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connecting dangerous ideas to anarchy...

+4 votes
i know this site tends toward egoism mostly, and egoism emphasizes that individuals are responsible for our own decisions. but i'm pondering the insistence that many many people have that being exposed to Certain Ideas is dangerous, or maybe that connecting Certain Ideas to anarchist thought is dangerous? theoretically i can see that because anarchy is a continually-being-redefined body of ideas (within quite broad parameters), if someone says all anarchists must wear blue (for example), anarchists might be considered more vulnerable to that than other systems of thought?
put another way: what kind of publishing automatically promotes?
just wondering if folks here have thought about this much, and if so, then what?

edit: sigh for being unclear. so yea, inspired by recent events (a tabler being attacked at the seattle book fair, for carrying a book on ITS that is not clearly and explicitly against some of ITS most extreme excesses). but this is not limited to a single event. this is a perspective that people have had for years: showing bad things is dangerous. it might not even count as an anarchist question, but i'm curious what (other) anarchists have to say about it--divorced from the specifics of what happened in seattle, as much as possible.
asked Sep 9 by dot (50,920 points)
edited Sep 10 by dot
yes....

i guess i've always had a distaste for "culture" (of any kind) itself....not sure why...i think most people don't. so if people dislike the culture of statism, religion, money, etc...and consider anarchy, maybe they still want a sort of "culture" to exist....for me, i've always wanted to do what i felt like at the moment, and culture and norms most often get in the way of that.
** Edit: Never having posted here before, I didn't realize that "answering" and "commenting" on a question were two different things. Gonna repost this as an actual answer to the question. **

Matt D: 

Up until that point, it had just seemed intuitive to me that anyone who adopts a consciously "anarchist" perspective would necessarily be an open-minded person who is receptive to all sorts of unconventional and subversive ideas that the average person would shrink away from in fear. The sense of culture shock that I experienced when I finally got involved with the anarchist subculture cannot be overstated. To my surprize, there was a whole slew of unwritten rules about things you can't say and ways you can't behave if you want to be accepted as "one of us."

this interest me a lot. i assumed as you did....and hearing your story (and others i've read here) makes me not want to get involved in any type of anarchist "sub-culture" or group. i do, however, still desire to meet more individuals who want anarchic relationships....but how to find them...?

but it also doesn't surprise me.... i think people have had so much immersion in "culture", that even when seeking to live and relate differently and uniquely, the same type of patterns repeat.

i have enough trouble critiquing myself and all the various ideologies....the last thing i feel like i need is another sub-culture (or ideology) to judge, or to judge me.

This is exactly why I no longer spend time in anarchist subcultural spaces. I basically just got fed up with all of the Orwellian groupthink and moralistic PC guilt trips. I'm at the point now where I'd rather just cut them loose and set them adrift on the sea of their own irrelevance than waste my time trying to debate with any of them.
i can see how you would feel that way....and i feel much the same way in any other group "or culture"...and i also try to cut people loose....which leaves me more isolated, because wherever i turn, ideology, conformity, and guilt trips abound, regardless of the flavor....luckily i found a mate to experience life with who also seeks anarchic relationships....just ranting here, i guess...but sometimes the whole fucking thing feels overwhelmingly crappy!

2 Answers

+4 votes

It might be useful to approach this question from the perspective of "call-out culture." As someone else remarked on Episode #27 of the @news Podcast in relation to the idea of sexual consent, the entire framework of "Anti-Oppression Politics" within left-anarchist subcultures assumes that people (typically women) are frail and in need of protection. This leads to setting up what basically amount to anarchist bureaucracies in which disputes can be addressed through a formal 'process' where offending parties are "called on their shit." Within these formal gatherings, the rhetoric of "safety" often comes up in the context of discussions where it really isn't relevant to the subject at hand - e.g. "I feel really unsafe right now because you're challenging my ideology rather than passively agreeing with it." In response to such statements, one might reasonably ask, "In what sense do you feel 'unsafe?' Does the mere fact that I disagree with you make you feel that I pose you some sort of physical threat? And, if so, on what basis?" But, within the left-anarchist scenester cult, such questions just aren't kosher - and are a quick route to excommunication. More often than not, the words "I feel unsafe" are just shorthand for "My worldview feels threatened."

