Meten is weten

Meten is weten” – to measure is to know. In this country at least, we (unknowingly) apply this aphorism to the richness of human life in so many domains and, in doing so, create an impoverished institutional understanding of what it is to be human.

If we accept the primacy of instrumentality – usefulness – as the measuring rod by which humanistic endeavours are judged then this is inevitable. We can see impact of an activity but yet we must prove it: not because we need to know it more, or better but because the political machine we live within demands that only certain forms of knowledge are valid or persuasive.

As a nation then (if such a communal thing really exists) our personality is wildly split. We might know something to be true but will not act on that knowledge without certain forms of proof. (Does this mean that government has a sick mind?)

Sometimes this dichotomy is maintained by people on either side of the divide. I suspect that in many cases the dichotomy is instantiated (?) within individuals, who must then deal with their own personal inconsistencies as well as they might.

So… the impact of creative endeavour on children and young people… or… the impact of a therapeutic approach for people living with forms of dementia…

Onwards and upwards towards the proof to get the funding to do what we know to be worthwhile.



About Bruce Davenport

Research associate at Newcastle University. Previously a museum educator and researcher.
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