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Without systematic unity, our knowledge cannot become science
- Kant, 1787

A methodology is a guideline system for solving a problem, with specific components such as phases, tasks, methods, techniques and tools.


Quotes are arranged in chronological order

Before 20th century

  • By the term architectonic I mean the art of constructing a system. Without systematic unity, our knowledge cannot become science; it will be an aggregate, and not a system. Thus architectonic is the doctrine of the scientific in cognition, and therefore necessarily forms part of our methodology.
    Reason cannot permit our knowledge to remain in an unconnected and rhapsodistic state, but requires that the sum of our cognitions should constitute a system. It is thus alone that they can advance the ends of reason. By a system I mean the unity of various cognitions under one idea. This idea is the conception--given by reason--of the form of a whole, in so far as the conception determines a priori not only the limits of its content, but the place which each of its parts is to occupy. The scientific idea contains, therefore, the end and the form of the whole which is in accordance with that end. The unity of the end, to which all the parts of the system relate, and through which all have a relation to each other, communicates unity to the whole system, so that the absence of any part can be immediately detected from our knowledge of the rest; and it determines a priori the limits of the system, thus excluding all contingent or arbitrary additions. The whole is thus an organism (articulatio), and not an aggregate (coacervatio); it may grow from within (per intussusceptionem), but it cannot increase by external additions (per appositionem). It is, thus, like an animal body, the growth of which does not add any limb, but, without changing their proportions, makes each in its sphere stronger and more active.
    We require, for the execution of the idea of a system, a schema, that is, a content and an arrangement of parts determined a priori by the principle which the aim of the system prescribes.

20th century, first half

  • There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another, This conception is a potent menace to social regeneration. All human experience teaches that methods and means cannot be separated from the ultimate aim. The means employed become, through individual habit and social practice, part and parcel of the final purpose; they influence it, modify it, and presently the aims and means become identical.
  • The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.
    • Karl Popper (1934) The Logic of Scientific Discovery, Chapter II "On the Problem of a Theory of Scientific Method", Section XI: Methodological Rules as Conventions.
  • I fully agree with you about the significance and educational value of methodology as well as history and philosophy of science. So many people today — and even professional scientists — seem to me like someone who has seen thousands of trees but has never seen a forest. A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is — in my opinion — the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.
    • Albert Einstein letter to Robert A. Thorton, Physics Professor at University of Puerto Rico (7 December 1944). [EA-674, Einstein Archive, Hebrew University, Jerusalem].

20th century, second half

Columbus methodology.
Software development methodologies.
RCS methodology for knowledge acquisition and representation.
Event Chain Methodology.
Systems Model of Action-Research Process.
  • I think that the philosopher must, for his own purposes, carry methodological strictness to an extreme when he is investigating and pursuing his truths, but when he is ready to enunciate them and give them out, he ought to avoid the cynical skill with which some scientists, like a Hercules at the fair, amuse themselves by displaying to the public the biceps of their technique.
  • The radical empiricist onslaught … provides the methodological justification for the debunking of the mind by the intellectuals—a positivism which, in its denial of the transcending elements of Reason, forms the academic counterpart of the socially required behavior.
  • Abjection is a methodological conversion, like Cartesian doubt and Husserlian epoche: it establishes the world as a closed system which consciousness regards from without, in the manner of divine understanding
  • International affairs must be completely permeated with scientific methodology and a democratic spirit, with a fearless weighing of all facts, views, and theories, with maximum publicity of ultimate and intermediate goals, and with a consistency of principles.
  • A scientist, an artist, a citizen is not like a child who needs papa methodology and mama rationality to give him security and direction, he can take care of himself, for he is the inventor not only of laws, theories, pictures, plays, forms of music, ways of dealing with his fellow man, institutions, but also entire world view, he is the inventor of entire forms of like.
  • A methodology will lack the precision of a technique but will be a firmer guide to action than a philosophy. Where a technique tells you 'how' and a philosophy tells you 'what', a methodology will contain elements of both 'what' and 'how'.
  • methodology n. A method suffering from the prevalent 83 percent circumlocuflationary spiral.
  • Weber... formulated the idea of methodology to serve, not simply as a guide to investigation but as a moral practice and a mode of political action.
    • Sheldon Wolin, “Max Weber: Legitimation, Method, and the Politics of Theory,” Political Theory (1981)
  • I think time will show that the new approach, emphasizing emergent "macro" control, is equally valid in all the physical sciences, and that the behavioral and cognitive disciplines are leading the way to a more valid framework for all science. Although the theoretic changes make little difference in physics, chemistry, molecular biology, and so on, they are crucial for the behavioral, social, and human sciences. They don't change the analytic, reductive methodology, just the interpretations and conclusions. There seems little to lose, and much to gain.
  • When we seek a textbook case for the proper operation of science, the correction of certain error offers far more promise than the establishment of probable truth. Confirmed hunches, of course, are more upbeat than discredited hypotheses. Since the worst traditions of “popular” writing falsely equate instruction with sweetness and light, our promotional literature abounds with insipid tales in the heroic mode, although tough stories of disappointment and loss give deeper insight into a methodology that the celebrated philosopher Karl Popper once labeled as “conjecture and refutation.”
  • … The methods of science, like everything else under the sun, are themselves objects of scientific scrutiny, as method becomes methodology, the analysis of methods. Methodology in turn falls under the gaze of epistemology, the investigation of investigation itself--nothing is off limits to scientific questioning. The irony is that these fruits of scientific reflection, showing us the ineliminable smudges of imperfection, are sometimes used by those who are suspicious of science as their grounds for denying it a privileged status in the truth-seeking department--as if the institutions and practices they see competing with it were no worse off in these regards. But where are the examples of religious orthodoxy being simply abandoned in the face of irresistible evidence? Again and again in science, yesterday's heresies have become today's new orthodoxies. No religion exhibits that pattern in its history.

