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Subject: Precision of language rss

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lotus dweller
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Hopefully this thread is so dry and reaches such a mild conclusion that no-one will respond.

It appears to me after watching and contributing to many RSP threads that precision/accuracy in the use of language for many of us for many topics is frequently medium or low.


Leaving aside Americanisms, like "conspiracy" and "you can have it all", that have unique national context dependent meanings, we are often driving large trucks using pure foam steering wheels with highly elastic steering linkages. And then there is the problem of metaphors and similes.


There seems no way around this - most frequently contributors are not highly trained in the religious, scientific, philosophical, or economic topic that they are addressing.

So we flounder using terms incorrectly, imprecisely, misleadingly.

The benefits of the current situation is that we can see common misunderstandings about the meanings of terms/language within a topic - assuming we have the training to do so. If anyone contributes accurate descriptions of terms then others can learn. And we get to struggle to converse with people who we mis-understand and who mis-understand us due to imprecise language usage. I leave from this thread the wholly unrelated issues of accepting that others can view the world differently to us and how this can be accommodated in a relationship.

Alternatives to the current situation all appear far fetched or problematic; the OP suggests background reading that would bring readers up to speed; trained moderators contribute an authorative glossary early in the thread and add in extras as needed; we abandon all hope of complex communication using language and just send image links instead.

Other alternatives doubtless exist. Those of you who are puffing on lizard weed or onto your 5th drink may wish to list some.

At present the current situation appears the best option. I particularly like the struggling to understand each-other though the haze and the possibility of learning something.

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I've gotta say that, much as I love you, you are the chief offender for this.
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lotus dweller
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Just as well that I love the struggle then!

Are you offering to add authoritative glossaries?
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Eh, I'm usually happy with whatever the majority dictionaries agree on.
 
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lotus dweller
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Ah I begin to see one source of what you may see as my offenses.
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Mac Mcleod
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If a great philosopher such as Pascal, couldn't get precision, what hope do I have?

His philosophical argument was steeped in christianity and ignored the existence of other gods with contradictory goals and no heaven in many cases.

It ignores the potential existence of unrevealed gods with unknown "grading systems".

It ignores the potential existence of unrevealed gods with who don't care what humans do.

And it ignores the danger of committing to the wrong god and thus being damned to an eternity of pain.

Pascal's wager can more accurately stated as: If only yahweh can exist or not exist, then you should worship yahweh. If yahweh does not exist, you lose little either way. If yahweh exists, you face a tremendous gain or a terrible loss.

---

However the days of objectivism and other philosophical basis for arguments seems to passed. Chiddler was certainly part of that.

I do try to determine if we are talking about g-d, God, Yahweh, Allah, God with a physical body having sex on another planet, etc.
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lotus dweller
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And yet you can list some of Pascal's imprecisions. (I'm assuming there were others.) It seems to me that he was burdened with a great big set of cultural blinkers. Or he wasn't trying for a dispassionate analysis.

Now I'll have to scuttle off and re-read for the 30th time about "objectivism".

Edit: added later I'm assuming here that Ayn Rand's followers have hijacked "Objectivism" on Wikipedia and that its not that to which you refered.

Wkipedia that fickle, fey, cloud-based seductress whispers in my ear that "Objectivism is an alternative name for philosophical realism, the view that there is a reality, or ontological realm of objects and facts, that exists independent of the mind."

Was that what you were after or was it "metaphysical objectivists" say "an object may truthfully be said to have this or that attribute, as in the statement "This object exists," whereas the statement "This object is true" or "false" is meaningless." "only propositions have truth values."

So much less effort to just declare that you are wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
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Kelsey Rinella
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Pinook wrote:
blinkers


Trying to make the point about differences in usage?

My approach to this is to try not to argue about the words. Very frequently, it's possible to back off one's use of a contested term to a way of cashing that out which is adequate for the current argumentative purpose and on which there can be consensus.

