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Scientists typically advocate the analytic method of [#permalink]
04 Apr 2009, 19:06
Scientists typically advocate the analytic method of studying complex systems: systems are divided into component parts that are investigated separately. But nineteenth-century critics of this method claimed that when a system’s parts are isolated its complexity tends to be lost. To address the perceived weakness of the analytic method these critics put forward a concept called organicism, which posited that the whole determines the nature of its parts and that the parts of a whole are interdependent.
Organicism depended upon the theory of internal relations, which states that relations between entities are possible only within some whole that embraces them, and that entities are altered by the relationships into which they enter. If an entity stands in a relationship with another entity, it has some property as a consequence. Without this relationship, and hence without the property, the entity would be different—and so would be another entity. Thus, the property is one of the entity’s defining characteristics. Each of an entity’s relationships likewise determines a defining characteristic of the entity.
One problem with the theory of internal relations is that not all properties of an entity are defining characteristics: numerous properties are accompanying characteristics—even if they are always present, their presence does not influence the entity’s identity. Thus, even if it is admitted that every relationship into which an entity enters determines some characteristic of the entity, it is not necessarily true that such characteristics will define the entity; it is possible for the entity to enter into a relationship yet remain essentially unchanged. The ultimate difficulty with the theory of internal relations is that it renders the acquisition of knowledge impossible. To truly know an entity, we must know all of its relationships; but because the entity is related to everything in each whole of which it is a part, these wholes must be known completely before the entity can be known. This seems to be a prerequisite impossible to satisfy. Organicists’ criticism of the analytic method arose from their failure to fully comprehend the method. In rejecting the analytic method, organicists overlooked the fact that before the proponents of the method analyzed the component parts of a system, they first determined both the laws applicable to the whole system and the initial conditions of the system; proponents of the method thus did not study parts of a system in full isolation from the system as a whole. Since organicists failed to recognize this, they never advanced any argument to show that laws and initial conditions of complex systems cannot be discovered. Hence, organicists offered no valid reason for rejecting the analytic method or for adopting organicism as a replacement for it.
22. Which one of the following most completely and accurately summarizes the argument of the passage? (A) By calling into question the possibility that complex systems can be studied in their entirety, organicists offered an alternative to the analytic method favored by nineteenth-century scientists. (B) Organicists did not offer a useful method of studying complex systems because they did not acknowledge that there are relationship into which an entity may enter that do not alter the entity’s identity. (C) Organicism is flawed because it relies on a theory that both ignores the fact that not all characteristics of entities are defining and ultimately makes the acquisition of knowledge impossible. (D) Organicism does not offer a valid challenge to the analytic method both because it relies on faulty theory and because it is based on a misrepresentation of the analytic method. (E) In criticizing the analytic method, organicists neglected to disprove that scientists who employ the method are able to discover the laws and initial conditions of the systems they study.
23. According to the passage, organicists’ chief objection to the analytic method was that the method (A) oversimplified systems by isolating their components (B) assumed that a system can be divided into component parts (C) ignored the laws applicable to the system as a whole (D) claimed that the parts of a system are more important than the system as a whole (E) denied the claim that entities enter into relationships
24. The passage offers information to help answer each of the following questions EXCEPT: (A) Why does the theory of internal relations appear to make the acquisition of knowledge impossible? (B) Why did the organicists propose replacing the analytic method? (C) What is the difference between a defining characteristic and an accompanying characteristic? (D) What did organicists claim are the effects of an entity entering into a relationship with another entity? (E) What are some of the advantages of separating out the parts of a system for study?
25. The passage most strongly supports the ascription of which one of the following views to scientists who use the analytic method? (A) A complex system is best understood by studying its component parts in full isolation from the system as a whole. (B) The parts of a system should be studied with an awareness of the laws and initial conditions that govern the system. (C) It is not possible to determine the laws governing a system until the system’s parts are separated from one another. (D) Because the parts of a system are interdependent, they cannot be studied separately without destroying the system’s complexity. (E) Studying the parts of a system individually eliminate the need to determine which characteristics of the parts are defining characteristics.
26. Which one of the following is a principle upon which the author bases an argument against the theory of the internal relations? (A) An adequate theory of complex systems must define the entities of which the system is composed. (B) An acceptable theory cannot have consequences that contradict its basic purpose. (C) An adequate method of study of complex systems should reveal the actual complexity of the system it studies. (D) An acceptable theory must describe the laws and initial conditions of a complex system. (E) An acceptable method of studying complex systems should not study parts of the system in isolation from the system as a whole.
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