Philosophy 11 (41):84 - 85 (1936)

Describing and explaining; tracing the outlines and smoothing out the folds; making clear and making plain; in either case hoping that our hearer may be able to say, “Yes, I see it better now.” Is there really a fundamental difference between these two? Common parlance uses both words for the same kind of process. We may be asked either to “explain” or to “describe” the working of a machine, answering the English boy's question “Why does it do this?” or the Scotch “What's the go of it?” To account for a sum of money is to explain its absence by describing its expenditure. We say, “Why is that man offended?” or, equally, “What's the matter?” and a brief description of the man's character and history, showing on what structure a casual remark has impinged, may lead us to say, “That explains it.” Even where purpose enters we may vary the words we use. “Why on earth did you do that?” “What was your idea in doing that?” “Describe what you had in your mind.” “Please explain”
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S0031819100033271
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,750
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Problem of Inertia.Ferrel Christensen - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (2):232-247.
Neuroscience and the Explanation of Psychological Phenomena.Antti Revonsuo - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):847-849.
Unification, Explanation and Explaining Unity: The Fisher–Wright Controversy.Margaret Morrison - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (1):233-245.
The Limits of Explanation.Richard Swinburne - 1990 - Philosophy 27 (Supplement):177 - 193.
Towards a General Model of Applying Science.Rens Bod - 2006 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 20 (1):5 – 25.
Consciousness: Explaining the Phenomena.Peter Carruthers - 2001 - In D. Walsh (ed.), Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement. Cambridge University Press. pp. 61-85.
Functional Explanation and Metaphysical Individualism.Justin Schwartz - 1993 - Philosophy of Science 60 (2):278-301.
Science and the Explanation of Phenomena.W. T. Stace - 1935 - Philosophy 10 (40):409 - 427.
Models of Scientific Explanation.Paul Thagard & Abninder Litt - 2008 - In Ron Sun (ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology. Cambridge University Press. pp. 549--564.
Statistical Explanation and Ergodic Theory.Lawrence Sklar - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 40 (2):194-212.


Added to PP index

Total views
12 ( #771,444 of 2,438,594 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #436,491 of 2,438,594 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes