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Scientists bow down to the 'concretism' of a mode of understanding… - Transience Divine
August 26th, 2012
05:27 pm


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Scientists bow down to the 'concretism' of a mode of understanding
that finds the works of a clock more interesting than the time the
clock measures. They have all become mechanics, as it were. In their
theories, they invest all their love in those things that they can
deal with free of doubt. They think they can find security in things
that seem absolute to them and that protect them from all
contradiction. They are infatuated with neat means, methods, and
techniques and pathologically underestimate, or forget, what they
think themselves no longer capable of and what all of us at one time
or another have hoped to achieve in the way of insight.

Max Horkheimer, qtd. in Dietrich Dörner, The Logic of Failure.

Principle the Overly Refined

Rather on your toes, up high,
Than crawling on all fours!
Rather through a keyhole spy
Than through open doors!

Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science

(3 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:August 27th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC)
Thanks, I needed that.

ETA: I'm not sure scientists per se have to be like that, though the problem is rife with them. It's the scientism fetishists who have caught that the worst.

Edited at 2012-08-27 12:59 am (UTC)
[User Picture]
Date:August 27th, 2012 03:23 am (UTC)
I'm glad it's useful. I see this a lot in my colleagues, and I think it's motivated by the fear of wasting time, with all the defensiveness that fear brings.

Interestingly, the Max Horkheimer quote was part of a discussion cautioning against "flow". It was observed that people accustomed to flow tend to seek out minor challenges and frequent rewards even when that's inappropriate to the problem (examples of scientists who become coders and people who focus on problems at far too narrow a scale).
[User Picture]
Date:August 28th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC)
Huh. Pirsig's Sacred Stuckness.
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