Stanisław Kamiński
Method and Language. Studies in Semiotics and the Philosophy of Science
Towarzystwo Naukowe Katolickiego Uniwersytetu Lubelskiego, Lublin 1994



The third volume of the collection of paper written by S. Kamiński deals with semiotical and methodological questions. The volume starts with a paper on trends in the development of semiotical issues. The Author gives there a rich picture of the history of semiotics, seen through the most important questions and topics undertaken in reference to language, by philosophers, linguists and logicians of diffrent times, from Antiquity to the present.

The next three papers consider the issue which played a significant role in the semiotical interest of Kamiński, namely the problem of definitions. All papers are written from a historical point of view and they discuss particular theories, such as Hobbes', Locke's and Condillac's and Gergonne's theory.

The most important questions discussed by Kamiński in his papers on definitions is the role of definitions in a scientific theory. He emphasizes Hobbes' formal approach to the concept of a definition and the special role of a definition in a deductive system where definitions are treated as 'first statements' for a proof. This new approach to the concept of a definition made Hobbes a reformer in the theory of definitions. In spite of this, Kamiński gives us a critical analysis of Hobbes' theory. His main objection is a lack of clear distinction between a name and its referent (Kamiński mentions here William of Ockham and Albert of Saxon to whom this distinction was still well known). Kamiński also points to the reason for this view. The lack of a distinction between a name and its referent was caused by Hobbes' reistic approach to names (which were treated like things).

In the same way (i.e. not only from a historical, but also from a philosophical point of view) he analyses the other theories of definitions. In following article he shows the views of Locke, who in the theory of language was a conceptualist, and Condillac, who was a nominalist. In Locke's theory Kamiński emphasizes an epistemological role of definitions while in Condillac's theory their role was only semiotical (definitions served to quarantee the precision of a language).

The problem of a definition is shown in the widest perspective in the third essay which was first published as a special monograph. The essay concerns the theory of the French philosopher and logician Joseph Diaz Gergonne (1771-1859). Here Kamiński shows in detail the understanding, types, role and functions of a definition in Gergonne's theory. In discussing the role of a definition he finds Gergonne's view not modern. According to Kamiński's interpretation of Gergonne's theory, the aim of definitions was to introduce new terms (treated mainly as abbreviations) into a theory. The importance of Gergonne in a theory of definitions sees Kamiński rather in consideration of types of definitions; first of all in his division of definitions into so-called clear definitios and contextual definitions.

The next two futher papers use a method of systematizing and classifying semiotic-methodological questions, such as fallacies and reasonings. In the first essay the Author shows the rich systematization of fallacies which concern cognition (epistemological fallacies), language (semiotical fallacies), reasoning (logical fallacies), definition, clasification, discussion and method (methodological fallacies). In the second essay the Author gives the classification of reasoning made from a formal point of view (i.e. in regard to connections occuring among statements treated as premisses and conclusions in reasoning).

All semiotical questions presented by Kamiński in his papers were vividly discussed in Polish logical-methodological circles. The problem of definition was discussed by Ajdukiewicz, Borkowski, Kotarbiński and Przełęcki, the problem of fallacies by Ajdukiewicz, Czeżowski and Kotarbiński and the problem of reasonings was discussed by Ajdukiewicz, Czeżowski and Kotarbiński.

The next set of papers in the volume concentrate upon some methodological issues; first - upon some particular historical approaches (Aristotle's concept of science, Ockham's concept of natural science, philosophical pressupositions of N. Copernicus' revolutional idea, Zabarella's concept of a method of a scientific cognitions, science on induction in logic of XVIth century); then upon systematical ones (such as for example the problem of truth, empiricism, rationalism, unification of science, values).

In the characterization of Aristotle's concept of science the Author pays attention to its methodological foundations. He describes the Aristotelian model of science in which genetic empiricism and doxographic induction is linked together with methodological rationalism.

Then, in the paper on Ockham's concepts of natural science attention is focussed on the evolution of the concept of natural science and the role of Ockham in forming this concept. The Author shows Ockham's rejection of Aristotle's demonstrative (deductive) model of science which has been replaced by an experimental (inductive) one. Ockham removal of research in the field of natural science caused the changes in his view on logic (syllogistic), epistemology (where he expounded nominalism and empiricism) and even in some metaphysical theory of movement where movement was grasped physically and not only metaphysically, in the spirit of Aristotle.

