Method in natural, social and humankind science

Juan Inigo jinigo at
Thu Jun 1 20:20:42 MDT 1995

To my

>>Moreover, Marx discovers that this reproduction is not an
>>abstract question that just concerns scientific method as such.
>>He discovers that this reproduction is the concrete form that
>>the revolutionary production of the consciously regulated
>>society necessarily takes:

Ralph Dumain replies

>And notice everything you are talking about pertains to the
>scientific method applied to the understanding of society.  You
>talk about nothing else.

Above all, human life is a natural process. But as such natural process of
metabolism, it develops a specificity that determines it as a genus by
itself, as the generic human being: its necessity to transform the rest of
nature into a means for itself by producing its own means of production.
The complexity thus acquired by the natural process of regulation of human
life makes this process of regulation take the specific form of a process
that is historical in itself, of a social process. And as a concrete form
that this process of regulation takes, science needs to account for the
necessity of the process of regulation itself and, consequently, of it

But, does this specificity developed by the regulation of the human
metabolism process as a social process introduces a specificity into the
form itself through which the determinations of human real actions (in
other words, of the concrete forms taken by the natural process whose
self-regulation takes the form of a social process) are scientifically
appropriated in thought, that necessarily results in a methodological
separation between _natural_ science and _social_ science?

When we consciously regulate our action by reproducing its necessity with
our thought, we always start by immediately facing reality through the
forms taken by the regulation of our action, and therefore, by facing
social forms. But when we analytically search for the necessity of these
social forms we find that we need to transcend their specificity as the
forms taken by the regulation of a natural process of life to face the
necessity of this natural process as such. So we analytically get into our
natural determination, until reaching our most abstract natural form,
matter as such. Only then we can start to follow in thought the development
of the necessity of the process of human life. Therefore, the necessity of
our action starts to rise in our ideal reproduction as a purely natural
necessity. But, however far we get in ideally reproducing the natural
determination of our action, we will still be lacking the capacity to
consciously regulate its realization until we have followed in thought this
natural determination as it develops into a social form and, in fact, to
the concrete social form that has our conscious action as its necessary
form of realizing itself.  There is no opportunity for a difference in the
scientific method to arise while we are facing natural forms as such or
when we go on facing them under the concrete form they take as social forms
as we develop our dialectical cognition to reproduce the real concrete in

In Marx's words:

"... , only when science starts from nature, science is _true_ science. All
history is the preparatory history of the transformation of _"man"_ into
the object of sensible consciousness and of the necessity of "man insofar
as man" into necessity. History itself is a real part of _natural history_,
of the transformation of nature into man. Someday natural science will
embody the science of man, in the same way that the science of man will
embody natural science; There will be only _one_ science. ... _Man_ is the
immediate object of natural science; ... But _nature_ is the immediate
object of the _science of man_. ... The _social_ reality of nature and the
natural _human_ science or the _natural science of man_ are identical
expressions." (1844 Manuscripts)

Then, where does the apparent methodological break between natural science
and social science, that makes Ralph believe that the question about
representing or reproducing reality only concerns the method of the later,
come from? In a previous post I pointed out how present-day alienated
consciousness takes shape in a science that represents the cause of
phenomena through the relations of measure of their concrete forms, thus
allowing the conscious regulation of action inside the limits of the
transformation of quantitative differences into qualitative differences.
The specific historical determinations of this science prevents its
analytical capacity to go beyond the appearances of the abstract real
forms. But, at the same time, it can only provide to the production of
relative surplus-value by measuring each of those abstract real forms with
an increased accuracy. Beyond any historical specificity, human scientific
thought has a way to bring abstract real forms within the reach of direct
measurement: to really reproduce the abstract real forms as if they were
concrete ones, that is, experiments. It is the double historical
determination that science undergoes when it is determined as the concrete
base of the production of relative-surplus value, that makes
experimentation appear not just as a necessary specific step in scientific
procedure, but as determining the essence itself of scientific method. But
this appearance still misses a further development.

The autonomous capitalist regulation of the social metabolism process can
only take shape through the alienated voluntary action, and therefore, the
alienated voluntary regulative action, of the individuals. Therefore, as a
concrete form of capitalist accumulation, science needs to advance upon the
abstract real forms taken by the regulation itself of social life, the
social specificity of human life. And the complexity of these abstract real
forms (not in vain they are the form that the specifically human regulation
of natural processes takes) and the fact that they are the immediate
incarnation of the alienation of human potencies, strongly reduces the
possibility of really reproducing them as if they were concrete forms.
Statistics, not experimentation, becomes the main procedure for measuring
social forms. With experimentation placed as determining the essence itself
of scientific method, and this essence reduced to the representation of
reality through its relations of measure, the appearance that the
scientific method needed to appropriate in thought the natural real forms
and the needed to appropriate social real forms differ because the nature
itself of their respective objects, gives its first step.

The power to transform natural forms that human action acquires when ruled
by a science thus determined, has shown to be enough to sustain the
production of relative surplus-value, at least up to now. So this natural
science only needs to be completed with the plain rejection as metaphysical
of any question concerning the cause of the phenomena beyond the
appearances of their relations of measure, for its method to be presented
as the "natural" form to scientifically appropriate nature in thought.
Conversely, the complexity of social forms makes immediately visible the
insufficiency of the science that attempts to appropriate their
determinations by representing them through their relations of measure (by
modeling them), to regulate the social metabolism process. Even for the
alienated consciousness, it becomes evident that such social science
suffers from its lack of consideration of qualitative determinations beyond
their magnitude. But instead of following this lack until discovering it
also in natural science, the alienated consciousness turns it upside-down,
completing the appearance of an essential methodological difference between
natural and social science.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at

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