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.

One Response to “Aside: A little about linguanophiles (2/4)”

  1. This sort of mindset is what is primarily responsible for most lack of progress in humans generally. The black and white ideas about right and wrong that very rarely have any real correlation with the world as it is. Most of life is a grey area without any set of orthodox rules that govern every individual situation and yet everywhere the rigidity of this sort of thinking governs people’s attitudes and actions.


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