances and intention of the writer” (MT 127).  Of the interpretation of both verbal and non-verbal symbols, I say that the context is not only historical, but also cultural and sub-cultural and individual.  I believe that meaning is always personal, that persons mean things by the symbols they create, use, and interpret.  In his section on the truth of interpretation (IN 562 ff.), Lonergan says that the interpreter must attend to the circumstances of the audience as well as of the writer.  The same thing is true of the interpreter of non-verbal symbols, including those that are enacted, such as a ritual or a dance, as well as those that result in a relatively permanent artifact, such as a written text or a painting.

I don't think that I contradict Lonergan by trying to interpret symbols, including written texts, in their interactive contexts.  I do think that my "symbolic interactionist" perspective might be in tension with some modes of theological interpretation.  This is because of the special status of texts that the interpreter believes to be the revealed word of God.  My sense is that some, but not all, theological interpreters of scripture believe that the words, sentences, and larger units of Biblical text really do mean something in themselves, independently of the meaning any human attributes to them.  I agree with Peter Berger on this point (although I disagree with him on some others) that as a sociologist I have to practice "methodological agnosticism."  This means that, if I were to attempt to give a sociological interpretation of Biblical texts, I would have to focus on what the human writer of the text meant by the words he wrote, in the historical and cultural context he was in when he did the writing.  And I would also have to focus on what kinds of habitual beliefs and values he thought the members of his audience had.  Further, I would also have to focus on how historical changes and cultural differences have led different readers of the text to attribute meanings to it that differ from what the original writer intended to say, or what members of his intended audience actually thought he meant.

Those sociologists who treat interpretive sociology as a field or subject specialization within sociology have obscured the degree to which all sociologists engage in interpretation.  Those who deny this are performatively inconsistent in their denials.  That is, they have to interpret what I mean by my assertion before they can deny it.  And when their data construction efforts involve asking people questions, they actually do spend a great deal of time in getting the formulation of their questions right, so that their respondents do not attribute a meaning to them that the inquirers did not intend. 

By recognizing interpretation as a functional specialization rather than as the exclusive method of a particular school of thought in sociology, self-styled humanists and positivists can engage in a collaborative sociological enterprise, within which they regard data construction and interpretation as necessary moments in the research process.   

In "The New Science of Politics," Eric Voegelin says that the method of political science (but I include sociology) is the "critical clarification of symbolic representations of social reality," and argues that these symbolic representations, created by the members of a society, are the primary data for the social inquirer.  Both data construction and interpretation are moments within that part of the process Voegelin calls "clarification."  The question for intelligence is "what meanings do the various people connected to a particular symbolic representation attribute to it?"  The meaning I attribute to "critical" in his formula derives from my interpretation of what Lonergan wrote about dialectic.

The residual conflicts between positivists and humanists also call for the functional specialization called "dialectic."
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2012, 07:17:11 PM »
Lonergan' third functional specialization is "history."  He relates history to psychology and sociology:

"These sciences may be modelled [sic] on the procedures of the natural sciences.  In so far as this approach is carried out rigorously, meaning in human speech and action is ignored, and the science regards only the unconscious side of human process.  In this case the relations between history and human science are much the same as the relations between history and natural science.  However, there is much psychology and sociology that does recognize meaning as a constitutive and normally controlling element in human action.  To their study the historian leaves all that is the repetition of routine in human speech and action and all that is universal in the genesis, development, breakdown of routines.  Moreover, the more psychology and sociology the historian knows, the more he will increase his interpretive powers.  Conversely, the greater the achievements of historians, the broader will be the field of evidence on human speech and action that has been opened up for psychological and sociological investigation (MT 180).

I do not think that is is possible for a psychologist or a sociologist to engage in research with human subjects without communicating with them.  To the extent that communication takes place, there are going to be interpretations of the meanings of the words and actions of the researcher by the subjects of the research, and interpretations of the words and actions of the subjects by the researcher.   If there is experimentation, the researcher has a moral and legal obligation to explain to the subjects just what is going to be done to them in the experiment, and must get their informed consent. 

All psychological and sociological data are historical, because they are symbolic representations of events that have occurred in the past.  The past event might be very recent, as in an interviewer's recording of a research subject's answer to a question asked but a minute ago.  Or it might be an event from a more distant past, as in an account of a civil war battle in a soldier's letter to his mother.

Lonergan says that historians "leaves all that is the repetition of routine in human speech and action" to the psychologists and sociologists.   I disagree.  The historians I have read pay a great deal of attention to the repetition of routines.  They write about repetitive practices that occurred in the past.  In the prohibition era, smuggling, homebrewing, and frequenting speakeasies were frequently repeated actions.   Historians write about routine practices in families, in agriculture, in government, etc. 

I think that the biggest difference between historians and sociologists is in the kinds of enriching abstractions they prefer.  In the interest of constructing coherent narratives, historians abstract from the complex networks of relationships among individuals and institutions that exist within a short duration of time.  In the interest of constructing maps of relationships among individuals and institutions within a short duration, sociologists abstract from sequences of events that are related in longer temporal durations.  I do not claim that historians never engage in the mapping of relationship among things in different institutional domains, or that sociologists never construct narratives. 

