By Stephen H. Kellert
This can be a fascinating booklet, yet either its pursuits and its accomplishments are of a miles narrower scope then being "a e-book approximately everything," as one other reviewer placed it. commonly, it is a booklet approximately interdisciplinary metaphors, and the philosophical foundations of a case for such metaphors' being precious. although, i am not definite if the metaphor in its name is totally successful.
The book's jumping-off element is the late-20th Century fad for "chaos theory." even supposing this present day such a lot physicists do not realize it as a different "theory," economists, legal professionals and literature students, between others, have been all to chuffed to suck it into their very own educational papers. a few lecturers, specifically a few actual scientists, assault this type of poaching as illegitimate. Stephen Kellert (SK), who's, as he frequently reminds the reader, a "disciplinary pluralist," units out during this publication to discover the standards that would valid such borrowings, and to think about standards for judging while a few borrowings are extra justifed or winning than others.
SK methods those initiatives with the endurance, and from time to time the fussiness, of a tutorial thinker. even supposing a few fields -- e.g. rhetoric and linguistics (and esp. the lifestyle of the latter that calls itself "critical discourse analysis") -- set themselves projects just like SK's, he often manages to be either broader and extra even-tempered. for instance, he has a few fascinating issues to claim approximately how proof and values are assorted yet no longer regularly totally detailed; yet, as a pluralist, he can tolerate this ambiguity with no feeling pushed to simply accept relativism. And SK refuses to go into into a few fights, comparable to over the legitimacy of neoclassical economics; he explains that the book's undertaking "primarily makes a speciality of the ways in which borrowed wisdom is used in the fields of economics, legislations and literature as they're at present configured within the academy" (@91).
The proverbial basic reader might locate this deference to the educational establishment to be a trouble of the booklet. in addition, a few components of the e-book appear to be spent on settling concerns that in simple terms lecturers may well locate challenging. E.g., SK spends a few pages asking and answering "Why criticize metaphors?" (@122-124). to discover any such query invaluable, you would most likely need to be an identical abnormal kind of one who doubts that your puppy puppy or cat has psychological states. I frequently agreed with SK's conclusions approximately particular instances, e.g. approximately economists' use of value-laden phrases like "efficiency" as though they have been by some means "value-free," or approximately how a few purported references to chaos have been really concerning, say, quantum mechanics. yet those conclusions appeared for the main half relatively noticeable to any reader with a few sensitivity to metaphor, and who took an intro collage physics path or reads plenty of renowned physics books.
SK by no means presents a transparent definition of "borrowed knowledge,", notwithstanding he comes shut while he describes how a few economists "look over at physicists doing their first-order paintings [i.e., asking questions like, how do atoms work?], borrow a few of their ideas or instruments, after which use them to seem again at their very own items of analysis in a brand new manner. this can be simply the phenomenon of borrowed wisdom" (@27). we are not ever given a transparent definition of "knowledge" both, notwithstanding SK reifies wisdom seriously. not just can wisdom be "borrowed," however it can "produced" (mentions of "knowledge creation" abound, e.g. 20, 30, 43-44, etc.), it "resides in a disciplinary place" (rather than in, say, peoples' heads) and will be "transported ... and (hopefully) again" (@13).
Some of SK's examples struck me as aptly defined via "borrowed knowledge." E.g. he mentions an economics paper that mentioned how chaotic actual phenomena pressured physicists to exploit a greater variety of mathematical types than that they had formerly; the authors concluded that economists should ponder that, by way of analogy, their very own uncomplicated linear equations may not be enough to explain financial phenomena (which isn't the same as announcing that financial phenomena stick to the hot actual models). a fair clearer instance should be a paper that really demonstrates deterministic chaos within the dynamical habit of a few financial phenomenon -- although that will higher be termed an "integration" than a "borrowing".
But what approximately whilst a person name-drops "glamorous jargon" (@108) to make their very own paintings, although beside the point, look extra very important, glossy, important of investment, and so forth. Is it rather *knowledge* that is being borrowed the following? or is it anything extra like status or an air of trendiness? SK notes that "knowledge creation is often at the very least partly an issue of persuasion (@60);" yet this does not imply that persuasion (esp. of the name-dropping sort) inevitably includes wisdom production.
