Intellectual Self Defence

Brains are delicate things…


There is a tendency among science-following ‘lefties’ to slap words like ’emergent’ or ‘networking’ or ‘non-linear’ around in the way that hippies used to use ‘natural’ and ‘organic’, as if they were morally significant. But they ain’t!

He also occasionally implies that the East is all about non-linearity, decentring and anti-hierarchism, which would come as a mighty surprise to the Iranian mullahs or Hindu nationalists. Linearity is always to be reproved, a case which would spell the death of any effective politics. The emancipation of India involved a fair bit of linear thought and action. Conversely, the non-linearity one sees in some post-colonial societies today, where in a devastating time-warp the pre-modern finds itself elbow to elbow with the Postmodern, is not on the whole a condition to be commended. The voguish belief that the non-linear is ipso facto progressive, whereas the linear is inherently dominative, is theoretical cant.
Terry Eagleton Anti-Humanism London Review of Books 5 February 2004

Terms assume our norms. e.g. ‘non-linear’ suggests that linear is the norm; the same for ‘disequilibrium’ and ‘aperiodic.’ How often is this an order and pattern imposed by human minds, with their all-too-human needs? This point from Alan Beyerchen, cited by Ron Eglash in an account of a 1998 MIT conference on ‘Embracing Complexity.

2 comments on “Non-linearity

  1. Pingback: Internet Productivity, Bohr shifts and self-regulation «

  2. Pingback: Not very clever thoughts on Systems Theory « Horizons of Significance

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