Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A theoretical model of theoretical models, or why it all went wrong.

Initially someone postulates a theory to explain a phenomena.

We will call this theory  A

Because all theories are partial and incomplete, while theory A kinda sorta works, it doesn't always work and there are aspects of the phenomena it can't acount for. Given that readers make readings, anything written in A is open to interpretation anyway.

Along comes B and trashes A by focusing on what was left out.

C and D then leap to A's defence, but in doing so C accepts some of B's objections and produces A2 while D remains true to what is now A1.
(If this is political or religious people will now kill over the differences between A1 and A2.)

E leaps to B's defence, trashes C, D and A2, producing B+E=FU

F is thus redundant. But watching the proceedings closely.

G on the other hand, with aspirations to being a professional academic,  is studying for a PhD and tries to synthesize A1 and Fu.

Which leads to the possibility of AG+FU(-B2+A1)=? 

Where ? equals the promised synthesis, publication of which is announced but constantly deferred and discussed on the growing conference circuit. It is readily accepted that anyone capable of the synthesis will be Numero Uno. 

Along comes L, who points out that since A1 was wrong in the first place,  B,D.E and G were all wasting their time, and had they read some dead German dude correctly (Ie in the way L and his cronies approve, which is fiercely contested by everyone else in their field but they aren’t interested, as yet, in A (1 or 2)), they would not have made this elementary mistake.

E and D, formerly bitter opponents now join together to champion their dead German dude against L, during which A1 is totally forgotten and we all drink lemonade the end. 

F, who had stayed out of all this, contributing nothing to the debate, is currently making a lot of money writing the Idiot’s guide to A, and a summary of the debate, with cartoons…. No one actually reads A anymore.

This is the state of play until Q trashes F's book in the pages of the TLS or the New York times, and then the rest of the alphabet chimes in, with revisionist A1 making a comeback and the debate over exactly what the original theorist meant to say rages on.

Which sounds silly but it works as a model for the development of almost any theoretical model.

What always gets lost in this, regardless of whether we’re talking poetry, theology or politics, is whatever was originally being studied in the first place.

1 comment:

Marcus said...

Three Professors
Ludwig Fulda

Der erste hat ein Haar gespalten
Un einen Vortrag daruber gehalten.
Der zweit fügt es neu zusammen
Und muss die Ansicht des ersten verdammen.
Im Buche des dritten kann man lesen,
Es sei nicht das richtige Haar gewesen.

The first professor split a hair
And lectured as it withered there.
The second fixed the hair and cursed
The senseless theories of the first.
The third one’s book proved, I recall,
They had the wrong hair after all.