Kevin Williamson on why much of modern discourse seems stupid

«1

Comments

  • Why you keep tryin' to read that word, you a fag?
  • He misses an important point as far as I can tell, which is odd for someone who references and quotes Orwell.

    He says that Language is how we think when the truth is that language defines the boundaries of our thoughts.
  • edited July 15
    2.FOH. said:

    Why you keep tryin' to read that word, you a fag?

    That aspect of Williamson's critique makes it resonant for people who know the degraded popular culture, as all of us with experience in the last two decades of the internet do.  He uses the same sort of memish images he decries in politics to make his point about it.

    Makes it an interesting piece of work.


    Eric, it makes the same point, but substantively I agree with Williamson.  Words aren't merely the limit of thought, they are that from which deliberative thought is built.  I've been met with some extra scrutiny on another board where I've serially discussed this point with a psych professor retired from a small liberal arts school.  He detests the term "Modern Sporting Rifle" and becomes (or became) impatient when 2A advocates disfavored the term "assault weapon".  He doesn't believe that using different terms has an effect on how people regard the objects themselves.  Yet, words are how people transact meaning, so, for instance, open borders people don't talk about border enforcement, but rather "family separation".  What kind of monster would want to bust up a family?  Some Cheetolini?

    DJT's success seems to have some basis in his mastery of the wavelength at which media and many their consumers are tuned.  "Crooked Hillary" seemed sort of basic and witless, but it isn't false.  In fact, it risks understatement.  I won't argue that it is the only reason she lost, but the point it made can't have sailed over anyone's head.
  • That aspect of Williamson's critique makes it resonant for people who know the degraded popular culture, as all of us with experience in the last two decades of the internet do.  He uses the same sort of memish images he decries in politics to make his point about it.

    Makes it an interesting piece of work.

    It does.

    I see the book will be available the 23rd. on Amazon.
  • He detests the term "Modern Sporting Rifle" and becomes (or became)
    impatient when 2A advocates disfavored the term "assault weapon".  He
    doesn't believe that using different terms has an effect on how people
    regard the objects themselves.

    Well, he's wrong, so there's that.
  • Matt -
    If there is no word for something, how can you discuss it?
  • MC Escher said:

    Matt -

    If there is no word for something, how can you discuss it?
    You can't.  If we don't have the words to describe something, we also can't think it.
  • Which is why it's so important that words continue to actually mean things, and not be abused Humpty-Dumpty style, to contort how people think.

    "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."
  • nbody said:

    MC Escher said:

    Matt -

    If there is no word for something, how can you discuss it?
    You can't.  If we don't have the words to describe something, we also can't think it.
    I agree
  • edited July 16
    MC Escher said:

    nbody said:

    MC Escher said:

    Matt -

    If there is no word for something, how can you discuss it?
    You can't.  If we don't have the words to describe something, we also can't think it.
    I agree
    I disagree.  There are things which are ineffable, but can still be thought about, without language, and without the ability to communicate those ideas *with precision.*  The idea that language captures or limits what we can think about our perceptions gives language a little too much credit for what goes on in our minds.

    Even if the ability to express language is damaged in a stroke or brain injury *before language is learned* or in animals that never evolve to the point of sophisticated languages, the things to which language refer still exist, for example "hunger" and "salty tasting."  Its reasonable to believe that our dogs understand these ideas, without language, even though we can't know they understand through shared language.

    Would "hunger" cease to exist as an idea, if there were no word for it?  Or better yet to avoid the impossible timing of that question, did the idea of "hunger" only exist after it became explicitly described by a language?

    Even if the socialists "succeed" in building some sort of 1984 distopia, where they've robbed the next generation of the language to precisely describe why there is something unjust or wrong about their society, I believe people can understand that something is very wrong, while lacking the language to precisely describe an injustice.  Certainly our precision improves with language, and many ideas can't be expressed at all without language, but the more primal a feeling or idea is, the less it seems to depend on language.
  • Certainly, the follow up question to the idea that there are ineffable things is "Like what?".
    Slap said:

    Even if the ability to express language is damaged in a stroke or brain injury *before language is learned* or in animals that never evolve to the point of sophisticated languages, the things to which language refer still exist, for example "hunger" and "salty tasting."  Its reasonable to believe that our dogs understand these ideas, without language, even though we can't know they understand through shared language.

    Would "hunger" cease to exist as an idea, if there were no word for it?  Or better yet to avoid the impossible timing of that question, did the idea of "hunger" only exist after it became explicitly described by a language?



