Chapter 6

Thinking in Circles: The Power of Recursion

In This Chapter

arrow Refining your thinking to make it more powerful

arrow Dialling into dialectical thinking

arrow Taking practical ideas from design philosophies

arrow Spotting the important points in an argument

The transition from data to theory requires creative imagination. Scientific hypotheses are not derived from observed facts but invented in order to account for them. They constitute guesses at . . . uniformities and patterns that might underlie the occurrence. ‘Happy guesses’ of this kind require great ingenuity.

Carl Hempel (Philosophy of Natural Science, Prentice-Hall 1966, p. 15)

The quote above from Carl Hempel, a 20th- century American physicist, points at one of the great circles of science — that theories don’t appear in a puff of smoke, but emerge out of a chain of events, starting with guesses about patterns that may or may not be there in the data. The guess then influences the selection of data, and that in turn affects the exact nature of the scientific theory. Science is actually a kind of a ‘chicken and the egg’ situation ...

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