Division, The Fallacy of

The fallacy that what is true of the whole must also be true of the parts (or at least some of them): the Welsh are good at rugby; Dai must, therefore, be good at rugby. This is the inverse of the Fallacy of Composition.D54

The fallacy comes in arguments like these: “Since we cannot save all the pictures from the fire; there is no point in saving any of them; since we cannot provide the best education to everyone, we cannot justify providing the best education to anyone; since we cannot get rid of every tyrant, there we cannot justify getting rid of any of them.” (See “Drained” below)

The Marshes of Iraq before 1991

The natural beauty of the place was hypnotic. Black and white pied kingfishers dived for their prey all around us, clusters of storks arced high above, snow-white flotillas of stately pelicans fished the lagoons; there was always at least one eagle in the sky. The reeds we passed through trembled or crashed with hidden wildlife: otters, herons, coot, warblers, gaudy purple gallinule, pygmy cormorants, huge and dangerous wild pigs. And often, out of some apparently deserted reed-jungle, a full-throated human voice soared into the silence—a young Marsh Arab singing a love-song as he harvested the rushes. The canoe-boys might stop paddling to listen and they grunted appreciatively if the voice was good. They were moist-eyed and soulful only when they themselves were singing. I found the sound of those unselfconscious singers invariably moving. The young voice throbbed and choked with sadness, real or feigned. In that great solitude, where the men of Ur once poled their canoes and where “in the beginning”, according to Sumerian legend, Marduk, the great God, built a reed platform on the surface of the waters and thus created the world, the effect is one of unquenchable and universal yearning.

GAVIN YOUNG, Return to the Marshes, 1977.


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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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