    Is hunger an idea, or a mere sensation? If you can't describe a taste as salty, how do you know it is "salty"?

    I may have written this story previously.

    Dmitri Medvedev holds a press conference in which he describes a resolution to a dispute in which both sides came out better. He is speaking Russian, but describes the result as a "ween ween seetooashun". Russians don't even have a term for a resolution that doesn't misdirect, steal, imprison, or kill the other side. While I present the point somewhat facetiously, students of Russian history will note the rarity of ween ween seetooashuns.

    Of course we don't have a native term for the smell of body odor and venereal disease so we call it "dirty as a Frenchman"; the dutch don't have a word for "my treat".
  • “There are things which are ineffable, but can still be thought about, without language, and without the ability to communicate those ideas *with precision.”

    How would you know?
  • edited July 16
    "Is hunger an idea, or a mere sensation?"

    I'm not really sure what the difference is if we're talking about very simple ideas, like our memories of sensations.

    I believe "hunger" can be both, including for animals like dogs and crows, solving puzzles to earn a treat, even though they lack sophisticated languages to describe the problems they solve.  That degree of problem solving seems more sophisticated than mere responses to sensations, even though its much less sophisticated than our thoughts and language skills.

    Is a pet learning complex tricks merely responding to sensations, or are they manipulating ideas as they learn tricks?  They seem to be on a useful border of language skills that helps inform this subject.

    "How would you know?"

    I don't.  I suspect.  I can also imagine chemists having a very precise conversation about the chemicals in a banana that give it its taste, and what changes in its chemistry result in the changes between the taste of a banana that isn't ripe yet, or has become overly ripe.  Without knowing any of those specialized, more precise forms of our language, I can still have an idea of what those tastes are, while lacking a precise language to describe them.  Even the descriptions I've employed in this paragraph (not-ripe, overly-ripe) use language which *only remotely approaches* the ideas evoked by that language.

    Even an infant, who hasn't learned the concept or language of "not ripe" or "overly ripe" can taste the difference, and prefer one over the other.

    For *some* ideas, language seems to follow the conception rather than precede it.  Comfort and pain, deliciousness and yuckyness, all come to be associated with experiences which we understand *before* we learn the words that describe those experiences and the ideas that we use to make choices.
  • Slap said:

    "Is hunger an idea, or a mere sensation?"


    I'm not really sure what the difference is if we're talking about very simple ideas, like our memories of sensations.



    I believe the difference is that a sensation is direct, whereas an idea has a meaning that is handled by the mind, not merely felt.

    One could remember the sweetness of a banana, just as we can recall a sequence of events or a person's appearance. However, the memory is subject to distortion so that people can have earnest recollections of things other than how they happened, or identify a person in a line up who isn't the right person at all. 

    When we remember a pleasing taste, what are we remembering? It seems to be mostly that we were pleased. There was a program about people living in the jungles rainforests of South America who prepared for a big party by swishing milk around in their mouths and spitting it into a bin.  They let that sit for a couple of days as the germs from their mouths caused the milk to ferment.  They also liked to cook and eat big bugs.  So they'd feast on big bugs and drink their fermented mouth milk and run around serially copulating with all the women.  Their culture also had no word for father, each child regarding men of a certain age as one of its many "uncles".

    I'm not sure that one of these head hunting assholes first people of the rainforest would understand "Look! Your father is bringing you bananas foster!", let along think it was sweet.  Maybe they'd just paw through it and ask where the bugs are.
  • edited July 16
    nbody said:

    I believe the difference is that a sensation is direct, whereas an idea has a meaning that is handled by the mind, not merely felt. ... When we remember a pleasing taste, what are we remembering? It seems to be mostly that we were pleased.

    That memories of sensations can be recalled inaccurately supports the notion that the mind is manipulating ideas, rather than mere sensations, or memories of sensations.

    I'm not trying to downplay the simplicity of the problem solving carried out by crows or dogs, or the degree to which reward/punishment conditioning can yield complex behaviors.  But there seem to be too many examples of an animal that lacks any apparently related language skills seeming to struggle with a problem and solve it.  That behavior looks an awful lot like "thinking" without language, just like watching a child quietly work their way through a problem.
  • I don't really care for that authors style of writing, abd I can see why he was hired (and fired) by the Atlantic. It's high-content low information IMHO. Or could just be more succinct. Anyway, I don't understand the claim that;

    "intersectionality” (which is only mutant nationalism)",
    Because intersectionality is about number of factors that effect a person's identity within the cultural melieu. It's generally used to describe advantages and disadvantages.
  • Intersectionality is just victim bingo.
  • Intersectionality is just victim bingo.
    Intersectionality is a Marxist construct.
  • Anyway, I don't understand the claim that;

    "intersectionality” (which is only mutant nationalism)",
    Because intersectionality is about number of factors that effect a person's identity within the cultural melieu. It's generally used to describe advantages and disadvantages.

