Wednesday, May 5, 2010

It Depends

"To generalize is to be an idiot; to particularize is alone distinction of merit."

William Blake

A New York Times article reminds us of the distinction between complicated and complex, and our tendency to mistake the latter for the former. Complicated is a list of 10,000 instructions that must be followed to the letter; complex is a system so intricate that one can only hope to guide and shape its overall outline, not master or control its every detail.

David Barash shows how science neglects individuality in favor of generalizations.

Consciousness and its myriad maladies are instances of complex particularity. Psychiatry is therefore hubristic and diagnosis is stupid, but human beings have a need for these things.


LP said...

That last sentence is wonderfully ambivalent. So, we humans need the "things" of psychiatry and diagnosis, while also needing hubris and stupidity! Well said!

Novalis said...

Stupidity and hubris are totally necessary. Inasmuch as one is *diagnosed*, whether by others or by oneself, one is placed as an object with various (dis)similarities with other objects, obeying the same laws. We categorize in order to control; we must objectify and control ourselves above all.

However, inasmuch as one achieves a self one is sui generis, a category with one member.