PSA 1974 pp 487-498 | Cite as

Velikovsky Versus Academic Lag (The Problem of Hypothesis)

  • A. M. Paterson
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)


Professor E. A. Burtt 1 suggested that we might add “tertiary” qualities to our primary and secondary qualities when we undertake an analysis of reality. These tertiary qualities are the ones embodied in the human institutions of the world. He suggests that we may be arranging nature with our methodologies due to main conditions in us rather than due to main conditions in nature. Nothing can provide the satisfactory generalized concept of the world that does not entail extensive historical analysis of the major factors that have conditioned us, according to Burtt. The new cosmology would hardly be worth the effort, if it were merely the synthesis of scientific data or the logical criticism of the basic assumptions of that data, for Burtt. Sound insight must supplement scientific data and its assumptions, through the reasoned expression of the intellectual insight of all the ages. He goes on to point out that we see readily the role that wishful thinking has played in older methodologies, but we do not understand the role that wishful thinking plays in our own methodologies. The mechano-morphic period was absorbed in the mathematical nature of physical motion: they ignored the ultimate suppositions that they used in order to frame their laws and their hypotheses. Clarification is necessary and cannot proceed without the historical studies that can expose the fundamental motives and human factors in each of the characteristic analyses that have been adopted. In choosing between hypotheses of two kinds, the tertiary qualities are at work in us. The rise and fall of scholarly interests is conditioned by factors as yet totally unexplored. Burtt goes on to state that though science may reject final cause, it does harbor in its fundamental categories functioning values or tertiary qualities that remain completely unseen. A comparative study of the different stages of the growth of scientific thinking would throw light on the nature of our models of the universe and the tertiary qualities of the structure of contemporary scientific procedure.


Wishful Thinking Scientific Thinking Scientific Hypothesis Critical Philosophy Metaphysical Assumption 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Paterson
    • 1
  1. 1.State University of New York College at BuffaloUSA

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