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Philosophy of Science

The Rationality of Scientific Discovery: The Aspect of the Theory of Creation

Yang Yaokun
Hubei University
Cheng Liangdao
Hubei Normal University

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ABSTRACT: In order to understand the rationality of scientific creation, we must first clarify the following: (1) the historical structure of scientific creation from starting point to breakthrough, and then to establishment; (2) the process from the primary through the productive aspects of the scientific problem, the idea of creation, the primary conjecture, the scientific hypothesis, and finally the emergence of the genetic structure establishing the theory; and (3) the problem threshold of rationality in scientific creation. Given that the theory of scientific creation adopts the descriptive viewpoint of rationality, it therefore establishes rational principles such as the following: (1) a superlogical mode of thinking; (2) an analysable genetic structure which consists of the primary and productive aspects (including experiential facts, background theory, operational means, higher irrational factors, etc.); (3) a means of recourse to the effect of incubation of a higher idea; (4) a movement in thinking from generality to particularity; and (5) the replacement of irrational by rational factors.

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1.The Logic Theory of Scientific Discovery and the Irrational Theory of Scientific Discovery

The modern forms of the logic theory of scientific discovery have abandoned the discovery model of pure logic, and search after the discovery logic in a broad sense. Both the retrospective inference which Hanson initiated and the inductive which Maclauin elucidated deserve serious attention among them [1]. Their common charateristics are to resort to the irrational factors, at the same time, they are unable to expound the process of emergence of the new ideas. In addition, the rationality of discovery is summed up into "the algorithm" or "the patterns of discovery" is still put forward, and it holds that it is according to the overeconomical principle that the discovery of the scientific laws discovers "the patterns" in experience and data [3]. They are both the different expression of discovery logic, the former is a kind of logic of problem solving, the latter is actually an inductive inference. Their common shortcomings are the simplification and to be unable to reveal how the new ideas occur in the process of scientific creation.

The irrational theory of discovery advocates "the method of bisection" of discovery and verification and holds that the scientific discovery is "the intuitional result like poetry" (Popper), and doesn't thoroughly have the possibility of epistemological research (L. Laudan) [4]. The problems of scientific discovery should be studies by psychology and sociology.

The logical theory of discovery and the irrational theory of discovery are two extremely opposite points of view, but each side is being weakened after debate: the irrational factors are brought into the logic in a broad sense (Hanson & Maclaurin), and the rational interpretation is drawn into the irrational theory (Kuhn). And so the problem seems to have improved, but with the decline of the craze for scientific discovery, this important comprehensive research isn't paid attention to.

2. The Prerequisites for Researching the Rational Problems of Scientific Creation

2.1 The Historical Structure of Scientific Discovery

Kuhn indicates: "the scientific discovery is possessed of its own history, the history before discovery and that after discovery" [5] G.Holton puts forward a developmental model of knowledge to elaborate the stages which scientists obtain the important new ideas. He thinks the subject from which the new ideas emerge is knowable, for the so-called results are relevant to their processes, without sudden appearance of the results [6].

That the scientific discovery is developed into a process, is of great advantage to analyse all kinds of relevant factors involved in the scientific knowledge. That the new ideas come into being and are caught is merely the earlier stage of breakthough of scientific discovery. We maintain that the process of discovery should be push forward to the starting point of discovery, and think that there are many models of starting point in scientific discovery [7]. It is beneficial to bring to light how these factors enter the process of discovery and what positive roles they play (such factors as experiential, theoretical, logical, ideal, irrational). We also hold that the process of discovery should be pushed back to the situation including the verification and valuation of primary conjectures and the stage of the conclusive verification of hypothesis (namely the estabishment stage of scientific discovery). Pushing back is in the interest of exposing the rational effects of logical, experiential and value factors on the determination of new ideas. Here the descriptive model of scientific discovery has also been set forth and demonstrated: starting poing-breakthrough-establishment.

2.2 The Genetic Structure of Scientific Creation

The Scientific creation is also a process. It includes the formation of productive aspects as follows: an aspect of scientific problem, an aspect of creative idea, an aspect of primary conjecture, an aspect of scientific hypothesis.

The scientific creation begins with clarification of the essence of scientific Problem. Only when the nature and the meaning of problem are investigated and the problem is not generally raised, can the creation begin. Here need operational data (experiential facts, Background theory) and operational means, and it is even in need for guiding the higher ideas, because it is difficult to see clearly the radical defects of available theory without the aid of the higher ideas. The subject is still aimed at the change and evolution of the structure of problem situation in the aspect of problem until clarification of the basic problem.

