Ways of Restoring a Unified Science: From Physics to Psychology...

Ways to restore a unified science: from physics to psychology

There are natural and unnatural sciences.

L. D. Landau

A long and heroic epic of reunification began. It should be noted that the intellectual efforts of scientists in this direction for a long time responded exclusively to spiritual needs, since the practical need for the integration of knowledge really entered the agenda only in the twentieth century. In what ways did these efforts develop? Here, from the very beginning, there were two competing strategies.

One was an attempt to reanimate the teleological tradition. This tradition has never fully died out; again and again appeared on the stage of thinkers who remained adherent to the goal-oriented approach and came into opposition to the dominant worldview. The intellectual scale of such thinkers and their achievements is different. There were also wretched solutions of the "flat Wolfe teleology" type on this path. (according to the expression of F. Engels).


Christian Wolff (1679-1754) - very fashionable in the XVIII century. German philosopher, follower and profaner of Leibniz. Later, he was sharply criticized by Immanuel Kant. Hegel called his teaching "the grave of all sound philosophy". The essence of Wolf's teaching was that each thing was created for a specific function: the cat - to catch mice, the mouse - to provide the cat with food, and the whole nature - to demonstrate the wisdom of the Creator.

Today in this you can see the beginnings of ecological thinking, the conjecture about the existence of ecological niches. But the author laid out all these provisions scholasticly and poured into profound trivialities. The poet Heinrich Heine parodied Wolff as follows: "The chicken is made for the sake of chicken broth, the donkey is created for luggage, and the person is to eat chicken broth and not become an ass."

But there were very serious results along the way. We have already mentioned that the laws of Kepler (a contemporary of Galileo) are derived from the idea of ​​divine harmony. The eminent French academician Pierre Louis de Maupertuis (1698-1759), relying on teleological concepts, formulated very important for physics variational principles, in particular, the principle of least action. The Swiss-United States mathematician Leonard Euler (1707-1783) was also inspired by teleological beliefs, laying the foundations of matanalysis and ballistics.

Finally, in this connection, it is impossible not to remember once again the great philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Leibniz, the creator of differential calculus, one of the founders of mathematical logic, the precursor of cybernetics. Having entered into a dispute with Newton, he proposed the event conception of time, which is quite in tune with current concepts, he put forward the idea of ​​a multitude of potential worlds, of which the best is the existing one (we will see further how close this is to the so-called in modern cosmology ). Leibniz argued that every atom of matter is an independent, integral and relatively closed world - a monad, with its aspirations and its own image of the world. Monads differ in the degree of distinctness of perception, but each in its own way acts as a "mirror and echo of the Universe": in it, as in a drop of water, world relations are reflected. This idea has also found its continuation in modern theoretical physics.

However, despite very significant (though not always timely) results, the teleological line remained for three centuries in the background. In one way or another, it correlated with the ideas of divine craft and caused less and less sympathy among the scientists-adherents of materialism and physicalism. The dominant strategy for all these centuries was mechanistic reductionism.

The main question was how to extend the methodology of causal analysis from mechanics to more complex subjects of research. This task was successfully and consistently resolved, and the role of the icebreaker was fulfilled by philosophy, followed by the "ships" special disciplines, planting landings on all new islands and continents. To see the world truly homogeneous, static, deterministic and devoid of any selected hierarchies, as required by the new paradigm, it was necessary to subordinate all observable processes to the unified laws of mechanics. Thus, a powerful expansionist style of thinking was formed, which was later referred to as the "mechanism", "physicism", "mechanicism" and already in the last century - physicalism & quot ;.

Usually these terms mean setting on reduction, ie. the reduction of the whole variety of reality to the simplest, physical, and, in the limit, to the mechanical picture of the world. Let us, however, pay attention to the fact that such a seductive reductionist program is a secondary layer of physicalism, a consequence of its initial premise: "The removal of a subject from the conceptual apparatus of science." To eradicate from scientific thinking everything that has any connotations with subjects, goals, human analogies, "dehumanize" knowledge and means for a consistent physicalist to ensure its truth. At the same time, the progress of society, thinking, science is determined by the ascent from the teleological (anthropomorphic) to the positive (causal, physicalistic) worldview.

