A sketch of constructive functionalism

A sketch of constructive functionalism

Poetics 10 (1981) 337-355 North-Holland Publishing Company A SKETCH OF CONSTRUCTIVE 337 FUNCTIONALISM PETER FINKE * The paper deals with a metath...

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Poetics 10 (1981) 337-355 North-Holland Publishing Company





The paper deals with a metatheory developed within the NIKOL-research-group at Bielefeld University (West Germany). This metatheory, called “Constructive Functionalism”, has been presented for the first time in Finke (in press). Concerned with creative processes in preparadigmatic science (which are exemplified by Schmidt’s conception of an empirical science of literature) it offers an empirical constructive framework for the generation of empirical theories. Essentially, Constructive Functionalism consists of a C-matrix similarly structured as Kuhn’s matrix of a scientific discipline. Its logical structure is represented by a reduction-series of minor matrices, not only including the theoretical but also the practical (i.e. applicational) aspects of a theory to be constructed. An empirical science of literature constructed along the lines of this framework might contribute to a salutary crisis in the foundations of the common studies of literature.

To John Odmark, too late

0. There is no pope in science

There is no pope in science. Although there sometimes seems to be one, there is none. There is no person, or group of persons, no ‘expert’, or group of ‘experts’, who by behalf of their knowledge or wisdom (and therefore by their scientific authority) could decide about the further course research has to take. Science may be guided by rather rigid conventions; nevertheless, they are rigid by conventions themselves and not by a dogma of infallibility [ 11. The reason why I put such seemingly trivial statements in front is that in scientific practice many people act as if the opposite were true. At least, many of their lecturing and writing, maybe unwillingly, has such an effect. In fact, this behaviour

* Author’s address: Peter Finke, Queller Strasse 1, D-4800 Bielefeld 14, W. Germany.

[l] Compared with the logic and systematic structure of science, up to now much less is known about the pragmatic features of science. Philosophers of science have not yet learned the linguistic lessons of Lewis (1969) on the concept of a convention. Apart from his well-known exaggerations, there are many stimulating passages on the conventionality of science in the writings of Feyerabend.



0 198 1 North-Holland


P. Finke 1 A Sketch of constructive functionalism

restricts the field of possible scientific creativity by supporting established opinions and oppressing or impeding the new. I hasten to add that an established opinion may really prove fruitful for a certain time to come whereas an apparently ‘new’ opinion may really prove to be uninteresting and infertile, even to be old. But the point is that in default of a pope this is difficult an issue to decide. I see no other way of rational decision than giving new ideas the chance of being developed and adopted or neglected by new minds in the future who are uncomprised by establishment and tradition. The actual scientific activity, however, undoubtedly bears a conservative feature, whereas the concept of scientific progress surely needs a characteristic of nonconservative action [2]. Factually, there are people playing the pope-role in science, which would be extremely dangerous in connection with power. In this context, I only think of the danger of unconsciously avoiding the risks of non-conservative theorizing by sticking to the alleged knowledge and common dogmas. Nearly unobserved, the factual conservativism of the scientists takes an effect on their creativity, and the power of usages hampers the power for innovations. From time to time, it seems to be useful to encourage oneself and others against the powers of the papal and the usual, trying to reinstall creativity in the role it has to play in scientific progress. In this article I would like to illustrate the nonconservativism of scientific creativity on two levels, Le., the theory of science and the theory of literature. There is a close tie between those two levels, since a theory - as I shah take the term’s meaning - is a typical product of scientific activity. Therefore I shall speak of a ‘theory of literature’ as a product of scientific activity, and I am aware of the fact that there are usages of that term different from mine [3]. It seems to me, however, that the concept of science could not be separated from the concept of a theory, and vice versa; that is in speaking about a theory of literature I am arguing within the category of science, not of ‘art’ or ‘criticism’ or the like. To be more explicit, I am arguing within the framework of empirical science. Both, the theory of literature and the theory of science, are conceived by me as empirical theories, and science as empirical science. I must still say something about the tie between those two levels, for this will lead us directly into what I am going to argue for in this article. A scientific theory employs concepts, and some of these concepts must be related to It in a specific way, i.e. they must be characteristic of just that theory

(21 The concepts of conservativity and its opposite should be taken in the sense it has been given within the theory of the dynamics of formal systems. For definitions and applications to the study of literature, see Finke (in press). [ 31 The ambiguities in the uses of the term “theory” within the mixed and variegated pluralism of literary studies is almost unbelievable. The best explication of the concept of an empirical scientific theory up to now has been given by Seed; see Balzer and Sneed (1977). Nevertheless, functional aspects are missing in this explication.

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functiodism


and not of a different one. A theory T which does not make use of a set of concepts CT having been defined just for the purpose of formulating T simply is superfluous; it will be equivalent to another theory 7’ (T’ f 7’). It is owing to Josph D. Sneed [4] that calling CT “theoretical concepts” has been understood as an insufticient way of identifying that specific set, for it is specific in relation to T (and not for instance to T’). Surely, CT are T - theoretical concepts, i.e. it is just that set of concepts which enables us to formulate T as a theory, or to put it in a different way, which incorporates the theoreticity of T. Since theories are no natural things growing in the landscape they have to be constructed by man, and it is this process of theoryconstruction which is the central issue in this article. In Sneedian terms this process could be described as a process of theoretization: the addition of theoretical concepts to a nontheoretical conceptual base [5]. Therefore, the idea of theoryconstruction can be explained by the Sneedian concept of a theoretization-relation which I shall introduce later [6]. At present, I will already use that manner of speaking in order to say one more thing about the tie between the two levels of argumentation combined in this article. A theory of literature is to be conceived as the central part of a science of literature, and it has to be constructed on a nontheoretical base [7] which specifies the general framework of scientific activity, that is a theory of science. This I call the “constructive functionalism” (“CF” for short). Of course, there are many alternatives of a theoretization of CF, quite a few of them surely being without any or much scientific value. From the remaining theoretizations I shall concentrate on a theory, the structures of which could be empirically interpreted by a section of the social life of human beings, namely literature [a]. I shall call that theory an “empirical theory of literature’* (“EL” for short). So, the connection of EL to CF is that of theoretical construction, EL being a theoretization of CF.

