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(1973) Explorations in phenomenology, Den Haag, Nijhoff.

Scientific discovery

logical, psychological, or hermeneutical?

Theodore Kisiel

pp. 263-284

In matters of discovery, it has long been the custom to appeal to such imponderables as intuition, genius, the workings of the unconscious, and more recently, to the Eureka process or Aha Erlebnis of a Gestalt switch. This apparent appeal to irrational and even mystical factors has prompted the logical positivists to exclude the topic of scientific discovery from the philosophy of science and to "demote" it to the field of psychology. There is much to justify this attitude. All of us have been exposed to the fascinating but obfuscating anecdotes of discoveries made by "accident," and of illuminations coming as if from nowhere: Archimedes' bath, Newton's apple, Kekule's dream of the dancing serpents, Poincare's step onto an omnibus, and so on. The risks of a genetic fallacy are compounded by the psychological questionnaires sent to creative scientists to survey not only their mental processes and methods, but also their daily schedules, personal habits, and idiosyncracies, in a curiosity that sometimes smacks of voyeurism. This recital of extremes does not mean to deny the importance of a factual basis for any psychological study of creativity, but to suggest the need to go further, toward what Husserl, for example, called an eidetic psychology, which would strive for an essentially rational account of the thought processes which enter into creativity.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-010-1999-6_12

Full citation:

Kisiel, T. (1973)., Scientific discovery: logical, psychological, or hermeneutical?, in D. Carr & E. Casey (eds.), Explorations in phenomenology, Den Haag, Nijhoff, pp. 263-284.

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