Method, Concepts of

  • Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology

    A special subcategory of concepts pertaining to the products of consciousness, is reserved for concepts of method. Concepts of method designate systematic courses of action devised by men for the purpose of achieving certain goals. The course of action may be purely psychological (such as a method of using one’s consciousness) or it may involve a combination of psychological and physical actions (such as a method of drilling for oil), according to the goal to be achieved.

    Concepts of method are formed by retaining the distinguishing characteristics of the purposive course of action and of its goal, while omitting the particular measurements of both.

    For instance, the fundamental concept of method, the one on which all the others depend, is logic. The distinguishing characteristic of logic (the art of non-contradictory identification) indicates the nature of the actions (actions of consciousness required to achieve a correct identification) and their goal (knowledge) — while omitting the length, complexity or specific steps of the process of logical inference, as well as the nature of the particular cognitive problem involved in any given instance of using logic.

    Concepts of method represent a large part of man’s conceptual equipment. Epistemology is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge. Ethics is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of living one’s life. Medicine is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of curing disease. All the applied sciences (i.e., technology) are sciences devoted to the discovery of methods.