RUSSELL HANSON, DAVID BOHM AND OTHERS ON THE SEMANTICS OF DISCOVERY
BOOK VII - Page 7
Comment and Conclusion
Contrary to often-expressed opinion the topic of scientific discovery has not been a neglected one in philosophy of science. The above survey reveals that many philosophers and scientists have addressed it with a semantical approach using linguistic figures of speech. But no application of an explicit metatheory of scientific theory-development using a purely semantical approach has yet succeeded in generating a new and successful scientific theory in any contemporary science, even though many noteworthy historic scientific discoveries have resulted from the intuitive use of such semantical devices as analogy and metaphor. To date the only metatheories that are sufficiently procedural to function effectively for scientific discovery are those based on mechanized discovery systems, and most of these have been academic exercises involving the reconstruction of existing or historical theories. Only a few discovery systems have actually been used to develop new theories at the contemporary frontier of a science. Due to his semantical views Hanson had not examined the use of figures of speech, and very few discovery systems existed before his death in 1967.
But in his examination of historical episodes in the history of science Hanson recognized and documented cases in which semantics has operated as a linguistic constraint upon discovery, and he understood that this phenomenon implies the need for a reconsideration of the nature of scientific language, especially the language used for observational reporting. However, he almost never got beyond gestalt psychology, and had only suggested a metatheory of semantical description in his discussion of the semantics of Newton’s mechanics.
The following commentary is divided into five topics: (1) Firstly Hanson’s attempt at a logic of discovery with his wholistic gestalt semantics is critiqued. (2) Secondly Hanson’s defense of the Copenhagen interpretation with its duality thesis is considered in the context of semantical change in science. (3) Thirdly Hanson’s principal criticism of Bohm’s hidden-variable thesis is viewed in retrospect. (4) Fourthly some comments are given on Bohm and Hesse’s use of metaphor, and Wittgenstein’s family-resemblance thesis of meaning is critiqued. (5) And finally a new semantical metatheory of analogy, metaphor, and simile is set forth.
(1) Consider firstly Hanson’s proposed logic of scientific discovery, which took as its point of departure Peirce’s investigations. Peirce’s abductive (a.k.a. retroductive) logic of discovery does not conclude to a unique theory from a given set of premises as deductive logic concludes to a unique theorem. And Hanson does not propose that there exists a resolution for this logical inconclusiveness, much less does he supply one. But Hanson adds something to Peirce, namely the controlling rôle of logical syntax in the determination of semantics, which in turn strongly influences the selection of candidate hypotheses available for abduction. Thus he says that the mathematical formalism or syntax of the empirically adequate quantum theory defines the conceptual possibilities for any future development of microphysical theory, while paradoxically he also maintains that it offers a conceptual resistance to any future development of an alternative microphysical theory having a different formalism. This controlling rôle for syntactical structure governing semantics in statements and equations accepted as true implies an artifactual thesis of the semantics of language.
But in spite of the importance that Hanson places on semantics, he never used or developed a systematic philosophy of language. His principal inspiration was Wittgenstein’s Investigations, which is not without its insights, but is an aphoristic approach to philosophy of language. In his discussion of “seeing” Wittgenstein employed ambiguous drawings such as are commonly used in textbooks’ discussion of Gestalt psychology, and Hanson developed a semantics of language based on the idea of the conceptual gestalt. Unfortunately gestalt psychology is a very blunt instrument for semantical analysis, because it is wholistic.
