detect patterns that would be otherwise invisible

Just over twenty pages into Graeber and Wengrove, confident from the outset that I was in safe hands, and I hit this:

“Now, we should be clear here: social theory always, necessarily, involves a bit of simplification. For instance, almost any human action might be said to have a political aspect, an economic aspect, a psychosexual aspect and so forth. Social theory is largely a game of make-believe in which we pretend, just for the sake of argument, that there’s just one thing going on: essentially, we reduce everything to a cartoon so as to be able to detect patterns that would be otherwise invisible. As a result, all real progress in social science has been rooted in the courage to say things that are, in the final analysis, slightly ridiculous: the work of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud or Claude Lévi-Strauss being only particularly salient cases in point. One must simplify the world to discover something new about it. The problem comes when, long after the discovery has been made, people continue to simplify.”

The Dawn of Everything, p21

Well, quite. This is gonna be a fun ride, I think.



Want to read more VCTB, but don’t use an RSS reader? No worries—you can follow along by email instead. Sign up here:

Join 93 other subscribers.

Comments and pingbacks

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.