Anti-Oppression Politics have become so pervasive in the North American anarchist subculture that every disagreement has become a safety issue. As is the case with so many people of my generation, I am old enough to remember when the internet first started to become popular but not so old that my initial exposure to anarchist ideas was able to come from from any other source. That being the case, I was already well steeped in my own particular version of anarchism (at that time, a pretty much orthodox "anarcho-communist" perspective) before I was able move away from the rural community where I grew up and become involved in the local anarchist scene of the city where I went to university. Up until that point, it had just seemed intuitive to me that anyone who adopts a consciously "anarchist" perspective would necessarily be an open-minded person who is receptive to all sorts of unconventional and subversive ideas that the average person would shrink away from in fear. The sense of culture shock that I experienced when I finally got involved with the anarchist subculture cannot be overstated. To my surprize, there was a whole slew of unwritten rules about things you can't say and ways you can't behave if you want to be accepted as "one of us."

The anarchist subculture has a very low tolerance for heretical ideas. Granted, it is fine with rattling the cages of people it deems part of "mainstream" culture but, when it comes to critiquing itself as a social entity, everyone involved suddenly becomes really thin-skinned. Not being from the West Coast, I wasn't at the Seattle Anarchist Book Fair when the whole Atassa Journal incident when down, so I can only rely on the second-hand information that I've heard. While I think that the critical encounter between anarchism and eco-extremism could have potentially posed some interesting questions about the messy realities of resistance to the social order that most anarchists don't want to face, I think that the left-anarchist subcultural bubble has proven itself wholly incapable of exploring these questions in anything other than a hyperbolic and reactionary fashion. Whoever this person was who ripped up the copy of the Atassa Journal at the LBC table clearly had it in their head that they were engaging in some sort of "militant direct action" that would gain them 'cred' among their fellow scene kids. What this person failed to understand is that even direct action can be a form of sanctimonious whining.   

answered Sep 12 by Matt Dionysus (420 points)
edited Sep 12 by Matt Dionysus

The anarchist subculture has a very low tolerance for heretical ideas. 

i'd say that almost any "culture" or "subculture" has a low tolerance. to me, that is one of the characteristics of culture. i thought maybe anarchist circles would differ....and perhaps they do to a degree, but it sounds like often they function much as any other group, especially when organizing.

It is pretty disheartening that when first meeting social anarchists types that there is a certain way you have to behave and self-censor yourself around them or else banishment from the cult. I would say it's a toxic environment to put yourself in and I personally avoid it. The anti-oppression dogma policy really never made sense to me. Who is the arbiter on when my behavior, existence, or words is oppressing someone? They treat a lot of people as a victim that needs to be protected and it's very paternalistic, which is ironic, imo. It's like that online on a lot of sites, for the most part. Like reddit, facebook, and other social media.

I wonder if the person that ripped the book up and got beat up was put up to it by someone else or did it for cred, as you stated? I mean, seriously, how many people have heard of the Atassa Journal, let alone read it? My guess is not that many and even less have read it. I never heard of it, nor read it until this drama unfolded, and now it has me curious about what it's all about. I guess, you could say, their actions turned into the "Streisand effect" and backfired.

I used to find it disheartening but now I'm basically just relieved to be done with that whole scene. It opens up a lot more possibilities in terms of relating with others as individuals rather than cloistering myself up in a little enclave of people who all think the same way I do.