1. Strongholds and limitations of reconstructive structuralism

The theory of CF has been developed within an interdisciplinary framework initiated by SJ. Schmidt at Bielefeld University (West Germany), from 1973 to 1980. From that initiative the NIKOL group [9] originated in purpose of constructing a [4] See Sneed (1971); Balzer and Sneed (1977); Finke (in press). [5] Talking of a ‘nontheoretical’ component is short for ‘T-nontheoretical’ or ‘nontheoretical in respect to the theory T’. [6] See p. 351. [ 71 See footnote 5. [8] My use of the term “literature” is essentially that of Schmidt (1980), written there in capital letters (“LITERATURE”). in Finke (in press) I argue extensively about the preconditions and consequences of the use of this concept to a science of literature. (91 A. Barsch, H. Hauptmeier, W. Kindt, G. Rusch, S J. Schmidt, R. Viehoff, J. Wirrer, R. Zobel, and the author.


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

more satisfying theoretical base for the scientific study of literature. CF and EL are outcomes of that creative and cooperative work of the NIKOL group, EL being mainly developed by Schmidt, and CF by the author [lo]. Both theories owe much to the fruitful aid and assistance of the other members of NIKOL, especially to W. Kindt and J. Wirrer. Nevertheless, the constructors remain responsible for the special features of their theories, respectively. The pleasant and fruitful experience of the scientific cooperation in NIKOL exhibits two aspects which are worth to be commented upon. The first is the relative freedom the members of the group enjoyed in developing their own scientific views, the second is the comparatively large extent they made use of that freedom. The freedom of abandoning common views in the light of better arguments is by no means a common scientific experience, let alone within the framework of the study of literature which has been dominated by aesthetic and epistemological doctrines almost entirely. Furthermore, it is difficult to get rid of these doctrines rationally; it is at first difficult to get a chance to do so at all. The hidden (or even open) conservativism of the scientific community of ‘experts’ may tolerate quite a few aberrations and innovations, but it is very hard to get a chance for creative work which is really critical and fundamentally distinct from the base of the communities’ convictions. And it is additionally difficult to make use of a conceded freedom within this community which one is a part of. In fact, it is by no means easy to recognize the possibilities of rational scientific creativity, and the boundaries this rationality doubtlessly is enclosed in [ 111. This is one starting point for the development of the theory of CF. Turning it critically against the present-day analytical philosophy of science [12], it amounts to the conclusion that there is no theory of that specific form of creativity we need in pushing forward scientific progress. The present-day philosophy of science - I shall call it “reconstructive structuralism” (RS) - is almost entirely conceived from a retroperspective, looking to science just as the Lord looked at the world on the Seventh Day. Significantly, philosophers of science almost entirely deal with the natural sciences, especially physics. In physics, we have fully grown paradigms in the strict sense of the concept, and correspondingly there are remarkable areas of fundamental agreement among the [IO] The fust complete survey of EL (called ‘ETL’) is given in Schmidt (1980) and Schmidt (in press). The fust complete survey of CF is given in Flnke (in press). [ 111 This is an issue I disagree on with Feyerabend, while I appreciate of his general praise of scientific creativity. I think, however, this creativity is different though related to that of an artist was well as to mere linguistic creativity as explained by Chomsky. Just as in the case of the latter, scientific and artistic creativity is probably highly structured. Nevertheless, I rate the role of free action in creative science very highly. I am afraid, though, that it is overrated in the apotheosis of freedom by Feyerabend (1976): [ 121 For more details, see Flnke (in press). I confine myself to the analytical philosophy of science since there is no other serious candidate for a metatheory of EL (taking the term “analytical” in a very broad sense).