Hanson’s philosophy of scientific discovery was greatly influenced by the physicist Paul Dirac. Dirac had told Hanson in conversation that the Copenhagen interpretation figured essentially in his development of the formalism of his relativistic quantum theory. Hanson therefore took the position that the Copenhagen interpretation (without Bohr’s naïve epistemology based on forms of perception) is that one, unique, and distinctive semantical interpretation supplied by the formalism itself, and is not merely some philosophical idea appended to the formalism. However, the gestalt semantics is not adequate to the defense of Hanson’s view that the Copenhagen interpretation is integral to the formalism of the modern quantum theory. Had Dirac said just the opposite of what Hanson reports he said about the Copenhagen interpretation’s relation to the formalism of quantum theory, then the gestalt semantics would have been neither more nor less serviceable for a semantical analysis of quantum theory. This is because the conceptual gestalt is wholistic and does not enable the philosopher of science to separate or even distinguish the semantics that may in some way be integral to the quantum theory’s formalism, from that which may not be integral to the formalism but is merely appended to the formalism – what Hanson calls mere philosophy and Bohm calls informal language. In fact Hanson’s gestalt semantics does not even offer him a basis for his distinction between the Copenhagen interpretation and the Bohr interpretation. The wholistic character of the conceptual gestalt makes it impossible to partition the semantics of the quantum theory into parts, to identify those parts that are integral to the formalism and those parts that are not, or those parts that are properly called the Copenhagen interpretation and those parts that are distinctive to the Bohr interpretation. In Patterns of Discovery Hanson had a brief flirtation with the idea that the meanings of terms contain each other as parts, but he failed to explore the idea. Had he done so, he would have found that semantics can be as analyzable as the syntax of any semantically interpreted and empirically warranted text.
The wholistic character of the conceptual gestalt also thwarts Hanson’s attempt to explain scientific discovery. On the one hand the prevailing conceptual gestalt offers conceptual resistance to any change to a new gestalt and therefore to any new theory. In other words it is an impediment to the semantical change integral to scientific discovery. On the other hand the same conceptual gestalt is also a guide to scientific discovery, because it informs the scientist of the kind of hypothesis that may satisfy the retroductive logic of discovery. Semantics may function in both of these contrary ways, but the gestalt psychology cannot explain how. More specifically in connection with the modern quantum theory, the gestalt psychology does not explain why Hanson should be defending the Copenhagen interpretation as a guide instead of attacking it as an impediment to the discovery of a new and more empirically adequate quantum theory. The reason for this problem is the basic fact that the wholistic gestalt cannot function in a logic of scientific discovery or in any systematic approach to discovery, because its wholistic character deprives retroductive logic of any procedural character. Retroduction can only describe the conditions that the new gestalt must satisfy after it has been found, which is to say that it is a statement of a scientific problem that the discovery must solve rather than a procedure for obtaining a solution.
On the gestalt thesis the discovery itself is a transition that does not admit to a procedure, just as the transition from one interpretation of an ambiguous drawing to another does not admit to a procedure. Just as there could never be a logical or mathematical formalism to describe the transition occurring in a change of a substantial form described in Aristotle’s physics, so too there could never be a logical formalism to describe the change of a gestalt form in modern physics. In both cases the transition from one gestalt to the other is merely a substitution, which is instantaneous, whole and complete, and with no intelligible continuity to warrant calling it a processional transition instead of a simple replacement.
(2) Consider secondly Hanson’s defense of the Copenhagen interpretation and his view that the semantics of physical theory is exhaustively specified by the equations of the theory together with the statements describing the measured phenomena, the measurement apparatus, and procedures used to obtain the measurement data related by the equations, or whether some additional discourse is involved further characterizing the domain of the equations and measurements. Hanson rejects any semantical rôle in scientific explanation for any discourse other than the equations of the theory and the statements required for experimental description and measurement procedures. Accordingly he maintained that duality, which is the distinctive characteristic of the Copenhagen interpretation, is not some semantics added to the formalism of the quantum theory by any statements that he called mere philosophy, but rather is an ontological claim expressed by the formalism due to the formalism’s control of the semantics of the theory. His motive for stating this position is Dirac’s statement made personally to him that the wave-particle duality is integral to the formalism, and that it was strategic in Dirac’s development of his own relativistic quantum theory. And duality is in fact integral to the syntax of Dirac’s operator calculus.
