[Humanist] 27.264 enumeration and modelling
Humanist Discussion Group
willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Mon Aug 5 23:09:17 CEST 2013
Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 264.
Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
Date: Tue, 06 Aug 2013 07:02:42 +1000
From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
The philosopher Ian Hacking, continuing the work on psychodynamics
published most prominently in Rewriting the Soul, has written an
illuminating review of the 5th edition of DSM-5: Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (American Psychiatric
Association), in the London Review of Books 35.18 for 8 August 2013.
See under http://www.lrb.co.uk/ (the review is freely available). His
primary criticism of DSM-5 is that "it is founded on a wrong
appreciation of the nature of things", based on "the long-standing idea
that, in our present state of knowledge, the recognised varieties of
mental illness should neatly sort themselves into tidy blocks, in the
way that plants and animals do". He details what happens when a rigid
scheme is imposed on a reality that does not fit it, not with the
objective of trying out that scheme to learn more about the reality (as
we do in computational modelling) but in order to serve a huge and
expensive bureaucratic enterprise. The grass-roots human consequences of
imposing a scheme that must be used in the funding of mental health-care
in the U.S. are horrendous.
My interest here, which I recommend to your attention, is the craze for
classificatory enumeration. Isn't it interesting that this should occur
alongside -- I am *not* saying caused by -- the interpenetration of
computing into all aspects of modern life? To me this suggests that one
of the most important of our jobs as digital humanists is to make as
clear as possible what modelling does, what it is for. Not answers but
questions. Not toward the perfect fit but toward the telling misfit.
What an amazingly difficult problem the psychiatrists have, dealing with
a world in which the thing to be classified changes dynamically with the
classificatory scheme. I think we have that problem at root in the
dynamics of interpretation, but one step at a time.
Willard McCarty (www.mccarty.org.uk/), Professor, Department of Digital
Humanities, King's College London, and Research Group in Digital
Humanities, University of Western Sydney
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