I consider narrative to be both a heuristic structure that guides inquiry, and a rhetorical form in which the results of inquiry can be written.  Historians place a high value on narrative both as heuristic and as rhetoric. But that does not mean that they must never use classical, statistical, developmental, or dialectical heuristic structures.  I believe that historians who are informed by Lonergan's cognitional theory will use all of these heuristic structures when they are appropriate for their questions and subject matter.   

As a functional specialization in sociology, I see history as a specialization in the use of narrative heuristically and rhetorically.  Concretely, a sociologists engaged in this functional specialization will be engaged in activities that are very similar to the activities of men and women who call their subject specialization "history."

I conclude with five points:   (1) All sociological data have been constructed at a time and place.  (2) Interpreters of data need to take into account the temporal and cultural context of their data.   (3) All interpretations also take place at specific times and places.  (4) The symbolic expressions of earlier interpretations are data for later interpretations.  Historiography is, at least in part, a narrative account of a sequence of interpretations.  (5) There are dialectical as well as temporal relations between and among interpretations.   

“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Artfulhousing

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2012, 08:35:47 PM »
Richard
I agree with you that the FS Research reaches beyond texts to any meaningful expression. As Lonergan says in Chapter 3 of Method, “Meaning is embodied or carried in human intersubjectivity, in art, in symbols, in language, and in the lives and deeds of persons.” (p.57). Here I add my own elaboration as well as a qualification to your discussion of Research.

First, my elaboration. The various meanings of our lives find expression in the materiality of the world. These expressions encompass both external events (states or actions) and internal events (states, actions, experiences etc.). They include attitudes, beliefs, opinions, feelings, emotions, values, habits, expectations, motivations, skills, capacities, personal and social characteristics, material characteristics (of buildings, of habitats, of environments), language, clothes, decorations, art, music, sounds, dance, performance, video, film, symbols, signs, customs etc. This diverse manifold of expressions as meaningful events is both the starting point and the end point for social science. Sociologists begin with an already constructed world of meanings.

So, I have come to understand Research as answering the empirical question: what events have occurred or are occurring? As events they occur at some time and place. As events they are just given, diverse, diffuse, unquestionable, yet to be understood (see Insight p.405-6 on experiential objectivity). The primary orientation of the qualitative and quantitative research within the social sciences is to answer the empirical question by documenting the occurrence of events. They are also concerned with frequencies of events and with associations between events over specified period of time within a specified geographical area. These events occur now or, they have occurred in the more or less remote past. They can be in this place or in some far distance place. They can describe a sequence of events.

Second, my qualification. The problem I see with quantitative and qualitative methods within sociology is that they largely operate within a taken-for-granted common-sense mode and much of the data gathered has its relevance within a framework which takes the perspective of one or other economic, social, political, cultural or religious group (or shifts between them depending upon the circumstances). Within this framework, researchers ask all sorts of questions and seek answers to them supposing that these questions can be answered through an empirical investigation.

I would suggest, however, that Research as a functional specialty can be better understood within the context of answering one particular question, a what-is-it-question? You hint at this in your discussion of Research when speaking of your archaeological experience. Within Research, a researcher will begin with some answer to this what-is-it-question? They pre-suppose this answer as a heuristic, a guide. (Within a common-sense framework, this answer is implicit.) Their orientation, however, is towards the data. They are looking for data which been ignored by or overlooked in their current answer and will provoke a revision to the current answer.

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #19 on: October 20, 2012, 11:26:38 AM »
Artfulhousing,
I am sorry that the subject you started on "functional collaboration" never elicited more responses, because you wrote some things in your initial post that I believe to be important.  So I am taking the liberty of quoting your points, omitting some of your elaboration of those points:
"(i) While Chapter 5 of MiT articulates the relevance of FC for the development of theology, it has relevance beyond this. ...

"(ii) While MiT articulates the relevance of FC for the development of one research field, viz. theology, its wider context is within a practical theory of history,  ...

"(iii) I began to understand the eight functional specialties in terms of eight questions and the eight methods we use to answer those questions. ...

"(iv) In a common sense mode I describe these eight questions and relate them to the functional specialties as follows: Research as answering as an empirical question, Interpretation a theoretical question, History a historical question, Dialectic a critical/evaluative question, Foundations a transformative question, Doctrines/Policies a policy question, Systematics a strategic question and Communications a practical question. Though Lonergan clearly makes a stand on the importance of theory, MiT seems to unfold functional collaboration within a common sense framework. ...

"(v) ... As I began to appropriate the orientations of the eight questions and the differing way in which I answer them, I came to the view that these eight questions are a complete ordered set of questions. In other words, they are all the questions we can ask about something. They are ordered in that they regard the ‘stages’ in process from the current situation to creating a new situation.

"(vi) As a complete ordered set of inter-related questions, I came to the conclusion that FC is a theory of science. Rather than describing science as knowledge, or in terms of precision or its empirical base, FC outlines the significant, relevant and essential questions that constitute or bring about science (just as experience, understanding and judging constitute knowing and are the elements in a theory of knowledge). This is an explanatory definition of science, one that incorporates not only knowledge but also incorporates implementation and the creation of something worthwhile.

"(vii) Finally, as a completed ordered set of inter-related questions, I also came to the conclusion that FC is a theory of progress, it is what constitutes or brings about progress in any field of human endeavour. We cannot move forward in any area unless we answer each of these eight questions. ...

"viii) We can work as individuals and seek to answer each of these questions in turn. We can, however, be more effective if we collaborate, if we develop expertise in the different methods for answering different questions. These questions are often complex and difficult."