But there are physicists who disagree with Hanson’s view. Some disagree, because they do not recognize the occurrence of semantical change. Hanson illustrates the phenomenon of semantical change in the first chapter of his Concept of the Positron, where he gives a brief historical overview of the wave and particle theories of light. He notes that Newton did not have a semantics for the terms “wave” and “particle” making the concepts dichotomous or mutually exclusive, when Newton proposed his theory of “fits”. Only later did these concepts assume their dichotomous implications, when the experiments of Foucault, Frenzel, and Young were believed to have the force of crucial experiments that persuaded the physicist that they must decide between one and the other characterization. Thus the concepts of wave and particle had undergone semantical change with the advance of physical experiment and theory. In 1924 de Broglie’s equation for electron matter waves making the wave length λ a function of the particle’s momentum p and Planck’s constant h enabled physicists to express duality mathematically prior to development of the modern quantum theory by Heisenberg and Schrödinger. Interestingly in his Conceptual Development of Quantum Mechanics (1966) Max Jammer observed that Bohr had come to his complementarity principle by consideration of this equation, and he references a four-page postscript to a paper written by Bohr in 1925. This is one year before Heisenberg reports that Bohr had developed his complementarity principle.
Yet in spite of having been led by these considerations to conclude that wave and particle are alternative manifestations of the same physical entity, the inconsistent concepts were retained by Bohr, because he believed that one must retain the Newtonian concepts of wave and particle, on which he based his complementarity principle, and then relegated mathematical formalism to instrumentalist status, even as he affirmed duality. His complementarity principle is a semantical inconsistency resulting from his belief in the naturalistic philosophy of perception, which in turn implies that the concepts of wave and particle like all classical concepts cannot be changed. And the complementarity principle is an example of the philosophical discourse defining the semantics in a way that is inconsistent with the semantics defined by acceptance of the mathematically expressed quantum theory. After some weeks of disagreement with Bohr, Heisenberg concluded that he could accommodate Bohr’s complementarity thesis by accepting the idea that the wave-particle duality is expressed by the indeterminacy principle, save that the mathematical formalism expressing the indeterminacy principle is consistent while the complementarity principle is not. Heisenberg made this accommodation, because Bohr persuaded him to accept a naturalistic philosophy of perception.
But in so doing, Heisenberg was philosophically inconsistent, since unlike Bohr, he did not construe the formalism instrumentally. Instead by accepting Einstein’s aphorism that the theory decides what the physicist can observe, Heisenberg let his theory decide what the physicist observes in the cloud chamber, and furthermore following Einstein’s precedent applying scientific realism to the concept of time in relativity theory, Heisenberg likewise construed his indeterminacy relations realistically.
The only way that the Copenhagen duality thesis can be affirmed consistently is to let the equations control the semantics of the terms “wave” and “particle”, as these terms relate to the descriptive variables in the mathematically consistent formalism, assuming one wishes to retain these classical terms at all. Heisenberg’s idea of potentia, which reconceptualized the concept of the entity described by the indeterminacy relations, might be viewed as such an attempt. Accepting this mathematical context produces a semantical change in the meanings of the terms with the result that they are no longer classical concepts and are therefore no longer antilogous. The empirical adequacy of the quantum theory demonstrated by nonfalsifying test outcomes enables its equations to function as definitions. This amounts to using the equations of the theory in a “functionally a priori” manner and as “pattern statements”, as Hanson had said, and to letting the theory decide what is observed, as Einstein had said.
Heisenberg may have been approaching recognition of the semantical change, when in his “Questions of Principle” (1935) he said the restrictions on classical concepts as enunciated in the indeterminacy relations acquire their “creative value” only by making them questions of principle, such that they can have the freedom necessary for a noncontradictory ordering of experience. Bohr’s complementarity with its reliance on classical concepts is not noncontradictory. The salient point is that in the light of Heisenberg’s autobiographical description of his development of the indeterminacy relations, his phrase “creative value” refers to the rôle of the mathematical equations in defining the semantics, so that the concepts of the formalism are used for observation as in the case of his reconsideration of the tracks in the Wilson cloud chamber. In other words he recognized that the formation of a new semantics is integral to the new scientific discovery.
And in this same paper Heisenberg also states that the system of mathematical axioms of quantum mechanics entitles the physicist to regard the question the simultaneous determination of position and impulse values as a false problem, just as Einstein’s relativity theory makes the question of absolute time a false question in the sense that they are devoid of meaning. Clearly the reason Heisenberg said such questions become devoid of meaning, is that the meanings of the variables have been changed, because demonstrated empirical adequacy of the quantum theory justifies giving semantical control to the descriptive vocabulary in newly tested and nonfalsified theory.
