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Sep 26, 2023Liked by Ben Recht

Re "Inductive bias just means I don't understand."

> A common form of empty explanation is the appeal to what I have called "dormitive principles,” borrowing the word dormitive from Molière. There is a coda in dog Latin to Molière's Le Malade Imaginaire, and in this coda, we see on the stage a medieval oral doctoral examination. The examiners ask the candidate why opium puts people to sleep. The candidate triumphantly answers, “Because, learned doctors, it contains a dormitive principle.

> A better answer to the doctors’ question would involve, not the opium alone, but a relationship between the opium and the people. In other words, the dormitive explanation actually falsifies the true facts of the case but what is, I believe, important is that dormitive explanations still permit abduction. Having enunciated a generality that opium contains a dormitive principle, it is then possible to use this type of phrasing for a very large number of other phenomena. We can say, for example, that adrenaline contains an enlivening principle and reserpine a tranquilizing principle. This will give us, albeit inaccurately and epistemologically unacceptably, handles with which to grab at a very large number of phenomena that appear to be formally comparable. And, indeed, they are formally comparable to this extent, that invoking a principle inside one component is in fact the error that is made in every one of these cases.

- Gregory Bateson, 2002. Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity. Hampton Press, Cresskill NJ. p 80.

Source: https://shrinkrants.tumblr.com/post/56805313413/gregory-batesons-notion-of-the-dormative-principle

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