This idea had two hypostases: epistemological and ontological (recall: epistemology - theory of knowledge; ontology - theory of being). On the one hand, knowledge must become absolutely independent, alienated from its carrier - the subject, the researcher, from the hypotheses and cognitive procedures that he has accepted; then and only then it can be true. On the other hand, it is necessary to abandon once and for all any subject assumptions about the reality being studied. No matter what we study: a falling stone, a smoke flying to the sky, a growing tree, a dragging out damage in the bark, a crawling caterpillar, a mouse running away from a cat, a cat chasing a mouse, a man building a house - we have to explain these phenomena through > external reasons. No judgments of the type: "the mason works for building a house", "the cat seeks to catch a mouse" etc., a scientist can not afford. Later this idea was particularly sharply expressed by the Dutch philosopher Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza (1632-1677), who wrote that the source of all human prejudices is the illusion that something in the world is aiming at some goals.

There was a belief that the questions "what for?", "why?" in science are unacceptable. Asking such questions, you act as a poet, theologian or philistine, but you stop being a scientist. An object that falls into the sphere of scientific comprehension must lose all resemblance to man. Next we will see that the man himself, in the interests of scientific circumstance, required "dehumanize".

The dominant strategy aimed at restoring the unity of knowledge for two and a half centuries remained the spread of antisubject methodology to increasingly complex subjects, the likening of evolutionarily higher realities to an evolutionarily inferior, and ultimately the representation of man as supercomplex physical particle.

Today, it is customary to criticize mechanicism, physicalism, write even that it "never and was not justified", that it is almost a rotten branch on the tree of knowledge. Such statements look unfair and ungrateful towards their predecessors. In fact, of course, the mechanistic paradigm has formed on the main road of knowledge and is a great product of genius minds. This harmonious, in its own way, the beautiful idea of ​​a single objectless world has served as a necessary prerequisite for modern science, all that science has given us and is capable of giving in the future. The physicalist paradigm has armed the researcher with tools such as analysis, dismemberment of a single, analogy and extrapolation, inductive logic, quantification and experiment. More precisely, she decreed these means of cognition, made them legitimate and respectable. However, such a revolution in thinking was not cheap. The scientist's thought is now reoriented to kill the subject, dismember it into separate components and then construct it from a collection of universally valid properties.


In the novel by Jules Verne & "Captain Grant's Children" there is a pretty character - a geographer and zoologist Paganel, a sort of a popular image of a scientist of the XIX century. He travels with the heroes of the book all over the planet and explores the forms of life. For example, if you notice a particularly beautiful animal or bird in the pack, the naturalist immediately grabs the gun, shoots (always without a miss) and with a lifeless body in hands rapturously addresses the companions: "Look at which specimen!" The naturalist is touched by the beauty of nature, but this is not the love of the poet, it is expressed in killing, dismembering, analyzing internal mechanisms and admiring their perfection.

In the magazine Crocodile was the heading "Do not purposely invent", it was reprinted with ridiculous and ridiculous excerpts from bureaucratic documents. Once there appeared a wording from the forensic examination: "The blow was caused by a blunt hard object. Perhaps head & quot ;. The phrase was remembered, because after it a discussion ensued: the criminalists wrote that there was nothing funny in it, since the head of any person, including the "crocodile" editor, really is a blunt solid thing. Everything seems to be right, but we will notice that a man who lived before Galileo, Bacon and other tutors of the New Age could not have thought up such a formulation. That the human head refers to a multitude of objects with a certain set of properties (hardness, dullness, a spherical shape, etc.) - such a conclusion is unthinkable for a medieval observer.

This same feature of classical scientific thinking is played in the fantastic humor of Ilya Varshavsky. The engineer creates a sensible robot that can classify objects and perform simple operations on them. The robot receives the control task: to take out of the room all the round objects. He takes out a ball, a globe, a hoop and the like, and then, looking around, approaches his inventor and ... grabs his steel arms for his head.