As someone who enjoys music, film, literature, and art, I wouldn't go so far as to say that I reject "culture" as such. I'm definitely critical of symbolic mediation to the extent that it alienates me from my capacity to think and act for myself, but I remain skeptical of the extent to which it's either possible or desirable to have done with "culture" as a general concept.

i enjoy music, film, books too...and games and sports...but i like to view each creation on its own, and how each experience makes me feel or think...but "culture" feels like an abstract generalization to me, as some sort of "thing" that diffuses or flattens or homogenizes, that takes me further away from the particular experience....not that i can't think in terms of generalizations (sometimes i find it hard not to, when most people i encounter do),  but using that word (or concept) almost always creates a sense of alienation and dullness for me. i'd rather describe what i see and hear and feel in any given instance.

I guess the only question I would pose to you would be this: does adopting an oppositional stance toward the very idea of "culture" amount to an escape from its confines? There are lots of things in this world that I am "opposed" to but it doesn't stop those things from existing or exercising an influence over how I perceive the world around me. Granted, I can recognize that certain cultural narratives exist to reproduce the current social order by "manufacturing consent" (as much as I hate to quote Chomsky) among the general population, but merely having this critique does not automatically exempt me from their influence.

yes, and no.

but what i mean is that i don't get influenced (or affected, or constrained) by  "culture", but rather by a particular person(s) or place or experience. the "culture" doesn't exist except as an abstraction or generalized thought. i get affected by the person or situation i encounter. whether i deem that person or event as "part of the culture" seems mostly irrelevant to me.

so i wouldn't even describe my view as "opposing" the idea of "culture", but more like a letting go process....more of an increase in my awareness of the present moment, and less engaged in abstraction.

Ah, human asked a question that may clarify things in regard, in regards culture and stick to positions. The Brilliant also had a great discussion on this:

http://anarchy101.org/10757/platformism?show=10757#q10757

https://anarchistnews.org/content/brilliant-episode-53-%E2%80%93-round-table

0 votes
In relation to humans relating, ideas are pretty much unnecessary. In some situations we can toy around with whatever to see if it has some form of validity or usefulness, but how much better would the world be without ideas?

Every religious, political, and scientific idea has brought with it death and destruction. All of which is absolutely unnecessary, and yet within the framework of the idea very much an integral necessity.

An idea has to be defended. That which is defended is opposed. That which opposes is defended, and opposed, and so on, and so on, and so on. Even when there is no defence nor opposition it may be perceived to be so, and perception makes all real! So ludicrous.

People identify with ideas as a form of identity due to the conviction of the idea that they are somehow lacking. Not realizing that the conviction is just that.

So in the case of "a dangerous idea", it is not merely dangerous to those who hold the idea as their identity, for they set themselves up for all manner of trouble, but to all.

So, there can only be a "dangerous idea" to those in the grip of an opposing idea, to those in the grip of fear.

Anarchy is not an idea, but a fact of Life. The very nature of Nature is anarchic.
answered Oct 9 by edclear (380 points)

Sounds to me like you're using the word "idea" synonymously with "belief" or "opinion," which I consider problematic. Clearly, beliefs and opinions are types of ideas regarding what someone thinks "ought" or "ought not" to be the case, but many ideas involve no value judgements whatsoever. Every physical object in the world has a corresponding "idea" which signifies it but to which the object itself is not equivalent.

For instance, when I see a particular object that past experience has taught me is meant for sitting on and the idea of "chair" pops into my mind, this idea is not equivalent to the chair itself. It is merely a symbolic representation that I hold in my mind to make sense of the object that I'm seeing in front of me. The symbolic identity of "chair" is not being assigned to the object on any "objective" basis but, rather, is the result of certain experiential inferences that I am making about the functionality of the object as dictated by social convention. If I use the chair for a purpose other than what it was intended (such as bludgeoning someone over the head, for example), does it then cease to be a chair? Or when I sit on a tree stump, does it then cease to be a tree stump and effectly become a chair? To be honest, I think compelling arguments could be made on both sides.

While I think that discussing the possibility/desirability of a "world without beliefs" raises some interesting questions that are well worth considering, a "world without ideas" is simply a practical impossibility. I'm all for developing a more critical understanding of how identities are assigned to both objects and people (not to mention the psychological and neurological function that concept formation serves in the process of cognition) but seriously pursuing a "world without ideas" as though it's actually attainable is nothing more than a fool's errand.

