[Humanist] 26.43 the taxonomy

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri May 25 22:47:15 CEST 2012

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 43.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Fri, 25 May 2012 12:30:46 +0200
        From: Hartmut Krech <kr538 at uni-bremen.de>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 26.41 disciplinary paranoia; the taxonomy
        In-Reply-To: <20120524203856.5823A282421 at woodward.joyent.us>

> Am 24/05/2012 22:38, schrieb Wendell Piez
>  <wapiez at mulberrytech.com>:

"By "computing", do we mean only what happens in and by the computer as
such? [...] Organization, specification, automation, system: this is only
industrial civilization, which we thought was going to be our servant --
back when the industrialist's fondest hope was that his child should become
a Professor of Literature, and not the other way around -- but which
becomes, increasingly, our governor as well as our dependent."

Master and slave, Herr und Knecht -- thinking in models is only the first,
the heuristic stage within any science. Expanding that stage into a full
blown "metaphorical science", that has become so fashionable again within
recent decades, is just a fall back into "romantic science", when, to quote
an example, a soon to become famous German philosopher cured his sister to
death by treating her dysentery with an excess of a purgative because the
"appearance" seemed to correlate. Romantic science has always been good for
dinner talks and Sunday speeches: Man bites dog, not the other way round. We
should know that blinding effect by now. Our astonishment is only a
reflection of our ignorance, artificially induced or not. Is that what we
need in a time of globalization (Leslie White's "sphericity") that might
become a period of humanization instead of quantification?

What is the use of a "media" archaeology of card record systems that ignores
the Egyptian and Babylonian list-sciences, the Linnean taxonomy, Lavoisier's
nomenclature, Mendeleev's and Meyer's periodic table or the quippu strings
and wampum belts, to name just a few, as if they did not exist, while not
even discussing the meaning of "media" in that respect? Why "Anerkennung"
(Axel Honneth), when we admit having left out too many things from our
discourse? And yes, "a German shepherd dog is the only secure door lock
there is," if only necessary in a certain "community" of scholars
distributing "Anerkennung" according to rules of power. Paranoia or
experience of life in a certain society with a certain tradition at a
certain point of time?

I wish to quote your final remarks, as I fully agree with your view: "But I
don't have to worry about this either, or the similar resources (aimed at
all levels) for the learning of Sanskrit or Classical Chinese poetry or
musical composition, which we will be seeing in all kinds of media,
electronic and otherwise. It is all inevitable."

Best regards, 

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