New millennium

  • Beware of Methodologies. They are a great way to bring everyone up to a dismal, but passable, level of performance, but at the same time, they are aggravating to more talented people who chafe at the restrictions that are placed on them.
    • Joel Spolsky (2001) "Big Macs vs. The Naked Chef" on: blog, January 18, 2001.
  • An integral approach is based on one basic idea: no human mind can be 100% wrong. Or, we might say, nobody is smart enough to be wrong all the time. And that means, when it comes to deciding which approaches, methodologies, epistemologies, or ways or knowing are "correct," the answer can only be, "All of them."
    • Ken Wilber (2003). cited in: Richard J. McGuigan, ‎Nancy Popp (2016). Integral Conflict: The New Science of Conflict, p. 75
  • I don't claim to be a methodologist, but I act like one only because I do methodology to protect myself from crazy methodologists.
  • First, have a grasp of context, detail and the rationale which makes design and image-making worthwhile to yourself and commercially, to someone else. Try not to become a "linear" professional. Learn a variety of technique, of thinking methodology and most of all, don't become complacent. Honestly, I get scared shitless every time I start a new, big job. I read, I gather information and push the client to tell me what they want. (Sometimes they really don't know, and those jobs are usually nightmares!) Remember details, notice how people move, how sunlight cascades over moving objects, why foliage looks the way it does (it's nature's own fractal magic) and how come velvet has about the same range of value as metallic surfaces but one is soft and the other is brittle. And finally, don't assume that technique alone will save your ass. It still is the idea that wins...every time. Remember that elaborate technique and dumb story produces a demo reel, not a narrative.
    • Syd Mead (2006) A Visionary Ethic: The Life and Work of Syd Mead, p. 3.
  • Religion, aesthetics, ethics, and science are all ways in which human beings seek order in the natural world. Science differs from these other ways of knowing and learning because the scientific process uses the scientific method, a standard series of steps used in gaining new knowledge that is widely accepted among scientists. The steps of the scientific method are often applicable to other situations, and begin with observation.
    • Sylvia S. Mader, Biology (10th ed., 2010), Ch. 1. A View of Life
  • Systems engineering as an approach and methodology grew in response to the increase size and complexity of systems and projects... This engineering approach to the management of complexity by modularization was re-deployed in the software engineering discipline in the 1960s and 1970s with a proliferation of structured methodologies that enabled the the analysis, design and development of information systems by using techniques for modularized description, design and development of system components. Yourdon and DeMarco's Structured Analysis and Design, SSADM, James Martin's Information Engineering, and Jackson's Structured Design and Programming are examples from this era. They all exploited modularization to enable the parallel development of data, process, functionality and performance components of large software systems. The development of object orientation in the 1990s exploited modularization to develop reusable software. The idea was to develop modules that could be mixed and matched like Lego bricks to deliver to a variety of whole system specifications. The modularization and reusability principles have stood the test of time and are at the heart of modern software development.
    • Peter Allen, Steve Maguire, Bill McKelvey (2011) The SAGE Handbook of Complexity and Management. p. 35.
  • Scientists pursue ideas in an ill-defined but effective way that is often called the scientific method. There is no strict rule of procedure that will lead you from a good idea to a Nobel prize or even to a publishable discovery. Some scientists are meticulously careful; others are highly creative. The best scientists are probably both careful and creative. Although there are various scientific methods in use, a typical approach consists of a series of steps.
    • Peter Atkins, Loretta Jones and Leroy Laverman, Chemical Principles: The Quest for Insight, 6th ed. (2013), Fundamentals— Introduction and Orientation

See also

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