Critical Inquiry 4 (1):55-83 (1977)

The generalizing methods of philosophies achieve a popularity for a period of time, which may be extended or brief, during which their proponents and even their opponents may regard them as the cognitive presuppositions for the epoch. The same effect is achieved by the more exact scientific methodologies as they find fame outside the scientific circle and are treated by some as omnipotent discoveries with powers to heal all other disciplines which may be ailing. The limping disciplines, generally classified among the humanities and discerned to be in trouble since the nineteenth century, are understandably envious of the seemingly invincible, favored scientific children of our time. For our era tends to worship quantifiable data and the principles and instruments for measuring and conceptualizing it. Thus semiotics and information theory, in hopes of acquiring the status of the sciences, have led aesthetic inquiry toward the currently popular scientism; but the limited cognitive scope of this methodology has not been recognized. Sociology of knowledge, however, forewarns us of the winds of fashion on cognitive paradigms. Where the inherent explanatory scope of a doctrine, system, or method is less than is believed according to the prevailing sociological patterns, a correction will eventually set in. And an important factor in overcoming the para-religious claims will be, precisely, the fundamental antinomical tendency of the human mind. Stefan Morawski, Research Professor at the Institute of Arts of the Polish Academy of Sciences, has lectured throughout the United States and is currently teaching at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. His works have appeared in a variety of languages: Marxism and Aesthetics: History of Ideas has been published in Spanish and Italian; Absolute and Form, in Polish, Italian, and French; and, in English, Inquiries into the Fundamentals of Aesthetics
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DOI 10.1086/447924
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