How to Write Like a Pretentious Philosopher

By realitybites · Aug 15, 2012 ·
  1. [​IMG] Why do philosophers use abstract words to describe abstract concepts? I'm not absolutely certain, but I have some theories.

    Here is an example of writing by philosopher, Michel Bitbol:

    "The metaphysical translation of this process of isolation of certain “subjective” statements with respect with the other types of statements is either dualism or reductionism: dualism if one projects the two-realms organization of statements onto a two-realms organization of entities or properties; or reduction of subjectivity to a network of objective entities if one takes the criticism of experiential expressions on objective grounds as a sign of subordination of the former to the latter. But if one looks back at the whole cognitive process by which the two-realms organization of statements was established, it clearly appears that the very alternative of dualism and reductionism is flawed. Indeed, at the first stages of the process, there is simply no clear-cut distinction between the two realms."

    OK, now be honest, can you understand the meaning of this after reading it once? How about after two times? Three? Four? Do you think you could ever possibly understand it? Would a dictionary help you decipher the hidden meaning? Or, would you need to pay upwards of $4,000 to sit in a classroom and have a philosophy professor explain it to you?

    How insulting is this to our intelligence? Why do the folks in the ivory tower purposely write to confuse us little people on the ground? Is it a form of gatekeeping? Are they obscuring knowledge on purpose to deny us access? Or is what they are writing not even knowledge at all but just a bunch of mumbo jumbo? How are we to know the difference? These people are getting paid big bucks to think for us. Do you suppose it's possible that they sometimes fall asleep on the job? Perhaps there are times when the well runs dry and they need to produce something. So they concoct some abstract opus of BS and sell it as profound wisdom. Make no mistake, this type of writing is an art form. It takes real talent to construct unrecognizable and unintelligible writing that can pass as actual prose.

    Want to write like a philosopher? Here are some handy guidelines:

    Prefer a complex word whenever possible. See, I just did it myself in that sentence. I used the word prefer rather than the word use. I gave my sentence an abstract spin.

    Use complex words even when they are not essential.

    Cluster abstract words together to really sound vague and unclear.

    Use complex words to set up barriers to understanding.

    Avoid clarity at all times.

    Only write using jargon. If it could be published in The New York Times, then it isn't sufficiently cryptic.

    Keep in mind, that you don't want your reader to know exactly what you mean. Unspecific words keep the reader from conjuring up a picture in his or her mind.

    And lastly, even when the abstract word adds nothing to the meaning, keep it there. Never simplify. Complex is your mantra.


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