Admittedly, this requires substantial comfort with defining words in terms of simpler ideas, which I recognize not everyone has or has good reason to develop. But I think it's pretty hard not to have at least rudimentary abilities in this direction, and so it seems to me like a more approachable method of getting clear on what we each mean than learning a lot of background or trying to agree on a glossary.
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Mac Mcleod
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Pinook wrote:
And yet you can list some of Pascal's imprecisions. (I'm assuming there were others.) It seems to me that he was burdened with a great big set of cultural blinkers. Or he wasn't trying for a dispassionate analysis.

Now I'll have to scuttle off and re-read for the 30th time about "objectivism".

Edit: added later I'm assuming here that Ayn Rand's followers have hijacked "Objectivism" on Wikipedia and that its not that to which you refered.

Wkipedia that fickle, fey, cloud-based seductress whispers in my ear that "Objectivism is an alternative name for philosophical realism, the view that there is a reality, or ontological realm of objects and facts, that exists independent of the mind."

Was that what you were after or was it "metaphysical objectivists" say "an object may truthfully be said to have this or that attribute, as in the statement "This object exists," whereas the statement "This object is true" or "false" is meaningless." "only propositions have truth values."

So much less effort to just declare that you are wrong. Wrong. Wrong.


My post only stands to a friendly reading. There are probably numerous quibble points for an unfriendly reader.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_%28philosophy%29
lol...
Quote:
Objectivity is both a central and elusive philosophical category. While there is no universally accepted articulation of objectivity


My point wasn't related to philosophy- but recalling that the arguments here used to be philosophy based. I got some good pointers (including the harvard "Justice with Sandel" video classroom series).
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Mac Mcleod
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rinelk wrote:
Pinook wrote:
blinkers


Trying to make the point about differences in usage?

My approach to this is to try not to argue about the words. Very frequently, it's possible to back off one's use of a contested term to a way of cashing that out which is adequate for the current argumentative purpose and on which there can be consensus.

Admittedly, this requires substantial comfort with defining words in terms of simpler ideas, which I recognize not everyone has or has good reason to develop. But I think it's pretty hard not to have at least rudimentary abilities in this direction, and so it seems to me like a more approachable method of getting clear on what we each mean than learning a lot of background or trying to agree on a glossary.


The frustration I have Rinelk, is (was?) the tendency of some posters to refuse to commit to any definition. There was a very defensive, guarded approach and a willful ambiguity which provided wiggle room. It's not really possible to formally discuss something when the other party won't allow for any foundation to be laid.
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Kelsey Rinella
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maxo-texas wrote:
The frustration I have Rinelk, is (was?) the tendency of some posters to refuse to commit to any definition. There was a very defensive, guarded approach and a willful ambiguity which provided wiggle room. It's not really possible to formally discuss something when the other party won't allow for any foundation to be laid.


Different people have different goals. I sympathize (sometimes too much), but when one discovers that someone else's goals in a thread are incompatible with one's own, I know of no better solution than to go along or leave the thread. It's like discovering that someone else has been playing a game with different house rules than you prefer and refuses to play your preferred way--you can play their game, or not play, but there's no real option for forcing other people to play the obviously superior variant.
 
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Timothy Adamson
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Pinook wrote:
It appears to me after watching and contributing to many RSP threads that precision/accuracy in the use of language for many of us for many topics is frequently medium or low.

I agree, but I think this is a problem with society at large, not just RSP threads.

Quote:
So we flounder using terms incorrectly, imprecisely, misleadingly.

I don't think it's so much technical terms that people do badly with, although sometimes. That can become a problem with one person understands the term as you use it, but has some pet peeve against it, and so pretends as if you said something other than what you meant, but without explaining the pet peeve. Usually, though, differing use of terms gets realized and sorted. Defining them can be tricky in a way that satisfies everyone if not everyone is at least willing to accept a working definition.

However, I think the much bigger problem is most people are terrible readers. They don't understand grammar very well, and sometimes don't understand some normal words. Conflation (thinking that two different things are one thing) is often a common problem as well.

Perhaps most fundamental is that language is (usually) precise, and people don't know this.
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When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.
 
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