Q1. Is there a phrase to describe something that is formed or done in response to conditions or circumstances, but which continues after those conditions or circumstance are no longer applicable?
Q2. If there is not a common English phrase for this, is there any technical term (e.g., from physics) that might have metaphorical value (i.e., in the way the mathematical term ‘asymptotic’ is sometimes used to describe chasing something but never catching it)?
Examples of what I am trying to describe:
- ‘It is the same with God: even when we no longer believe, we continue to believe that we believe.’ — Jean Baudrillard, The Gulf War did not take place
- The moment in a lava lamp where a blob breaks off from the base and floats away on its own.
- Oxfam formed as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in response to a famine in Nazi-occupied Greece, but continues today
- A police force formed along the line of 'the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen', but which have become so large, powerful and specialised to the point that they become distinct from the average citizenry.
- (controversially) Continued adherence to traditional religious cosmologies and folk remedies in the light of more convincing explanations and efficacious treatments (i.e., hewing to pre-scientific methods).
Terms that I don't think quite apply:
- ‘archaic’ - just because something is old-fashioned doesn't mean its original context doesn't apply
- ‘outdated’ - close, but I don't think it fully captures the idea of something being untethered from its cause of origin
- ‘zombie’ - seems too negative, and could also just refer to an organisation acting zombielike (i.e., not thinking)
- ‘mission creep’ - I think that what I'm after is a subset of mission creep, but that that term itself does not imply the loss of original conditions on its own.