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


physicists. Certainly there is still a branch of preparadigmatic physics, but there are really no fundamental disagreements between physicists about the general methodological values and criteria to be employed in working towards fully-fledged theories. In the social sciences and especially in the socalled ‘arts’ the situation is wholly different. Corresponding to the large area of preparadigmatic uncertainty, a far-reaching and thorough-going diversity of scholarly opinions on the most general features of the subjects and methods is often on the agenda. No doubt, it is mainly this trait of preliminarity and provisionality that frightened most philosophers of science away from taking these areas seriously as areas of scientific activity, and doubtlessly too, they are mistaken in that. For there is no reason why we should not learn as much about the nature of scientific activity from the serious study of its preparadigmatic phases than of its paradigmatic, and there is no reason why philosophical reflection on the foundational problems of the study of language or literature should yield less valuable insights than in the case of physics. But there is stilI one more motive for a criticism of the present-day philosophy of science, and this is an extremely important point. I already hinted at it in mentioning the retrospective character of the analytical metatheory. Certainly, logical analysis and rational reconstruction of object-theoretical thinking is a stronghold of analytical philosophy and there is no reason for abandoning its achievements. But, in a way, the whole wisdom and acute ingenuity comes too late: the essential scientific task has been carried out: the construction of the object-theory. I do not undervalue the importance of logical reconstructions but I would like to stress the fact that they will seldom affect science in an important respect. Usually, physicists are not interested in rational reconstructions of their theories, and this is intelhgible, after all. The work has been done, and it has been possible without the assistance of the metatheorists, so why bother about their meta-talk? If anywhere, the wisdom and rationality of the philosophizing about science is really useful and important to those branches of scientific study, where the whole work has not been done yet, where daily controversies on the most fundamental issues occur, and where the protagonists are more stumbling in different directions than following a path of common conviction. It is just this type of situation that is characterizable by a lack of commonly acknowledged criteria, and if there is any situation calling for the assistance of the metatheorists, it is this. But unfortunately, they do not feel competent in a situation where they would much more be needed than ever after [13]. The usual argument for this self-limitation could be called the “autonomyerror”. By this I mean the conviction that scientific disciplines are developing (or should be developed) within their own boundaries and specific constellations of problems. Surely, these constellations differ between the subjects to quite a large [13] If philosophers of science more often would attend meetings of literary scholars and follow their theoretical discussions, they would discover a field of possible activity as well as a request for assistance and advice. Surely, offers of reconstructions would not be of much use.


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

extent, and thus there is no reason for striving at a normative philosophy of science. There are some distinctions, however, which are unfortunately lost in most debates on this subject matter, and these distinctions prove to be of major importance to the further development of the scientific study of literature, for instance. The first is the observation that there is an important difference between paradigmatic and non- or preparadigmatic science. The widespread disinterest in the study of the latter prevented the metatheorists from gaining some valuable insights, too. Factually, the role and function of meta-theoretical reflections are quite different in both types of scientific practice. Preparadigmatic science is largely in a state of pluralism which is commonly referred to as ‘pluralism of methods’, whereas in fact it is as much a pluralism of the posings of the problems. For short, I prefer to talk of a “pluralism of conceptions (of a discipline)” [ 141. It is an everyday experience of anybody working within the context of such a pluralism, however, that argumentation which is based on most general and fundamental opinions about philosophy of science does influence the actual disputes and decisions taking place within this framework of controversy. Arguing that they should not play this role not only would reveal ignorance of those disciplines; it definitely would change nothing at alI in the actual business: arguing within the framework of one conception (and against another) calls for the explication of the fundamental criteria being employed in that conception. The survival of a conception within a pluralism of conceptions is impossible without any justified reference to its philosophical base, and this holds for establishing a new conception as well. Looking at the study of literature as it is carried out in the frameworks of different scientific conceptions, the NIKOL-group discovered an amazing gap within the richness of alternatives: the “empirical gap” [ 151. And the interesting and rewarding scientific task of filling this gap concerns the philosophy of scientific theorizing as much as it concerns the state of intradisciplinarity in the pluralistic debate. In fact, in this type of scientific situation there is no sharp distinction between the object-theoretical and the metatheoretical level of argumentation. If one is not willing to accept the criteria of other conceptions, even their posings of the problems which the study of literature should investigate, one faces a constructive theoretical task upon a constructive metatheoretical base. Theoretical constructivity has not to be confounded with normativity; the theory of CF is conceived as empirical and revisable in principle just as any reconstructive theory of science. [ 141 Again, see Finke (in press) for detailed argumentation.

[ 15 ] Certainly, this gap has been discovered by others too, e.g. Groeben or Escarpit. Compared with other conceptions the differences to the NIKOL-views are of minor importance. For short, they amount to a minor and a major empiriiation of literature studies. While some scholars simply would extend the discipline by empirical methods of investigation maintaining the traditional views on the problems to be solved, the position of NIKOL is less an empirization than the development of an empirical science of literature, beginning with a critical review of the usual posing of the problems leading to a creative new approach to problem solving already. If this should be called an empirization of the discipline, it is an overall or major one.

P. Fin

P. Finke /A Sketch

of constructive functionalism


Up to now the argument should have shown that the inhomogeneity of a scientific discipline, which exists in a number of profoundly different conceptions, renders its imagined autonomy impossible, but the autonomyerror is still predominant in common analytical philosophy of science. This outcome of an unnecessary restriction to paradigmatic and nonpluralistic science (and especially, physics) misled scholars to the conclusion that the theory of science must necessarily be reconstructive. The ‘dogma of rational reconstruction’ is convincing within the limited framework of such a type of scientific activity only, where the essential work of object-theoretical construction has been successful; and only the fact that at the outset of that work people have no (major) controversies about the criteria to be employed protected the philosophers of science from discovering the indispensability of constructive thinking guiding that work. Within the limitations of the dogma of rational reconstruction, the autonomyerror, and the spell-bound self-restriction to the physical paradigms, the analytical philosophy of science has achieved important results which doubtlessly should be claimed as indispensable parts of our knowledge about science. This knowledge almost entirely relates to the structure of science, marking again a limitation as well as a stronghold of that scientific philosophy. To be more explicit, it is the logical structure of theories, explanations, descriptions, concepts, even of some theoretical processes [ 161, which has been (and will further be) investigated rather closely and acutely. Not only is there any reason to do without this structural knowledge; there is also reasonable foundation for employing and using it in the creative context of constructive scientific work. But besides this, this knowledge has to be extended, especially to the functions of scientific activity. Using the Sneedian concept of theory-reduction [ 171, CF intends to reduce our structural metascientific knowledge to a more comprehensive but not less stringent functional scientific knowledge, and so reduce the reconstructive structuralism to the constructive functionalism: RS p CF [la]. Metaphorically speaking, CF is a generator for theoretical processes, an abstract machine for producing empirical theories. NIKOL (and especially Schmidt) has used CF for the generation of EL, taking the study of literature as a social science and not as an art. However, the main principles of CF are not restricted to a science about literature; they prove to be fruitful in linguistics [19] and other sciences, too, which are still in the same situation of leaving enough room for creative theorizing. [16] With the remarkable exception of Popper’s, the analysis of the logical structure of theeretical processes is an achievement of the last years, mainly instigated by the views of Th. S. Kuhn. [ 17 j There are two concepts of reduction defined by Sneed, strong and weak. In the present context, I think of weak reduction. Definitions in Balzer and Sneed (1977) and Finke (in press). [18] The idea of reducing structuralistic theories to functionahstic is due to the linguist S. Kanngiesser; it was first carried out with linguistic theories, see Finke (1979) for examples and references, also Finke (forthcoming). [ 191 An outline is given in Finke (1980); for a detailed account see Finke (forthcoming).