The significance of Ockham's philosophy sees Kamiński in treating of the new, revolutional idea of Copernicus. In looking for the philosophical presuppositions of Copernicus's thought, the Author stresses ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions. Kamiński also points at the historical sources of these assumptions whose origin was known to Copernicus. Kamiński mentions the following assumptions among others: the ontological thesis about the globular character of the world (taken from Aristotle) and another ontological thesis (taken probably from Nicolaus of Cusa) that the globe in an empty space can move itself around; the epistemological thesis - in the spirit of the Peripathetic concept of knowledge - according to which the aim of cognition is truth and in order to reach this purpose mundi totuus harmonium must be reflected in our knowledge. In methodology Copernicus took some ideas (concerning the mathematical conceiving of the world) from Pytagoras. The value of Copernicus' methodology sees the Author in applying the idealization and in claiming simplicity, uniformity and harmony of a scientific theory.

In Kamiński's view, Copernicus comes to his revolutional idea not only thanks to the development of astronomy and new discoveries (an empirical basis) but mainly thanks to philosophical inspirations and changes in the conception conceiving of science (a formal-methodological basis).

The representative of the Padua School in XVIth century, Jacobus Zabarella is another intresting figure discussed in the volume. In the presentation of his concept of the method of scientific knowledge Kamiński shows Zabarella's methodological results, among which the most important are: the stressing of invention in the way of forming scientific hypotheses, enriching the function of a dcmonstratio propter quid for verifying (in regard to principia). Kamiński believes that Zabarella's methodological ideas have prepared the way to a new methodological concept of science given next by Galileo Galilei.

A rich presentation of the inductive method in XVIth century comprises the next essay. The main question is proceeded by historical remarks on the inductive method known in Antiquity (Socrates, Aristotle, Stoics) and in the Middle Aqes (Albertus Magnus, the Oxford School). These historical remarks are important for the characterization of induction in XVIth century. The Author maintains there were two important concepts of induction then: (I) the Aristotelian-Scholastic one, where induction was understood as a way of reaching scientific theses, and (II) the Cyceronian, where induction was one of the rhetorical operations. In

Kaminski's opinion F. Bacon, whose name is ussualy connected with the beginning of scientific induction, was inspired by Socrate's method of looking for a definition of essence and medieval rules of experience. In summing up, Kamiński maintains that logicians of XVIth century were not sufficiently interested in the practice and theories of scientists; and the first formulations of eliminative induction should be found just in the research of scientists (and not in the theoretical activity of logicians).

The consideration of induction is continued, next, in the essay dealing with the structure of natural science. The problem is presented in reference to the model of science (especially of physics) given in different times by Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Hume, Mill, Herschel and Whewell, Poincare and Duhem, and the contemporary model by Carnap. The Author poses question in discussing the issue of the structure of a physical theory, which element, epmirical or a priori plays the more important role. As an answer to this question, he quotes his favourite philosopher of science, Karl Popper, who finds a certain "balance" in accepting both kinds of elements. An a priori element (thought and a theory) is significant in coming to a new cognition, and an empirical element (experience) is important in failing of fallacies and "looking for new ways".

From the analysis of the structure of a physical theory the Author goes, in the next essay, through to a discussion of the problem of truth in physics. He discusses some methodologically controversial questions connected with the concept of truth in physics, such as: the problem of the relative or absolute, and objective or nonobjective, character of truth. In discussing these questions he points at certain philosophical standpoints (epistemological idealism, methodological formalism and conventionalism) which implied diffrent solutions to the analysed questions.

The physical sciences are dealt with in the following essay where the Author comes back again to the problem of empirical and a priori elements. The main thesis of this essay says that in physical science pure experience cannot be treated in opposition to the absolute a priori, as a sensual cognition cannot be considered in opposition to a rational one. Physical concepts and statements are strictly connected by linking both kinds of elements: empirical and a priori. Physical theses take their content from the results of observations, but their form is a matter of logic. The Author draws on the present tendencies in physical sciences: to enrich a notion of 'experience' on one hand, and to treat less radically, but in a wider way, the role of rational elements, on the other. In this way the methodologists do not see a dychotomy between empirical (synthetic) and apriorical (analytical) elements, but rather a gradualism which can be extendended not only on scientific statements, but on whole systems of knowledge.

