METHODOLOGY > PRINCIPLES > Postulates > 314coher
1: G. Buccellati, May 2011

Coherence

Introduction
The data
The interpretive frame
Objectivity
Causality

Introduction

     The assumption of coherence is a fundamental postulate that conditions all other postulates. What we assume is total coherence along two parallel lines of inquiry: the data and the interpretive frame.
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The data

     On the one hand, we assume a coherence of the facts among themselves as we know them to exist, or events as we know them to have happened. A fact either exists or it does not, an event either took place or it did not. A presumption of coherence governs our entire scientific approach. In the simplest of terms, we assume a valley behind a mountain ridge, a crash if a vehicle hits a solid, wet ground is the rain falls, and so on. In an archaeological context, we assume that a ceramic vessel will crack if hit by a pick, that a surface sliced by a trowel is distinguishable from one created originally through compaction, and so on, to higher levels of inference, as when we assume that a floor cut by a pit precedes it in time.
     We also assume a coherence of the documentation, which preserves a record of facts having taken place. Whether or not the fact has in fact occurred, the record itself is seen as a fact, which either exists or it does not.
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The interpretive frame

     On a parallel plane, we assume coherence in the interpretive framework. The entire scholarly effort rests on the profound coherence of its own tradition. We assume knowledge of prior points of view, and we expect an explicit acknowledgment of the chain of observations and opinions that have taken place over time.
     It is in this respect that the notion of the footnote
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Objectivity

Corollaries
Objectivity relates to calibration (of facts and presuppositions).
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Causality

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