I returned to your post in the other subject line because in your post of October 19, responding to my post on the first functional specialization, you wrote: "I have come to understand Research as answering the empirical question: what events have occurred or are occurring?"   That reminded me of your exposition of the ordered set of question that you say constitute both a theory of science and a theory of progress.  I agree that we can be more effective if we collaborate, and collaboration requires us to try to interpret what the others mean when they speak or write.

The empirical question you pose seems to me to be the question behind general research.  I stated what I mean by this term: "All data construction that is not guided by efforts to verify or falsify hypotheses can be characterized as 'general research.'  Those who emphasize description can be said to be doing 'general research.'  Maps, archaeological digs, ethnographies, surveys and critical editions of texts are examples of this."  How might a map be considered a documentation of "events that have occurred or are occuring?"  It seems to me that a map is a record of some of the things that are or were present within a defined territory.  It differs from a simple list of those things, because it also documents the spatial relationship between and among the things that are included.  It can specify the location of the occurrence of one or more events, but abstracts from the temporal sequences of events that had occurred at the various locations.

So your phrasing of the question behind general research leaves out the documentation of things that I do not call "events."  I agree that the map-maker's experience of the confluence of two rivers was an event, but argue that his intention in drawing this confluence, and indicating its location with reference to other significant features of the territory he is mapping, is not to document his experience upon first seeing the rivers merge, which was the event, but to map the content of what he experienced, which is not an event.

I did not elaborate upon my understanding of "special research," other than in saying that it is data construction that is guided by efforts at verifying or falsifying hypotheses. 

Your qualification of my discussion of data construction seems to me to bear upon "general research" rather than "special research."   When a researcher constructs data in order to verify or falsify a hypothesis, she is not operating within what I understand to be a common sense framework.  A person who is operating in a common sense framework does not formulate and test hypotheses, and does not try to formulate explicit definitions of terms. 

You seem to have rejected my characterization of research as "data construction" by saying "much of the data gathered has its relevance within a framework which takes the perspective of one or other economic, social, political, cultural or religious group (or shifts between them depending upon the circumstances)."   Perhaps by putting it this way you do not mean to disagree with my denial that we ever "gather" data, but that we must always construct it.  I say this, because by adding that a "framework" or "perspective" is always the context for the "gathering" of data, you seem to be making a point that is similar to mine.  That is, a researcher always constructs her data FROM a framework or perspective.  Where we seem to differ is that I believe that in data construction to verify or falsify a hypothesis, the definitions of the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis, provide the framework or perspective from which the data are constructed.  To the extent that the key terms in a scientific hypothesis are defined by how they are used in theoretical explanations, the data that are constructed to verify or falsify that hypothesis are not constructed from a common sense perspective.   To the extent that the key terms in a hypothesis are drawn from common sense discourse, without having been theoretically clarified and criticized, I agree that the data will be constructed from the common sense perspective of some non-scientific social group.

Scientific research, and the data construction that is a key element in scientific research, occurs within scientific communities.  Genuinely scientific communities may include theoretical disagreements, but their disagreements are those that ought to be settled by empirical data.  For these disagreements to "engage," rather than be no more than instances of people talking past one another, there has to be a frame of reference within which there are enough similarly defined theoretical terms for opposing hypothesis to be verified/falsified on the basis of data that have been constructed from within that common frame of reference.

The guiding value for scientific research must be truth, and genuine scientists must subordinate all other desires to the pure desire to know.   To the extent that data are constructed for other purposes, they are likely to be biased in the very process of how they were constructed. 


 
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Phil McShane

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2012, 12:37:51 PM »
Dick and "ART",
as I mentioned in my brief comment on ART's Collaboration Reflections, I am just getting into tune with these reflections. Both pushes are great, and I see no problem in "data" collecting, sorting, or whatever. In the first seminar,on research, [FuSes zero to 9 on the Website] we revealed how data, in any serious field, are always in the context of  perspective .... in physics there is the standard model, in literature there is a spectrum of models. But my puzzle now is, how do we carry this larger reach forward?  It would even be a goodly start if Lonergan authorities commented on us three as quite off the mark, but there is a dreadful silence from ...."The Establishment".   

Artfulhousing

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2012, 07:31:00 PM »
Dick
I’ve been mulling over your response to my comments on the FS Research. First of all, my main concern has been to develop some sense of what Research might mean within the context of the totality of the functional specialties (Functional Collaboration) so I have overlooked for the moment Lonergan’s distinction between general research and special research. You give an example of “the map”. As you note, preceding the map is a range of events. But the map itself is also an event, an event constructed/produced by someone who meant something by it. Insofar as other persons can pick it up, recognise it for what it is and use it, then it has significance for them. But if we ask about the meaning or significance of the map, then we asking a question which goes beyond its immediate use and immediate meaning.

You write: “Where we seem to differ is that I believe that in data construction to verify or falsify a hypothesis, the definitions of the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis, provide the framework or perspective from which the data are constructed.” I would suspect that it is not so much around data construction that we differ. Rather, in the context of Functional Collaboration, we have different understandings of hypothesis as a framework. Let me elaborate with three lines of response.

(1) I would regard your phrasing of the issue ‘verify or falsify a hypothesis’ and ‘defining the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis’ as secondary to the process of understanding the meaning or significance of some events. What is primary is a question and the discovery of an answer through insight. In my view, verification regards not the data but rather the adequacy of the process we go through to reach an answer. In summary, verification lies in answering the questions have I been attentive to the data? Have I been intelligent and asked and answered all the relevant questions?

