The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy Forums

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Belinda
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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Belinda » August 7th, 2012, 3:09 am

Yes, it is important to communicate messages readably and clearly, However I wonder if writing to a forum such as philosophyclub or even an activity such as writing poetry is good for helping someone to form or to crystalise an idea. This tentative limbering up towards the attainment of a clear idea can be excused, I think because it is only human to be forced to put an idea on the back burner until such time as it turns out to be properly cooked.

Sometimes the act of putting words together, even randomly ,causes a cognitive inspiration, causes a novel idea in the writer's mind. I don't recommend random word stringing in philosophyclub because random behaviour :) is not what philosophy is traditionally about.Nor for reportage. It is fun to do it when composing poetry though.

Poetry itself is better when concision and clarity are rules that are observed even although the poem kicks off with or includes eccentrically juxtaposed ideas or words. Actually I cannot think of any decent poem that omits concision and clarity, although a lot of people may accuse poets of obfuscation.
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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Granth » August 7th, 2012, 3:32 am

This may be relevent.

"Without agreement as to the rules of playing together there is no game. Without agreement as to the use of words, signs, and getsures there is no communication." Alan watts, Psychotherapy East and West.
If reality was determined by a popularity vote we would not have any pioneers.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Belinda » August 14th, 2012, 2:56 am

Communication matters for any club, and a club for doing philosophy is a prime example. Sometimes though, inspiration comes from dissonance in a Hegelian progression. We need rules so that we can break them when appropriate to do so, if only so that someone can come along and justify the rules.
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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Granth » August 14th, 2012, 3:25 am

Belinda wrote:Communication matters for any club, and a club for doing philosophy is a prime example. Sometimes though, inspiration comes from dissonance in a Hegelian progression. We need rules so that we can break them when appropriate to do so, if only so that someone can come along and justify the rules.
Breaking a rule is fine. But it is only intelligent to do so if it is for an endeavour towards negotiating new rules. Reason is still required for a negotiation process to work. If one cannot articuate their reason for rule breaking then they are more likely to be just emotionally reacting. Breaking rules just for breaking the rules is childish and just rather boring.
If reality was determined by a popularity vote we would not have any pioneers.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Belinda » August 14th, 2012, 5:30 am

Yes , Granth I agree. Except for when a poet for instance decides to try what it is like to abandon a fixed idea such as, for instance, that moonlight is beautiful, or that one will die if one does not cling to some traditional god. I think that making and learning is not always done by blueprint, but may start from a happenstance. I have always welcomed writers to philosophyclub who are nonsensical, or who are preaching, because they make me think.

What i have to do is try not to form general beliefs from too few impressions.
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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Wanderer101 » August 20th, 2012, 1:28 pm

Can anyone recomend a good ebook for an introduction of philosphy and logic. I would also like to know about the history of philosophy.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Blazing Donkey » December 27th, 2012, 2:15 pm

Another issue that I see a lot on forums is: people not understanding who holds the burden of proof.

If I make the statement A, it is my responsibility to explain and defend A. But what I frequently see is someone stating A, and then saying, "Prove me wrong!" as if it is now everyone else's responsibility to back up the statement A, rather than the person who made the statement to begin with.
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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Unconscious Master » December 28th, 2012, 6:42 pm

Perhaps, those that write in riddles and use complicated wording are searching for a particular audience?

As for spelling and grammar, my opinion is that it needs to be correct. A change in spelling or grammar can change the idea the writer is trying to express which directly affects the clarity of what is being written. Anyone who is able to post on this forum also has access to spell checkers and proper grammar, we are on the internet! Not sure about a word's spelling? Run it through Google's search engine and it will correct it for you.

One of the obstacles of the English language is that, depending on the wording and phrasing used, pharses and sentences can be interpreted in several ways. The object of clarity is to eliminate as many possibilites of interpretation as possible leaving only the one desired. Most understand that this isn't easy to do and sometimes not entirely possible, knowing this readers shouldnt feel reluctant to ask questions about the writers meaning.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by JoeParody » December 28th, 2012, 6:49 pm

Wanderer101 wrote:Can anyone recomend a good ebook for an introduction of philosophy and logic. I would also like to know about the history of philosophy.
Try Bertrand Russell History of philosophy.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Thatsage » January 8th, 2013, 6:18 am

But, you must understand, this is the fun of it all! This is Art! :)

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Wallaby » March 19th, 2013, 9:01 pm

Hello Scott. I agree. I am tired of untangling posts with unnecessary arcane language. I sometimes read this blog lesswrong, there are some fascinating ideas there, but the signal to noise ratio gets so low that sometimes you quit. Wondering if it is your lack of skill as reader or the writer is not trying hard enough, (or being arcane on purpose, which is frankly insulting).

I believe that writing is an art form, so please be lenient. Also I am Mexican and I have to translate ideas, if after that effort I make myself clear, well I am happy.

Nevertheless let me tell you that I hold some ideas that to some people are not orthodox to say the least, and I will not refrain to express them (as politely and clearly as possible).

Also sometimes I tend to be facetious, so at times it appears like... It's time to spot the looney. Just disregard.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Ediaan » March 27th, 2013, 9:07 am

Wanderer101 wrote:Can anyone recomend a good ebook for an introduction of philosphy and logic. I would also like to know about the history of philosophy.
Try and start with something such as Science of Mind by Ralph Waldo Emerson or the Master Key System by Charles Francis Haanel.

As for history, it depends what type of philosophy, there are metaphysics, eastern and western philosophy etc.