In addition to such persuasive makes use of of borrowed wisdom, SK is not any much less attracted to "inventive" makes use of, which leisure on metaphors. Metaphors can play a "role in producing hypotheses from present conceptualizations and remodeling these conceptualizations" (@111), e.g. via "defamiliarizing stagnant assumptions" (@114). they could "induce constitution" in a objective box [sc. of data] that lacks constitution, or can "reorder half [of a hugely based field], briefly or completely" (@111). yet right here back calling anything a borrowing of "knowledge" turns out to rely on what you are doing (examples are my own):
A. "The Mississippi River used to be a wierd attractor for Huck Finn." i have used a buzzword, or maybe even an idea from chaos idea. yet did I borrow wisdom? Are thoughts enough to represent wisdom? for instance, is "blue" wisdom?
B. "Money is like power, it might neither be created nor destroyed." the following i am doing greater than borrowing an idea, i am additionally saying whatever to be precise approximately money's relation to different issues (the universe, e.g.), in response to my wisdom approximately power within the actual global. to date so sturdy, however the assertion is fake as to funds, because the US Treasury can print extra of it. may still one say that wisdom has been borrowed unsuccessfully, or simply that it is a awful metaphor (or simile, for rhetorical purists)? Does the reply switch if the context exhibits that my goal was once persuasive instead of artistic (e.g., that i used to be simply attempting to bamboozle my viewers, who may comprehend subsequent to not anything approximately physics or money)? Now what if the assertion seems to be fake approximately physics, too -- was once there ever any "knowledge" to be borrowed?
My experience from the publication is that SK might say *all* of those circumstances count number as "borrowed knowledge". (SK does say that "getting the technological know-how improper dooms an tried metaphorical borrowing" occasionally, notwithstanding no longer regularly, @129-130.) if this is the case, then i feel the word will be too wide to be important. Why not only use "borrowed suggestion" or "interdisciplinary analogy" for a few of these situations, rather than lumping all of them lower than the "borrowed wisdom" label? SK may justify this on grounds of being a "pluralist," yet for the final reader "knowledge" is what SK calls a "thick" time period, wearing loads of evaluative connotations (like: dude, it really is fairly true).
Parts of this booklet may be interesting if you've got studied a few physics, and fascinating if you are concerned with interdisciplinary reviews, or for those who do not usually learn a lot approximately metaphors and discourse research. however the ambiguity of its definition of data and the obviousness of a few of its case reports eventually made me suspect that the ebook is salted with a pinch of "glamorous jargon," itself.
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Extra resources for Borrowed Knowledge: Chaos Theory and the Challenge of Learning across Disciplines
The applicability of this framework demonstrates that we can, in fact, subject metaphorical borrowing to critical scrutiny. One final conception I resist is the rigid dichotomy between facts and values that insists science can have nothing to say about ethical, political, or aesthetic questions. Such a view would make all attempts to use chaos theory to address such questions simply fallacious and unworthy of further analysis. Chapters 7 and 8 explore whether knowledge borrowed from the natural sciences helps us answer questions about the aesthetic worth of a work of literature or the rightness of an economic regulation.
But a number of mismatches detract from the usefulness of the language metaphor for conceiving of interdisciplinarity. For instance, it is not clear that there are many situations outside of linguistics in which one needs to know a number of different languages in order to solve a problem or express an idea. Different metaphorical images highlight different features of interdisciplinarity, and I advocate metaphorical pluralism as well. So, despite its limitations, we should not dismiss the metaphor of disciplines as languages too quickly.
Chemist Henry Bauer uses this metaphor to point out that just as languages have different grammars and not merely different vocabularies, disciplines not only deal with different facts but have different ways of doing things (1990, 112). So this image, unlike that of disciplines as nations or tiles, draws attention to disciplines as modes of human activity, especially if we view a language as a tool and not merely a collection of vocabulary and grammar. Bauer suggests that some languages are good DISCIPLINARY PLURALISM 39 for some purposes and not others and uses this point to argue for the need for multidisciplinary approaches in science studies (113).