(2) I would note that sociologists (and other reseachers in the human sciences) use the term ‘hypothesis’ in various ways. So within quantitative and qualitative methods hypotheses regard the associations between events such as the association between low-income and crime, or smoking and cancer, or “the institutional, policy and economic shifts that may explain rising income concentration” and the rise of the super-rich (American Sociological Review October 2012). Or, hypotheses may regard the motivations of social agents such as the greed of financiers in the GFC or in the production and reproduction of dominant ideologies. I would regard these types of hypotheses as associations in time and place developed within the FS Research rather than hypotheses or theories reached in the FS Interpretation.

(3) Within the context of Functional Collaboration, I would suggest we need a more precise meaning of ‘hypothesis’, particularly in term of the relationship between the FS Research and the FS Interpretation. In my initial discussion of Functional Collaboration I described the role of the FS Interpretation as answering a theoretical question. I would go on to suggest that the theoretical question is a what-is-it-question, a question of definition, or more precisely, a question of explanatory definition. The FS Research pre-supposes some answer to this what-is-it-question as a heuristic (or hypothesis). When I ask a what-is-it-question such as ‘what is a theory?’, I come with some understanding of theory (however inadequate). But there are aspects that puzzle me, that don’t quite fit, that may or not belong. So answering my question has two movements; first, towards the data (with my current understanding/theory as a guide) – the role of the FS Research which identifies data not taken account of in the current theory; second, the discovery of a new answer (which differs from my previous understanding, indeed may transform it) – the role of the FS Interpretation. The nature of that answer is somewhat complex and brings in a discussion of ‘emergent probability’, a discussion you have flagged elsewhere in this Forum.

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2012, 12:53:08 PM »
Artful Housing,
You wrote [My responses are bracketed and in boldface]:
I’ve been mulling over your response to my comments on the FS Research. First of all, my main concern has been to develop some sense of what Research might mean within the context of the totality of the functional specialties (Functional Collaboration) so I have overlooked for the moment Lonergan’s distinction between general research and special research.  [It is important for being clear in our discourse that I do not believe that words mean things in themselves.  I believe that it is always a person who means something by a word.  From your second sentence above, I understand you to believe that “research” can mean something that is independent of the meaning attributed to the word by any individual person, whether it be Lonergan, you, or me.  Please correct me if I am mistaken in attributing that belief to you.]
You give an example of “the map”. As you note, preceding the map is a range of events. But the map itself is also an event, an event constructed/produced by someone who meant something by it. [What I mean by “event” is a concrete reality that has a specific temporal duration and occupies a specific volume of space.  I don’t usually call a map an “event,” because I don’t generally think of it as having a temporal beginning and end, but I agree that a map-maker (or printer) brings a specific map into being, and that it occupies a volume of space until it is destroyed or decays.  I generally think of a map as a product, an artifact, rather than an event.  The drawing or printing of the map is an event, and each time a person reads the map it is an event.] 
Insofar as other persons can pick it up, recognise it for what it is and use it, then it has significance for them. But if we ask about the meaning or significance of the map, then we asking a question which goes beyond its immediate use and immediate meaning.  [These sentences confirm the suspicion that I expressed above that you think of the map as having a meaning that is somehow independent of the meanings individual persons attribute to it.  But I might still be mistaken.  My intention here is not to initiate a debate about whether or not words or maps mean things in themselves, but to make my beliefs clear.]
… (1) I would regard your phrasing of the issue ‘verify or falsify a hypothesis’ and ‘defining the key terms that go into the formulation of the hypothesis’ as secondary to the process of understanding the meaning or significance of some events. What is primary is a question and the discovery of an answer through insight. In my view, verification regards not the data but rather the adequacy of the process we go through to reach an answer. In summary, verification lies in answering the questions have I been attentive to the data? Have I been intelligent and asked and answered all the relevant questions? [In the sense that I must understand a hypothesis before I can verify or falsify it, understanding is “primary.”  But I do not believe that understanding a hypothesis is more important that judging it to be (probably) true or false.  I don’t understand why you say that “verification regards not the data,” but then say that it lies in answering questions, one of which is “Have I been attentive to the data?”]
(2) I would note that sociologists (and other reseachers in the human sciences) use the term ‘hypothesis’ in various ways. So within quantitative and qualitative methods hypotheses regard the associations between events such as the association between low-income and crime, or smoking and cancer, or “the institutional, policy and economic shifts that may explain rising income concentration” and the rise of the super-rich (American Sociological Review October 2012). Or, hypotheses may regard the motivations of social agents such as the greed of financiers in the GFC or in the production and reproduction of dominant ideologies. I would regard these types of hypotheses as associations in time and place developed within the FS Research rather than hypotheses or theories reached in the FS Interpretation. [I believe that researchers generally treat hypotheses as propositions that they neither affirm nor deny.  I agree that the contents of these propositions are highly variable, but I contend that there is an invariant structure to all well-formulated hypotheses.](
3) Within the context of Functional Collaboration, I would suggest we need a more precise meaning of ‘hypothesis’, particularly in term of the relationship between the FS Research and the FS Interpretation.[I believe that the invariant structure of hypotheses is present in both functional specializations.  If you disagree, could you give me an example of a hypothesis in either one of them that is not a proposition for which affirmation or denial is being withheld until the questions for reflection have been satisfactorily answered.] 
In my initial discussion of Functional Collaboration I described the role of the FS Interpretation as answering a theoretical question.   I would go on to suggest that the theoretical question is a what-is-it-question, a question of definition, or more precisely, a question of explanatory definition. [I have a different understanding of interpretation as a FS.  I interpret it as a focus upon what the writer of a text – or, more generally, the creator of a symbolic representation or expression – meant at the time he/she wrote/created it.   My  hypothesis is:  What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty draws upon what he wrote in Insight about “the truth of interpretation” and “methodological hermeneutics.”  Perhaps you agree with my hypothesis about what Lonergan meant, but prefer to define interpretation as “answering a theoretical question.”  Or, perhaps you disagree with my hypothesis about what Lonergan meant, and want to propose the alternative hypothesis: What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty is that it is answering a theoretical question.  I believe that it is only by verifying/falsifying these two hypotheses that we can get at the truth of interpretation with regards to what Lonergan said about this functional specialization]
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Artfulhousing