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

2. Outline of CF (I) CF is intended as an empirical theory of science - especially creative science - describing a possible process of theory-construction. It is not a normative theory since it does not claim that it is necessary to follow its guide-lines. It simply offers a possible guide-line, which in a way supports the planning of preparadigmatic steps towards a desired end. Among the range of possible ends, EL is of interest in this article, and so are the restrictions which operate as constraints on the general generative mechanism of CF as far as a science about literature is aimed at [20]. As CF is a constructive theory of science, a theory generated by CF may justly be called ‘constructive’ either, stressing by this manner of speaking the indispensable role of deliberate decisions in the planning of constructs intended as admitting an empirical interpretation by a section of the world. Any theoretical description of natural or cultural entities and processes requires the preparation and making of conceptual constructs empirically adequate to a certain extent, and the method of scientific theories as a means for the solution of problems needs the power for creating structures as much as the power for identifying structures. Empirical theories are as little ‘natural’ as anything else constructed by man, and the problems in the foundation of a scientific conception are less solved by discoveries (since what we discover has somehow put into it before by ourselves) but rather by inventions which prove to be of some use [21]. In the most general respect the development of EL is constructed along the lines of a C-matrix. A C-matrix is a formal structure that roughly corresponds to Kuhn’s concept of the matrix of a scientific discipline; it is intended as an explication of the Kuhnian concept for constructive purposes in preparadigmatic contexts. The C-matrix itself is the system of four more elementary matrices, each of which specifies the conceptual framework for a special aspect of the preparadigmatic theorizing, namely the structure-, function-, theory-, and practice-matrix (or, for short, the S-, F-, T-, and P-matrix). These matrices are constructed as a reducing series, i.e., S reduces to (=p), F, F p T, T p P, and P finally p C. The general matrix C is understood as the matrix of the conception of EL [22]. Defining a C-matrix requires some nontrivial steps of decisions, the essence of which I will give as a list of eight definitions (D 1) to (D 8), three theorems (T 1) to (T 3), together with some connecting explications. [20] In Finke (in press) I have used this restriction of interest in order to introduce the concept of an ‘intradiscipllnary’ conception of metatheory as opposed to the normal ‘extradisciplinary’ metatheory. [ 211 There was an interesting discussion of this view on the ‘nature’ of theories and data at the 6th Scandinavian Conference on Nordic and General Linguistics, Oslo, where I put forward a similar thesis (Finke 1980). I am indebted to the discussants for clarifying criticism, especially R. Bartsch, J.D. Ringen, E. Itkonen, and the late J. Odmark. I dedicate this article to the memory of the latter. [22] I doubt whether this series of reductions could be understood at all in this paper’s shortness. Explaining it is one of the main issues in Finke (in press) and Finke (forthcoming).

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

At first we have to define the concept of the coordinate


of a C-matrixelement:

(D 1) X is a coordinate of a C-matrix element iff there is a finite set M = {M,,....M,,} , such that X E M. (D 1) only postulates the existence of a finite set of entities which should serve as the coordinates of a C-matrix element. It is of no interest to the present purposes, whether such a coordinate could itself be conceived as a complex entity; it will be taken as an elementary one. Interpreting this concept of a coordinate, all levels [23] of a metatheoretical decision relevant for the constitution of a scientific conception are permitted, e.g. methodological values and norms, languages, laws, explanations, analogies and models, examples, types of problems, and so forth. In the next step I introduce a function cpallowing the evaluation of matrixcoordinates: (D 2) If Y and V are coordinates (1) V is a range of values (2)cp: Y+ V.

of matrix elements, then cpis an evaluation

of Y iff

The couple (Y, +I) may be called “evaluated coordinate”. The evaluative function cp relates coordinates to coordinates; more precisely: it projects a coordinate onto a range of values. Thus I’ is to be interpreted as the coordinate of general metatheoretical values of the conception of EL to be constructed, whereas all other possible coordinates are to be interpreted as evaluated coordinates (e.g. theoretical problems, productive analogies, structural explanations, useful applications, etc.) From (D 2) follows the concept of a C-matrix element: (T 1) X is a C-matrix element, iff there is Y, V and cp,such that (1) Y and V are C-matrix coordinates (2)cp: Y-t K So, the type of structure @

is evaluated


by IQ as43

Therefore, a C-matrix element consists of an ordered pair (Y, I4 of coordinates, evaluating V and the evaluated Y.


