© 2014

The Nature of Scientific Thinking

On Interpretation, Explanation, and Understanding


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Jan Faye
    Pages 1-23
  3. Jan Faye
    Pages 24-59
  4. Jan Faye
    Pages 60-84
  5. Jan Faye
    Pages 85-113
  6. Jan Faye
    Pages 114-135
  7. Jan Faye
    Pages 136-161
  8. Jan Faye
    Pages 162-182
  9. Jan Faye
    Pages 183-209
  10. Jan Faye
    Pages 210-240
  11. Jan Faye
    Pages 241-269
  12. Jan Faye
    Pages 270-288
  13. Back Matter
    Pages 289-333

About this book


Scientific thinking must be understood as an activity. The acts of interpretation, representation, and explanation are the cognitive processes by which scientific thinking leads to understanding. The book explores the nature of these processes and describes how scientific thinking can only be grasped from a pragmatic perspective.


English literature interpret knowledge literature nation nature pluralism pragmatics rhetoric understanding

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Media, Cognition and CommunicationUniversity of CopenhagenDenmark

About the authors

Jan Faye is a philosopher of science at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has written and edited a number of books in English as well as in Danish. Recently, he published After Postmodernism (2012), a book about the philosophy of the humanities, in which he argues that a pragmatic-naturalist understanding of humanistic research overcomes the traditional split in our views of the natural sciences and the humanities.

Bibliographic information


“The Nature of Scientific Thinking provides a valuable resource both for those who share his basic strategy–who will find many topics to take up–and for those who do not–who will be able to identify where disagreement stems from. … provides a stimulating framework for thinking about these questions. It should be of interest both to those who tackle questions related to explanation from pragmatic approaches and to those working within formal-logical or ontic approaches.” (Lina Jansson, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 29 (2), 2015)

In sum, The Nature of Scientific Thinking offers a wide-ranging perspective on the natural sciences. Faye presents his views in discussion with existing accounts of explanation, understanding, representation and interpretation, and illustrates his theses with many detailed examples from a variety of disciplines.

-Henk W. de Regt, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

The book is very readable and informative and contains stimulating ideas. But the most valuable aspect is the convincing way in which the author argues in favour of a contextual-rhetorical approach to explanation.

-Xavier de Donato Rodríguez, Metascience

There is much to praise in Faye's book, especially his facility with examples from various sciences, including physics, biology, and zoology. He masterfully keeps within the parameters of his argument regarding scientific explanation without expanding his range too widely.

-Mark Tschaepe, Philosophy in Review