SCIENTIFIC METHODOLOGY Applied to the Humanities-1:

The Selection of a Unit o Measure:

   To develop a science of the humanities, a standard unit is required; one which can be sensed, measured, or experienced.

   To illustrate this, let's see if we can apply the scientific method to love. Love has many meanings, so as scientists do, let's narrow it:

   Love is that which produces or accompanies an increased sense of aliveness.

   Does this working definition describe an effect which can be detected? It's very likely. Just as a force causes a change in the motion of a body, we can assume for the purpose of experiment that love produces a detectable change.

   If we were to rush to a lab and be extremely exact, we would need a "standard love-source" (like a neutron source) and a "love-detector" (like a Geiger counter), which we could then calibrate.

   Joe, Sam, or Bill, as "love-detectors," could be hooked up to various instruments, including an EEG (perhaps the love-source would increase alpha-waves), and we could get an objective correlation with Joe, Sam, or Bill's report of feeling more alive.

   There is a problem here with finding a "standard love-source." Joe could say that Susie makes him feel more alive; Sam that Julie does this, and Bill that Mary does "something" to him. But when we hook them up and run the experiment with different combinations of "love-sources" and "love-detectors," we might get odd results. E.g., Mary increases  Joe's  alpha- waves, but Susie does not! And so on.

   What has happened?  We've  tried to be too exact too soon, and have made some assumptions: (1) that the X-factor, love as we've defined it, is sex-linked; and (2) that scientific equipment can tell us more than the individuals involved.

   Back to square one to clarify the unit we've chosen. How can we do this? By getting more information from those who can note when they felt more alive and what was happening.

   A chess player might notice that at a certain point in the game, he really got involved. Why?

   A student might note that in  a  rather  dull lecture on atomic physics, his interest was suddenly engaged by the fact that neutron capture by nuclei peaked when the neutron energy was 25 Mev. Why?

   A shy girl might realize that she felt more alive when she was free to say exactly what she felt. Why?

   By comparing these "more alive" experiences, important factors could be isolated and the unit refined. Love might be similar to resonance phenomena, and models developed from what is known about resonance.

   The next step is the application of this theory to current problems. Does it help explain anything?

   Is the use of drugs and alcohol a way of overcoming "love-anxiety?" Is rape actually a symptom of an inability to tolerate the sense of aliveness that goes with sexual pleasure?

   These are questions that scientific methodology applied to the humanities should be expected to answer.