Reflections on the nature of analysis and some analytical skills

  • DFM Strauss


Before a meaningful account can be given of scholarly communication an investigation of the nature of analytical skills is required – the aim of this article. It sets out to come to terms with the meaning of analysis by showing that it rests on two mutually cohering features, namely identifying
and distinguishing. Since identification implies that multiple features are united and since these traits are not only universal but ultimately
indefinable, it is argued that synthesis (identification) is not opposed to analysis but to the other ‘leg’ of analysis, namely distinguishing. Since identification is nothing but the capacity we have to forms concepts, the nature of concepts is explained in more detail. Moreover, analysis is not simply constituted by acts of dividing (setting apart), although it cannot reveal its meaning apart from its coherence with the numerical awareness of the one and the many and the original spatial meaning of a whole with its parts. Since the discipline of mereology, as a study of the whole-parts relation, involves modern (mathematical) set theory it is argued that sets are not purely arithmetical for they are, as Kurt Gödel said, quasi-spatial. Acknowledging the uniqueness of number and space alongside their mutual coherence serves to illustrate what a non-reductionist ontology
means. This digression opens up the possibility to illustrate the nature of analytical skills by arguing that the arithmeticistic claims of modern set theory begs the question (it assumes what it wants to conclude) owing to the underlying antinomy present in its attempt to explain spatial continuity exclusively in numerical terms. This is done on the basis of briefly highlighting conflicting schools of thought within a number of natural sciences and humanities (by and large instantiating ismic orientations opting for a monistic perspective). Explaining briefly the equally intrinsically antinomic nature of modern historicism prompted the plea for a non-reductionist ontology as one of the most important guidelines for the enhancement of critical analytical skills. A brief reference is made to the requirement of critical solidarity, immanent critique, factual critique and the importance of critically unveiling the theoretical paradigm of a thinker as well as the ultimate commitment directing the thought of such a thinker.

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eISSN: 1011-3487