In the aspect of creative ideas, it is a very necessary for the subject to depend upon incubation of the higher idea. Just the higher idea is transformed into the creative one. The higher idea forms the idea parent of creation in the situation of scientific creation, and is concretized into the creative idea with they urgent need of problem-solving. The creative ideas declare to the researchers: why (according to what principle and idea) create? What to create (it has something to do with the available theory)? How to create (the mode and way of creation)? Here the foundation of the Special Theory of Relativity is a very good illustration [8].

In the aspect of primary conjecture, higher idea operational data and operational means are playing particular roles irrespectively in the verification, evaluation and systematization of the primary conjecture. Among them, the higher ideas are playing a very extraordinary role in the evaluation and are highly condensed into a king of rational intuition, which is help to sift a great deal of superficial and ambiguous conjectures.

In the aspect of scientific hypothesis, the hypothesis can't be transformed into the theory before it must be tested by logic verification, experiential verification and evaluation of value. Here its main dependence is the factors of greater certainty-experiential, logical ones, but it also resorts to the value factors of uncertainty.

2.3 The Problem Threshold of Rationality of Scientific Discovery

The vertical of the retionality problem of scientific discovery includes the rationalities of the starting point, breakthrough, establishment of scientific discovery, and its horizontal includes many aspects of rational pities of scientific discovery such as ontology, epistemology, methodology, logic-mathematics, the theory of value, the science of creation, the social-cultural science. In order to study the rational problem of scientific creation, we should extensively seek the above-mentioned aspects of rationality of creation, and thus we can reach the scope of the visual angle and the height of theory [9].

3. The Fundamentals of the Rationality of Scientific Creation

The descriptive theory of rationality is aimed at searching into the universal principles, but it isn't confined to seek a certain standard model. The merit to do so is that the scope of the revealed rationality is very extensive and it tallies with the realities.

3.1 The Mode of Superlogical Thinking Is Adopted in Scientific Creation

The reasonable position of the logic, for creation, should first be affirmed. The inductive rationality is determined by the fact that the cognitive activites from experience to theory always depend on induction. The deductive rationality is determined by the fact that it brings demonstration to conjectures, and it gives faithful backing to the inductive conclusion by citing the higher idea, and it is the logic walking stick of speculation, while the speculation (and creative imagination) is the basic mode of thinking of scientific creation[9]. In addition, such inferences in a broad sense as retrospect, analogy, they play an important part in the scientific creation, but their logically is weaker, and they contain the distinct factors of irrationality.

Following the logic procedure is bound to lead to discontinuance of thinking; therefore, in scientific creation the logic is usually incarnated as the forms of discontinuity, omission and leap, and is displays such characteristics as the fiction of premise, uncertainty of conclusion. It must resort to the dominant effect of the higher ideas to link up the discontinuous chains of logic, and it just means that scientific creation is possessed of the superlogical feature in the mode of thinking. At this time, it is necessary for the higher idea as its supplement.

3.2 There is the Aanalysable Genetic Structure in Scientific Creation.

The genetic structure of scientific creation consists of the structure of primary aspects and that of productive aspect. The structure of primary aspect includes the aspects of experiential facts, background theory, operational means, higher ideas, irrational factors, etc. Here experiential facts and background theory are referred to operational data, and their effects in scientific creation are to form the scientific problem, to confine the scope of primary conjecture, to give a positive proof of experience and logic for hypothesis. The operational means includes categories of cognitive activity, general principles and criteria of methodology, heuristic means, different levels of research method, operational techniques and means of thinking, language and experiment, logical and mathematical methods, etc. The operational data and means roughly belong to the "hardware" of scientific creation. They constitute the fundamental "components" of scientific cognitive activities. With regard to the higher idea and their effects, we will specialize in discussing them in the third principle. Such irrational factors as intuition, inspiration, insight, subconsciousness, together with the higher idea, they belong to the "software" of scientific creation. The affection of irrational factors lies in getting rid of set of thinking, to seek the effect of thinking from another angle (under the influence of outside contingent stimuli), in other words, to provide an optimized psychological circumstance for ocurrence of new ideas. Obviously, we don't agree that the irrational factors are lauded to the skies. For instance, after the consciousness stopped acting, "the subconsciousness continues to study the problem" (Poincare), it seams that the irrationality is the leading role of creation.

With regard to the genetic structure of productive aspect, its analysis is as mentioned above (2.2).

3.3 Scientific Creation Resorts to Incubation of the Higher Idea

The essence of idea lies in its differentiation from knowledge, especially theoretical knowledge. An idea is just the application of knowledge. The idea is higher than theory because it exceeds experience more highly than theory ,to such an extent as to exceed the objective reality of object and to be higher than "coincidence" of verisimilitude. The idea is higher than theory because it is possessed of the strong feature of epistemological ideal. It is strikingly reflected in such philosophical thought as Plato's, Kant's, Hegel's and Husserl's. The higher idea is not a mew term either. The following are the similar wording to it: "paradigm" (T. Kuhn), "conceptual frame" (G. Gutting) "metaphysical blueprint" (Maxwell), "scientific theme" (G. Holton) [10], "knowledge as the premise" (A. C. Maidonov) [10]. To put it briefly ,such as thought, belief ,notion, principle, tenet, criterion, model, they are higher than the concrete scientific creation at the levels of idea and knowledge, all those belong in the higher idea.

