My comments throughout the course. Final reflection at the end.
You write: "According to Kant we cannot be truly objective in our understanding of the world. It is impossible and regarded as God's point of view."
Now I think that maybe Kant means that we cannot perceive the whole of the world, we simply do not have all the senses and conception to make sense of the whole of the world. Although we do have some senses and conception, and by studying how these work and how the mind works, we can gain some objective knowledge of the objects.
So I agree with what you write later: "To gain knowledge we need to see the objects according to us", but with the addition that it is possible to gain some objective knowledge!
It's interesting about the whole thing with imagining the world without humans as you write! We humans have a special way of perceiving the world totally different from other creatures. They have some senses we might not have (maybe feeling magnetic fields) and we have some they don't (some animals don't have eyesight for example), and this makes them see the world totally different.
So the world according to us is very different than theirs, and imagining the world without humans would be to imagine it as other creatures would see it or from "god's point of view", which is the totally objective view of the world. This is unthinkable for us, as Kant notes: the world/reality is only as we perceive it through our senses and cognition.
Great reflection Ellinor!
There was one thing I thought about a little differently where you write: "Kant argues exactly this, that we can’t be truly objective about things, so if we truly want to gain knowledge we have to “climb down from God’s point of view” and investigate objects as we see them.
As I see it, "God's point of view" is meant to be the truly objective view on the world, since we would need to be god (that is everything) to truly be able to perceive everything in the world. Our own senses and cognition limits us in comprehending the external reality that surrounds us and only allows us to sense some things (we can see, we can hear etc, but there are a lot of senses we don't have for example). We're also limited by our mind in how to interpret these objects in the external reality.
To me, this leads to what you say in the beginning, that we all have our own reality.
I also find the thing you write about new borns very interesting. This is a great example of synthetic a priori knowledge, since a new born baby does not know mathematics. What I find interesting here is when you discuss if they have a more true view of the world.
What I think is that their view of the world is acutally LESS true. To see the world truly objectively we would need to sense and understand it fully. We cannot simply have one or the other, we need both. A new born percieves the world but does not have any knowledge of it yet and cannot make sense of it that same way a grown person would.
I also find the statement: ”perception without conception is blind and conception without perception is empty” very enticing. Now to me, perception without conception would actually be EMPTY since we would see, hear and feel all these objects, but can in no way wrap our heads around them (that is we cannot interpret them with our mind). In contrast I also believe that conception without perception is blind, because how can we hope to make sense of the world if we can't be in contact with it like we are through our senses?
Nicely written! I really think you're spot on in linking nominalism, realism and enlightenment together!
One part I think is really interesting is what you write about mass media showing life as it is without alternatives. This being written around the time of the second world war, it is evident that a lot has changed in mass media. How would we say that mass media portrays life now? I think western cinema in general deals with a sort of individualistic ideal, which in itself may not be revolutionary. However I also believe that since it is easier to make movies and spread them today, we have a much larger revolutionary potential today if we strictly speak of movies.
Nicely written reflection, seems like you learnt a lot! I really like your ending when reflecting on how a different kind of thinking can prove revolutionary. How it can be that the way we are used to thinking can both help us as well as limit us and how the things studied in philosophy can have such a tangible effect on the world of all people. For my part I've always seen philosophy as something with very little effect on the world outside of our minds, but I might have to revise that view!
I find both Adorno & Horkheimers as well as Benjamins reflections on culture with revolutionary potential interesting in your reflection. A&Hs perspective that movies actually make people dream instead of acting is especially interesting.
Nominalism only focuses on what's here in this world and no alternatives, realism focuses more on concepts and can give way to new structures through concepts (a kind of dreaming you would say). It is evident here that A&H aren't really satisfied with any of these mindsets, which I think is very interesting.
You provide a very good explanation of nominalism as related to platonic realism! Though as I understand it all objects we perceive are not only decendant of a single universal (such as the universal for "chair"), but composed of several universals. For example a chair not only depends on the universal for chair, but maybe also the universals for hard or wood etc, since there are many different chairs and they all have different qualities concerning material and feel for example.
Very interesting observations!
Especially I like that you bring up the third perspective which really is the more contemporary one. Truly the progress of media technology has empowered most people with the ability to air their thoughts, dreams and concepts to a wider audience than before. I also like your reflections on "aura" having taken on a new shape today.
It feels as though you really got a lot out of the seminar, you must have had a good discussion with your group!
I like the way you see a connection between nominalism, enlightenment and knowledge from the earlier themes, it would be interesting to hear you develop more on that part. All of that, to me, seems to be connected to observation of the world. We observe and from what we see, we formulate theories which support and help explain what we see. Therefore it's also hard to say anything about truth, since we know that our observation doesn't really tell us everything objectively.
Actually I think I relate to theory quite differently from how you see it! To me a theory, as you say, does not have anything to do with truth, or either with proof from empirical evidence. At least I wouldn't use the words "proof" and "evidence" :)
Theory, to me, instead uses a logical argument to explain why something observed has happened. It is a story that explains why something has happened and that might help us to predict what would happen in the future. Although a theory is always a theory and probably never can be entirely true, although it can be considered true, but that's a whole other subject!
