Re: [xmca] Method/Methodology

From: Peter Moxhay (
Date: Wed Aug 24 2005 - 08:14:35 PDT

Sasha, Steve, and all:

It is interesting that G. P. Schedrovitsky sometimes uses the term
"methodology" or "methodological work" to refer to work that is done
in order to *bring into being* a new science or theory. That is, the
work that is done in order to constitute a new PREDMET or object of
study/ subject matter. For example, he wrote (my translation):

> Here you may ask: Why, in particular do I call this work
> "methodological," rather than, say, scientific? Primarily because
> scientific work properly speaking, i.e. work according to the
> canons and laws of scientific research, is possible only within the
> bounds of an already existing PREDMET (subject matter/object of
> study). For example, Galileo constructed the scientific apparatus
> of mechanics -- after which the scientist can make his entrance on
> the stage, conduct his research within the bounds of this PREDMET,
> and, in parallel, develop and transform it into other scientific
> PREDMETS. And if such a PREDMET does not yet exist, scientific
> research and development can simply not exist. And therefore in the
> "Conversations" Galileo acted not as a scientist but as a
> methodologist. And Descartes worked in precisely the same way, when
> he created analytic geometry and natural-sciences type disciplines.
> (From a collection, Myshlenie, ponimanie, refleksiya, published in
> 2005)

I'd be interested to know what you think about this usage of the term
"methodology." If this sense of the term is acceptable, can we not
say that Aristotle, Galileo, Descartes, Newton, Marx were all doing
"methodological work"?


> Sasha's discussion of the term "methodology" is intriguing. I
> certainly agree that there is no such thing as a methodology
> without theory, but I also would agree with the statement that
> there is no such thing as a theory without methodology. In other
> words, methodology - the use and study of method - is an essential
> property of any serious theoretical system, and all serious
> theories employ methodology. This of course applies to Marxism,
> which can be claimed to be the most methodologically advanced
> theoretical system because it consciously synthesizes all
> methodologies (formal logic, dialectical logic, observation,
> experiment, induction, deduction, analysis, synthesis, etc. etc.).
> It is very common among Marxists of many tendencies to speak of a
> "Marxist methodology," which seems to be used more or less
> synonymously with the more commonly employed term "Marxist
> method." One or the other or both of the two terms to my knowledge
> are used ubiquitously by virtually the entire rainbow of Marxist
> tendencies, dating back to the late 19th century. Googling around a
> little, I notice that the term "Marxist methodology" is sometimes
> used to mean "Marxist method," but not in a way that attempts to
> differentiate the two. The news that Ilyenkov never used the terms
> methodology (or epistemology) certainly gets my attention, and I
> will think about that as I study EVI. But until Ilyenkov or Sasha
> can persuade me otherwise - and I admit, I have been finding EVI
> quite persuasive over the last couple years since I discovered him
> through xmca - my perspective is to continue to view the term
> methodology as a property of theory, and to apply the method (or
> methodology if you prefer) of Marxism as best I can to understand,
> among other things, the ways method and methodology are used in
> human affairs.
> Best,
> - Steve
> At 03:09 PM 8/21/2005 +0400, Sasha wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> IMHO the problem of meaning of so called "methodology" is a little
>> bit more
>> complicated than it can be estimated from the first sight. First
>> of all this
>> term is rather new. It was brought into fashion in the beginning
>> of the last
>> century. Neither Hegel nor Marx had ever used it. Certainly
>> Ilyenkov knew
>> this term but never used it either.
> <snip>

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