Etherialization

July 26 2012

The evocation of an inspiringly spiritual meaning out of a crassly material one [last eighteen posts] is an example of a process which, in an earlier context, [footnote: In III. iii. 174-92.] we have learnt to know as “etherialization” and to recognize as a symptom of growth.

A Study of History, Vol VII, OUP, 1954

2 Responses to “Etherialization”

  1. dino Says:

    Hi David. Sorry – I’ve been right out of the loop and I see you’ve been busy!

    Just wanted to add – more than one of Toynbee’s detractors insisted that his “laws” (or paradigms) were too generalised to be of any use. Another criticism that passes way wide of the mark. It’s the nature of paradigms to be catch-all and to fill-in the gaps in knowledge, rather than to actually “be” knowledge in themselves. They are likely to be replaced by new ones at any time (“paradigm shift”), as new facts (i.e. real knowledge) become available. Thus the Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm of the “mechanical” or “clockwork” universe was superseded by the Einsteinian relativistic one, and without, one might add, any detrimental effect on Newton’s reputation.

    It’s generally non-scientists that fail to understand this. Darwinian natural selection is another example (probably the most common one) for those who fail to make this distinction.

    Toynbee was well aware of this and pointed out that those who believe their thought processes to be free from induction are simply deluding themselves. Much better to come clean and recognise one’s own prejudices before one begins as the only way one has any chance at all of looking beyond them.

    • davidderrick Says:

      I entirely agree. His systems were provisional, and just an aid to seeing things whole. And his autobiographical asides are not egotistical, but a matter of laying cards on the table.


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