The initial conditions of certain ways of thinking sometimes lock us in to particular pathways. Such pathways occur when the follow-up of small events catches intellectuals in its complex web irreversibly and grow bigger in the future. The distinctive property of such conditions is that the evolution of ideas does not necessarily lead to any pre-defined end point. Small events trigger shifts in the course of events and this leads to (extra-) positive or (extra-) negative consequences that move the system away from its systematic course. After small events take place, complex webs of scholarly life function in either of two ways: (i) as a short-cut that moves the system to a better state and elevates it to higher levels of order which could only be reached within longer time spans if there had been no interruptions or (ii) as a hindrance that would break the system down and disallow intellectuals to proceed further and achieve intellectual advancement. When ! historical small events become a hindrance (ii), a little uncorrected error sometimes feeds back a negative cumulative effect on the progress of scientific knowledge. When historical small events operate as a short-cut (i), however, the conditions that turn an event into a starting point of a new pathway can be the breaking point of an old one as such that they unlock the old course of events bearing path dependent properties and perhaps lead to more complex evolutionary pathways. This would mean an upward movement of the system to more coherent and sophisticated levels.

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A. Klamer (Arjo)
Erasmus University Rotterdam , Uzerler Publishing House, Ankara, Turkey
Erasmus School of Philosophy

Yalcintas, A. (2009, October 28). Intellectual Paths and Pathologies: How Small Events in Scholarly Life Accidentally Grow Big. Retrieved from