Hi Matt, is an idea any different from belief, from opinion, from the essence of thought itself?

Take your example of a chair; is that idea devoid of content, obviously not as you point out. You may dislike hard chairs, you may like a plain chair rather than a patterned chair, etc. And yet, the chair simply is what it is. Again, as you said, the tree stump is a tree stump even if we choose to sit upon it, take it home, or call it xyz. So why do we have thoughts overlapping the reality which is beyond mental processing?

Certainly words have a function, a limited function. If we're clear on that we don't get caught up in silliness... and enough trees have lost their lives due to such as I'm sure you're aware.

Which brings us to, can thought actually cease beyond it's actual function? Can ideas rest just as our hands and arms do once finished this process of typing?
You tell me. These are precisely the sorts of questions I was hoping you'd be able to answer.
Hi Matt, all anyone can say is so much, as to really understand we have to go into it ourself, to see for ourself, to go inside ourself. Understanding is just that; getting down, exploring the whole not just the surface.

I mean, I can easily say, well an idea is just the equivalent of a belief as it is a limited process of memory which is held to be true (even if just a little). A belief is the same as an idea in that we have to believe, we have to give input, continuity, etc. But does that actually convey anything which aids real understanding?

That is where schooling fails completely, same with college and university. These systems merely impart information which is assumed to be unquestionable due to its "proven" quality. All forms of modern schooling are concerned only with formula, with technique, etc. Substance is lacking for most students as is actual understanding.

Schooling has placed focus on memorization and regurgitation. So we have a mass of information but so little actual understanding. So much acceptance of "facts" but so little comprehension of actual content.

If we look at something such as ideas we don't just look at the variations as that is a superficial aspect, the resultant effect rather than what an idea is. To understand we must observe, connect, be aware. Then a dramatic change takes place. From mere mental piecing together to actual understanding, active overall insight, I'd call it.

I'm all for looking within and radically questioning what "ideas" actually are. But you've gone a step further and suggested that a world "without ideas" is a both an attainable and desirable goal. So answer me this: isn't "ideas are bad" an idea in itself?

A world without ideas is not possible with living beings on it. An idea is a thought or a concept. Thoughts or concepts a person has doesn't need to be defended. How can one "be aware, connect & observe" and have an "actual understanding" while being devoid of any thoughts?

It seems like you mean a belief, as Matt stated. Particularly a belief or a concept that one wants to or has put into action that may or may not involve other life forms on this planet. A belief is a bit more than just an idea, like whether or not you accept something as true or valid would be a belief, in a simple way to put it.

Hi Human, I'd never say never;

Isn't an idea far more than just a thought, isn't it a more developed thought, indeed leading to... an Ideal?

We are so accustomed to the mindset that we have inherited from our upbringing, from our schooling. I'd suggest that when we are aware of our fundamental nature that a far more fluid aspect of our being comes into play. One not limited nor dictated by thought.

All thought is an outcome of memory, an accumulation. Mental comprehension is due to accumulative association rather than actual direct understanding. The difference is vast.

Awareness is simply complete sensing, complete seeing. That is not tied by thought processes, not limited by the mimicking memory. Be aware. Not of, just aware. You'll understand.

The way we're brought up is the encouragement of thought, of memory, but is that actually contributory toward our development or actually nonconductive?

Edit: Removed an unnecessary a after idea!

"Isn't an idea a far more than just a thought, isn't it a more developed thought, indeed leading to... an Ideal?"

To answer your own question, try answering this one: Does the fact that an idea can "lead" to something more than just a thought mean that that's what it already is or just what it has the potential to become?

Hi Matt, sure an idea can be put onto paper and manifest as a house. That is the fulfilment of an idea... as it already is, at the same time, as it had the potential to become.

The idea is a process of fixation, the manifestation of an idea is the idealization. However that works in the technical realm, and even there ideas become very rigid... "you can build this way, not that way"!

