17.559 the strict and the loose

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jan 22 2004 - 04:23:00 EST

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 17, No. 559.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist@princeton.edu

         Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2004 08:55:28 +0000
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: the strict and the loose

Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Chicago, 1972): 75, makes the
following observation:

“…whenever we pride ourselves upon finding a newer, stricter way of thought
or exposition; whenever we start insisting too hard upon ‘operationalism’
or symbolic logic or any other of these very essential systems of
tramlines, we lose something of the ability to think new thoughts. And
equally, of course, whenever we rebel against the sterile rigidity of
formal thought and exposition and let our ideas run wild, we likewise lose.
As I see it, the advances in scientific thought come from a combination of
loose and strict thinking, and this combination is the most precious tool
of science.”

I'm inclined to think that this is exactly what computers do for us
loose-thinking types: give us a strictness with which to reveal what lies
between (or beyond) the strict and the loose.



Dr Willard McCarty | Senior Lecturer | Centre for Computing in the
Humanities | King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS || +44 (0)20
7848-2784 fax: -2980 || willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk

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