Lumpy Logic

The use of an argument which recognises that systems—such as social systems—tend to settle down into reasonably well-defined characteristics. For example, a nation contains a wide variety of schools, farms, forms of local government, etc, ranging from the good to the bad; however, generalisations about them are quite likely to be true: e.g., “Nation A’s schools are generally better than Nation B’s” sounds like a ridiculous generalisation but may well not be. This is because all the schools in that particular society may be subject to the same system and develop in response to it.

The idea of “lumpiness” has been suggested in, for instance, the phenomenon of the size of animals in an ecology. The ecologists C.S. Holling, Lance Gunderson and Garry Petersen suggest that the phenomenon of groups of animals in an ecology being approximately the same size contributes to the system’s resilience: if one of the species in a size group suffers a setback of some kind, others can step in and fill the gap. This is “imbricated [overlapping] redundancy”. Many complex systems, such as languages, have—and depend on—this bounded diversity.L222


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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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