The development of an empirical theory is the subject of the proceeding essay, in which the Author tries to show some basic views on the development of science and to find the reasons for their difference. The characterization of an empirical theory is divided into three types: genetic (in which the inner and external elements of scientific knowledge are stressed), structural (with respect to syntactic and semantic-pragmatic aspects), and functional (where the cognitive and beyond cognitive functions of a theory are pointed to). All above characterizations have their illustrations in the philosophy of science. A genetic characterization was made, for example, by E. Mach. A structural characterization in its descriptive version was given by some linguistic philosophers and by P. Achinstein and S. Bromberger, and its reconstructive version is known thanks to Russell and earlier, the Neopositivists (an extreme approach), and to Polish logicians and later empirical analytics (a moderate approach). A functional characterization, in turn, was shown by Positivists (in Poland by W. Biegański) among others.

Kamiński shows that the development of an empirical theory is multidimensional and therefore it is caused by many different elements which are within a theory or beyond it. In this situation the correspondence among theories cannot have merely a logical character (in regard to formal connections among their theses), nor a methodological one (in regard to rules or practical applications), but a philosophical or even a cultural-historical one. In the first case the common fundamental ontological assumptions must be taken into account, and in the second case the correspondence among theories is explained by the tradition of scientifical activity of scientists and the role of science in society.

Two further of Kamiński's papers consider the problem of Rationalism. In the first paper the Author distinguishes different types of Rationalism and defends that which is critical, intuitional, explanative and creative. In the second paper he attempts to compare the Rationalism of contemporary philosophy of science with the Intellectualism of Acquinian epistemology. He chooses Rationalism in its critical version and this type of Rationalism he wants to enrich by an intuitional element which plays a special role in Acquinian Intellectualism. Then the Author points to the perspectives of such a new methodological doctrine that can be applied to theological knowledge.

Epistemological questions are also considered in the essays on the presuppositions of contemporary philosophy of science. According to Kamiński the philosophy of science has epistemological and ontological assumptions. Any view which ommits these assumptions seems to be, for him, dogmatic. Without such a philosophical basis, philosophy of science could not satisfy its purpose which is - among others - the choosing of the most important knowledge for a man and society and ordering and testifying to particular systems of knowledge.

Modern trends and issues which appear today in the methodology of science are analysed in the paper of the same title: „Methodology of Science. Modern trends and issues". The Author discusses the fundamental methodological questions connected with the determination of (I) scientific language (especially its empirical character), (II) way of acceptation of basical sentences (from the poinl of dogmaticism, criticism and scepticism), (III) methods of construction of a scientific theory (from the point of Inductionism, Deductionism or Intellectualism, and Rationalism in three versions as formal, instrumental and model-Rationalism). All above questions concern the inner structure of science, and beyond them the Author distinguishes the methodological questions which deal with the external characterization of science. These kind of questions concern (I) the epistemological role of a theory (seen from the point of Descriptionalism, Expla national ism or Instrumentalism); (II) the relations among particular theories seen systematically (Reductionalism) or historically (with regard to rules which determine the progress of science); (III) the relation between science and philosophy or ideology; (IV) the unification and integration of science.

The problem of the unification of sciences is posed again by Kamiński in the essay on the foundations of the unification of sciences. He shows the problem in three perspectives: (I) pragmatic, i.e. how it is seen in the practice of scientific research, (II) historical by analysis - the different views known in the history of the concept of science, (III) systematic where the Author shows elements which determine the unification of science. There are three groups of such elements. To the first group belong elements which can be treated as ontological and objective in their character (in regard to the universe itself), and epistemological - subjective in their character (in regard to the nature of our cognition). In the second group of elements, there are those which occur within science and which determine it formally, such as: scientific language, method and the sentential structure of sciences. To the third group belong elements that play their role only then when they are taken together. The Author focuses his attention on the common origin of particular sciences (in regard to their questions) and common presuppositions and implications.

Two further essays are concerned with the problem of values: firstly, the problem of a criterion of valuation of theoretical knowledge, and secondly, the problem of so-called practical and theoretical statements. In his solution to the first question the Author permits many criteria of epistemological valuation of theoretical knowledge, at least as a foundation for human activity (such as a rational foundation for our views about the world, a rational foundation of science, a rational foundation of ethical norms). The linguistic results of the rational behaviour mentioned above are practical statements. According to Kamiński's interpretation, values are just connected with these kinds of statements.

