Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Abstract Words

I posted a response to this discussion on the means-end dichotomy.
nirgrahamUK: ? its 4 and a half big font pages.Thank you, though not for the link. I read Human Action from beginning to end.

I mean "thank you", for demonstrating that I had not written what I meant clearly enough. Thank you for showing that I had communicated my thoughts poorly.

You have done an important thing. You have demonstrated that you have terminological differences than me. I had probably used the word "axiom" an a way differently that you had interpreted it. Thank you for taking note of the different interpretations of the words I wrote.

I will write more carefully next time. I will not just write a few sentences to explain my thoughts. I understand the impossibility to express what I had meant with those meager sentences. I learned that no one could write understandable text in philosophy, without expressing each detail in several paragraphs or even pages. Philosophy, which deals with extremely abstract ideas, will inevitably have terminological problems.

More concrete ideas, such as a "pencil", have no definitional conflicts. Almost everyone has the same definitions for "pencil", "chair", and "table". But not so with more abstract ideas, such as "state", "nature", "aggression", "subjectivism", and "objectivism". For example, libertarians commonly define a "state" as a "monopoly of violence funded by taxation". Meanwhile, brainwashed statists defines the "state" as "a beneficial institution that provides services for the population." Generally, the more abstract the idea, the more conflicts over its definition.

Philosophy, ethics, and logic have a lot of abstract ideas. Therefore, those topics would probably have a potential significant amount of terminological differences. This thread itself deals with ethics. Therefore, this thread will, and has, suffered from semantic problems.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I could clearly write my thoughts clearly only if I expanded my writing. I must write several paragraphs or pages to express an idea clearly, not just in a few meager sentences.

However, we all hate to write long forum posts. As we all know, some readers do not enjoy going through long posts, because it consumes too much time.

Abstract topics, such as philosophy, ethics, and logic, make a lot of trouble in forums. Why? Because that we cannot clarify our semantics in a few sentences. It requires several paragraphs or pages to resolve a single definition.

Some members of this forum shortcut their communication. They write their ideas and critiques only in a few sentences. As we know, this will only make the text ambiguous to other members. These members think that they will save time by writing a few sentences for each idea. They think that they will save the time by not tediously going through several paragraphs or pages to describe each idea.

Wrong! This will only waste more time than doing it in the verbose way. Ambiguous text only bait irrelevant responses, strawmans, and red herrings. In addition, shortcutting their communication will only bait others to badly interpret the text, thus cause threads to go off topic. These threads will get boring, and will eventually end that way. Without a long post clarifying the terminology, those debates will never resolve.

This has happened to my long comments at blogs such as Polycentric Order. This has happened to my long posts here.

Because of this, I usually ignore debating philosophy, ethics, and logic within these forums.

I have now finished typing the first half of my post. In the second half, I will clarify what I had meant in my last post.


nirgraham said...

no, i dont think so. axiom is axiom.
don't see the room for confusion there

Groucho Engels said...

Do you think that it's immensely counter-productive to automatically assume that those who disagree with you are brainwashed? There are professional philosophers who have laid out their case for why the state is a beneficial institution with careful thorough explanation of their reasoning. They may be wrong, you may disagree with them, but they are not brainwashed.