Philosophical aspects of modeling as a method of knowing the world


The growing interest of philosophy and methodology of knowledge to the topic of modeling was due to the value that the modeling method received in modern science, and especially in such sections as physics, chemistry, biology, cybernetics, not to mention many technical sciences.

However, modeling as a specific means and form of scientific knowledge is not an invention of the 19th or 20th century.

It is enough to point out the ideas of Democritus and Epicurus about atoms, their form, and methods of joining, about atomic vortices and showers, explaining the physical properties of various substances using the idea of ​​round and smooth or hooked particles linked together. These ideas are prototypes of modern models reflecting the nuclear-electronic structure of the atom of matter.

The 20th century brought new successes to the modeling method, but at the same time set it before serious tests. On the one hand, cybernetics has discovered new possibilities and prospects of this method in revealing the general laws and structural features of systems of different physical nature, belonging to different levels of organization of matter, forms of motion. On the other hand, the theory of relativity, and especially quantum mechanics, indicated the non-absolute, relative nature of mechanical models, the difficulties associated with modeling.

Numerous facts testifying to the wide application of the modeling method in research, some contradictions that arise at the same time required a deep theoretical understanding of this method of knowledge, searching for its place in the theory of knowledge.

This can explain a great deal of attention paid by philosophers of various countries to this issue in numerous papers.

Epistemological specificity of the model and its definition.

The study of the epistemological significance of modeling should begin with the definition of the concept “model”.

The word “model” comes from the Latin word “modelium”, meaning: measure, image, method, etc. Its original meaning was associated with the construction art, and in almost all European languages ​​it was used to designate an image or a type, or a thing similar in some respect to another thing “. According to many authors , the model was originally used as an isomorphic theory (after Descartes and Fermat created analytical geometry, the model became the concept implying theory, which has a structural similarity with respect to another theory. Two such theories are called isomorphic if one of them ystupaet as a model for the other, and vice versa).

On the other hand, in such natural sciences as astronomy, mechanics, physics, chemistry, the term “model” has been used to designate what this theory is or may relate to, what it describes. V. A. Shtoff notes that “here, two close but somewhat different concepts are connected with the word“ model ”.

Submodels in a broad sense understand a mentally or practically created structure that reproduces a part of reality in a simplified and visual form. Such are, in particular, Anaximander’s view of the Earth as a flat cylinder, around which hollow tubes filled with fire rotate with holes. The model in this sense acts as a certain idealization, a simplification of reality, although the very nature and degree of simplification introduced by the model may change over time. In a narrower sense, the term “model” is used when one wants to depict a certain area of ​​phenomena with the help of another, more well-studied, more easily understood. Thus, physicists of the 18th century tried to portray optical and electrical phenomena by mechanical (the “planetary model of the atom” – the structure of the atom was depicted as the structure of the solar system).

Thus, in these two cases, the model is understood as either a specific image of the object being studied, in which real or supposed properties, structure, etc., are displayed, or another object that actually exists along with the object being studied and is similar to it in relation to some specific properties or structural features. In this sense, the model is not a theory, but what is described by this theory is a peculiar subject of this theory.

In many discussions devoted to the gnoseological role and the methodological significance of modeling, the term “modeling” has been used as a synonym for knowledge, theory, hypothesis, etc.

For example, a model is often used as a synonym for a theory in the case when a theory is not yet sufficiently developed, it has few deductive steps, a lot of simplifications, ambiguities (physics: the term “model” can be used here to denote a preliminary sketch or a variant of a future theory, subject to considerable simplifications introduced to ensure the search for ways leading to the construction of a more accurate and perfect theory.

Sometimes this term is used as a synonym for any quantitative theory, mathematical description.

The inconsistency of such use from the epistemological point of view, in the opinion of V. A. IIItoff, is “that such usage does not cause any new epistemological problems that would be specific to models” .

The essential feature distinguishing the model from the theory (according to I. T. Frolov) is not the level of simplification, not the degree of abstraction, and therefore, not the number of these abstractions and abstractions achieved, but a way of expressing these abstractions, simplifications and abstractions, characteristic of the model.


Classification of models and types of modeling.

In the literature devoted to the philosophical aspects of modeling, various classification features are presented, according to which various types of models are distinguished. Let’s stop on some of them.

