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A website for the book by Ian J Thompson:

"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"


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Previous: 21.1 Beginning theistic science Up: 21. Methods Next: 22. Discrete Degrees in the Mind

21.2 Methodology of levels

Now I will attempt to identify and characterize all the different levels within the set of multiple generative levels. Let us sketch out some of the generic methodological steps that might be commonly used in this kind of scientific investigation, a sketch that tries to illuminate degrees and sub-degrees.

To begin with, we try to understand the overall nature of each degree, whether in psychology or physics. We investigate what overall function that degree has within the theistic universe. We focus on that particular degree or sub-degree and first examine that level by itself. It is important to determine whether its function is aided by the interaction of parts arranged in some space. Any such parts should be found and investigated.

Functions may be accomplished not only by the interaction of spatially-arranged parts but also by internal sub-degrees, especially if different sub-steps involve distinct and successive qualities that might be arranged as derivative dispositions. Science is, on the whole, rather good at investigating the detailed spatial and temporal sub-processes needed to fulfill particular functions: everything from structures of atoms through structures of cells to structures of planets. This feature of modern science is fortunate. The deductive procedures of the scientific theism of Part III are (as yet) poor at making suggestions for spatial multiplicity and temporal sequences. They are more oriented to probing the ‘deep structures’ of individual causes and effects.

To investigate (within theistic science) any structure at any level, we have to examine also the surrounding levels within the overall generative structure of the universe. In the end we cannot avoid this. The behavior of a given degree will necessarily depend, to some extent, on deriving dispositions from prior degrees and on constraining selections from what has already happened at later degrees. Theistic science is always able to put a given level within broader context. It is able to provide a broader set of reasons and consequences for its operation. This broader context is needed not just to understand the abstract ‘why questions’ but also to answer specific questions of cause and effect.

Various simplifications may be advisable in order to (temporarily!) remove that broader context. It will often be a fruitful method to ‘bracket off’ nearby or distinct degrees. This removal is always intellectually possible and sometimes useful for methodological reasons. A consequence of this bracketing-off is that scientists may (and do!) spend their entire life focusing on just one level and hence learn a great deal about just one particular sub-degree. With the existence (by Chapter 19) of sub-sub-degrees of that level, there is always a great deal to learn. The world is a wonderfully complicated place and is comprehensible only gradually. Within an overall theistic science, such bracketting will never be a long-term solution.

Previous: 21.1 Beginning theistic science Up: 21. Methods Next: 22. Discrete Degrees in the Mind

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