January 27, 2011

Categorically Wrong

Faced with confusion, our first instinct is to sort. With labels (‘ex-Communist’), pigeon-holes (‘East European’), categories (‘new Europe’) and paradigms (‘transition economies’) we make the messy real world into something manageable and comprehensible. But just as neatness does not mean efficiency, clarity is not the same as truth. And (unlike shoes) just because a category is well-worn does not mean that it fits.

Faced with confusion, our first instinct is to sort. With labels (‘ex-Communist’), pigeon-holes (‘East European’), categories (‘new Europe’) and paradigms (‘transition economies’) we make the messy real world into something manageable and comprehensible. But just as neatness does not mean efficiency, clarity is not the same as truth. And (unlike shoes) just because a category is well-worn does not mean that it fits.


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