This page is meant to describe an AntiPattern that forms in many situations by over-extension of concepts (theories, ideas). – HelmutLeitner

The positive starting point is a UsefulConcept? (maybe a new invention) that gets into to phase of extrapolation and generalization. The positive hypothesis is “if the concept works in the field of A, why shouldn’t it also work in the field of B, or even maybe in all fields A-Z?”. At some point, the results of the concept may get worse or doubtful, but the overall usefulness of the concept may hide this weakness. We are used to it and stick with it. The concept gets defended on its own sake, because any failing in field Q might be interpreted as a failing of the concept as a whole (which is very silly).

The context of this pattern: People facing the world / reality without explanations or theories feel deeply insecure about their decisions.

Solution: People construct general concepts, theories or guidelines for typical situations. They now feel prepared and secure.

Potential new problem: People stick to such concepts even if this results in an over-generalization, even when the concepts get into falsification or self-conflict.

Second-stage solution: Concepts, even those that we appreciate, should be considered limited and their problems and boundaries should be described. This can be done in the pattern form (see PatternTheory) where pros and cons are obligatory, and the judgement in the individual situation is left to those affected. Concepts are not considered falsified, but used in their valid field of application, within their natural constraints.


In short: ideologies are the prime examples of over-simplification. Almost everything can turn into an ideology if it is simple and serves our interest.

Where is the boundary?


In short: Words are magical. They represent reality and give us power over the world. With language starts culture and society, the uprising of humankind to absolute power. Philosophy. Rhetoric. Literature. Shouldn’t the word, that is actually objectively given, be considered the final reality? (Wittgenstein: “the limits of our language are the limits of our world”)

Is there nothing real that can’t be expressed in words (like Zen)? Aren’t there words that have neither reality nor meaning?

Where is the boundary of each word and of language?

(See also: WordMagic)


In short: Science and technology is great. It shapes the world. Isn’t this what rationality is all about? Can we not expect that science gives us the truth about everything eventually? Although science refrains from everything that has to do with values and meanings?

Where is the boundary of science? What are the LimitsOfScience?


In short: the discovery of the unconscious was an enormous step forward in understanding the mind and a lot of psychological phenomena and diseases. But the tracing back of all psychological problems to childhood and the uniform way of treatment ignores other reasons and causes. Is the unconscious the only important cause?

Where is the boundary of psychoanalysis?


In short: for the marxists it is clear that the working people do get treated unfair. From this moral position, that justifues everything, they construct a fundamental evil (the capital) and imagine that the extermination of this evil will result in a better world. Is the capital the only evil?

Where is the boundary?


In short: modern economy is extremely powerful and useful, it is the framework within most people exist. But should everything be turned into economy? Should everything be seen and decided under economical aspects? Will this not yield an inhumane world? Is money the only important value?

Where is the boundary of economy?


In short: to love your neighbour and God are undeniable good. For some reason this didn’t hinder Christians to wage wars, kill heathens, make and have slaves. The same is true for other religions. Why is this? Is the belief the most important value?

Where is the boundary of the importance of belief?


A large group of people, each person interacting with many others, can result in many good things that would be difficult or impossible for a small family or isolated hermit. But should every human be forced to live in close contact with other humans?


Making important decisions by allowing everyone affected to vote is far superior to making those decisions by the arbitrary dictate of a corrupt dictator-for-life. Is democracy so important that we must impose it on every group, by force if necessary? Is plurality voting the best decision-making process in every situation?

AboutVoting AboutDecisions AboutDemocracy [[Oh That It Would End: The Paradox of Institution]]

See Also



Define external redirect: UsefulConcept

EditNearLinks: AntiPattern