I think there are some objective ways to find out whether a theory is strong or weak, although not all do agree on what makes a theory strong or weak. For example, in itself a theory should provide a logical explanation as to why something has occured, and if there is no reasoning that explains all the steps of why something has happened, then the theory is not so strong.
Great re-reflection on your chosen paper, seems like what you learnt this week really gave you new insight. I find your discursion on maths and theory quite interesting. Yes, maths is synthesized a priori knowledge, but as of now we do not know everything about maths. Some parts are still shrouded in darkness as with our observing the world. Therefore we will need to formulate theories also in maths, which will lead to new knowledge and proofs in mathematics!
As you state, what theory is does not seem to be something that can be easily defined, but rather loose. I found it interesting that you dwell a little on whether a diagram can constitute theory. I suppose if the diagram shows causality and not just correlation (as diagrams for the most part tend to do), then it could be regarded as theory, but how would a diagram like that look? I have no idea, and I suppose the authors feel the same.
No, a theory must provide a logical explanation as to why something has occured, and I suppose that's not so easy with a diagram. Although I don't feel like I can rule out the possibility. After all what a diagram is can be very open-ended, and maybe one model of diagram someday can provide a logical reasoning for an event.
Nicely written reflection! For me, the most important part to take away is that the method is wholly dependent on what question you ask, or rather which answer you are looking for. Different methods are used to get different answers, and you should let the question guide you to the right method in your research.
Interesting reflection! I especially like how you write about qualitative research as a way to find out how you should conduct research. I think this is related to 'wicked problems' as well. How to conduct a research can be so complex a question that you may need to conduct research into how to conduct research within an area or a broad question.
Interesting bit about prejudice causing methodological problems. Since the method in itself was based on people sub-consciously using projecting their prejudice onto their perceived body, I feel that the paper could benefit from some further reflection on this matter. Furthermore I think this is also relevant for the course, how do ethical problems play into research, can research still be valid though unethical etcetera? I think you've hit a vein here!
I found it interesting that you reflected on whether all methods in the end are quantitative and that you later reached insight that this was not the case. Truly some questions cannot be answered by quantitative methods, and even when using qualitative methods, you don't necessarily end up with an easy answer. We discussed in our seminar that we often want quantitative data because it often leads to easy answers, but the world is complex and there aren't easy answers for every problem. This was a great insight for me during this theme.
I find that your seminar group reached the same conclusion as mine. The research question should dictate the research method entirely, not the other way around. And in that sense, no method is superior to another, they produce different answers to different questions. We need to be aware of this when conducting our own research.
I like how you contrast the both lectures we had for this seminar. I agree with you that Haibo's was more practical (a little to practical for me) and that the other more theoretical was more difficult to understand. It felt very unfortunate that the second lecture had to be improvised (although I feel that the pseudo-seminar approach was the right way to go) since I really missed the theory of design research in Haibo's lecture.
Nice reflection! I also thought that the part about analysis making it into research was interesting. I never thought of it that way but of course the data in itself can never really be new knowledge. One set of data can point to old or new knowledge entirely depending on how it is analyzed. Truly an eye-opener!
I wholly agree with you that we often tend to spend more time worrying about how to get data and less on analyzing it or even thinking about what data we need for our research ("is the data I'm gathering relevant for my study?"). I believe that this is very crucial to research, since we always, always need to focus on our formulated problem or question in our research.
Otherwise all else fails and we can't write good theory on the research.
I also think it is interesting how Anders saw design as a way of creating a new scenario to do research on. In that sense design can become an extremely powerful tool for research where you can study not only what is, but what can be. Instead of having research being about studying what is, which is related to our reflections on nominalism and observation in the previous themes, we can study what can be.
This reminds me of our discussions on whether a nominalistic view on the world would be dangerous since we would never really wonder what could be. With design research, research in itself is not constrained to a nominalistic perspective which I before always fancied it did. That was the biggest revelation for med during this theme.
I like the statement "provoke to gain knowledge", that instead of observing what is you use a prototype as a tool to create a new scenario that is not really connected with the world that is, but the world that could be. You can then try out a sort of imagined world through research! What I find extra interesting about this is how it connects back to previous themes on the dangers of nominalism and that it promotes a way of thinking where we simply accept life as it is. But by using research through design we can explore worlds that doesn't exist and try them out, so to speak!
I too gained a lot more knowledge into the subject of case studies from the seminar. The most illuminating parts were the "why?" as to where a case study would be a good idea. As you say, a case study would be a good idea when you have a new concept you don't know anything about, where you don't really know how to even study it or from which perspective.
Even though I knew what a case study was, I wasn't certain when I would go about doing one, but after the seminar I felt more certain.
I agree with what you say about an important aspect of case studies being to isolate what is being studied to investigate what makes it interesting and differentiates it from other cases. This also gives way for what you bring up next, that in this way we uncover the specifics of the phenomena or object in order to study it further. When we know the basics we know when and where the object of phenomena is interesting.