Hanson reiterates Heisenberg’s in-principle approach. In the chapter “Elementary Particle Physics” in his Patterns of Discovery he states that one cannot maintain a quantum-theoretic position and still aspire to the day when the difficulties of the indeterminacy relations have been overcome, because this would be like playing chess and yet hoping for the day when the difficulties of having but one king chess-piece will have been overcome. But Hanson is more consistent and he proceeds beyond Heisenberg. Heisenberg’s explicit and systematic theory of semantical change, his doctrine of closed-off theories developed under the influence of Bohr, was not only intended to explain semantical change, but was also intended to explain semantical permanence for classical concepts used for observation.
In contrast Hanson said that the indeterminacy principle is built into every observation of every fruitful experiment since 1925. In Hanson’s explicit and systematic philosophy of science, unlike Heisenberg’s, the theory controls even the semantics of the language used for description of observed phenomena. Hanson states how a theory has its creative value in ways that Heisenberg actually used and chronicled in his development of the indeterminacy principle, but which Heisenberg did not incorporate into his explicit and systematic philosophy, his doctrine of closed-off theories. Heisenberg was inconsistent when he viewed the semantics of the variables in the mathematical quantum theory as classical concepts with restricted applicability for observation.
One problematic and indeed controversial outcome of the semantical change resulting from giving semantical control to the formalism of the theory, as Hanson advocates, is a complication in the problem of how empirical control is also exercised over the theory in scientific criticism, such that independent evidence enabling empirical decidability is possible and tautology is avoided. This is a problem that still vexes those contemporary pragmatists who employ a wholistic thesis of the semantics of language. Hanson could have called upon his thesis of theory-independent “phenomenalist seeing” as an observation language. But he never invokes this idea to defend the empiricism of science, even while he never doubts either the empirical decidability of science or the theory-laden character of observation language. Instead he regrettably invokes Wittgenstein’s idea of the multiple uses of language with theory language having a concept-defining function for observation only in some uses and in the testing function in others. This seems no better than Heisenberg’s inconsistency, and furthermore seems more obscurantist.
(3) Thirdly consider Hanson’s principal criticism of Bohm’s hidden-variable interpretation of quantum theory. Hanson’s criticism is that Bohm has not developed any new empirically testable equations. Initially Bohm had proposed his hidden-variable hypothesis as a heuristic for developing new microphysical equations that would resolve the renormalization problem, as well as unify physics with an ontology that is consistent for both macrophysics and microphysics. For forty years he elaborated his interpretation of the existing quantum theory formalism, while the postulated subquantum field has remained inaccessible to experimental detection, and while the renormalization problem remains unsolved. In his “Hidden Variables and the Implicate Order” in Quantum Implications Bohm admits that his proposed hidden-variable interpretation did not “catch on” among physicists, since it gives exactly the same predictions for all experimental results as does the Copenhagen interpretation, which he calls the “usual” theory.
Hanson’s critique of Bohm’s hidden-variable interpretation in his “Postscript” in Quanta and Reality seems to have been vindicated to date by the behavior of the physics profession in the years that have since elapsed. There is no shortage of sociological and conspiracy theories about the exclusion of Bohm and his supporters. Some philosophers of science as well as supporters of Bohm claim that the advocates of the Copenhagen interpretation have imposed some kind of hegemony on the physics profession. Bohm claims in his Undivided Universe, that the Copenhagen interpretation prevails only because it was prior to his interpretation, and says that it is merely an historical circumstance if not an accident that the Copenhagen interpretation was chronologically prior to his alternative interpretation.
But such claims reveal a failure to understand the institutional value system of empirical science that guides and motivates scientists’ opportunistic decisions – including the decision by the majority to ignore Bohm’s highly speculative hypotheses about phenomena occurring at a subquantum order of magnitude that is still experimentally inaccessible. Physicists prefer what Bell called a “pragmatic attitude”, such as the outcome of the EPR experiment based on Bell’s inequality and performed by Aspect, Dalibard, and Roger in 1982, which shows that more than a difference in informal language interpretations distinguishes the hidden-variable from the Copenhagen thesis. Physicists are not interested in alternative interpretations for their own sake, i.e., interpretations that are not associated with new and empirically testable equations that solve problems, which the current mathematical physics has yet to solve.
