The Reistic or Concretistic Approach

  • Tadeusz Kotarbinski
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 119)


The responsibilities of the secondary school teacher undoubtedly include the striving to make the pupils understand meanings of words as clearly and as distinctly as possible. This task acquires particular importance in the teaching of those disciplines which in library catalogues are called philosophical. This is so because the principal shortcomings of those disciplines, which also account for protracted controversies — for example, in epistemology, ontology, general theory of value, etc. — do not consist in defective observation or experimentation, or in using wrong forms of inference, but are mainly reducible to the habit of thinking, and correspondingly speaking, vaguely. Hence, whether he so desires or not, the teacher must build a system of verbal explanations and, as it were, compile a dictionary of those terms which sow confusion. And since every subject taught leads to some philosophical issues, every teacher must try to contribute to such a philosophical dictionary, and the professional teacher of philosophical subjects must help him in that, working out the dictionary not only for his own use, but also for use by teachers of other disciplines. For instance, the controversy is revived from time to time as to whether mathematics is an empirical or a purely deductive science. I have no intention of solving that problem here. My point is only that the controversy would not be chronic if the participants would distinctly realize the ambiguity of the term ‘empirical’. In the genetic sense, a statement can be understood as empirical only if the person concerned has ever previously observed something, or if he has observed at least one of the objects denoted by one of the terms involved in that statement. In the methodological sense, only such a statement which for its founding requires at least one observation statement as a premiss is empirical.


Deductive System Concrete Term General Sentence Ultimate Formulation Ultimate Explanation 
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Copyright information

© PWN — Polish Scientific Publishers — Warszawa 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tadeusz Kotarbinski

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