One interesting thing regarding what you write about case studies that came up in my seminar was that case studies, as you say, tend to focus on bringing new knowledge into light and can through that help us further investigate the case. So the case study can help us answer questions such as when is this interesting and is it worth investigating further. So if we lack basic understanding of something we can perform a case study to increase our understanding of it and benefit further research on the subject.
Very nice reflection on the nature of case studies! Another thing I thought was interesting about case studies and related to the part where you say case studies can be used to begin research is that a case study also doesn't need to be as defined from the beginning as other studies.
When undertaking a case study you don't necessarily know exactly how to conduct your case study (for example who should be interviewed and what they should answer or how to collect other types of data). Instead the case study may grow more organically where the more you learn, the more you know how to further conduct your case study. This makes case studies ideal for newly developed scenarios we do not know much about.
One thing you write on qualitative methods that I have found interesting throughout the seminars (we discussed it in comparison with quantitative in an earlier seminar as well) in which we have discussed qualitative methods is that qualitative methods are not easily generalizable.
Well, qualitative methods are used to answer a different kind of question, as opposed to quantitative, where often the answers are not simple (though they in very rare cases can be). Instead they tend to be complex simply because the questions where qualitative methods are desirable are of a more complex nature than can be described in numbers.
1000-word reflection on different ways of combining different methods in order to answer complex research questions.
From what we’ve learnt throughout the course, what I feel I’ve gained the most insight from is by evaluating research from a critical point of view concerning the strength and validity of the theory as well as the methods used to answer the question or questions.
Before hand I felt that I could critically examine a research report, but I’m not sure I would always examine it from the point of view where I would question whether the researchers in the report provide a logical argumentation that fits together or whether their choice of methods and execution acutally is relevant for the study.
Today we have gained a lot of knowledge, and the more knowledge we gain, the more questions arise concerning our universe and the things in it, and the more complex they get. This makes it even more important to know how to tackle complex research questions and how to not lose track when answering them..
Sometimes when we pose research questions the scope of them can be larger than we are able to answer because of several constraints, for example lack of theory in some areas or lack of resources etcetera. For example I would maybe ask myself “what is the meaning of everything?”. Answering that question from my stand-point is very hard, but I might instead go about and ask myself “what is the meaning of this particular thing?” instead, which has a more limited scope but might be more possible to answer, and the answer might help us better understand the larger question. We go about answering small questions to reach the larger questions. It is much the same way with research questions today I find, that researchers tend to pose a larger question than they can maybe answer with the data they gather and the theory they use. So what is vital here is that you do not answer the bigger question using theory and methods that only answers a smaller question.
The key in this stage is to know what we can find answers to, and in some cases we do not even know how to gain answers concerning something because we do not even know what questions are relevant to get relevant answers. In this stage of the process we would perhaps conduct a case study, since a case study tends to create new theory rather than rely on old theory to answer questions. A case study could for example be used to find its scope the more you investigate the case, and provide us with what are the relevant answers.
Different methods give us different kinds of answers. Quantitative methods are veered towards employing mathematical and statistical models upon the data in order to find trends or record behavior that may be sub-concious among other things. Qualitative methods on the other hand tend to deal more with peoples’ reasoning, stances and more human aspects and are analyzed in quite a different sense. Qualitative methods allow for a more human aspect of analyzing.
The important insight is that qualitative and quantitative are methods to answer completely different types of questions. Quantitative tend to give shorter answers to questions such as “is it like this?” wheras qualitative tend to produce longer answers to questions that deal with “why is it like that?” although this should not be taken as a rule.
Complex research questions tend to deal with many different areas and should in some part rely on theory of other research. If there is not sufficient theory concerning the subject, we might be better off to perform an introductory case study where we unveil what defines the subject, makes it relevant to us and how we should further investigate it. From there we hopefully have garnered enough theory to find an area of interest we want to investigate. For example we might have performed a case study on a new movement in art where people run into walls. Our first case study here might have told us that the main reason for the movement is those people being angered by a new law. We might then go on to pose a research question such as “why has this new law angered them”.
For a more complex scientific research question such as “are the levels of noise in hospital wards affecting the sick people” we would have to combine research methods to find a good answer. We can proceed qualitatively and ask the people if they feel like they are affected by the levels of noise through interviews for example. To further investigate the subject we could also use quantitative methods to measure the noise levels or monitor their sleeping habits as well as use earlier theory to see if these levels are affecting or even are dangerous to people.
Design research methods such as prototyping have a very interesting possibilty in that they can create new scenarios. What I find most interesting here is how it ties back to the second theme where we discussed a potential danger in a nominalistic perspective since we would not be too concerned with what could be. Design research is research veered towards just that since we can use it to create new scenarios and investigate how they play out. One extreme example of design research would be that we could try out an entirely new political system among a group of people and then observe trends using for example quantitative and/or qualitative methods depending on the question you are trying to answer using this new scenario. So if hospital wards for example were just a concept, and we wanted to investigate how people in these never before built hospital wards react to levels of noise, we could build a prototype ward and investigate what effect noise has on people in these.
So while we can use different types of methods, we still need to be aware that these answer not the over-arching question, but instead small questions whose answers in conjunction with theory help us reach an answer to the larger question we posed.