An Introduction to the Logic of the Sciences by Rom Harré (auth.)

By Rom Harré (auth.)

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Since it is in reply to this question that explanations are commonly given it is happenings that we usually want to explain. To give an explanation is to give the reasons for a happening. There are all kinds of explanations since there are a great many different considerations that can count as reasons. The logical character of the various kinds of explanations depends upon the sort of happenings that we are asked to explain, and the sort of reasons we are satisfied to accept by way of explanation.

From the hidden mechanism we can see just how one sort of happening is relevant to and hence can be the cause of another sort of happening. The mechanism itself is often of such a kind that we can gain an understanding of it most easily through one or more analogies. Daily interests can hardly be said to take us this far. We are commonly satisfied with much less by way of explanation. Most of the things we are puzzled about can be explained either by citing particular antecedent happenings or by the use of simple analogies.

There is always some kind of system in their arrangement. In scientific and mathematical treatises every line and indeed every symbol seems to have its appropriate and ordained place. The statements that occur are arranged in a definite order. Histories have their own kind of system. In poetry one can find systematic arrangements of words and syllables that are in their own way as rigorously designed as the arrangements of symbols in mathematical proofs. A systematic arrangement of words and statements is an ordered arrangement.

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