Simple language

 

I found this in one of cjsmith’s comments to MDs reply to cj’s post on arrogance in writing:

I think the project of trying to reconstruct the original meaning is a vital one, so long as we remember it is shaped by and for our current thinking, needs, and assumptions. I just think originalism hides this latter fact to its own theoretical detriment. There are better and worse reconstructions. But there are reconstructions. They involve a construction.

So I will now repeat my charge. No more smoke and mirrors. No more ducking and stalling. Why is this philosophical criticism wrong? Feel free to cite facts, opinions, logical arguments, etc.

Otherwise you show yourself (imo) to be out of your depth and would do better to admit it and walk away.

It seems that this has more to do with using a simple language or not, as the initial comment by MD points to. Why not use a simple language to talk about something that is most likely quite simple?

Without having read the posts leading up to this dialog, my (naive) guess that what cjsmith is trying to say is that we cannot say anything for sure about what has happened. All our ideas about it are just our best guesses. And that is of course true about anything. We don’t know anything for sure, maybe apart from that there is awareness and its content.

It is obvious to just about anyone, simple, and doesn’t need a lot of argumentation, fancy terminology or many words.

Of course, we can elaborate on specifically why we cannot say anything for sure about something in particular, which can be interesting and entertaining to a certain extent, but also just an elaboration of that simple noticing.

The reasons for using a complex and terminology-laden language are many. For instance, it can be a shorthand for communicating with oneself and others, if all we want to do is communicating with a small in-group. It can also, to a certain extent, be more precise. (Although that argument is often not as solid as it may appear. The clearest thinkers in any area often use a very simple and clear language.)

More interestingly, why do we sometimes use a more complex language than we need to? It can give a nice comforting sense of belonging to an in-group. It can give prestige. It can give a sense of superiority, and of being right. It can create a smoke screen to hide behind, for instance by muddling the subject which makes it difficult for others to respond. It can intimidate others from responding and engaging in a real dialog. It can give me an excuse to shoot down what someone is saying if they are not using the right terminology.

As someone said, if you can’t see the bottom of a pond, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is deep. It may just be muddled.

I can find all of those for myself.

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