Mixing Memory

There’s a really interesting post by Alberto over at Alpha Psy titled “Methodological Materialism” that I thought I’d point you to, in case you hadn’t read it already. Here’s an excerpt:

As I see things, there is no deeper epistemological concern in recognizing that methods from natural sciences are increasingly being applied to social sciences than in recognizing that (say) it is snowing more than we had forecasted.

The mistake that both Descombes and Sperber make in celebrating a false major philosophical event is their implicit commitment to the doctrine of “methodological essentialism”: the idea that a field of human knowledge is defined by its proprietary methods. If this doctrine is true, then it follows that applications of the methods of natural sciences to social sciences is a big event, because, since in extant social sciences should be defined by their methods, the application of new, alien ones is not normal and should be conceived of as a conceptual confusion (Descombes’ position). Unless, clearly, one admits that extant social sciences have always been a wreck to begin with (Sperber’s position).