There’s a whole in your reductionism
April 19, 2013 § 19 Comments
One reasonable criticism of the notions of a “sexual marketplace” and a “marriage marketplace” is that as reductive concepts they fail to capture the full reality they purport to describe.
But of course this is true of all reductionism. Reductive methods can be extremely useful as a way of finding or describing partial truths. Reductive descriptions of real things are never complete: it is literally impossible to capture a part of reality and bottle it up into formal expressions.
At the end of the day, the concept of an economic marketplace is every bit as problematic as the concept of a sexual or marriage marketplace. They are useful concepts, and they help us come to grips with true aspects of reality. But they are also inherently limited, and the modern tendency is to be blinded by reductionism.
I realize I’m not saying anything especially new or novel here – hey, welcome to blogging. These thoughts were prompted by reading this post over at Siris. Whether “hypergamy” is or is not a good term for a largely intuitive and not rigorously researched-and-documented notion of the operation of the sexual marketplace and (distinctly) the marriage marketplace is certainly a legitimate question. (Every time someone in the manosphere says “game theory” I think of John von Neumann and get mildly annoyed at the cooption of the term.)
But terminology aside, a lack of scientifically reductive rigor and comprehensive social science documentation isn’t enough to make me dismiss a whole set of ideas – especially ideas about as squirrelly a subject as sex – as moronic. In fact when it comes to matters of sex, I tend to find pretensions to scientific rigor rather suspicious.