[ 231 In this respect, my starting point is a criticism of Kuhn’s concept of the matrix of a discipline. The criticism has been stated for several times, for instance in Weingart (1976), and refers to the nonorder and the nonsystematic character of the set of levels Kuhn discusses as levels or components of a disciplinary matrix. The following is a - somewhat clumsy - proposal to impose the necessary additional structure onto what essentially remains the Kuhnian idea. For some minor alterations, see Finke (in press).

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


So to speak, C-matrix elements are the atomic elements for the construction of a C-matrix. They are simple evaluation procedures which have to take place in all metatheoretical decisions during the creative processes of conception construction. These decisions ‘decide’ about the choices from the domain of possible alternatives, choosing just those that should constitute the constructional framework for the development of EL. There could be C-matrixelements consisting of just one single matrix element, just as simple theories could consist of a single theory element only [24]. As a rule, they are more interesting and efficient the more complex they are in structure. Of course, the analogy of C-matrix elements to theory elements is not accidental. The scientific conception of a theory is a theory itself, i.e. a metatheory. Therefore,it should not be surprising that the structure of a conception parallels the structure of a theory. This will become still more evident in the following steps, the first of which prepares the definition

of the net of a C-matrix :

3)A is a net of C-matrix elements (or: a C-matrix-net) iff there is an & such that (1) e is a finite set of C-matrix elements E 11**** E, (2) For every couple (E, E’): (a) V(E)’ C_V(E) (b) W9’ G Y(E) (c> (El’ C_(E) .

For a Venndiagram, see fig. 1. This means that the evaluations in E’ should be conas a partial set of the evaluations in E. E is a more general, logically dominating C-matrix element, whereas E’ is the less general, the dominated element. Interpreting matrix elements as theory elements, it is possible to interpret the relation discussed as a relation of specialization [25 ] : structed

(D 4) X is a u-C-matrix-net iff X is a matrix-net and E’ (I E. for a pair of elements E, E’ in fig. 2. If we are to consider u-nets which contain more than one coordinate evaluated, we must additionally postulate the evaluated coordinates to be of the same logical level (i.e. the relations between the specialized C-matrix elements must be complementation-relations K) I give an illustration

[24] My whole line of argumentation relies heavily upon the reader’s familiarity with the Sneedian concept of theory. A reader not familiar with that theory should take the term “theory element” in the rough meaning of ‘the least complicated structure fulfiig the functions of a theory’. [25] Continuing the last footnote: specialization could be thought of as a sort of theoretical magnifying glass or microscope, cutting out some structural part of the specialized theoryelement and revealing (or offering) a more detailed structural information about it.

0 E’


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


E =


0Y' V’



9 <


Fig. 1.



0V Y T

= E

0 Fig. 2.

Fig. 3.

[26]: (D 5) X is a ~-C-matrix-net iff X is a o-C-matrix-net and there is at least one C-matrix element E" such that E" K E'. For an illustration of a structure with two coordinates evaluated, see fig. 3. Reflecting on the previous steps for a moment, I should remind the reader of the fact that up to now there is no definition of the concept of a C-matrix, that is the full conception (of EL) to be constructed. I have not yet given a constructive device for relating the different elementary matrices (S-, F-, T-, and P-) within the systematic framework of the C-matrix. For this purpose, the series of definitions has to be continued with two further steps. [ 261 This relation is introduced in Finke (in press) as the relation which holds between theory elements of the same logical level. A four-element-set of such complementary specializations of his ETL (i.e. the fust preparadigmatic approximation of EL) is central to Schmidt 1980. The K-relation is of major importance in CF since it is indispensable for a definition of the concept of completeness of a theory to be constructed.

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3. Outline of CF (II) In order to relate the elementary matrices to each other and to the necessary to introduce a further dimension of complexity. I call it C-marti-ner’, and it should be obvious that KC-matrix-nets will be interest [27]. At first we need a new function \k associating a C-matrix-net to lows: (D 6) If X is a C-matrix-net, then 9 yields a structural (1) There is a K = @,T,F,S] (2) YEK (3)W X-t Y.


C-matrix it is the ‘level a of our special


a level as fol-

of its level iff

The couple (X, W could be called ‘level-relativity of a matrix-net’. The set K comprises all possible (or necessary) [28] matrix-levels Y. “P” stands for the level of the politicity of a scientific discipline, or its practical reason; that is the domain of practical problems which are intended to be solved by strategies of action derived from the conception’s achievements. “T” designates the level of theoreticity or the conception’s theoretical reason (including its empirical achievements). “F” stands for the funtionality, and “S” for the structurality of the conception. A C-matrixnet therefore can be elementarily associated with each of these levels Y, and hence could be called a “Y-matrix-net” (a “P-matrix-net” or a “S-matrix-net”, respectively). The function \k operates in cutting out certain well-defined parts from C-matrix-nets by relating them to well-defined levels. (D 6) therefore permits the construction of the elementary C-matrix-nets, but a satisfying conception of EL does not consist of a single or some single nets; rather it is the system of these nets which could serve the function of a constructive framework in developing EL. The set K is not yet that system, since it is not yet structured. This structure is given in (D 7): (D 7) For the levels P,T,F,S of a C-matrix-net: U)SPF (2) F P ‘I-

(3) T P P. (D 7) permits the construction of a p-net of C-matrix-nets. Intuitively, this amounts to the following claim: structural explanations should be constructed so that they could be fully embedded in functional ones; or, in other words: functional explana[ 271 Clearly, however, the K-IehtiOn is nonelementary as are the o-, T-, and p-relations lntroduced by Balzer and Sneed. It depends logically upon the defIIt.ion of specialization. [28] There may be different views on the inner structure of K. At any rate, each alternative suggestion as a whole has to be functionally equivalent to mine, as far as results are concerned.