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #23 on: November 01, 2012, 05:25:23 PM »
Richard
We are getting into difficult territory here, particularly for a Forum (with short discussion notes). But two related comments.

First. Yes I agree with you, words do not mean things in themselves. They are but sounds in the air, black marks on a page or computer screen. Yes, they are meaningful expressions of an individual person. At the same time, however, they are not just that. They are also social and communal. In using words I am seeking to communicate with someone and to do so I am using words that are commonly understood by others (a linguistic community). Moreover, there is often a gap between what I mean and the words through which I express that meaning (It depends upon my understanding of my audience, my understanding of how best to communicate with them, my linguistic skills etc.) (see Insight Ch17, Section 2.4). Further, words operate within a context, a context which I presuppose and which is not always understood by me. So, just as I may not grasp the full significance of what I do, so also I may not grasp the full significance of what I write. (Here we are in the realms of the functional specialties, Foundations, Policies, Systematics and Communications.)

Second. You write, “What Lonergan meant when he wrote about interpretation as a functional specialty draws upon what he wrote in Insight about “the truth of interpretation” and “methodological hermeneutics.” As an hypothesis, I’m not sure that this takes us very far. But let me have a go at that Section 3 of Chapter 17 of Insight. In his discussion of The notion of a universal viewpoint, Lonergan notes that our capacity to understand a text depends upon our capacity to envision the full range of possible alternative interpretations that a text might mean – as possibilities, as a totality of possibilities, as an ordered totality of possibilities. We cannot approach or make sense of a text (the data) without such a framework. We cannot approach or make sense of a writer of a text without such a framework. The role of the FS Interpretation is to develop such frameworks.

So in the area of housing within which I work, if I am to understand the data, if am to grasp an actual housing system, if I am to grasp the dynamic within a developing series of actual housing systems (in history), if I am to evaluate this dynamic of development, then I need a framework (an ordered totality of possible housing systems).

At this point I can only refer you to my first attempt at doing some such thing in a paper for a Housing Conference of the International Sociological Association: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_129713_en.pdf.

Go to the illustration on rent beginning on pages 6. It is my attempt to think through empirically something in my own field that I am familiar with. What I found most helpful (and difficult) was to distinguish between (i) what is relevant, significant and essential to rent (i.e. what constitutes it or brings it about – these are the conditions for its occurrence, (ii) what are its particular characteristics which are ordered by the role rent plays in other (higher) things (i.e. in constituting these things) and how this role changes the characteristics of rent, and (iii) the relationship between these various roles. Without some such theory of rent (which incorporates all the possible alternatives and accounts for all the particular characteristics of rent systems as they differ from country to country and even within countries), I cannot even begin to notice what has not been taken into account (the data which Research seeks to gather).
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 05:30:10 PM by Artfulhousing »

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #24 on: November 04, 2012, 11:27:45 AM »
Dialectic, Lonergan’s fourth fs, and sociology 
[Artful Housing, I am not ignoring your post of November 1, but want to read your paper on rent before I respond.”]

Dialectic in Insight
Lonergan uses “dialectic” differently from either Hegel or Marx.  Hegel’s dialectic of synthesis, antithesis, and synthesis was a dialectic of concepts, and Marx transformed this into a dialectic of matter.  Lonergan’s use of the term is closer to that of Plato and Aristotle.  He summarizes his argument: “dialectic denotes a combination of the concrete, the dynamic, and the contradictory; but this combination may be found in a dialogue, in the history of philosophic opinions, or in historical process generally."  He says, “there will be a dialectic, if (1) there is an aggregate of events of a determinate character, (2) the events may be traced to either or both of two principles, (3) the principles are opposed yet bound together, and (4) they are modified by the changes that successively result from them” (IN 217).  I add that the combination can also be found in the history of sociological frameworks and in social processes generally.   It is important for me that Lonergan introduces his notion of dialect in his chapter on “Common Sense as Object,” in part 5. “The Dialectic of Community.”   
   
