In Defence of Generalization

“The theory of evolution for example is complex, but we can understand the complex mechanism of this natural phenomenon with the simple exegesis of genetic mutation or natural selection. But to those who always want to come across as nuance or subtle- or people who think the trees and the cars around them do not have an objective existence… the contradictions, complexities in nature can’t be generalised or simplified…”

There are some words we need to abolish before next year. Words like '’nuance’’, '’subtlety’’, or '’narrative’' or '’normalize’’. The moment someone starts to talk about nuance or subtlety or narratives, chances are the person has no idea of what he’s talking about. What’s more fascinating about thinkers like this is, not only do they shroud their claims that nothing can be known in the material world with the cloak of scepticism- they also think it’s impossible to explain complex phenomena in human society or the natural world in a simple way. They reject generalization while making generalizations; they denounce simplification with the simplification that complexities in the material world can only have a '’sophisticated’' or '’difficult’' explanation. It’s true that human society and phenomena in it are complex, but that doesn’t imply that there can’t be a simple, terse or concise explanation that simplifies them.

The theory of evolution for example is complex, but we can understand the complex mechanism of this natural phenomenon with the simple exegesis of genetic mutation or natural selection. But to those who always want to come across as nuance or subtle- or people who think the trees and the cars around them do not have an objective existence independent of an observer( though they look left and right when they want to cross the road), the contradictions, complexities in nature can’t be generalized or simplified. They are great linguists and obscurantists, but beyond forms their metaphysical conceptions of the world are bereft of meaning. There’s no way you can make sense of the world without generalizations, you can’t even think without generalizations. How do you know your table is a table? Or the PC i’m typing with is a PC? The same way Marx and Engels observed patterns, trends in human society- as complex and contradictory as they are, then came up with a general law or logic that simplifies the movement of historical progression by concluding that '’The history of all existing hitherto society, is a history of class struggle’’.

Those who are averse to simplification, or generalization of complex phenomena end up arriving at conclusions that border around profound ridiculousness like '’The end of history’' or even contrive sets of generalizations in a criminal display of lack of self-awareness like '’There has always been classes in human society’’. To be nuanced or elicit subtlety now is to be outlandish and intellectually suicidal such that given a metaphorical rope that represents logical premises, one ends up hanging himself with it in a successive loop of contradictions and fallacies. I guess the title of this polemic should be something about the rejection of nuance or subtlety or primacy of language over meaning, that’s common among those who suffer from the postmodern syndrome.

Writer. Modernist poet. Marxist theorist. Literary theorist and critic. Armchair philosopher.

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Comr Olutosin Adetola

Comr Olutosin Adetola

Writer. Modernist poet. Marxist theorist. Literary theorist and critic. Armchair philosopher.

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