Biology and Language: An Introduction to the Methodology of the Biological Sciences, Including Medicine

Biology and Language: An Introduction to the Methodology of the Biological Sciences, Including Medicine

Biology and Language: An Introduction to the Methodology of the Biological Sciences, Including Medicine

Biology and Language: An Introduction to the Methodology of the Biological Sciences, Including Medicine

Excerpt

In these days, when so many books are published, and there is so little time in which to read them, it would seem to be the duty of an author to give some guidance to a possible reader in deciding whether to read his particular book or not. Such guidance is not altogether easy to give because the answer will depend, not only on the quality of the book, for which alone the author is responsible, but also on the interests of the reader. I take it to be the primary business of a book to please and interest the reader; if he also finds it useful in a narrower sense so much the better. This book is addressed chiefly to biologists, and biologists are interested first and foremost in organisms. But here is a difficulty: this book is not primarily about organisms at all, but about statements which speak about organisms. Any biologist, therefore, who is not at all interested in statements is strongly recommended to proceed no further. But any biologist whose interest does extend to statements about organisms--their laws and the part they play in biology (which are discussed in the first two lectures)--will find that some problems connected therewith have been solved, and some muddles removed, in this book. To learn how this has been done may give the interested reader some intellectual pleasure. But how far he will find such learning useful in the narrower sense it is difficult to say. Whether a book is useful in this sense again depends not only on the author, but on what the reader does with it. If this book provides an incentive, to readers who are prepared to overhaul their linguistic habits, to solve the many problems, and to clarify the many muddles that remain, and if the method of doing so here advocated proves to be helpful for that purpose, then it will be useful. If not, not.

I have already published two books dealing with method, The Axiomatic Method in Biology and The Technique of Theory Construction. These books were rather technical. The first . . .

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