While Bunge's thesis would hardly have shocked Mill, Marx, Durkheim, or Weber, it is alien to the current sociological mainstream and dominant philosophical schools. Bunge demonstrates that philosophical problematics arise in social science research. A fertile philosophy of social science unearths critical presuppositions, analyzes key concepts, refines effective research strategies, crafts coherent and realistic syntheses, and identifies important new problems.
Bunge examines Marx's and Durkheim's thesis that social facts are as objective as physical facts; the so-called Thomas theorem that refutes the behaviorist thesis that social agents react to social stimuli rather than to the way we perceive them; and Merton's thesis on the ethos of basic science which shows that science and morality are intertwined. He then considers selected philosophical problems raised by contemporary social studies. In a concluding chapter, Bunge argues forcefully against tolerance of shabby work in academic social science and philosophy alike.
Along the way, Bunge examines further topical problems, such as the search for the mechanisms underlying observable facts, the limitations of both individualism and holism, the reach of reduction, the abuses of Darwinism, the rational choice-hermeneutics feud, the modularity of the brain vs. the unity of the mind, the cluster of concepts around 'maybe,' the uselessness of many-worlds metaphysics and semantics, the hazards posed by Bayesianism, the nature of partial truth, the obstacles to correct medical diagnosis, and the formal conditions for the emergence of a cross-discipline.
Bunge is not interested in idle fantasies, but about many of the problems that occur in any discipline that studies reality or ways to control it. His work is about the merger of initially independent lines of inquiry, such as developmental evolutionary biology, cognitive neuroscience, and socio-economics. Bunge proposes a clear definition of the concept of emergence to replace that of supervenience and clarifies the notions of system, real possibility, inverse problem, interdiscipline, and partial truth that occur in all fields.
Comprised of 10 chapters, this monograph begins with an overview of the mind-body problem and its main proposed solutions, classified into main genera: psychophysical monism and psychophysical dualism. In particular, ten views on the mind-body problem are analyzed, along with three main varieties of materialism with regards to the problem: eliminative, reductive (or leveling), and emergentist. The discussion then turns to the notion of a concrete or material system, based on the assumption that behavior is an external manifestation of neural processes. Subsequent chapters explore the specific functions of the central nervous system; sensation and perception; behavior and motivation; memory and learning; thinking and knowing; and consciousness and personality. The book also considers sociality and social behavior in animals before concluding with an assessment of a psychological explanation of the mind, with emphasis on dualism and monism.
This work will be of interest to students, academicians, practitioners, and investigators in the fields of psychobiology, psychology, neurophysiology, and philosophy.
It is an established fact that one of his great loves was, and still is, science. He has always been dedicated to scientific work, teaching, research, and training men and women in multiple disciplines. Life lessons fall like ripe fruit from this book, bringing us closer to a concept, a philosophical idea, a scientific digression, which had since been uncovered in numerous notes, articles or books.
Bunge writes about the life experiences in this book with passion, naturalness and with a colloquial frankness, whether they be persecutions, banishment, imprisonment, successes, would-be losses, emotions, relationships, debates, impressions or opinions about people or things.
In his pages we pass by the people with whom he shared a fruitful century of achievements and incredible depths of thought. Everything is remembered with sincerity and humor.
This autobiography is, in truth, Bunge on Bunge, sharing everything that passes through the sieve of his memory, as he would say.
Mario’s many grandchildren are a testament to his proud standing as a family man, and at the age of 96 he gives us a book for everyone: for those who value the memories that hold the trauma of his life as well as for those who share his passion for science and culture. Also, perhaps, for some with whom he has had disagreements or controversy, for he still deserves recognition for being a staunch defender of his convictions.
Mit einem Geleitwort von Gerhard Vollmer.