I have been looking for a book I used a long time ago as a first-year graduate student at the University of Oregon. It was a philosophical treatise, not light reading, titled “Explanation”, used by Professor Joseph G. Jorgensen in his anthropological methods course.
I bring it up because the book is one of the few works I know that specifies what kinds of evidence lead to understanding.
There are intention, rational, psychological, historical, and of course —the purpose of the course —empirical explanations, using the scientific method.
The most developed empirical methods in the social sciences were those applied in economics. Anthropology, the most humanistic of the social sciences, also weighed in, even with small-sample statistics.
We were studying this at a beautiful bucolic campus in the late 1960s. Some street corners, elsewhere in the nation, were burning and fiery rhetoric ignited disenchanted groups.
Bystanders became increasingly caught up at the instability of the world stage that came close to home when the Vietnam War escalated. People were told the war would end soon but were not telling them about the secret war in Cambodia and Laos and anti-insurgency in Thailand.
A number of graduate students in my class were drafted. Some volunteered, some fled, some refused.
I look for the book today to learn again the difference between explanation and understanding.
– Read the entire article at VOXXI.