This semester, a professor in one of my classes made the claim that almost no person or organization is aware or its core principles. Maybe they have some vague nonsense mission statement or political identity that could be used to argue literally anything, and that’s basically the point. They don’t have a set of claims upon which all of their conclusions rest cogently and consistently. This is the first in a series of essays where I will try to identify what are my core principles.
Last year, a great mentor of mine heard that I had gotten a degree in queer studies, and he had apparently also gotten a similar degree about forty years ago. And he asked me, “What is the central claim of queer theory?” Well there is not one and that’s kind of the point. It talks about itself and frequently contradicts itself in order to critically examine epistemic and ontological structures ad infinitum. Like there is no core thesis and that’s sort of the core thesis.
Ok so I recently wrote a term paper arguing that identity and orientation are not two-dimensional matrices of self and target but rather a chaotic intersection of countless dimensions of factors from biology and socialization and interpersonal interactions et cetera et cetera. That each person stands at a unique intersection of an unimaginable number of chaotic variables, and the way that they overlap and interact is what gives rise not only to our identities but also to our orientations, and that those can change over time.
I have degrees in Sociology, Social Justice, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, and Queer Studies among others, and this theory is the only one I’ve ever seen that accurately fits all the data I’ve observed and learned about, including the contents of the Variations in Sexuality class whose term paper I am referring to.
Ok next, I have a great mentor who once said to me that there are at least as many genders and orientations as there are people, and I think this was a missing first-principle that allowed me to formulate this broader conclusion.
Another point that I made in the essay is that of the inverse relationship between precision and accuracy when making any claim about a complex, chaotic system like gender or weather or gas particles, etc. The more abstract a claim is (the less precise), the more accurate it can be. This is actually a series of laws in math called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems which is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I explore in depth in that essay I mentioned above.
This is called a metaphenomena; a thing that happens at the point where countless chaotic other things interact to create it as a side-effect. The weather can not exist without a global system of trillions of trillions of gas particles interacting with gravitation, fission, etc, etc to create it. What’s the temperature today? You just can’t get there without the rest of it.
Metaphenomena can not be understood accurately without understanding the incalculable number of random things that interacted to create it in unpredictable ways. Needless to say, that is fundamentally impossible. Therefore, what truths can we learn and say about metaphenomena?
Sociology was founded on the failure of cybernetics and systems theory to model complex chaotic systems. Sociology argues that despite the fundamental impossibility to accurately model complex chaotic systems, it is possible to learn about statistical trends and clusters within a population.
The fundamental question is how can we wrangle, contend with, intuit, understand, or make accurate predictions about complex, chaotic metaphenomena like gender, sexual orientation, the weather, gas particles, etc?
We just can’t, and that’s a law of reality. What we can do it make claims and assumptions that are limited by clear and specific caveats about their samples. There is no way to study all of humanity. There is absolutely a way to draw a statistically significant population of white male american students at a particular research university. And we should say that whenever we discuss the takeaways from such research. There is no claim that can be made about all of humanity based on a sample of white male american students at a particular research university.
Freud’s fundamental mistake was assuming that the people he studied in insane asylums in Vienna were a representative sample of all humans everywhere throughout the entire past and future, and it’s a lesson that essentially all researchers have failed to learn; conclusions must be qualified with caveats about the necessary limitations of the sample they are based on.