[Humanist] 27.394 what to call it

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Thu Oct 3 07:51:37 CEST 2013


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 394.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Susan Ford <susan.ford at anu.edu.au>                         (7)
        Subject: RE:  27.393 what to call it?

  [2]   From:    Franz Fischer <franz.fischer at uni-koeln.de>                (79)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.393 what to call it?

  [3]   From:    Jean-François Vallée <jfvallee at cmaisonneuve.qc.ca>      (62)
        Subject: RE :  27.393 what to call it?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2013 09:07:07 +0000
        From: Susan Ford <susan.ford at anu.edu.au>
        Subject: RE:  27.393 what to call it?
        In-Reply-To: <20131002064002.21D053A15 at digitalhumanities.org>


Interesting about 1936 - I was only aware of two (Turing's and Church's) of which I have only read
the former.  Does network theory mean I don't have to read the others because they are all the same?

Susan
PhD candidate, Classics, Australian National University


--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2013 12:04:17 +0200
        From: Franz Fischer <franz.fischer at uni-koeln.de>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 27.393 what to call it?
        In-Reply-To: <20131002064002.21D053A15 at digitalhumanities.org>


Zeitgeist?

Quoting Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>:

>
>                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 27, No. 393.
>             Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
>                        www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
>                 Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org
>
>
>
>         Date: Wed, 02 Oct 2013 07:26:03 +0100
>         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
>         Subject: what to call it?
>
> I am hoping for a definite answer to this question, but discussion is
> also very welcome. Let me explain (for entertainment value, if nothing
> else) how the question arose this morning.
>
> It arose from reading around, in this case, Richard J. McNally's "Fear,
> anxiety, and their disorders", in Fear across the Disciplines, ed. Jan
> Plamper and Benjamin Lazier (2012). After his survey of approaches to
> the disorders he considers one by one, McNally concludes thus:
>
>> One of the most persistent problems in psychiatric nosology...
>> concerns comorbidity [i.e. suffering from several mental disorders
>> simultaneously]. For the sake of expositional clarity, I discussed
>> each discrete syndrome as a self-contained categorical entity.... Yet
>> most people suffering from one anxiety disorder qualify for others as
>> well. Such rampant comorbidity has raised questions about whether a
>> person who meets criteria for social anxiety disorder and GAD
>> [Generalized Anxiety Disorder], for example, "really" has two
>> distinct disorders or whether he or she suffers from some more
>> fundamental entity, such as heightened negative affectivity, that
>> manifests itself in diverse ways.... (p. 34)
>
> McNally then goes on to say that recently some scientists in the
> University of Amsterdam have "cut the Gordian knot by reconceptualizing
> disorders as networks of functionally interrelated symptoms rather
> than inferred latent entities".
>
> My immediate reaction to this was, yes, of course, but then I quickly
> began to wonder, why am I embracing the network solution so eagerly? In
> other words, why in an age of networking has a "network perspective"
> come about and has such appeal? Ok, the easy response is, we're now all
> thinking like that. But why? The usual deterministic narrative would
> tell us, it's be-cause we now have all these networks to interconnect
> us, and be-cause with all these resources online we spend our time
> networking their contents rather than pondering any particular source
> deeply. But other examples of many similar things happening at the same
> time (such as those 4 papers on effective calculability all done in
> 1936, including Turing's, and in the same year as Charlie Chaplin's
> Modern Times) suggest that another metaphor might serve us better, such
> as, say, confluence or infection (as in ideas "going viral"). I confess:
> I keep wanting to ask, why are these rivulets flowing together, why do
> particular people succumb to the virus and not others?
>
> So my question: who has written best about this sort of thing, and what
> has he or she called it?
>
> 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


-- 
Dr. Franz Fischer
Cologne Center for eHumanities / Thomas-Institut
Universität zu Köln, Universitätsstr. 22, D-50923 Kön
Telefon: +49 - (0)221 - 470 - 6883/1750
Email: franz.fischer at uni-koeln.de

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http://confessio.ie



--[3]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2013 16:01:27 -0400
        From: Jean-François Vallée <jfvallee at cmaisonneuve.qc.ca>
        Subject: RE :  27.393 what to call it?
        In-Reply-To: <20131002064002.21D053A15 at digitalhumanities.org>

Dear Willard,

Of course, one could consider this apparent conceptual commonality in terms of kuhnian paradigms, perhaps even with the more traditional humboldtian view of a dominant network "Weltanschauung" but, if I understand well your question, you are more interested in the "process" leading to such synchronicity of views in a certain era. Describing it in terms of the "viral" lingo of today's networks could seem somewhat tautological for this purpose.

If one wishes to avoid traditional deterministic (cause/effect) perspectives, a possibility would be the recourse to the artistotelian notion of "formal causality", whereby "a thing's dynamic form or static shape" could be said to determine the thing's "properties and function" (Wikipedia). Marshall McLuhan, often accused of being a technological determinist, made much use of this non-linear notion (that he got through Aquinas) to explain the formal/structural similarities between electric/electronic technology and various social, political and cultural phenomenons of the "electronic era". Perhaps the same could be said of our "network epoch"?

Hope this helps.

Jean-François Vallée


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