So ideas getting in the way of ideas. Rather then being open to the new and saying "well let's see if this does work". That's what I meant about at certain times we can toy around mentally, but when relating, ideas become somewhat troublesome.

Another example, is the word anarchy itself. From a simple straightforward meaning anarchy has now so many ideas attached to it as to become somewhat absurd, paradoxical.

For many anarchy has become idealized, a fixed form. Such is so far from what anarchy actually is. This is why I'd say ideas are unnecessary, indeed corrupting.

But what if an idea isn't put on paper and manifested as a house? What if it simply remains an idea without ever being acted upon? Is it then anything more than just a thought? Does it even make sense to say that an idea "already is" what it has the potential to be if that potential remains unrealized?

Yes Matt, if an idea remains as an idea it is just thought, and will fade away without focus. What do you mean by "already is"?

All is potential, even when remaining unrealized, unmanifest. Just as a car has always been possible, right from day one... it just took the action to manifest it.

Good, now we're getting somewhere. When I speak of an idea as it "already is," I mean in its capacity as something that is thought without yet being acted upon. If your goal is a world "without ideas" on the grounds that ideas inevitably ossify into alienated Ideals, then I would challenge you on that point. Certainly, that potential always exists, but it is not the necessary and inevitable consequence of having ideas. 

I have no goal, those are for footballers, competitive types, not what I am.

Let's look where ideas lead... on a large scale we have religions, politics, armies, schooling, so-called science, etc.

All these have their splinter groups which don't go along with the general idea of the original. It does tend toward more and more silliness rather than progress.

We see the same with our forms of entertainment; music, books, etc. Rules are written, and those who do not follow the rules are written off.

Such is the absurdity of the idea.

An idea is born of thought, therefore just as thought is completely incomplete so too is any idea. All thought is extremely limited due to being born of memory. As memory collects, grows, so to do ideas. So the ideas becomes, and that very becoming leads to corruption.

To live via an idea or an ideal is to live a delusional life. I'm sure you'll agree, those in the grip of delusion are a danger to themselves, to others.

"I have no goal, those are for footballers"

Or so you claim. I, however, would argue that you do have a goal even if you aren't aware of it. That goal is to erroneously equate the term "Idea" with "Ideal," which are not one and the same thing - regardless of how adamantly you maintain that they are. 

I don't disagree with you that "ideas" can be fetishized to the point that one becomes enslaved to them but, at that point, they have ceased to be merely ideas and have been transformed into alienated Ideals. As I stated previously, the potential always exists for Ideas to be transformed into Ideals, but there is nothing inherent in the nature of Ideas as such to necessitate this transformation. 

As paradoxical as it may sound, what you're actually doing here is transforming an opposition to alienated Ideals into an alienated Ideal in itself. In other words, by obfuscating the distinction between 'Idea' and 'Ideal,' you're actually complicit in the very thing you claim to oppose.

There is no goal here, merely exploration.

An idea is not a detached isolated process. An idea follows a set course. Sure an idea doesn't have to become an ideal, and yet look around. To me it is idealistic to say that ideas do not follow their course, do not crystallize.

Ideas about what to have for lunch, to ideas about which is the best band in the world, to the ideas about which partner to choose, how to relate, etc.

Ideas rarely begin and end within a split second. Indeed we usually have a confusion of ideas going on at any one time!

How many know what to eat? How many follow the latest guidance on what is a healthy Diet? How many actually make a choice?

Food, such a simple thing. We have to eat, that is fact, and yet the associated ideas which govern our choice are largely ignored. So kids and adults claim to make a choice when the reality is that the choice is forced upon due to their own ignorance of their bodily needs, due to mass marketing, food producers propaganda, due to habit, etc.

We can ask why they eat vegan for instance and they'll tell us this, that, and everything. Then if we say, but why? They make look a little baffled, and begin again telling us all the facts, the reasons, etc. If we persist and again say, why? They'll either think we're meat eaters or just plain idiots. To me, the why is all. What is fact, and what is idea!

To accept external knowledge is to accept an idea.

