Aside: A little about linguanophiles (2/4)
Monday 5 March 2012, 6.00pm HKT
(Updated 06 March 2012 for typos and formatting failure)
We present you with the second key reason for the rigidness in some academic fields such as linguistics, translation studies and pedagogy.
2. ‘To supplant rather than augment’
Adherence to orthodoxy (‘received wisdom’) primarily stems from a distinct tendency in those fields to treat a new theory coming board as to supplant rather than augment existing ones.
In contrast, the normal situation in other fields (such as mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics or law) is to do it the other way round (i.e. augment rather than supplant).
Here’s a quotation from someone (an academic AND a sociologist, no less) who understands the situation:—
“Much of our civic and social discussions are dominated by the voices of people who are absolutely certain. The speakers brook no thought that their claims are provisional, that future evidence or future reflection might overturn them. Those who accept more ambiguity are at a disadvantage. Once these uncertain folks grant that their opponents just could be — perhaps in certain cases, perhaps partially — right, they have lost the initiative to the certain-truth warriors.” — Claude Fischer, ‘Tolerating Ambiguity,’ Made in America (blog), 18 Oct 2011 | Link
(Boldfacings are my emphasis.)
In other words, the mindset of these folks is about replace vs. add to, which I reckon is no sunshiny way to develop harmonious relationships — which is why there are so many ‘debates’ (read: arguing, bickering) in those fields.
In short, if you’re certain enough, you get to replace the pre-existing rather than add to it.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. Updated 06 March 2012.
Image via Central Florida News 13.