Classifying items into categories has been a key component of society for years. Objects or subjects that have been classified generally allow easier communication and can get a complex point across in a much simpler matter. Classification, however, is a double-edged sword. The different opinions that every person is entitled to means that some classifications will be disagreed with. How could you change the the way something is classified if you disagreed with it? The truth is you most likely cannot.
Sadly, small groups of powerful people choose how the world we live in is classified. The negatives of categorization seems to be a heavy price to pay for the few benefits we receive. Classification not only causes many problems, such as the formation of stereotypes and conflict to due differing opinions on the classification of something, but it can also breed and encourage ignorance. Art is a great example for why classification can and will cause conflicts between groups with differing opinions.
For example, Andy in Bull’s “The Audio Visual iPod” says “I find that my iPod ‘colors’ my surroundings quite significantly; as it’s on shuffle I don’t know what’s coming next, and it often surprises me how the same street can look lively and busy and colorful one moment and then – when a different song starts – it can change to a mysterious and unnerving place. ” Music has the amazing effect of being able to alter the mood and state of mind you are in just through sound. You listen to the music you do because you enjoy it and you get good feedback from it.
So you would almost definitely classify any music you liked or that made you feel good into categories you would like. What about the songs you don’t like, that are unpleasant to listen to, that give you a negative reaction, or put you in a bad state of mind? Is that still considered music to you? What about the people who like the songs you hate? Is that not music to them? The problem is that we experience music and art at a personal level. Art is about what it means to us and how it makes us feel. In Bull’s article, a man explains that “My world looks better.
I get more emotional about things, including the people I see and my thoughts in general. ” A single piece of music can draw out such a spectacular range of emotions from humans. So who is to say what is and is not music? You cannot define or categorize artistic vision and interpretation. Not even the artist, the one who creates the art piece, can tell you exactly what to feel. Art should be judged on personal reactions and response rather than an universal classification. When identifying and classifying things, it is not all that uncommon for one to make an assumption or generalization.
These will almost always come back to bite you in the behind. Carl Linnaeus is remembered as a Swedish scientist who invented the modern naming system of organisms. This type of categorization is a great benefit to our society. The binomial nomenclature is a system of classification that helps us map out and organize organisms. Linnaeus was unfortunately from an earlier time, and thought it was also ok to classify humans based on their different races, actions and looks. In reading his descriptions the racism if very evidently clear.
He calls Europeans “white, gentle, acute, inventive; covered with close vestments; and regulated by customs”, and labels Africans as “black, females without shame; mammary glands give milk abundantly; crafty, sly, careless; anoints himself with grease; and regulated by will”. In modern times we see this and can instantly discard it as racist, but when Linnaeus was a player he was on the top of the scientific community. This relates to Wil van Breugel’s lecture “Masks of the Universe: Cosmologies Since the Beginning of Time”“.
Earlier in time, especially where Linnaeus is from, a statement like that might not seem too out of the ordinary. In modern times those same statements would be unanimously considered racist. As time goes on and the general opinions change, our classifications do as well. What wasn’t classified as racist just one hundred years ago would now get you thrown out of buildings for. Pluto’s planetary dethroning showcases how a lack of information at one time can cause problems in classification, and how what we have already classified can be shifted as we learn more.
In “The Pluto Files”, Neil Degrasse Tyson investigates Pluto’s current planetary status. Pluto was found to be much smaller in size than the rest of the planets, so much so that a conference was held with top scientists to debate if Pluto even qualified as a planet. One side of the public wanted Pluto to just “stay a planet”, as if calling it a planet still will change the fact that it’s not the same size and doesn’t have the same properties. Most others didn’t care. In “When Is a Planet not a Planet” by Freedman, Brian Marsden says “Pluto has been a longstanding myth that’s difficult to kill,”.
While it did put up a fight, Pluto ended up being classified as a “dwarf planet”, which are actually being payed attention to now that Pluto is considered one. Even if everyone wanted Pluto to stay a planet, we have to classify it in a non-biased way based on a consensus of “what is a planet”, and unfortunately Pluto does not make the cut. The public opinion shouldn’t sway this case of classification as much as it did, as it needs to be supported by data and scientific facts, not mass support. If what we previously thought was right turns out to be wrong, we cannot just pretend like we never found out it was wrong.
Sometimes changes must be made to what we know as we learn more, and lots of the time people aren’t ready for that change. Lying about Pluto or refusing to reclassify it won’t change the reality. Scientific classification needs to follow an agreed upon consensus, must be unbiased and truthful in what is reported, and cannot be released or changed to please the public. The divided beliefs and perspectives of science and religion on the history of our world and the origination of man has been a heated debate that spanning centuries.
In modern day the fire rages a little less ard, but it still controversial. Evolution, science’s explanation for how we arrived to where we are today, is a huge part of biology. In Scott Sampson’s “Evoliteracy”, he says “National Academy of Sciences has formally declared the theory of evolution to be ‘the central unifying concept of biology” Something so important it is considered the central unifying concept of biology, and people still choose not to believe or teach their children about it? I’m not saying evolution is 100% the correct theory, but it deserves some recognition by everyone.
We can never tell how people will react to scientific news, just look the uproar about Pluto being classified as a smaller planet. Later in the century after Darwin released the theory of Evolution, Zimmer said “As far as historians can tell, reading Darwin caused none of them to give up their religion. ” The separate classifications of science and religion causes people to think about the situation in a “my belief vs. their belief”, and may ultimately result in stereotyping or even despising the other side.
The sides are generally seen as so black and white in this debate, most people will only pick one side and then completely ignore the other. Newton however strived to make both his belief in God and in science work. As Adam Frank says in “Not the God You Pray To: The Varieties of Scientists’ Religious Experience. “, Newton “took his work to be that of reformer in the domains of both natural philosophy and religion”. He did not do his research to try and disprove God, Multiple theories about how humans came to exist have been postulated but no one can truly prove that one theory is more correct than another.
There is no logic in classifying religion’s ideas of the creation of mankind as more superior than the ideas of science, and vice versa. (Vearrier 3) Religion and science can coexist in one harmonious category if we keep an openmind to how humans came to be. However, past has shown that acceptance of both ideals is nearly impossible so we need to reframe from categorizing the two subjects to avoid conflict of superiority. Different perspectives, the limit of knowledge, and the tendency to form stereotypes pose many problems for the idea of classification.
While communication may differ from the past, it is beneficial to exclude classification from our daily lives to maintain an unchanging balance. Choosing to put an object in one category over another can upset a lot of people who share a different opinion than that chosen for the decision. The negative aspects of classification are much more significant than the few beneficial contributions. In order to please everyone, we should simply eliminate the usage of categorization and just discuss topics in terms of their actual definition.