"Opposition", perhaps just your interpretation? When dealing with fact, there is no opposition.

What is an idea to you? How does an idea work?

"An idea follows a set course."

No, it really doesn't. Ideas follow countless different courses, the possible outcomes of which are all highly contingent and can never be known in advance with any degree of certainty.

"Sure an idea doesn't have to become an ideal, and yet look around. To me it is idealistic to say that ideas do not follow their course, do not crystallize."

The second sentence here contradicts the first. Initially, you say that an Idea need not become an Ideal; but then, in the very next sentence, you immediately recant this by suggesting that an idea will "follow its course" toward its inevitable crystallization as an alienated Ideal. It can't be both. So which is it?

Only inanimate objects like paperweights don't have ideas. You're not a paperweight, are you?

As I said previously, it's not about the variations, the outward manifestations, but what an idea itself is. The very essence of an idea, of thought.This can only be understood by understanding, not talking, not thinking.

Thinking is not awareness. Thinking is an involved reactionary process.

Apparent contradiction. What was said, "It doesn't have to, and yet look around". Fact is, an idea can end as soon as it begins, just as a cloud can form and evaporate within seconds. Yet look at people, at how they run with ideas. All forms of mistaken ideas are vying for dominance in this world of ours. From people deciding their relationship is somewhat boring and could be spiced up by having an affair to people deciding they should have absolute power.

What I'm suggesting is, ideas are simply nonsense, completely unnecessary nonsense at that. Perhaps thought never ceases in your mind, as with most people. Thought is a habit, nothing more nothing less. Thought is also beyond your control.

You may say wait a minute, I can choose to think about whatever. Again, awareness is called for rather than superficial reactions.

I ask you to sit silently for a few moments, just a few minutes, see what's going on.

Again I'll ask for clarification. What is an idea to you? How does an idea work?

The actuality of idea, not the many forms. It's like asking, what is a human being, and people describe the bodies, the variations of skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, etc. The accomplishments, the actions, etc. That is just parts, not essence. We've got to get beyond the superficial aspects, beyond the ideas.
Ideas don't have "essences," ideas are just mental representations of particular objects or states of affairs. They are momentary fluctuations in mental energy that perpetually fade into and out of consciousness. As soon as you start talking about "essences," you have automatically entered the realm of religion and meaningless abstraction.
The essence of anarchy is no rule, no ruler, no rules. That is the essence, the essential aspect. To which many have added arms and legs... and took off running.

So my question was, what is the essence of an idea, the actuality of what an idea is, the whole.

Actuality is as far from religious thought as one can get, same applies to abstraction.

Again I'll ask for clarification, as there does appear to be some misinterpretation going on here. What is an idea to you? How does an idea work?

To say, "They are momentary fluctuations in mental energy that perpetually fade into and out of consciousness", is to speak only of effect, is it not?

If an idea was a mere momentary fluctuation, it would be akin to a fart, surely? Isn't an idea more than that?
And an "effect" is all that an idea is - an effect of consciousness encountering its environment and representing various aspects of that environment to itself. Ideas are not "objects" to be grasped out of the air like dandelion spores, they are phase shifts in consciousness in response to various stimuli.  I'm sorry if this notion is distasteful to you, but that is my take on the matter and I am standing by it. I reject the very notion of "essence" and no amount of insistence on your part is going to make me embrace it.
Okay, you take a stance, I get it.

And so do you, contrary to what you might be willing to admit to yourself. "Taking a stance" isn't the problem. The problem is an unwillingness to be flexible on that stance. I'd be perfectly willing to modify my stance if your argument was a compelling one, but I just don't find it all that compelling - and I've given you my reasons why. 

If you wanted to explain what you mean by "essence" and how you think I'm misinterpreting the way that you're using the term, then we might actually be able to cover some ground here. However, simply using the word and expecting me to take it at face value isn't going to get us very far.

As I have said, I have no goal, no stance, I'm exploring while typing, no fixed ideas here; Not attempting to compel, convince, etc. As was said, mental comprehension is quite different from awareness.