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tions have to preserve the accomplishments of structural ones but may extend their explanatory capacity; functionalism logically implies structuralism [29]. And this holds for the relations between the other levels as well: the functional component should reduce to the whole of the conception’s explanatory capacity, i.e. its theoretical power, and this again to its power in respect of practical ambitions. That is: the practical utility of a scientific conception will never be independent of its theoretical state; and although a substantial amount of empirical knowledge obtained upon the base of a reliable theory does not already guarantee the practical usefulness of that knowledge, there is no reasonable way towards strategies of influencing reality by practical action besides or outside of that empirical knowledge. If it is impossible for scientific reasoning to obtain practical relevance outside of theory, then, if it does become practically relevant, it will be based on that theoretical foundation, and of course extend it to a practical domain. Creative science should extend its attention beyond the interest in explanations and include the interest in the exertion of influence on reality, too. Especially an empirical science about literature should be constructed [30] as aiming at social relevance, for it is this respect in which the existing conceptions fail nearly at all. The “p-chain” S p F p T p P is a constructive means for accomplishing that aim. We have to take a last step in order to define the concept of a C-matrix. Principally, the same conditions must be fulfilled as in all theories: we need an abstract conceptual structure Ko, a set It of paradigmatic interpretations of Ko, a paradigmatic u-theory-net Np, and a set of admissable extensions% of Np [31] : (D 8) X is a C-matrk iff there are Ko, Ip, Np and 9f such that (l)X=(Ko.I,,Np,%) (2) Ko, 1, is a theory element with (a) KO = {(Dl), .-., (D7)) (b) f, = {CF, EL, ...} (3) Np is a u-theory-net, such that (Np) = {(Ko, I$} (a) N is a u-theory-net (4) %! = (b) There is an IO, I, C_IO, such that (N) = {(Ko, IO)} L(c)NpC-N From (D 8) follows (T 2): (T 2) C-matrices are theories, viz. special metatheories. [29] See footnote 18; reduction implies implication. a constructive metatheory does not work without postulates or empirical norms, and therefore contains a normative component. Nevertheless, there is a clear distinction between a constructive and a normative metatheory: the normativity of the former is an empirical one since it admits of emphical correction. Its value is a pragmatical value only, offering a structure that is to be evaluated by its achievements and not by a prior&grounds. It could be revised under the compulsion of better experience. [31] For detailed argumentation see Baker and Sneed (1977). [30] Of course,


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

Fig. 4.

The concept of a C-matrix is nothing else than an explication of the conceptionconcept I am using throughout .$his article. The point at issue now is the fact that a C-matrix obviously contains the pchain S p F p Tp P by accomplishing its scientific results; therefore, the chain itself can be reduced to the level of a C-matrix. Calling this level “C”, (T 3) holds

Talking of matrix-nets,

(T 3’) holds

(T 3’) Every C-matrix-net which is related to a certain level within the chain S p F p T p P is reducable to a C-matrix. A graphical representation

of (T 3) resp. (T 3’) is shown in fig. 4.

4. Outline of CF (III)

As we have seen, a scientific conception can be constructed as the final link of a p-chain of more special matrix-nets:

This representation of the chain might throw some light to the fact that there are better and lesser known areas of knowledge, both in the theory of science and in the theory of literature. At present, we can say most about the two ends of the chain above: the most general and the most specified. Obviously, there exists a red danger of ‘forgetting’ the intermediate links, a fact, which impairs the present-day

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


theorizing in its intended value [32]. I shall now turn to the idea of constructivity which is inherent in CF. Looking back to definition (D S), condition (2b) names two paradigmatic empirical interpretations of the logical structure set up in definitions (D 1) to (D 7), viz. CF and EL. The more general C-matrix CF specifies metatheoretical conditions for creative scientific research, interpreting the p-chain as structuring a certain theory of scientific behavior. The more special C-matrix EL specifies metatheoretical conditions furthermore, restricting the scope of interest substantially to the scientific behavior which is needed in the investigation of literature. How is this ‘x is more general than y-relation to be understood? How is the relation between CF and EL to be understood? A simple consideration will prove this relation to be a theoretization-relation: Developing EL upon a base of metatheoretical considerations amounts to constructing EL upon CF in such a way, that the framework of CF is filled in by additional substantial structures. Nevertheless, EL is neither a specialization of CF nor is it a reduction of CF. It is no specialization because the complete framework of CF will be needed in the construction of EL, not only a special part of it. But it is no reduction either, because in EL we are not aiming at the same things we are aiming at in constructing CF: EL is not intended as a ‘better’ theory of science but as a theory of the scientific investigation in literature. Equally, the opposite is false, a science about literature will and should not reduce to a theory of science. The completion of structures which is carried out in the construction process of EL requires the genuine construction of new theoretical structures appropriate for a different range of potential empirical interpretations. This clearly amounts to genuine theoretization. We theorize the C-matrix CF in taking it as a generative device for the development of EL, and we ob’tain EL from CF by adding new theoretical components to its C-matrix. lheoretization is defined as follows [33] : If CF and EL are theory elements, then EL is a theoretization of CF (EL r CF) iff (1) There are k and m < n theoretical components, such that Mb and MP k + n resp. k + m are theory element-matrices (2) MA&J c_M An empirical science of literature therefore can be conceived as a theoretization upon a constructive theory of science, and this is just the way the NIKOL group viewed the problem. At the same time, this yields an explication of the idea of [32] For a more detailed argument in respect of the relevance of linguistics and the scientific study of literature see Finke (1981). [33] Two remarks. At first, I do not distinguish between inner and outer theoretization in this article; there is no necessity to do so ln the present context. Secondly, for the sake of simplicity I prefer a definition rejected by Sneed himself (condition 2 should actually be stated in a weaker but much more complicated way; I omit that).