-- Updated Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:19 pm to add the following --

I think that some people tend to be too "technical" (for want of a better word) or as Wallaby said they use arcane language. I think some individuals try to debate by taking fairly simple concepts and make them difficult to understand by using impossible semantic.

Sometimes topics are easier to discuss withou trying to make it more complex than it necessarily is.

Though, we have some individuals who definitely does have the incredible and amazing intellect to use and understand "bigger words" or dificult semantic.

The most important thing to remember is that we share this forum with individuals whose English is not their first language and they might not be able to understand as well as someone who has English as their mother tongue.

Just a thought :-)
Power comes through repose; it is in the Silence that we can be still, and when we are still, we can think, and thought is the secret of all attainment.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by SoylentGreen » June 25th, 2013, 9:53 pm

I have a suggestion for those with problems learning English, if it is not their primary language, or even if they are attempting to improve their English. Ask forum members who have been attempting to improve their own English skills to help them out.

I've been trying to learn to write now for over forty years, and I keep working on it. It's a never ending process. And I'm willing to spend some time helping anyone with a simple post by pointing out how to improve it.

I do not have a university degree; however, I can compose an essay following some simple rules, and a standard formula. I've had a recent essay published in a philosophy journal and have two more that were sent out recently to two other journals. I've also written a private-eye novel, and keep trying to improve it, and I have taken a creative writing course, have two years university, mostly in English and Sociology, and have a commercial writing course behind me.

The most obvious benefit of the commercial writing course was that it stressed the same point Scott mentioned. It had to do with being concise. The principle used in commercial writing is called KISS. It stands for "keep it simple, stupid." Some people prefer "keep it simple, silly." Learning to write though demands taking hard criticism. I've had my share thrown at me, so I like the more harsh term: stupid. There's nothing like a good solid kick in the ass to wake up someone stuck in a fog. I'm always telling myself I'm stupid for writing a sentence one way when I could easily have said the same thing much more clearly, with far fewer words. One can read the same paragraph twenty times, and then spot something obviously redundant, or a sentence where four or fives words could have been used in place of twenty.

So if there are posters who want to improve their English don't be shy to ask those with more experience. The one way I try to improve is I study published authors whom I admire and then I try and elevate my own writing to a similar standard. A favorite author of mine is Lawrence Block, and then there's Robert Parker. There's no harm in trying to imitate your favorite authors. And even private eye novelists can help you improve your English. If you don't think so, try reading Dashiell Hammett's "The Maltese Falcon." It's a literary masterpiece. Study the way it was written, and how Hammett uses only the slightest descriptions to paint scenes and characters. It's also damn good reading. There's also some philosophical reflections in it that do not appear in the two movie versions of Hammett's novel. Such exercises can also help with such a seemingly ordinary and mundane task as posting a thread or a clear and meaningful comment on a philosophy forum.

I've just now edited this post while working on it, four or fives times. There's nothing ordinary or mundane about it. It takes some effort.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by Anathematized_one » July 6th, 2013, 1:31 pm

I only read the first post and agree entirely but wanted to add a few more points:
  • If you make a statement, QUALIFY the statement. Example, don't simply say something is immoral, state why exactly you feel it to be.
  • Realise that not everyone agrees even with the definition of "truth" or its form, as well as many other things. Try to avoid normative arguments based on your own view of a subjectivity.
  • Do not assume infallibility. If somebody disproves your argument, admit defeat or restate your point or prove your point against their disproving. Do NOT fall into thought-terminating clichés, ad hominem attacks or baseless assumptions about the person of a differing view or the views themselves (see the original post calling for RESPECT).
  • Try to remain unbiased and see a different point of view. If a theological debate or question is asked and you are atheist, do not argue from a point of view that there is no God, argue from a theological point under the assumption that there is (the debate is theological, not about the existence of God). The same goes for religious people arguing against a secular question or point of view.
*NOTE!
I'm never indirect/insinuating w/out explicitly saying I am (but may not say exactly what). I have a large vocabulary, but use common speech (not all are the same reading level or speak native English). What I say means exactly that and nothing else.

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Re: The Need for Concision and Clarity on the Philosophy For

Post by SoylentGreen » July 6th, 2013, 2:41 pm

I only read the first post and agree entirely but wanted to add a few more points: If you make a statement, QUALIFY the statement. Example, don't simply say something is immoral, state why exactly you feel it to be ... Do NOT fall into thought-terminating clichés, ad hominem attacks or baseless assumptions about the person of a differing view or the views themselves (see the original post calling for RESPECT).
I'm replying to this because I agree fully, and try to follow this practice, but in every forum I've ever belonged/subscribed to there are an abundance of ad hominem attacks. They're the most popular tactic on forums of all descriptions. It's due to human nature and our tendency to react instantly rather than think things through over an extended period of reflection. Witness my thread under "causal argument for the existence of a Supreme Being." One particular response was quite insulting and mocking. I think forum members for the most part are respectful but of course it's impossible for all forum members to be respectful. It's a good policy to repeat what you've stated and it should be repeated often I think. I also suggest that forum members, when and if they experience a personal attack against them to call out the party responsible and bring to their attention the forum rules, and the etiquette, as well as the fact that they are responding to actual people, and not a mindless automaton out in cyber land with no feelings or consciousness, or identity. It's too easy to lash out at someone you are not speaking to face to face, as you're not looking at someone who actually exists, you're only looking at strings of words put together. It should be our duty to call out, not just ignore those who forget they are actually responding to people and who lower themselves to insults and or mockery. By doing this we contribute to the end of making this forum a more productive, worthwhile experience, as opposed to a negative experience.

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