Hilary Lawson – Openness and Closure

Hilary Lawson – Openness and Closure – Interesting debate on BBC Radio 4 Start The Week (29 Dec 2003) with Andrew Marr. Not come across Hilary Lawson before, but previously published work was on “closure” – about the stories we create to describe the patterns we see in the world as closure on the potential mystery, uncertainty and complexity behind them. Our working models of truth. Latest work is on Openness is looking at the extent to which 99% of the world out there remains “open” obscured by the 1% we have taken to be closed – eg by science or accepted knowledge. Also the idea of different stories / patterns for different purposes. Interesting discussion – no real debate – but involving geneticist (Matt Ridley), historical biographer (Linda Colley) and anthropologist / linguist (Hugh Brody) – all the ingredients for a philosophy of truth and knowledge.

Couldn’t fail to recall DNA’s (Douglas Adams’) white mice in the discussion about experiments on small rodents and discoveries about how little difference there is genetically between humans and the rest, and that many others are more complex than humans.

Also liked the “Forest Clearing” analogy for knowledge – the larger the clearing the more trees you can actually see (the more questions there are to be asked) – worth avoiding a deforestation view of knowledge methinks.

Interesting side-issue (in South African land claims) about how far back in history counts as aboriginal in the reality of the past decade. In this case 1913 – is this another 80 year cycle of 3 generations like Kondratiev ?

(Interesting follow-on into the book of the week, Byron Rogers biography of J L Carr – The Last Englishman)

Must add Start The Week (Andrew Marr) and In Our Time (Melvyn Bragg) to my fixed links. The last In Our Time was on the subject of Lamarck and how much of his basic thinking remains true post neo-Darwinianism.

3 thoughts on “Hilary Lawson – Openness and Closure”

  1. Sorry Brandon, it looks like BBC’s Start The Week only keeps archives on-line for a dozen programmes or so, so I guess we’d have to write to the programme and ask for an older archive. (I must download the pod-casts for more recent programmes of interest – even the BBC suffers from link-rot.)

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