In fact the whole issue of alternative semantical and ontological interpretations for the quantum theory’s formalism is often ignored in textbooks on quantum theory. And the Swedish Royal Academy does not award the Nobel Prize merely for novel interpretations. Instead researchers in microphysics have allocated their time and effort to theorizing about the wealth of new data made available with the particle accelerators by developing the standard model and by developing string theory to account for gravitation as well. Eventually new experimental techniques and apparati will enable physicists to detect and examine subquantum phenomena. It would indeed be quite remarkable if in fact absolutely nothing actually exists at subquantum orders of magnitude, as Bohr had thought.
(4) Fourthly consider Bohm and Hesse. In comparison to Hanson’s philosophical insights Bohm’s hidden-variable interpretation and Hesse’s positivist semantics have marginalized these two figures in the history of twentieth-century philosophy of science. Nonetheless interesting critical comments may be made of Bohm and Hesse’s views on metaphor. Their differences not withstanding, Bohm and Hanson have a common belief underlying their interests in scientific discovery. Traditionally it was thought that language has merely a passive role, such that firstly a discovery is made by observation of nature, and then language is employed to report the discovery.
But Hanson, Bohm, and much later Hesse rejected the naturalistic philosophy of the semantics of language, which assigns to language such a passive rôle in scientific discovery. Instead like Whorf they recognized that language has an active rôle that enables language construction to function as an instrument or heuristic and thus to enable discovery strategies. In their writings retroduction, analogy, and metaphor represent such semantical discovery strategies. But to date application of neither their semantical strategies using figures of speech nor even Thagard’s computational efforts employing his analogical discovery strategy, have yielded new and consequential theories for any contemporary science. The mysteriously inspiring muses of ancient Greek mythology are still as operative in the use of figures of speech for scientific discovery, as they are for poetry and literature.
Hesse’s reliance on Wittgenstein’s family-resemblance theory of meaning is unfortunate. Wittgenstein noted that humans are able to distinguish individuals without articulately characterizing the individuals’ distinguishing features and to group individuals without characterizing the common features that make them similar and that serve as the basis for grouping. But so too can dogs and cats, neither of which practice scientific research. Hesse draws upon this banal observation, and then confronts her readers with the dichotomous choice between Aristotle’s natural-kinds doctrine and Wittgenstein’s family-resemblance doctrine. This is a false dichotomy. It is also a rhetorical one, since few philosophers today would wish to be harnessed to the lengthy baggage train of associated ideas that Aristotle’s philosophy has accumulated over two millennia. But Wittgenstein’s family-resemblance theory of meaning is also an inferior alternative, because as a wholistic theory of meaning, it is an exercise in vagueness about vagueness. Semantical differences are not reducible merely to differences in degree of similarity, and few concepts are like the color words, which Hesse uses as an example.
Meanings may be said to be approximate, as Hesse maintains, because they are vague. But they are similar or different, because they are fundamentally complexes that may share many or only a few discrete semantic components, which may be called semantic values. When they share many component semantic values, they are similar, and when they share few or none, they are dissimilar. Furthermore, Hesse is not even consistent with her Wittgensteinian theory of meaning. For example in a discussion of how science can reclassify observed phenomena she notes the case in which whales become classified as mammals and not fish, because the property of suckling their young comes to be a more salient property than the fact that they live in the sea. But this property of suckling young is a difference between mammals and fish that is not a matter of degree or reducible to such. A more adequate theory of meaning description than the family-resemblance thesis is needed, and a proposed alternative is set forth immediately below.
(5) Thus consider the following metatheory of meaning and of linguistic figures of speech such as metaphor, which does not propose that meanings are somehow continuous with one another to make differences and similarities matters of degree. As a linguistic phenomenon metaphor may be explained with the semantical thesis that the meanings of descriptive terms have complex composition. For purposes of analysis metaphor may be viewed in the context of predication in a categorical sentence. Other modes of expression such as phrases or texts larger than sentences also reveal metaphorical use. One of the identifying features of a metaphorical description is that if the term that is metaphorically predicated of a subject is taken in its literal, (i.e., conventional) sense, then the statement is false, although this is a feature only for metaphors occurring in affirmative predications. For example in his Mental Leaps Thagard notes that the statement “No man is an island” is not literally false, even though “island” is also denied metaphorically of “man” in the negative statement.
