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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Paroemiograph this!!!!

I subscribe to an email news list -- or whatever they are called -- that offers a bit of entertainment each day in the form of a "worthless word". Today's entry was "paroemiographer" -- a person who collects proverbs.

For those of us who study Public Administration, not such a worthless word after all. Herbert Simon, the Nobel Laureate (for economics, 1978) with roots in the discipline of political science and the field of Public Administration, launched his attack on the then-dominant paradigm of the field by noting the "proverbial" nature of their fundamental arguments -- a critical body blow given the assumed anti-scientific nature of proverbs.

In an obscured (and thus underappreciated) analysis published years later (here and here), Hood and Jackson broadly applied the logic of Simon's point to many other arguments and premises. I can now say that they were engaged in paroemiography!

More recently Jon Elster has given new life to the value of proverbs, perhaps even making paroemiographers potentailly valuable members of the social science community (see here and here and here for examples...).

Three cheers (at least) for the local paroemiographer!!!!

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