So, such signs are called as: 1. method of construction (model form) 2. qualitative specificity (model content) According to the method of construction of the model, there are material and ideal ones. Let us dwell on the group of material models. Despite the fact that these models are created by man, but they exist objectively. Their purpose is specific – reproduction of the structure, character, course, essence of the process being studied: – reflect the spatial properties – reflect the dynamics of the studied processes, dependencies and relationships.

Material models are inextricably linked with objects by an analogy relation.

Material models are inextricably linked with the imaginary (even before building something – first a theoretical presentation, a rationale). these models remain mental even if they are embodied in any material form. Most of these models do not claim to material embodiment. In form, they can be:

a) figurative, constructed from sensually visual elements.

b) sign. In these models, the elements of the relationship and properties of the simulated phenomena are expressed using certain signs.

c) mixed, combining properties of both figurative and iconic models.

The advantages of this classification is that it provides a good basis for analyzing the two main functions of the model:

– practical (as a tool and a means of scientific experiment)

– theoretical (as a specific image of reality, which contains elements of the logical and sensual, abstract and concrete, common and individual).

B. A. Glinsky has another classification in his book Modeling as a Method of Scientific Research, where, along with the usual division of models according to the way they are implemented, they are also divided according to the nature of the reproduction of the sides of the original:

– substantial

– structural

– functional

– mixed

We now turn to the consideration of issues directly related to the modeling itself. The philosophical encyclopedic dictionary defines it as follows: “Modeling is a method of researching objects of knowledge on their models; building and studying models of real-life objects and phenomena (organic and inorganic systems, engineering devices, various processes — physical, chemical, biological, social) and constructed objects to determine or improve their characteristics, rationalize ways to build them, control, etc. ” Below, when we talk about using the method of modeling tions in specific areas will be defined and the types of modeling.

Now let us dwell on them in the most general form.

Simulation can be:

– subject (the study of the object on the model of the main geometric, physical, dynamic, functional characteristics of it)

– physical (reproduction of physical processes) subject-mathematical (research of the physical process by experimentally studying any phenomena of a different physical nature, but described by the same mathematical relationships as the process being modeled)

– sign (computational modeling, abstract-mathematical).

Before proceeding to the issues of modeling, consider the main functions of the models.


The main functions of the models.

Modeling as a means of experimental research.

Let us find out what the specifics of the model are as a means of experimental research in comparison with other experimental means. Consideration of material models as tools, instruments of experimental activity causes the need to find out how the experiments in which the models are used differ from those where they are not used. The question arises about the specifics that the model applies to the experiment.

The transformation of the experiment into one of the main forms of practice, which took place in parallel with the development of science, has become a fact since the wide application of natural science became possible in production, which in turn was the result of the first industrial revolution that opened up the era of machine production.

“The specifics of the experiment as a form of practical activity is that the experiment expresses the active attitude of man to reality. Therefore, in Marxist gnoseology a clear distinction is made between experiment and scientific knowledge. Although any experiment includes observation as a necessary stage of research. However, in the experiment Observation also contains such an essential feature for revolutionary practice as active intervention in the course of the process being studied.

Experiment is understood as a type of activity undertaken for the purposes of scientific knowledge, discovery of objective laws and consisting in influencing the object (process) under study by means of special tools and instruments. ” There is a special form of the experiment, which is characterized by the use of existing material models as special tools for experimental research. This form is called a model experiment.

In contrast to the usual experiment, where the means of the experiment interact in one way or another with the object of study, there is no interaction here, as they experiment not with the object itself, but with its deputy. In this case, the Deputy object and the experimental setup are combined, merging into a single whole in the operating model. Thus, a double role is revealed that the model performs in the experiment: it is at the same time an object of study and an experimental tool.

According to a number of authors , the following basic operations are characteristic of a model experiment:

1. the transition from a natural object to a model – the construction of a model (simulation in the true sense of the word).

2. experimental study of the model.

3. the transition from the model to the natural object, consisting in transferring the results obtained in the study to this object.

The model is included in the experiment, not only replacing the object of study, it can also replace the conditions in which some object of the usual experiment is studied.

The usual experiment assumes the presence of a theoretical moment only at the initial moment of the research – hypothesis put forward, its evaluation, etc., theoretical considerations related to the design of the facility, and also at the final stage – discussion and interpretation of the data obtained, their generalization; In a model experiment, it is also necessary to substantiate the relation of similarity between a model and a natural object and the possibility of extrapolating the data obtained to this object.



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