Another feature is that when the metaphorical statement is false, it is not an unrecognized mistake, but rather is deliberately issued with no intention to deceive and for the purpose of revealing something believed to be true. Thus, there is merit to Bohm’s definition of metaphor as the simultaneous equating and negating of two concepts. The central problem is how the metaphorical description can be both true and false. One misguided answer is that metaphor is a kind of equivocation, and this proposal seems inevitable so long as meanings are viewed as simple wholes, such that the metaphorical description is completely true on its one meaning and completely false on its other.
But a superior way to formulate the question is to ask how the metaphorical predication can be partially true and partially false rather than simply true and simply false simultaneously. This is an alternative to simple equivocation, because it suggests that meanings have parts. A metaphorical predication invokes only part of the meaning complex associated with the descriptive univocal predicate, and ignores the remaining parts in the predicate’s conventional meaning complex. A speaker’s conventional or literal linguistic usage associates the entire meaning complex with the univocal predicate term, and the metaphor is false if the univocal term is predicated with this full, i.e., conventional semantics. But the issuer of the metaphor chooses that part of the meaning which is truly predicated of the subject term, and he implicitly expects the hearer or reader to ignore the remaining parts of the predicate’s semantics. A listener or reader may or may not succeed in understanding the metaphorical use of the predicated term depending on his ability to select the applicable parts of the predicate’s semantics chosen by the issuer. Metaphor depends on the intention of the issuer, and not on the ability of the reader or listener to understand it. There are always some that understand a metaphor and some that do not, but the metaphor is a metaphor due to the issuer’s intent and linguistic usage.
Black’s interactionist thesis of metaphor is incorrect. The semantics of terms are determined contextually but only in universally quantified statements, such as “Every S is P”. The semantics of “S” is not changed, because “Every S is P” does not imply “Every P is S”. Metaphorical predication does not make the universal statement universally convertible; “Every S is P” only converts to “Some P is S”, which as a particularly quantified statement cannot determine the semantics of either “S” or “P”. For example one might issue the metaphorical statement “Every man is a wolf” or “Every man is lupine” to signify the predatory dispositions and behaviors of men. And one might issue the metaphorical statement “Every wolf is a man” or “Every wolf is human” to signify the predatory dispositions and behaviors of wolves. But these two metaphorical statements are independent, because the semantics of the subject term of each statement is unaffected by metaphorical predication and remains conventional. There is no “interaction”, as Black maintains.
Furthermore authors such as Hesse and Black render metaphor as a kind of obscure mode of speech that cannot be reduced to literal language. But in fact metaphors are routinely explained in literal (i.e., conventional) terms to the uncomprehending listener or reader. To explain the metaphorical predication of a descriptive term to a subject is to list those sentences or clauses believed to be true of the subject, whose predicates may substitute for the metaphorically predicated term, and which set forth precisely those parts of the metaphorically predicated term’s meaning that the issuer intends to be applicable. And the explanation may also be elaborated by listing as negative sentences those that are not believed to be true of the subject, but which are conventionally associated with the metaphorically predicated term when it is predicated literally. These sentences state what is intended to be excluded from the predicate’s conventional meaning complex in the metaphorical usage.
For example to explain Hesse’s metaphor “Man is a wolf”, the speaker may say, “Man is a wolf, because man is ..., and man is ..., and...” where in the succession of clauses he substitutes predicates that identify those characteristics of wolf that he intends to be applicable to man. And if in this substitute predication he finds himself further using metaphorical descriptions, then the substitution process is repeated recursively with other clauses, until the entire explanation is literal. The explanation may be elaborated for clarity by the sentence “Man is not a wolf, because man is not..., and man is not..., and....” Substitutions in these successive negative clauses results in subordinate clauses that have predicates describing characteristics conventionally associated with wolves, but which the issuer of the metaphor does not intend to be truly predicated of “man”. The affirmative explanatory sentence sets forth those parts of the meaning associated with “wolf” that are intended to describe man in the metaphorical use of “wolf”, and the negative explanatory sentence sets forth whatever parts of the conventional or literal meaning associated with “wolf” that the issuer intends that the listener exclude for understanding the metaphor.
