Sunday, March 7, 2010


"I have always been most curious about the process of production, the structure of a piece of work, the way people reach a specific intellectual goal. As an amateur musician, I find my enjoyment of music considerably enhanced if an expert explains the theoretical structure of a quartet. Knowing little about belles lettres, I am indebted to the 'new criticism' because its internal analysis of a piece of writing opens an experience to which I would not otherwise have access. This interest in 'explications' was reinforced during my student days. It was in that period that the theory of relativity had come to the fore. We were greatly impressed by the fact that it came about not just through substantive findings, but also through the conceptual clarification of basic notions. I remember vividly the delight in discovering that it is not obviously clear what is meant when one says that two events, one on the sun and one on the earth, occur 'simultaneously.' I should add that reading a mathematical paper reinforces this tendency. Hours are spent on one page, trying first to guess what the author is driving at, then why he is concerned with this objective, and, finally, the understanding of his proof."

— Paul F. Lazarsfeld, "The Sociology of Empirical Social Research" in On Social Research and Its Language, 262