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Análise Psicológica

Print version ISSN 0870-8231


LOURENCO, Orlando. Aná. Psicológica [online]. 1999, vol.17, n.2, pp.253-263. ISSN 0870-8231.

Psychologists (and educationists) often forget Wittgenstein's deep message that «what we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence». In this talk, I argue that psychologists (and educationists) tend to fall prey to (a) the «fallacy of the alchemists», viz., to use obscure terms and thereby think that one has obtained a deeper insight; (b) the «fallacy of Molière's physician», viz., to resort to circular or tautological reasoning; (c) the «fallacy of the missing hyppopotamus», viz., to add provisos to an initial proposition that can neither be verified nor refuted; (d) «Van Helmont's fallacy», viz., not to take into account the influence of important variables on the occurrence of certain results; and (d) «the fallacy of Pickwickian senses», viz., to assume that their students or experimental subjects share the meaning they attribute to several words. As a consequence of these fallacies, too many dispensable publications and distortions, conceptual confusions, and ungrounded concepts polute both Psychology and Educational Sciences. To remedy such state of affairs, psychologists and educationists need to learn that there is a time and a place for words, but also a time and a place for silence. Besides appealing to an exercice of radical rigor in our scientific and educational work, Wittgenstein's message contains also an ethical dimension that deserves to be explored and put into practice.

Keywords : Fallacies; psychology; education.

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