[Humanist] 27.265 enumeration and modelling

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Aug 6 22:08:52 CEST 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 265.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org



        Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2013 18:19:46 -0500
        From: Paul Fishwick <metaphorz at gmail.com>
        Subject: Re:  27.264 enumeration and modelling
        In-Reply-To: <20130805210917.65D682F93 at digitalhumanities.org>


Willard
  You have pushed my favorite button "modeling" which I  imagine is
also the favorite of many others as well. Some comments on your
second paragraph:

> My interest here, which I recommend to your attention, is the craze for 
> classificatory enumeration.

Fermi noted "If I could remember all of these particles, I'd be a botanist."

However, in fairness to botany, and more generally biology, the past 40
years or so have seen ever-increasing use of models (e.g., systems
biology). And so, I would think the classification you mention is gradually
replaced by a deeper understanding, with classifications still serving
their purpose higher up the abstraction level of inquiry.

> 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.

What sorts of modeling comes to mind in your questions? I have many
in my thoughts, but they may not be a match.

> 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.

The interpretation of what? 

-p

On Aug 5, 2013, at 4:09 PM, Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk> wrote:

> 
>                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 264.
>            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                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>
>        Subject: enumeration
> 
> 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.
> 
> Comments?
> 
> Yours,
> WM
> -- 
> 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


Paul Fishwick, PhD
Chair, ACM SIGSIM
Distinguished Chair of Arts & Technology and Professor of Computer Science
The University of Texas at Dallas
Arts & Technology
800 West Campbell Road, AT10
Richardson, TX 75080-3021





More information about the Humanist mailing list