The sleep of reason begets monsters
posted by Winston Smith at
Just means 'story,' but sounds profound.
What about 'narrativity'?
Doesn't seem to mean anything very definite at all.(Note I'm allowing myself to be cantakerous here. I believe what I'm saying, but don't think you have any obligation to listen to me...)
Seriously, "narrative" and all that crap showed up on the intellectual left and then escaped into non-academic discussions. The intellectual left has a penchant for making up irritating little bits of terminology to make their blather sound profound, technical, erudite. I mean, "sex" wasn't good enough, so they switched to "gender" which sounds a little more jargony. (Note: actually 'gender' already meant something...and not *sex*.) Basically the same crap with "narrative." Sounds vaguely profound...as if it doesn't quite mean *story*...but it's hard to say why not...
This is a post along the same lines. The comments are particularly good. http://scienceblogs.com/bushwells/2009/03/what_one_word_tips_you_off_tha.php Sorry, I do not know HTML.James
C'mon, there are a lot of words more debased than "narrative". "Narrative" at least is useful to describe language that is in the form of a story without neccesarily implying that it's fictional. "Gender" is also useful to distinguish the various cultural trappings that are usually, but not always, accociated with sex differences. A bit of thought gives many worse ones. Here's a quick 5:1) "Tragedy" & "tragic", meaning anything bad that happens for which the user of the word wants to bring in a vague fatalistic flavor to avoid the question of fault or credit. This one showed up in the academic left as well in "tragic resistance", where political gestures get to remain noble despite being completely pointless. But it now, like so much else from the academic left, is used in conservative circles, in their case to label obvious fuckups like "a tragic instance of friendly fire".2) "Empire" is clearly a thick moral concept, but for which no can agree where it should be applied or even whether it's good or bad. Britain got to be one by taking over other countries, but France had to take over other countries and get an Emperor. Japan stopped being one but got to keep the Emperor. America is one either when it uses its power badly, or when its gets to make its own reality, whatever that means. A useless word, though not as bad as "Imperium", which is used the same way, but only by British historians when predicting US decline.3) "Superveniance", meaning causation, but with two extra syllables. Most hilarious when rendered "causal superveniance", meaning, again, causation.4) "Morality", meaning only a crabbed, hateful conception of sexual morality. As you point out, this one is especially bad, since the kids think that rejecting such a conception means they have to reject morality. Morality itself is very important, but the word may be damaged beyond repair at this point, like "tragedy".5) "Inspired", as in "inspired by real events" or "inspired by traditional Tuscan cuisine". This one is the advertisers fault. Apparently, to be inspired by something is to be able to mention it as a plus without there being any obligation to make the product the least bit like the item of inspiration. Given the history of advertiser's cant working its way into political discourse, I dread this word's future use.
I feel ya, A.But I didn't mean that 'narrative' was the worst.oh and: 'supervene' doesn't just mean *cause*. As you probably know, A properties supervene on B properties just in case there can be no change in A properties without a change in B properties. That's not quite "A facts cause B facts," tho.You're right about useful uses of 'narrative,' and I'm happy to acknowledge that. But see my next fascinating post on the fascinating subject.
The reason I used the noun form "supervenience" was to get around the active/passive reversal you get with the verb. A supervenes on B when A is caused by B. The necesity of change to B given a change to A is just the contrapositive.A bit glib I admit, but the reason I used that example - in addition to giving equal time to analytic malfeasance with the lefties and advertising hacks - was to call attention to a particular style of debased language one finds particularly in technical fields: "Cause" used to describe a whole family of relations of a particular form. At some point, philosophers started using "cause" to refer only to efficient or event causes at the expense of the other senses. Then, when we need a word to describe all realations of that form, a new, longer word ends up being required to do the work since the older word's sense has been obtusely narrowed. Finally, you have the new, wider term being narrowed by use of a modifier derived the original, narrowed term.The whole dynamic is a recipe for the endless production of novel words without any new distinctions to underlie them. Also, it sets us up for unfunny academic joke words like "superdupervene", which is bad enough.
My favorite bulls--t word is "proactive" which is supposed to sort of be the opposite of "reactive." But if being reactive means waiting for an event to occur and reacting to it, isn't the anticipation of an event and acting accordingly just being "active?" What is value of "pro" in this case? In fact, until recently the definition of proactive that which related to the interference between learning and later recall or performance. However I see that MW has knuckled under to market speak and added a new definition that means the same as being active.
Phil--How about we start a campaign to replace 'proactive' with 'pre-reactive'? It'll be fun. I once had to fill out an insurance form called a 'retro-preauthorization.'No sh!t.Anonymous--What you say is interesting, tho it seems nonstandard to say that 'x supervenes on y' means 'y causes x.' I mean, I think I get your (highly abbreviated) point, and I think I have some sympathy with it (I annoy people by saying 'efficient causation' all the time when they think I should just say 'causation', for example). But I think you might admit that your central claim is fairly tendentious. It might also be worth nothing that terminology can surprise you. You can start out thinking that you've introduced a new concept, and find out later that you just swapped words. So it might not be straightforward BS...
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