    That's why it's so widely regarded as nonsense.

    If, in order to know whether what a person said or did is wrong, we need to know height, weight, gender, race, religion, declared sexual deviations, whether he went to a public or private school, how long he has been in the country, which country his ancestors arrived from, whether he has a limp, cane, or uses a wheelchair, etc., then we aren't really deciding whether he was right or wrong, but whether he is part of the favored group or the disfavored group according to these advantage/disadvantage scores.

    It builds on the Marxist paradigm in which the proletariat is right per se and the better classes are wrong per se.  That's how this is used.  Men were admonished by a US Senator to "shut up", and were advised that Kavanaugh's females accusers were to be believed.  Kavanaugh had no disadvantage points, but women automatically do, therefore they were right and credible.


  • Even worse...
    You have to figure out where different victims are on the totem pole. Who outranks who.
  • MC Escher said:

    Even worse...

    You have to figure out where different victims are on the totem pole. Who outranks who.
    As one who identifies as a left handed secular kabbalahist lesbian, I out rank you.
  • Oh, we dreamed of having Left hands *and limes* when we were growing up!  We lived in a paper bag.
  • That's good old fashioned poverty.
  • Intersectionality is generally used stupidly but it is a fact that's worth observing, if only because it often results in a snake eating it's own tail.  Black women kept out of white feminist movements, Straight trans hated by gays.
  • Are you aware that the term was officially coined by a Black, female, Marxist educator who is a proponent of critical race theory?
  • That's how it is often used, but I don't see it as anything other than a tool or at times a curiosity. I see the value of things as separate from the things themselves though.


    nbody said:

    Anyway, I don't understand the claim that;

    "intersectionality” (which is only mutant nationalism)",
    Because intersectionality is about number of factors that effect a person's identity within the cultural melieu. It's generally used to describe advantages and disadvantages.

    That's why it's so widely regarded as nonsense.

    If, in order to know whether what a person said or did is wrong, we need to know height, weight, gender, race, religion, declared sexual deviations, whether he went to a public or private school, how long he has been in the country, which country his ancestors arrived from, whether he has a limp, cane, or uses a wheelchair, etc., then we aren't really deciding whether he was right or wrong, but whether he is part of the favored group or the disfavored group according to these advantage/disadvantage scores.

    It builds on the Marxist paradigm in which the proletariat is right per se and the better classes are wrong per se.  That's how this is used.  Men were admonished by a US Senator to "shut up", and were advised that Kavanaugh's females accusers were to be believed.  Kavanaugh had no disadvantage points, but women automatically do, therefore they were right and credible.


  • MC Escher said:

    Even worse...

    You have to figure out where different victims are on the totem pole. Who outranks who.
    There is a definite victimization fetish that some carry.
  • That's how it is often used, but I don't see it as anything other than a tool or at times a curiosity.








    For what is it a tool?

    If it is a tool for judging the merits of individual people according to, for example, race, we have a word for that. If the tool enables us to weigh someone's suitability for public office by his religious affiliation, then it's another form of bigotry.

    If intersectionality is a construction for implementing leftist bigotry, what is its legitimate utility?
  • It's used to a degree in social work when evaluating biopsychosocial influences and risk factors. It goes a general picture of a challenge a person faces. For instance a youth in out of home care made need extra supports in some areas (housing, family dynamics) than someone else. There are a myriad of factors. From a general public point of view it becomes more if a curiosity. However I am sure you are less likely to honk at and give the finger to am old lady vs a flat brimmed WRX driver.

    nbody said:

    That's how it is often used, but I don't see it as anything other than a tool or at times a curiosity.








    For what is it a tool?

    If it is a tool for judging the merits of individual people according to, for example, race, we have a word for that. If the tool enables us to weigh someone's suitability for public office by his religious affiliation, then it's another form of bigotry.

    If intersectionality is a construction for implementing leftist bigotry, what is its legitimate utility?

  • MC Escher said:

    Are you aware that the term was officially coined by a Black, female, Marxist educator who is a proponent of critical race theory?

    Yes, because I first Googled it a couple of months ago when my trans friend's sex therapist referenced it on her website ;).  Does that take away from the truthyness of if?
Sign In or Register to comment.