Sociological examples of dialectic
Just as the fs interpretation has been misinterpreted as a distinct school of thought in sociology, so also has the fs dialectic been misinterpreted as a distinct school of thought.  Marxist sociology is an obvious example, but Randall Collins Conflict Sociology (2010 [1975]) is a dialectical sociology in the tradition of Max Weber rather than Karl Marx.   In The Social Construction of Reality (1967), Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann wrote about a non-marxist social dialectic: "Externalization and objectivation are moments in a continuing dialectical process.  The third moment in this process, which is internalization (by which the objectivated social world is retrojected into consciousness in the course of socialization), will occupy us in considerable detail later on…. only with the transmission of the social world to a new generation (that is, internalization as effectuated in socialization) does the fundamental social dialectic appear in its totality" (p. 61).  George Ritzer’s Sociology: A Multiple Paradigm Science (1980) and Donald Levine’s Visions of the Sociological Tradition (1995) go beyond interpretation and history to dialectic.  Many sociologists explicitly acknowledge (1) that there are dialectical processes in the societies they study, and (2) that one of the kinds of dialectical processes in their own society is among sociologists who embrace different frames of reference.   One of the places in which dialectic routinely occurs is in the review of literature that generally introduces articles in journals.  The formula “they say …, but I say …” is dialectical.

Reasons for conflicts
For Lonergan, dialectic requires uncovering the reasons for conflicts, comparing them in terms of their similarities and differences, and judging them in terms of their importance (MT 128-130).  In advocating "dialogical sociology," Levine is not content with pointing out the contradictions between different histories of sociology, but draws out the temporal and logical connections between them.  He describes how each vision of sociology develops out of arguments with older visions, and how different traditions are grounded in different national cultures and different ethical assumptions (1995 100, 317). 

Dialectic as comprehensive
He argues that a dialogical account of the history of histories of sociology provides a more comprehensive vision of the sociological tradition than any of the alternative forms of history -- positivist, pluralist, synthetic, humanist, or contextual (1995 96-100).  This is consistent with Lonergan's (MT 129) contention that the "aim" of dialectic is a "comprehensive viewpoint."  Both Levine and Lonergan reject the absolute relativism which denies the possibility that one viewpoint could be any better than another.  They both (Levine, 1995 329;  (Lonergan, MT 130) advocate ecumenism, rather than relativism.  Ecumenism demands a balance between commitment to one's own beliefs and respect for those who believe otherwise, and a commitment to continuing the conversation among those of different beliefs. 

Persistence of conflict
Dialogical sociology will not end sociological conflict, nor will dialectic in philosophy and theology end the conflicts endemic to those disciplines.  Dialectic and ecumenical dialogue are responses to the realization that conflicts will persist.  Levine calls upon sociologists to engage in ecumenical dialogue, and thereby to provide a model for the world community of "a way of resolving the cultural crisis of our time" (1955, 328-329).  Followers of Lonergan might well call upon philosophers and theologians to engage in ecumenical dialogue, thereby providing the world community with a model of how to resolve the cultural crisis of our time.   

Lonergan-Levine difference
Lonergan differs from Levine in the account he gives of reaching the more comprehensive viewpoint.  For Levine, this comprehensive viewpoint is described as a collective attribute that can be realized through the construction of narratives.  Dialogical sociology results from the combination of the practice of dialogue and the construction of a dialogical narrative.  For Lonergan, the comprehensive viewpoint is described in more individualistic terms, as the result of what he calls personal self-appropriation as a knower and an actor.  This self-appropriation can lead to conversions -- intellectual, moral, and religious.  Lonergan argues that the differences between the converted and the unconverted are persistent reasons for social and cultural conflicts (MT 128-130; 235-266).   

Metasociology or sociology
Since I regard dialectic as a functional specialty within sociology, I disagree with sociologists who say that dialectical analysis takes sociologists away from the “real” work of sociologists.   An important part of the real work of sociology consists in the testing of alternative hypotheses that are presented as explanations for events, rates, and states.  This requires me to be as explicit as possible for the reasons why I judge one hypothesis to be more likely to be true than the alternatives.  My criteria of judgment include consistency between the hypothesis and my frame of reference as well as consistency between the hypothesis and the data I, and others, have constructed that bear upon the truth or falsity of the hypothesis (Lonergan’s “special research”).  My reflective insight is a grasp of connections between the hypothesis and my frame of reference as well as between the hypothesis and the relevant data.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #25 on: November 07, 2012, 10:46:17 PM »
So, no one has been posting, and that makes my life at work a living hell (I resort to perusing reddit, for God's sake (without finding Tollbooth, I might add (apologies for LISP grammar)))).  In any case, I would love to hear details about how Adrial's studied position may have shifted with Jeremy's publication on entitative habits, but maybe I am asking too-much; yet, I am asking!

Adrial Fitzgerald

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2012, 11:51:27 PM »
Hi, Doug

For the details that you mention, please see note 30 (addendum 1) of ch. 5 of the blog (the note beings on p. 75 and continues on p. 76), the background for which is the phenomenology in ch. 2.  Let me know how it reads to you, and thanks for the interest :)


Adrial

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #27 on: November 09, 2012, 08:01:38 AM »
Hello Dick:  I enjoyed reading your sociological narrative. Speaking of dialectic, a couple of questions emerged for me from my reading of it:: In your note, you relate Lonergan and Levine and focus on their call for ecumenism:

“Lonergan's (MT 129) contention that the ‘aim’ of dialectic is a ‘comprehensive viewpoint.’  Both Levine and Lonergan reject the absolute relativism which denies the possibility that one viewpoint could be any better than another.  They both (Levine, 1995 329;  (Lonergan, MT 130) advocate ecumenism, rather than relativism.  Ecumenism demands a balance between commitment to one's own beliefs and respect for those who believe otherwise, and a commitment to continuing the conversation among those of different beliefs.”