Semantical change for the term “wolf” occurs when the metaphorical predication becomes trite, i.e., conventional, and this produces an equivocation. The equivocation consists of two literal meanings, the original one and a second meaning, which is now a dead metaphor. As a dead man is no longer a man, so a dead metaphor is no longer a metaphor; it is a meaning from which the rejected meaning parts, i.e., semantic values, have become conventionally excluded from the meaning complex to produce a second and new literal meaning. The dead metaphor may also be a new conventional meaning that makes the first meaning archaic.
Quite apart from metaphor new meanings are also made in cases of theory development. The new theory supersedes an old one, such that the old meaning becomes as archaic as the old theory containing it, and the new meaning eventually becomes the only conventional meaning applicable to the subject of the superseding theory. However, the change is not a complete semantical change. The semantical change applies only to those parts of the term’s meaning occurring in the new theory, while the parts supplied by statements of test design provide semantical continuity, if the transition to the new theory is due to an empirical test outcome that falsified the old theory.
Simile is similar to metaphor except that the occurrence of the terms “like” or “as” explicitly alerts the listener to the issuer’s intent that only part of the meaning complex is applicable, and with explanatory elaboration it may furthermore inform the listener of which part. But unlike metaphor with the listener having been alerted by “like” or “as” his awareness of the partial applicability of the univocal predicate’s meaning complex enables him to retain the term’s conventional semantics. Thus unlike metaphor the simile is not partly true and partly false, but is wholly true, if it is true at all. Thus the simile “Man is like the wolf” may be explained with the sentence “Man is like the wolf, because man is..., and man is..., and.…” The terms “like” or “as” inform the listener that the full meaning of “wolf” is not applicable, but the added “because…” clauses explain what parts of the meaning complex are applicable. Simile is not partly true and partly false like metaphor, because simile merely expresses comparison, while the copula term “is” in metaphor affirms existence. Thus man “is” not literally a wolf in reality, but he may be “like” a wolf.
Finally consider analogy. In a conventional generic sense the term “analogy” might include metaphor and simile, because they are all linguistic figures of speech. But in its more restrictive sense based on the idea of a grammatical form, it is a compound sentence having two independent clauses connected with the conjunction “as”. The typical form is “A is to B as C is to D.” For example: “The electron is to the atomic nucleus as a planet is to the sun.” The positive analogy is what is expressed in additional discourse describing the similarities, e.g., “orbits about a central mass”. The negative analogy is what is expressed in additional discourse describing the dissimilarities, such as “the orbits of the electron are not due to gravity”. And the neutral analogy consists either what has not been considered, or more usefully what is actually considered and expressed with a much more hypothetical attitude than the confidently affirmed similarities and dissimilarities.
It is the neutral analogy that Hesse considers to be of distinctive value for formulating scientific theories as hypotheses proposed for testing. In the basic-science research context, instead of the literary or poetic context motivated by aesthetic considerations, the central feature of the analogy statement is that one of the independent clauses connected by “as” is believed to be true with a high degree of confidence or perhaps total conviction, while the credence status of the other independent clause is much more hypothetical in the judgment of the issuer. Historically in the above example of analogy the solar-system description involving planets in orbits around the sun was believed much more confidently than the description of the atom in terms of electrons moving in orbits around the nucleus of the atom, which at the time was a much more tentative hypothesis.
Hesse’s discourse about neutral analogies offers nothing
procedural any more than Hanson’s discourse about retroductions. In historical retrospect
the development of some new theories can be described in terms
of such efforts. But
the new theories are essentially lucky guesses that offer few
guidelines or prospects for assisting the practicing research
scientist addressing contemporary problems. But today extensive
high-speed mechanized analysis of voluminous databases such as
Thagard’s system PI,
which is discussed in BOOK VIII below, greatly enhances the
probabilities of successful discovery, because the guesswork
relies less on luck and more on productivity-multiplying
mechanized procedures encoded in the software of the discovery