"Scientific method", as controversial as this phrase is, almost always contains the need for predictions - a theory will be scientific if it's (among other things, but at the very least) able to predict future phenomenons.

I'm reading Husserl's Crisis of European Sciences (haven't finished it yet), in which Husserl presents the accomplishment of the "Galilean technique which is called physics" as "nothing but prediction [Husserl italicized] extended to infinity". Then he goes on to state that actually everything in our life are predictions (where he also previously compares prediction to induction) - "seeing, perceiving, is essentially having-something-itself and at the same time having-something-in-advance... All praxis, with its projects, involves inductions [or- predictions]".

Now if we take Husserl's presentation of physics as "nothing but predictions", and life as always involving predictions, we can ask - is there any use for a method that doesn't involve predictions? [Note- I'm talking about natural phenomenons' research.]

Furthermore, if we're not going with Husserl's comparison of induction and prediction, or, if we simply don't accept that everything in life involves induction/prediction, but still take his presentation of physics, we can ask if a method that doesn't involve predictions can actually be useful and unearth certain aspects of reality we could not with the current methods that do rely on (or, requires) predictions?

[I suspect that the transcendental phenomenology that Husserl suggests, which I have yet to read but have a general sense of, is somewhat in line with this thinking, so I might just need to read ahead but the question simply struck me so I had to go here and ask. But in any case - even if Husserl's phenomenology is an example, what I'd like to recieve is either more examples (not necessary, if there are) with further explanation of the idea in the question, or a refutation of the question.]

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    Science does not need to predict, and when it predicts it is not necessarily future phenomena, think of archeology or paleontology. Physics is a poor model for science at large. Husserl's Crisis was written in his waning years and under heavy influence of Heidegger. His grasp of science of the time was not what it was in his early life, ironically, the Crisis was written when the crisis in physics was already resolved. It is more a reflection of the crisis of Husserl's phenomenology reaching its limitations. Non-predictive side of phenomenology is partly incorporated into cognitive psychology
    – Conifold
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 0:40
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    I agree on your point that prediction doesn't necessarily need to be for the future, but the idea is that it needs to be for the future of the research, i.e. even in archeology if we come up with a theory to explain a phenomenon, we'd also like it to "predict" our future findings - the theory's success will be partially determined by its ability to help us find more phenomenons and provide patterns about them. While I'm not very familiar with what you're saying about Husserl, I do know that some consider this to be one of (if not the) his most important works. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 9:14
  • @Conifold also, maybe that's a question for a different post, but how was the crisis resolved? Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 9:24
  • Difficult to answer a question at this level of generality... For sure history has a scientific approach: facts, documents, explanation and it is clearly aimed at understanding. Thus, it is clearly useful in order to "unearth certain aspects of reality"; but it has no predictive force. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 13:30
  • Given any finite amount of data (information), there necessarily exists a mathematical function (theory) that fits it. So, the problem with non-predictive methods is that you can always find one, but it may tell you nothing useful.
    – user935
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


What about painting, or music? To say they are about prediction reveals the hollowness of

is there any use for a method that doesn't involve predictions?

which is clearly aimed at providing priveleging science over everything else. Not just music, but mathematics, language, are expressive, creative, and seeking of the edge between predictable and unpredictable - the complex, the fractal.

  • I edited that in, but I wanted to note that I meant natural phenomenons. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 9:21
  • Just sounds like scientism to me. What about boundary issues like consciousness? Natural phenomena, or creative art?
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:35
  • well surely all science (more generally, everything) can be considered art, but I doubt you'd want to take that definition of art for an academic field. Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 15:48

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