The reason why Scientific creation must resort to the higher ideas lies in that there isn't a logical passage from fact to theory or from an old theory to a new theory ,but in order to pass through this chasm which logic can't go beyond, it must resort to the guidance of the higher idea. In regard to the creative function of idea, Plato thinks that creation is carried out just by taking an idea as "a model." Kant thinks that though the idea doesn't constitute knowledge, it can show us the way to search for experience .The creative function of idea is just contained in the feature of ideal "excess." That the idea can exceed experience, logic and theory brings about its uncertainty, but it is that kind of uncertainty that results in the creative function of idea. It is impossible for theory itself to develop into a new theory just because of being unable to exceed itself. The higher idea are geneally embodied as follows: the worldwide prospect of science, the category and ideal system of philosophy ,the fundamentals of scientific aesthetics, the principled system of philosophy, the fundamentals of scientific aesthetics, the principled system of methodology, the most essential concept and principle in science and scientific thought, etc. All those are higher than concrete scientific creation at the level of knowledge and idea, and show the universal characteristics, and so can guide the activities of scientific creation.

That the higher idea is pregnant with scientific creation is realized just by concretizing it into the creative idea. With regard to the effect of the higher idea in the formation of productive aspect of scientific creation, its analysis is mentioned above (2.2). Here the conclusion is: the higher idea always gives the ruling play to scientific creation.

The rationality which the higher idea is pregnant with scientific creation lies in that the higher idea is the outcome of idealization of experience and theoretical knowledge, it is retional in itself .That the higher idea is pregnant with scientific creation conforms to the rational principle that the generality dominates the particularity and the exceptionality, that process is also possessed of the analysability of rationality.

3.4 Scientific Creation Follow the Procedure of Thinking from the Generality to the Particularity

That the higher idea is used to take charge of scientific creation means the real beginning, that corresponds to: it resorts to guidance of the higher idea in order to realize the essential clarification of scientific problem, thus making a conceptual investigation on the available theory. The aim that the higher idea is used to take charge of the activities of scientific creation is to link up the discontinuous logical chains, and thus, it is necessary that it changes the logical train of thought of bottom-up induction ,generalization and abstraction into the procedure of thinking from top to down and from the generality to the particularity .That the higher idea is possessed of this function is determined by fact that it is higher than the concrete creation at the level of idea [11]. In regard to that problem, the school of Gestalt psychology does well in studing it, and moreover Kant, Piaget, and Einstein also produce testimony of theory and practice.

3.5 The Irrational Factors Are Restricted by Rationality

As stated above, if scientific discovery is developed into a complete process including the starting point, the breakthrough and the establishment, we will obviously see that the rationality lays the experiential, logical and theoretical foundations for the intuition, insight, subconsciousness in the scientific creation, and it also provides the experiential and logical, value demonstration and evaluation for the outcome of irrational activities. Without the rational restraint of the former and the latter,the irrational activities are neither possible nor significant.

In the course of irrational activities, rational factors as the components of thinking enter the world of irrational. Meanwhile, ideas (the rational ractors which have the characteriatic of irrational) enter the structure of cognizance and in the condition of unconsciousness it also has the role of adjustment and which is the outstanding manifestation of that rationality restrains irrational.

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[1] C. Maclaurin, Invention and Induction, Philosophy of Science, No.6,1982.

[2] T(ed) Nickles, Scientific Discovery, Logic and Rationality, 1980,PP.184-186.

[3] H. A. Simon, Is There the logic in Scientific discovery? Philosophy of Science ,40,1973.

[4] L. Laudan, Scuence and Hypothesis.

[5] T. Kuhn, The historical Structure of Scientific development .The Essential Tension ,1979.

[6] G. Holton, The Scientific Imagination: Case Studies, 1978,PP.3 - 24.

[7] Yang Yaokun, the Logical Starting point of Scientific Cognition ,Studies in Dialectcs of Nature ,No.1,1988.

[8] Yang Yaokun, On Albert Einstein's Model of Scientific Creation ,No.10 1993.

[9] Yang Yaokun, on Scientific Discovry ,Sichuan Scientific and Technological Press,1994.

[10] A.C.Maidonov, Process of scientific Creation ,M.1983.

[11] Yang Yaokun, On thought Process of Scientific Creation. Studies in Dialectics of Nature, No.11 1996.

Note: The second author has mainly done the translation and collection of some materials.

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