[Humanist] 28.754 method

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Feb 20 09:14:39 CET 2015

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 28, No. 754.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:28:13 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: After Method

Many here will know that in 1975 Paul Feyerabend published a 
deliberately upsetting book, Against Method, attacking the idea of "THE 
scientific method". Since then much has changed, partly thanks to him. 
But the attractiveness of a singular method, defined kit-bag of formal 
methods, indeed the elevation of impressively polysyllabic "methodology" 
to a prominent place in our arguments and the self-definitions of 
digital humanities is hardly any weaker. For this reason John Law's 
"sustained argument for a way of thinking about method that is broader, 
looser, more generous, and in certain respects quite different to that 
of many of the conventional understandings", in After Method: Mess in 
Social Science Research (Routledge, 2004), is most welcome. If, as he 
argues, social reality is far too elusive and complex to be well served 
by fixed methods, then surely the same and more is true of the 
imaginative realities with which digital humanities must deal.

It seems to me that the idea and practice of experiment rescues us from 
methodology as a trap. I prefer to think in terms of experiment. 

Any social scientists here who care to comment on Law's book?

Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Digital Humanities Research
Group, University of Western Sydney

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