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Publication Details

Some Negative Aspects of the Illustrative Method

(Original title: Niektoré pasíva ilustratívnej metódy)
Otázky marxistickej filozofie, 20 (1965), 3, 254-266.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
By illustrative method we mean the way of explanation of questions of dialectics, when formulations of categories and laws are complemented with expert cognitions, both facts and theories, from the different sciences in order to demonstrate the general validity of given philosophical conceptions, or to present a more exhaustive elucidation of their nature. The paper is concerned with utilizing the illustrative method to resolve philosophical problems of special sciences with particular attention to the formation of relationships between philosophy and the other sciences. The author points at some deformations of these relationships occurring as a consequence of the absolutization of the illustrative method, when this method is considered to be the capital method in the solution of philosophical problems of the sciences. This occurs mainly under the influence of a dogmatic perpetuization of philosophical cognitions, and when subsequently the method, exerting a retroactive effect, strengthens dogmatism. Among the negative consequences of the illustrative method, the author points at subjectivism in the selection of examples; in conditions where no free exchange of thought can take place this may lead to hypotheses lacking scientific foundation, or hypotheses insufficiently elaborated getting philosophical support; further, it may lead to a stagnation of theoretical thinking, to stagnation of entire sciences or of some of their disciplines. Specific expressions of the illustrative method are procedures described in literature as concretization. According to it the aim of philosophical research in the field of concrete sciences is to demonstrate that specific cognitions are the specific manifestation of the action of fundamental laws and categories of dialectics. The subjectivistic selection of examples is complemented here with an adaptation, a preparation in which emphasis is put on the general character, and specific peculiarities are getting omitted. Thus a schematic model will be achieved that has neither a philosophical nor a specifically-scientific character. The illustrative method utilizes both philosophical and also specific cognitions as being given, ready, finished; they need not be seen in the context of cognition and development; hence, in its framework there is no organic place for methodological questions.
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