Maybe I'm not seeing things as they actually are, I may have some form of fungus in my brain causing all sorts of delusion;

However, let's see if we can clear a few points up.

When you say "an idea is a phase shift in consciousness in response to various stimuli", what do you really mean by that? Any more than I've been saying... "reactionary thought"? To me, we are not that far apart.

I have been suggesting we understand idea. Just... idea, the actuality of. I simply can't figure out a way to put it. It's like saying, look at that bottle. So all I'm saying is, let's look at what an idea is in its totality.

Essence is a basic English word. As I mentioned concerning the word anarchy, the essence is the actuality behind the mere word.

So does an idea have an essence? That is, do ideas all have a similar action, a quality which is quantifiable, predictable?

It's like asking, does a sample of sea water contain the essence of the sea from where collected? We can get into arguments about exactly how much of the sea, or what level of sea water, etc, however that is going beyond the basic principle is it not? Allowing ideas to overlap the simple original question.

You said above that an idea is an effect. For every effect there is a cause, which you would say is: "consciousness encountering its environment and representing various aspects of that environment to itself". So, what is consciousness?
i think of "an idea" as someone imagining something, and then describing that image or feeling with words.
Hi bornagainanarchist, what I'm probing is more than just the process, the outcome. Looking from beginning to end, if you know what I mean... the origin of an idea, the whole action of such.
hi edclear,

it seems to me you said three things in that statement about "ideas"....the process, the origin, and the outcome.

when it comes to origin, i think ideas come in different ways. for example, sometimes i get a feeling, or an image flashes into my mind, a sensation of various sorts come over me, or through me. then, i might (or might not) begin to think about that image or sensory perception, and form an idea by using language. so i suppose that might describe an origin and a process. other times, an idea comes to my mind while thinking about something else, or mulling over a problem, or thinking about something i desire....

as far as outcome goes...well, that can lead anywhere, or nowhere. :)

"So all I'm saying is, let's look at what an idea is in its totality."

Why assume that an idea even has a totality? The very nature of 'Thinking' is such that each thought flows into the next, which flows into the next, which flows into the next... and so on ad infinitum. There is no basis on which you can draw a clear dividing line and say, "Here's where one idea stops and another begins." Thought doesn't move in a straight line. It's constantly branching off in multiple directions at once, oftentimes based on very loose associations between different objects and past experiences. This is what the philosopher Gilles Deleuze referred to as "rhizomatic thought."

"When you say 'an idea is a phase shift in consciousness in response to various stimuli', what do you really mean by that?"

I mean precisely that: I experience something in my environment that causes my thinking to transition or 'shift' from one 'phase' into another. It can be something as simple as sitting on a bus thinking about the lyrics of a song that I'm listening to and then seeing a billboard that makes me think about food; or something as complex as thinking about the nature of Thought itself and then picking up a book that makes me think about it in a new way.  

"Essence is a basic English word."

You need to understand that, while you may be using the word 'essence' in a more colloquial sense, it has a very loaded connotation in the Western philosophical tradition that traces it's roots all the way back to Plato and his idea of "the Forms." It is generally taken to mean an idea as a reified "object" or ideal "Form" of a particular concept - i.e. the very thing that you have been criticizing for much of your time here.

That is, do ideas all have a similar action, a quality which is quantifiable, predictable?

No, they don't. Which is as it should be. Making things quantifiable and predictable is what techno-industrial civilization does to keep people in line. Why should those who claim to oppose coercive authority have any interest in making things quantifiable and predictable?

"For every effect there is a cause..."

Really? Just one? Why only one? And can't "effects" also function as causes which give rise to other effects which, in turn, can branch off and cause other things to happen? To me, it makes more sense to say that "causes" interact among themselves to create other causes, and that "effects" are just the indirect result of this interplay of causes among themselves.

"So, what is consciousness?"