But back in the XVII century. Is it possible - and if so, how - to extend the mechanistic methods of analysis to living organisms? The first step along this path was made by the French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Animals, he argued, unlike humans do not have a soul, they are alien to the ability to think, they do not experience emotions, but represent "reflex automata", so analogies between living organisms and mechanical objects are relevant and productive. The validity of such analogies does not extend only to man, since he has a soul and spirit that have a different, non-natural origin. As we see, according to the worldview, Descartes was not at all a mechanic. On the contrary, he sought to limit the scope of the non-objective picture of the world, singling out a field that was in principle inaccessible to it; but by the same token all the living nature was given to the ideological opponents.


In 1650, an Amsterdam newspaper published a short note: "In Stockholm, at the age of 53, a fool died claiming that he could live as long as he wanted." Imagine, it was about Descartes (who actually died then in Stockholm). Did the philosopher really affirm such things? In the printed works, obviously, no. However, having spent many years in Amsterdam, he was known as a great beer lover, an unrestrained debater and a brethren. Probably, in the heat of drunken controversy Descartes allowed himself statements that allowed an extremist interpretation - they say, I will live as long as I want. Indirectly, this was consistent with his teaching, where matter and spirit are not intertwined initially (as in Leibniz or in Spinoza), but are two external to each other beginning. Nature, including life, is passive and soulless, it is only material from which man - the only bearer of the soul and spirit - creates according to one's own understanding. The spirit is stronger than the flesh, and therefore a person must become the master and ruler of nature. In this context, the logical conclusion is that the mind in principle is able to extend the existence of the biological organism indefinitely. And there it is not long before the profanity: the author, they say, himself was going to live indefinitely.

This view of reality, dubbed dualistic, laid the foundation for the reflex theory, which gave us outstanding achievements in the field of physiology and zoopsychology. The main thing is that Descartes showed one way of extending the physicalistic paradigm to the science of the living. Subsequently, scientists have found many new ways to achieve this goal.


Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849-1936), an outstanding United States physiologist, remained a true follower of Descartes all his life, for which he was condemned even by zealous students as a "bourgeois inconsistent dualist." Criticized him and on the other hand - for the fact that he followed Descartes denied the psychic life of animals. On this occasion, told such an anecdote. A young dog, first in the Pavlovsk laboratory, asks the old experienced dog: what's going on here? "I'm training a guy in a white coat," he replied, "now I'll spit and he'll run and bring me a piece of meat." Speech, of course, is about the famous experiments, where the dog developed a conditioned reflex salivation in response to the call.

After Descartes, physicalism is firmly entrenched in the sciences of the living. But what about people and society? Will these realities remain forever beyond the threshold of scientific research?

The original model for building a uniform pattern of "laws of natural and political" was developed by the Englishman Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679). According to his teaching, all people are essentially the same everywhere and always, their behavior is conditioned by the same motivations (drives), which are not more than five: hunger, thirst, sex, fear and vanity. But the individual can not satisfy selfish motives alone, that is why individuals unite in society, create a state with its repressive organs, mechanisms of encouragement and punishment, providing a mutually acceptable compromise.

Evil must be balanced and controlled by another evil - then society can exist steadily and comfortably. Building on this generally cynical concept, pessimist and mocker Charles Louis Montesquieu (1689-1755) built the idea of ​​mutual control and separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial powers, on which modern democratic states are based. But for us it is especially important that it also built the models of "social physics", "economic physics", which for a long time predetermined the development of social science and political economy on a physicalistic model.

A kind of roof over this slender building was built by Spinoza. In absentia, objecting to Descartes, he stated that man is the "thing among things". Man differs from an animal (as well as an animal - from a mechanical object) only quantitatively, i.e. degree of complexity. So, if an animal is a "reflex automatic", then man is a "spiritual automaton"! As a result, the question of the "physics of the human soul" was raised. We will further show that this metaphor became the forerunner of the future psychological science.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)