P. Finke /A Sketch


of constructive functionalism

constructitity inherent in the conception of CF: the theory of science which is given in CF is constructive in the sense that it admits of theoretizations which result in scientific theories. Since there may be a whole system of alternative theoretizations of the C-matrix (distributed upon the different areas of scientific research, in which preparadigmatic states of affairs could or should be promoted into paradigmatic ones) CF could be understood as a generative system for the development of scientific conceptions or, in other words, a creative means of scientific invention. However, it is definitely meant as a tool in generating empirical science since its structural products have to allow for empirical interpretations. And CF itself is definitely meant as an empirical fheoly either, since despite its constructiveness it admits of correction by experience. Empiricalness is by no means a value of reconstructive theories of science only; they are as far away from descriptivism as the theory outlined is from pure normatitity [34].

5. A crisis

isa good


The EL, as it has been developed by NIKOL: upon the base of CF, has not yet gained full paradigmatic maturity. Calling the latter state So, the object-theory as developed by Schmidt can be associated with a preparadigmatic state S_*. Taking Schmidt’s terminology, the theory of literature constructed so far is called ETL in order to mark the difference to the full-fledged paradigm which I called EL. The creative processes towards EL may be understood as processes which are governed by a characteristic uncertainty about the most adequate idealizations to be chosen. Although these processes involve different types of approximations and may be viewed at last as one process of approximation towards So, present research on the base of ETL, however, is still necessarily critical against that base. The reason is, that in spite of innovations and differentiations ETL is still structured too roughly as to serve as a stable basic theory element in further research processes. This stability, however, is a necessary condition in theory dynamics of paradigmatic science [35]. As long as there is evidence that the basic theory element has to [ 341 The debates concerning the possibility of a constructive theory of science are more or less confused. Empiricalness, for instance, should not be confused with descriptiveness, or normativity with constructivity. A constructive theory of science needs not to be less empirical than a reconstructive one, and there is a normative component included in the latter, too. In the view of NIKOL there is a good argument for a constructive theory of science missed by the analytic metatheoretists of paradigmatic physics: general criteria and decisions are constantly inferred into the foundational debates between scholars working in different conceptions, and they are mostly unconsciously used in practical work. To become conscious of them earlier than usual does not at ah render one’s work less empirical. On the contrary: conscious use of one’s prerequesites and preconditions clarifies its empirical value. [35] Again, see Balzer and Sneed (1977). Compare a theory to a car: many old parts of the car may be changed for new ones, many additional parts may be built in, but the chassis should remain identical, otherwise the licence-office will take it as an other car.

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


be changed structurally in some respect, research is still preparadigmatic. It is not surprising that just this is the case with ETL, since it has been developed consciously and deliberately within the limits of three idealizations: (a) the exclusion of the synchronicdiachronicdistinction, (b) the exclusion of functional explanations, and (c) the exclusion of the dimension of the politicity of the theory. Although there is no necessity in preparadigmatic theorizing to impose such strong idealizations to the intended constructs, it is almost impossible to dispense with that method entirely. If one is not inclined to trapping oneself in ones own prejudices and shortsightedness, it is a rational method to make use of strong idealizations [36]. It would be irrational, however, to deceive oneself about the state of affairs. The transition from S_* to So is quite a long step, since it does not only include the choice of the most adequate idealizations, it also includes the construction of a first version of the full theory-net to be based upon the fundamental theory element. Quite a part of this has been done in ETL already, but there are still white spots on the map. Therefore, the NIKOL-research is at present working towards a preliminary state S-r, the intension of which is to draw the map within the framework of CF completely for the first time. A part of this completion will be contained in Schmidt (in press). The last preparadigmatic step, then, from S-i to So, will be occupied with research on the stability of the basic theory element, i.e. the transition from ETL to ETL’, the latter intended as a stable core within an instable net of specializations. There is no doubt that an empirical theory never will prove entirely stable, but it would never enter a paradigmatic phase of research if even the basic theory elements are constantly changed. Of course, it may be changed within the paradigmatic phase, too, but then the change will result in a different paradigm. It is highly probable, that the paradigm of EL, if installed, will not be the last word science has to say about literature. Therefore, NIKOL could not reasonably intend to produce a crisis to presentday forms of the study of literature. The only thing to be said at present is that it cannot be excluded that there may be a crisis of that subject at some time in the future which has been caused by the empirical challenge [37]. The work of NIKOL [36] A very good example is the work of Chomsky. His strong idealization of a completely homogeneous speechcommunity and an ideal speaker-listener fust and foremost made a new linguistics possible. Chomsky was quite conscious of their status as idealizations, but their revision only became possible after the linguists had mastered the peculiar problems of the new linguistic theory. That, by virtue of those idealizations, it would be too oversimplified, has been known to its founder from the very beginning. In order to make a progress in one respect possible, the conscious use of strong idealizations in others is often inevitable, though they certainly could not be held forever. The subject matter has to be discussed within the context of constructivity and dynamics of theorizing. Chomsky (e.g. in his 1965), by the way, is a good example of a linguist doing a constructive linguistics upon a constructive use of metatheoretical considerations. [ 37) I am afraid, though, that the hope for a crisis may be in vain. There are only few scientific disciplines as conservative as the one discussed here. In literature, innovation and non-conservative creativity is rightly praised, but among the scholars of literature the analogous scientific values factually enjoy a bad reputation.