First, I wonder if a focus on the balance between “commitment to belief” and “respect,” as right as this is for ecumenical dialogue, really captures what a rejection of “absolute relativism” means, at least for Lonergan? 

Though later in your note, referring to your own work, you say  “This requires me to be as explicit as possible for the reasons why I judge one hypothesis to be more likely to be true than the alternatives,” 

So I ask, since (a) Lonergan’s work is mainly philosophical (rather than sociological); and since (b) relativism is a philosophical issue (regarding truth/falsity) that comes forward in social situations; since (c) you refer to giving reasons, to making judgments, and to gaining truth in your own dialogical self-demands in your note, why regress to assigning merely believing to Lonergan’s  analysis (I don’t know Levine’s work), or to relating relativism and belief, as if they were dialectical opposites?

To take it to its inferential assertion: asserting that Levine or Lonergan have “better beliefs” is hardly a defense against relativism, especially of the absolutist kind, and even if asserted in the most open-hearted of ecumenical situations.

My other question is related to your note:


“One of the places in which dialectic routinely occurs is in the review of literature that generally introduces articles in journals.  The formula “they say …, but I say …” is dialectical.” 

This, and the rest of your note here are true—as far as it goes.

However, I think where the sociological rightly embraces dialectic, it seems to leave off where foundations picks up. Though you rightly develop Lonergan’s view in your section on the differences between him and Levine:


“For Lonergan, the comprehensive viewpoint is described in more individualistic terms, as the result of what he calls personal self-appropriation as a knower and an actor.  This self-appropriation can lead to conversions -- intellectual, moral, and religious.  Lonergan argues that the differences between the converted and the unconverted are persistent reasons for social and cultural conflicts (MT 128-130; 235-266).”   

. . . from my own understanding, the above is correct. However, it’s also a brief rendition of what the functional specialty foundations is all about, or the correct philosophical (at least) “position” from which to begin asking questions of the documents and discussions under consideration. 

Perhaps the difference is just this: between the focus and historical place of sociology at present, on the one hand, and philosophy and philosophical discourse, on the other?

Best, Catherine

Richard Moodey

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #28 on: November 09, 2012, 08:55:00 PM »
Hi Catherine,

Thanks for your comments. 

Do I believe (“think,” “assert” “affirm”) that trying to maintain a balance between (a) commitment to my own beliefs and (b) respect for those who believe otherwise captures what Lonergan meant by rejecting absolute relativism?  No.  The reason I don’t believe that it captures what Lonergan meant is that I believe that, ultimately, Lonergan’s commitment to orthodox Catholic doctrine was the foundation upon which he rejected relativism.  However much he theologized his faith, I believe that he really believed that his faith was a gift from God, not a set of propositions, each of which he judged to be true on the basis of a reflective insight into the adequacy of arguments and evidence.

You end by suggesting that my treating relativism and belief as dialectical opposites is the result of the difference “between the focus and historical place of sociology at present, on the one hand, and philosophy and philosophical discourse, on the other.”  I believe, rather, that the more important difference lies between sociology and philosophy, on the one hand, and theology, on the other.  I agree with the sociologist Peter Berger (a believing Protestant) that sociologists have to practice “methodological agnosticism.”  Catholic theologians, in contrast, must practice “methodological orthodoxy.”   Those who don’t are likely to be punished.

I am not a professional philosopher, and admit that some philosophers might disagree with my claim that, like sociologists, they practice methodological agnosticism.  Practicing methodological agnosticism does not require me to attempt the impossible “value free” version of sociology (or philosophy). 

In trying to be as explicit as possible about my reasons for affirming one hypothesis and denying another, if I discover that one or several of my religious beliefs are important reasons for my judgment, I have to acknowledge this, rather than engage in some sort of bad faith cover-up.

Sociologists and anthropologists do talk about relativism.  Cultural relativism is closely connected to methodological agnosticism, but neither is “absolute,” in the sense that for a Catholic theologian belief that Jesus is both God and man is absolute.  I don’t consider Lonergan’s faith in the incarnation to be “merely believing.”

One of the beliefs that I attribute to Lonergan and that I embrace in my work as a sociologist is that performative consistency is an important criterion for judging a proposition to be true.  Absolute relativism is false because it is performatively inconsistent.  But, of course, this will not persuade absolute relativists, because they reject performative consistency as a criterion of judgment.  If defense against absolute relativism requires converting absolute relativists, there is no defense. 

So I do believe that absolute relativism and belief are dialectical opposites, and the belief that I put in sharpest dialectical opposition to absolute relativism is a belief in the validity of “retortion,” refutation of a position on the grounds that it is performatively inconsistent.

Best regards,
Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

Catherine B. King

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Re: Cosmopolis and functional specialization
« Reply #29 on: November 10, 2012, 10:31:35 AM »
Hello Dick:  I appreciate greatly your thoughtful response. Also, I know that you are bridging two enormous fields of thought and writing here (sociology and philosophy, not to mention inroads into religious doctrine); and I applaud you in the endeavor to explore the relation of those fields. However, let me offer a correction from this side of things (philosophy and this philosopher/theologian), I hope without giving offense? So here goes: First, you say: 

“Lonergan’s commitment to orthodox Catholic doctrine was the foundation upon which he rejected relativism.”


