Semantics rise again: discipline (v) vs. discipline (n)

Found this in my early stages of setting up this blog, way back (a week or so ago) when it was on posterous instead of wordpress.  It was introduced to me via @alicebell via @InSIS the latter of whom subsequently became my first follower!  But I decided to repost the link here, where I can add a slightly offensive picture and write a little bit more about my feelings.

This article, The Complacent Disciplinarian by Ian Hacking, first caught my attention because I am one of many young scientists currently struggling with the idea of being interdisciplinary.  It’s not so much that I can’t decide whether I am interdisciplinary or not, but more that I can’t decide whether it’s significant to even bring it up any more, as it seems that good science, in a general sense, has got to be interdisciplinary anyway.

Ultimately, however, the reason I’m posting this link  is the joy of wordplay.    I’m not really much for arguing, mainly because most of the arguments I’ve witnessed, no matter what the subject, usually deteriorate into arguments over the meaning of words.  “You said this, but what you really meant was this” kind of thing.   Hacking, through study of his own life and the singular word discipline confirms a  personal belief of mine that categorizing and labeling things is most useful after the fact, and that in the present it is best to just do whatever the hell you want.

How strange that word is, ‘discipline’. An old word, or words, as old as European vernaculars, and traipsing behind them not so much Roman Latin as the learning of Mediaeval times. In both French and English, there is both verb and noun. The noun that makes for interdisciplinarity implies fields of study defined by content and institution. But the verb implies chastising and punishment.

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