Practical statements are distinguished from theoretical statements by their function, which in the case of theoretical statements is only informative and descriptive. Practical statements, to which belong imperatives, interrogative statements, norms and values, have many functions. Besides this, practical statements cover the moment of recommmendation in their content. In his studies of practical statements, Kamiński asks about their logical values. The solution of this problem he sees not on a semantical level, but on a metaphysical level (taking into account the natural aspiration of all beings).

The last two essays concern the methodological characterization of theological knowledge. The Author draws attention to the most important methodological questions, put in reference to theological knowledge, such as (I) the problem of theological knowledge as singular or compound; (II) the role of revelation and the role of rational - empirical knowledge in settling the rules for the construction of a theological language and for the justification of theological theses.

Kamiński discusses briefly the above questions. He says however that most of these methodological questions have not been sufficiently investigated. In order to fill this gap, he sees the possibility of the application of some results achieved in the philosophy of science, to research on theological methods.

We cannot forget that theological knowledge has its own pecular characterization, and this problem is studied in the last essay of the volume. In this essay the Author gives the answer to the question put in the previous essay. At first he presents a rich typology of fundamental theological methods. But Kamiński then presents his own view on theological knowledge which is grasped as a 'revelationalization' of natural knowledge about Christian life. This view inclines to a wide understanding of the object of theology, and the object is a cultural event. Such a kind of event should be interpreted from a historical point of view on the one hand, and-in the light of belief on the other. The object of theology is not God as himself (taken as a kind of being) who is transcendental to the world, but God who as a dynamic being is active in the world as well, as in man. God saves man and gives the sufficient and complete explanation of Christian (individual and social) life (as in the philosophy of God, the absolute being is treated as the first reason that explaines the existence of all particular beings which are merely contingent).

Kamiński, in his investigations, is aware of some difficulties which appear especially in the basis of practical theology where the studies are concentrated upon the relation of man to God (and not God to man, as in theoretical theology). Some difficulties also appear in making theological interpretation, which can be negative or positive (but this point is not discussed in the essay).

Kamiński shows that his proposal of the understanding of theological methods and knowledge allows us to link the research undertaken by theologist with the research undertaken by philosophers of science. But then cooperation between philosophers who are interested in the studies of theological knowledge with those of particular theological disciplines would be needed.

In this short presentation of Kamihski's papers collected in the volume it is worthy to emphasize that here are concerned with a very rich and wide approach to methodological questions. Our Author who was a philosopher of science (it would be better to say, a philosopher of knowledge), in his research studied different types of knowledge. His research was undertaken from different points of view which allow us to recognize in him a philosopher who always attempted to achieve a maximal rich, objective and rational picture of reality. He had studied in grant depth the history of scientific thought as well as the history of philosphy of science, and it was not without meaning in forming his methodological views. But his standpoint has been philosophically formed by the classical, Aristotelian-Thomistic concept of philosophy. This standpoint has weighed on the way in which he analysed different types of knowledge. Philosophy was for him inseparetely joined with methodological reflection and this makes his considerations actual in spite of all different and changeable trends in contemporary philosophy of science.

Summarized by Urszula M. Żegleń


Table of contents

  • Introduction 5
  • Trends in the development of semiotical issues 9
  • Hobbes' theory of definition 27
  • The role of Locke's and Condillac's in the history of the theory of definition 51
  • Gergonne's theory of definition 77
  • The systematization of typical logical fallacies 199
  • Classification of reasonings 231
  • Aristotle's concept of science 247
  • Ockham's concept of natural science 255
  • Philosophical presuppositions of N Copernicus' revolutional idea 267
  • Jacobus Zabarella's concept of a method of scientific cognitions 283
  • Knowledge of induction in logic of XVIlh century 301
  • The structure of natural science 319
  • The problem of truth in physics 331
  • Empirical and a priori elements in the foundations of physical sciences 341
  • The relation between empirical and nonempirical cognition 363
  • On the development of scientific theory 373
  • Rationalism of contemporary philosophy of science 385
  • Rationalism in methodology of science and intellectualism in epistemology
  • of Thomas Acquinas 397
  • Presuppositions of contemporary philosophy of science 411
  • Methodology of science Modern trends and issues 419
  • Foundations of the unification of sciences 435
  • On criteria of valuation of theoretical knowledge 449
  • Practical statements and theoretical statements 455
  • Method in theology 465
  • Methodological pecularity of theological knowledge 485
  • Summary 501
  • Bibliography 509
  • Index of names 517