Saturday, December 02, 2017


Klejn's Commandments

Klejn's commandments, from Stephen Leach, A Russian Perspective on Theoretical Archaeology: The Life and Work of Leo S. Klejn (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016), pp. 144-145:
1. Archaeology is not history armed with a spade, but a detective story in which the investigator has arrived at the scene a thousand years late. History is pronounced later by judges. So you must decide: to go in for one or the other.

2. Do not be similar to the historian, for whom work is already settled in two steps: collection of materials and the writing of a text. Between these two you must take the third—the research.

3. Where there is a law, there is no problem. In every set of facts do not search for laws, but for contradiction to law. Behind contradiction a problem is hidden, behind the problem a discovery.

4. State the question as a question. With nominative sentences a theme is set but not a problem. A problem is set only when it is formulated by a question. The real question begins with 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when', 'whence', 'whither', 'how', and 'why'.

5. The scholarly world is not a team of friends. What is your discovery is a loss for someone else. And this someone is usually a prominent and powerful person. Therefore having made a discovery do not expect universal delight. Be ready for tough resistance, sudden attacks and a gruelling and lingering war. A scholar needs talent second and courage first.

6. Research is a threefold struggle—with the material, with adversaries and with oneself. The last part is the hardest.

7. Every scholar has a right to make mistakes—if he makes mistakes correctly.

8. If an experiment fails once, the experiment is guilty, if it fails twice, the experimenter is guilty, if three times, the theory.

9. Do not check facts with your tongue, but with your teeth: do not search for something tasty, search for something true. Indeed what you need to recognise is not raisins but gold.

10. Argue skilfully and vigorously, but remember that one does not believe your skill or your rage but your facts.

11. Beware of assumptions. Probability is a ladder with rolling steps, an escalator. Before you know it you find yourself on the next floor. Apparent means probably, probably means possibly, possibly means maybe and maybe not. But whether it was present or absent, issue from the point that it was absent rather than present.

12. Forget the phrase 'for instance'. Examples can substantiate whatever you want. There is always a counter-example for every example. An example is permissible only when it represents a generalisation.

13. Classification is like a piano, do not try to strike a chord with one finger. You need a sufficient set of concepts and terms.

14. Weigh pros and cons on the same set of scales.

15. If the complex truth does not consist of simple truths it is not a truth.

16. The scholarly position is not a chair, but redoubt. It is only a position when it is attacked and defended. Thereafter it is no longer a position but a pose. Do not confuse a position with a pose.

17. Do not hunt for a fashionable position. In the discipline, not every word said last is the last word in the discipline. Contemporaneity is not defined by the moment of a work but by the productivity of methods, completeness of materials, and cleverness of ideas.

18. Do not hope for chance and luck. The law of gravitation was created in Newton's head and not in the apple.

19. Do not suppose anything is apparent. Collect proofs as much as possible, then people will perhaps understand that your idea did not need proving.

20. Be brief. However, firstly every one of your terms should be defined, every concept reasoned, every sentence grounded, every conclusion limited, every fact accounted for, proved and measured.

21. When you substantiate, it is important what, still more important with what but most important how.

22. The crowning proof is the one which the author has ditched and allowed the reader himself to find.

23. The 'golden middle' between two extremes is only the third extreme. It must be proved especially well.

24. Do not argue until you get a frog in the throat. You cannot out-argue your adversary, no matter how right you may be. The task of every scholarly argument is not to convince your opponent but to check yourself, to believe in yourself and to gain supporters.

25. Even if a gold coin rings on a copper coin, the ring nevertheless is golden. Inequality is not a hindrance to fruitful communication.

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