Not so. Briefly, his work Insight (1958/Collection 3/2000) rebuts this assumption thoroughly, and especially his development of general empirical method (cognitional theory and the call to self-find/affirm); and then  epistemology, specifically what he refers to as the virtually unconditioned and its relationship to both cognitional functions and activities, on the one hand, and ethics and metaphysics, on the other.  Besides that and the belief issue, I think the rest of your paragraph is closer to what Lonergan was about: 


"I believe that he really believed that his faith was a gift from God, not a set of propositions, each of which he judged to be true on the basis of a reflective insight into the adequacy of arguments and evidence."

  A religious, but not a philosophical foundation. The great difference is in what he means by belief on the one hand, and knowledge, on the other. And no, it’s not “methodological agnosticism.”  Or as you say:

“Some philosophers might disagree with my claim that, like sociologists, they practice methodological agnosticism.  Practicing methodological agnosticism does not require me to attempt the impossible ‘value free’ version of sociology (or philosophy).”

That is not to say Lonergan was not committed to his faith, which (I take it) is why he wrote Method in Theology in the first place. Though they may not have accepted him as such, he was their philosopher par excellence in the strain of Aquinas. As such, rather than “methodological agnosticism,” or “orthodoxy” or a “bad faith cover-up,”  In Method, Lonergan actually offers a philosophical corrective of those involved with Church doctrine in terms of where the Church and we are in history, in terms of the history of philosophy, and in terms of the relativism that results from the mis-q’s in that history in the post-Aquinas era.

Actually, if you are interested, in 2009 I gave a paper in LA on why Lonergan is not well-accepted in academia. I have linked it below.  One reason is the pervasive assumption that your note suggests: that his foundations are mainly religious and, thus, not empirically or critically grounded.

A few other issues from your note—I’ll try to be brief. 

First, in common conversations, we often interchange believe (“think,” “assert” “affirm”).  However, as a philosophical technical point, these are differentiated issues that carry specific and very different—and concrete—meaning. Such meaning is intimately connected with the epistemological issues above. I can only refer you again to Insight, those references. .

The last part of your note is extremely incisive. Let me copy it below and then make a very brief comment.


“One of the beliefs that I attribute to Lonergan and that I embrace in my work as a sociologist is that performative consistency is an important criterion for judging a proposition to be true.  Absolute relativism is false because it is performatively inconsistent.  But, of course, this will not persuade absolute relativists, because they reject performative consistency as a criterion of judgment. If defense against absolute relativism requires converting absolute relativists, there is no defense.  . . . So I do believe that absolute relativism and belief are dialectical opposites, and the belief that I put in sharpest dialectical opposition to absolute relativism is a belief in the validity of ‘retortion,’ refutation of a position on the grounds that it is performatively inconsistent.”

You’ll be interested to know that what Lonergan refers to as the virtually unconditioned (as I mention above from Insight) or, to use your language, the virtually absolute (rather than Relativist or Absolutely Absolute) is basically the technical development of what you are saying above and, more importantly, the call to affirm what we are doing when we are knowing in the first place, and notably as clearly distinguished from believing.  So the point of self-consistency is not only the conceptual point, it’s the self-performative point.

The further point about those who reject self-consistency, and their own epistemological performance, as grounds for a reflective embrace of empirically-based reasonability is that, in fact, (a) they have no basis to even give an argument; and (b) neither they nor we have reason to accept such an argument. And we do want reasons--and so do they--not only individually, but as the now-reflectively embraced historical grounds of all of the arts, sciences, and humanities, not to mention all-time commonsense.

If the relativist is to participate in the conversation, they'll have to performatively come in on our grounds and not theirs (as in absentia). But participatory nihilism is the danger of living in a democracy of thought.  "Retortion" just keeps the status quo in relative peace (pun intended), which is what we must do if we are not to embrace nihilism ourselves.

But relativist “arguments” not only make no sense on the individual level, more broadly their embrace of arbitrariness rejects the entire history and tradition of thought whose womb they came from. Such thought as a reflective view (and it can only BE a reflective view) is, in fact, philosophical fascism and doesn’t belong in an academic community. Under such a view, on principle we cannot move towards, and even claim at times, reasonable truth. Science would be philosophically defunct. All those papers and movements of thought are a waste of time. Under such a view, we also cannot claim falsity; and there goes critical method out the fascist window, where before reasonability, collaboration, and adherence to critical tenets set the conditions for all of the things relativists live in and enjoy. Relativists live in the earth’s philosophical atmosphere while thinking they live in a bubble unconnected with it. 

“Retortion” is an interesting word, but under the relativist’s view, we are merely playing a game biding our time until we die. I’m not doing that—are you?  Is anyone? But I’m probably preaching to the choir here. The points are this: (1) that belief is about meaning, whereas relativism is about truth—related, but two different venues where, correlatively, and when differentiated, the dialectical opposites will differ. And (2) the other choice is not a pre-scientific- revolution Absolutism that is grounded in religious or Catholic orthodoxy but rather a more solid embrace of what is basically sound in your last two paragraphs above.

Regards, Catherine


Paper given at the West Coast Conference in 2009 addressing several reasons why Lonergan's work is not well-accepted in the mainstream: http://educationasimplementation.blogspot.com/