P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism

is a part of that challenge to the present-day conceptions of the scientific study of literature, starting from the discovery that the pluralism of conceptions is by no means complete already. Therefore, it is a great exaggeration saying that this branch of scientific activity presently experiences a crisis. This thesis spreads around nearly everywhere. Indeed, this is by no means surprising since the acuteness and clarity of metatheoretical thinking in my opinion shows a bad condition among scholars of literature. Either, they are taking the present pluralism (which they constantly and wrongly refer to as a pluralism of methods) as a fate of a peculiar type of knowledge, bound to that type necessarily and for ever by philosophical reasons, or they take it to design an existing crisis, a period of uncertainty and loss of orientation. In my opinion (and the opinion of NIKOL) both judgments are equally false. Neither is there a fate (or a pope), which (or who) could bar the access to the study of literature for empirical theories and methods, nor is the pluralism we experience at present already a critical pluralism. As it seems, the crisis of the study of literature which is talked about so much has not yet taken place at all. The theoretical foundations of the discipline have been challenged by alternative approaches in rather petty a degree [38], and the broad opposition of the mass of literary scholars against the attempts to introduce a more solid concept of theoreticalness and empiricalness into the discipline is inconsistent with the crisis-theory. At the same time, however, it suggests the possibility of producing a crisis by that very approach, obviously being a much more fundamental challenge to the base of the discipline. Many scholars seem to be frightened by that perspective, taking a scientific crisis as something bad to be avoided. This opinion, though understandable from a personal point of view, is quite irrational from an objective point of view. History of science shows, that the growth of knowledge may be dependent from breaks in the fundamental convictions, at least from time to time. Never has a scientific crisis led to the decline of a discipline, whereas it has often (although not necessarily always) led to a substantial progress of the scope and certainty of our knowledge. A sincere scientific crisis might lead us to review our opinions and get rid of impediments and prejudices. Although CF and EL cannot guarantee to be interesting and substantial enough in order to produce a crisis of the common studies of literature, it is not impossible that they could assist in bringing it about. Since the popes of science are fallible, neither the traditional conceptions nor the NIKOLconception can be excluded from such a selection-process. In any case, the present pluralism cannot be overcome before it is completed, and it is just this aim CF and EL have been invented for. A rich pluralism, although a transitional state in science, has the great [38] See last footnote, and Finke (in press) for a formal argument. Of course, most scholars of literary studies will disapprove of m,y contention more or less indignantly; in spite of that they unite and forget of all their (minor) dissents if confronted with the empirical challenge. I take this frequent experience as a proof of my thesis.

P. Finke /A Sketch of constructive functionalism


advantage of enabling us to try out alternatives of scientific rationality. In this framework, CF is an attempt to the better understanding of the very beginning of scientific theorizing, at the same time turning this understanding to a practical use for the inevitable structuring of nonconservative research. A lack of such a constructive framework equals a retreat from rational decision within the processes of creative science. The better a theory of scientific constructivity, the more we know of science as a creative power.

References Balzer, W. and J.D. Sneed. 1977. Generalized net structures of empirical theories. Studia Logica XXXVI 3: 195-211. Chomsky, N. 1965:.Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. Feyerabend, P.K. 1976. Erkenntnis fiir freie Menschen. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp. Finke, P. 1979. Crundlagen einer iinguistischen Theorie. Braunschweig/Wiesbaden: Vieweg. Finke, P. 1980. Basic problems of a constructive linguistics. Paper read at the 6th Scandinavian Conference of Nordic and General Linguistics, Oslo (mimeo). Finke, P. 1981. Sprache, Literatur, Wissenschaft. Zwei Bielefelder Vortrage iiber Erkenntnis und Veranderung in Linguistik und Literaturwissenschaft. Bielefeld: The University Press. Finke, P. In Press. Konstruktiver Funktionalismus. Die wissenschaftstheoretische Basis einer empirischen Theorie der Literatur. BraunschweigjWiesbaden: Vieweg. Finke, P. Forthcoming. Sprachbedarf und Sprachadiquatheit. Elemente einer konstruktiven Sprachtheorie. Berlin: Einhorn. Lewis, D. 1969. Conventions. Cambridge, MA: M.I.T. Press. Schmidt, S.J. 1980. Grundriss der empirischen Literaturwissenschaft. Vol. 1: Der gesellschaftAche Handlungsbereich Literatur. Braunschweiglwiesbaden: Vieweg. Schmidt, S.J. In press. Grundriss der empirischen Literaturwissenschaft. Vol. 2: Zur Rekonstruktion literaturwissenschaftiicher Fragesteilungen in einer empirischen Literaturwissenschaft. Braunschweigjwiesbaden: Vieweg. Sneed, J.D. 1971. The logical structure of mathematical physics. Dordrecht: Reidel. Weingart, P. 1976. Wissensproduktion und soziale Struktur. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.

Peter Finke (b. 1942) is lecturer of linguistics, theory of linguistics, and theory of literary studies at Bielefeld University, West Germany. He has published books and articles on the philosophy of science, theory of language, case grammar, literary interpretation, philosophy of language, and ecological problems.