Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ch.1 of "Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences"

Quotation from

Chapter 1: Introduction of
By Donald E. Polkinghorne
State University of New York Press: Albany, NY.:1988.
(Also available in Questia)

The study of human experience needs to include "meaningfulness."

EXPERIENCE is meaningful and human behavior is generated from and informed by this meaningfulness. Thus, the study of human behavior needs to include an exploration of the meaning systems that form human experience. (p. 1)

Three levels of human existence: matter, life and consciousness.

The two most dramatic threshold points for the organization of human existence appear at the transition from matter to life and the transition from life to consciousness. (p. 2)

An explanation at a lower level reduces complexity of a higher level and leads to loss of information.

[T]ranslation across realms of existence requires reduction of complexity and loss of information, as, for example, when narrative's intricacy is reduced to only those structures or operations that are recognized in the organic or the material realms. (p. 10)

The human disciplines as distinct from the physical sciences.

Although the material realm might best be studied by the use of quantifying procedures and statistical estimates, the realm of meaning is best captured through the qualitative nuances of its expression in ordinary language. The disciplines of history and literary criticism have developed procedures and methods for studying the realm of meaning through its expressions in language. The human disciplines will need to look to those disciplines, rather than to the physical sciences, for a scientific model for inquiry of the region of consciousness.(p. 10)


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