Foundations of the Social Sciences 0226575918, 9780226575919

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Foundations of the Social Sciences
 0226575918, 9780226575919

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lnterncith terms, such as 'justice,' 'crime,' 'cost,' 'profit.' Vol.ll, No.1


2. Terminological Empiricism

The discipline which deals with terms, expressions, and the making of a language ·may be called "terminology" in harmony with the etymology of this word. We cannot be expected to present once and for all time a Universal Jargon as a complete structure. It will always be in the making.'

··...,.------.· Terminological f mpiricism

For the study of some peculiarities of terminology we may form schematic model languages composed only of well-defined items and start with a small and compact nucleus of terms. But we shall not be able to build up . our Universal Jargon from scratch, deliberately proceeding step by step. \Ve always use a cluster of vaguely defined assumptions and assertions in our empiricist arguments. Each newly introduced scientific discovery may alter, in SQme way or other, the use of any of our expressions and sentences and their interpretation. That is just the opposite to any kind of tabula rasa. A language scheme used for calculatory problems and a Universal Jargon are different in many respects. Not a few misunderstandings and difficulties seem to arise from mixing up both ·fields in our argumg. The application of terminological analysis to the social sciences asks for some training and skilL The usual lack of criticism in acquiring terms and phrases is remarkable;. students find an overwhelming heap of termini technici, attractive catchwords and certain expletive phrases, which afterward appear loaded with terminological explosives. They learn the terms and are no~ seldom proud when they can find an opportunity to apply them in some way or another. It is difficult · to behave reservedly, because that. forces people to wait some time, until they have learned a little more about the technique- of s~lectU:,g and u~ing empiricist terms and empiricist argu-

ments. It is hard for a singer to be silent during the period in which he wants to re-educate ·his voice by means of new tecru;ique. Perhaps this necessary sacrifice 'is one of the reasons why. it is so difficult to :find partners prepared to discuss terminological suggestions in detail. A certain attitude seems to be indispensable; we may call it the attitude of "terminological empiricism.'' Terminological empiricism, looking at the above-mentioned hypotheses on the migration of human groups, may discover that research workers speak of climate in ter~s of temperature and amount of rain, that they correlate complexes of temperaturestatements and rain-statements with. other complexes of statements in which the terms 'amount of wheat,' 'amount of cattle,' 'behavior of hungry men,' and 'behavior of chieftains' appear. All these terms are spatia-temporal terms and may therefore be called "physicalist" terms. (The terms 'statement' or 'term' are physicalist terms also.) A sociologist, asked how he had · obtained these statements, would perhaps answer that they are based on reports collected . by field workers and on reports found in chronicles. That :finally implies that eyewitness records are the backbone of the account of the wheat observed, the geological strata observed, the chieftains' behavior observed, and the books observed. As far chronicles are concerned, the observation-Statements of the investigator of such a



VoL II, No.1


Terminological Empiricism and the Social Sciences chronicle deal with observation~state­ ments made by persons centuries ago. We see from this latter remark that the term 'observation-statement' is here used as a spatia-temporal term like the terms 'wheat,' 'geological stratum,' 'chieftains' behavior.' But what about expressions such as 'spirit of a nation,' 'ethos of a religion,' or 'ethical forces'? Sometimes senten