I'm not as interested in figuring out "what consciousness is" so much as how I experience it in my daily life. If the purpose of asking such a question is to establish a 'universal' definition of consciousness, then I think you're wasting your time. If, however, this question is just an oversimplified way of asking, "how is consciousness lived," then I think it might be worth exploring.

Hello again bornaginanarchist, yep, an idea comes by association, so they manifest due to _________ whatever. As you say they come not alone, but with certain baggage. Which in turn opens, giving yet another set of clothes. So an idea soon becomes more than a mere thought. It becomes, until it is an identity itself... however short lived that may be.

So if we understand an idea to be a process of thought, which is merely our memory, why live by an idea... or a collective of ideas? Surely we are not living but making believe. What good can come via make believe?

Hi Matt, “Why assume that an idea even has a totality? “, no assumption, fact is never assumption.

As you say yourself, the process of thought has a totality... that being, one leading to another, to... wherever. Yet, thought most certainly has a beginning... and, an end. If we go beyond the mere immediate, we see the whole.

Just as a tree is a totality, so too is every branch, every leaf, every offshoot, roots, the ground, water, sunlight, etc, part of that totality. As with the tree, the more an idea gathers the greater its body, its totality. Is this not so?

Sure thought is associative: collaborative, confirmative, conformative, etc. That is part of the nature of thought. Just as words, images, etc, are elements, forms. And yes, thought is not simply linear, but a mass of missives. Consciousness is a slave to content.

_______________________________________________________

Phase Shift...

It was really the word phase which interested me. As phase suggests time. So rather than an idea being a “momentary fluctuation” they have a certain continuity. Whereas that which is of the moment, is of the moment.

I'm sure you see where I'm going with this. An idea begins, takes root, ends in ideal. An idea solidified as "this is it". So, that could be the way to wash the dishes for instance... “this is the way, plates first cutlery last, all other ways are wrong... and only use a certain brand of detergent”!

_________________________________________________________

So to get back to the word essence, it is quite simple, just as the use of the word totality is very directly applicable. I do not talk philosophically nor use the language of philosophy nor philosophers. No one outwith self can answer any serious question!

Essence is simply the actual quality of whatever, the overall. It's like saying "let's get to the heart of the matter". So it's that beyond the more obvious. So we could replace the word essence with core, heart, etc.

If someone has a philosophical bent, that shapes their perception, and thus your idea gets in the way of straightforward communication. That is the essence of the problem with belief.

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Quantifiable and Predictable...

Let's look a little more. To say "no they don't", is to say the idea of a Christian is completely different from the idea of an Atheist. Now to me, there is no difference, An idea is an idea.

Sure the content of their idea is somewhat different, but the essence is the same... an idea is an idea.

We get all forms of stupidity in this world of ours; racism, sexism, elitism, etc, etc, etc. All who hold an idea try to justify such by using a superficial categorization... "Well he's got black skin", "She's a woman", "We're not all equal". When pushed a little, they'll generalize even more, and ever more. When challenged by their own absurdity, they'll point out just how right they are due to all the points they've just pointed out.

An idea is the same, it is a belief, it is a conviction, it is a stance, etc. When we look beyond the terminology, beyond the habits, etc, we can see there is no fundamental difference between a Christian and an Atheist. They are both simply the result of thought, and without thought they would be just as they are... nothing.

Hence, idea is quantifiable and predictable, and has nothing to do with the "techno-industrial civilization". That is fear getting in the way of clarity. The "techno-industrial civilization", is an idea. Can you see that? In its totality?

You've raised the most pertinent question so far by asking; "Why should those who claim to oppose coercive authority have any interest in making things quantifiable and predictable?".

Now we've reached the essence of what I'm talking about. Those with an idea are never free, are at the very mercy of their own mind. The idea is itself the coercion, the authoritative action, etc.

If we return to say, the Christian... the Christian is not a Christian, just a idea of what a Christian is, which is completely dictated by the interpretation of whatever branch of Christianity they follow. That's how laughable it is... and yet, they sincerely believe they are following "God's way". They are following not the spirit, not the word, just an interpretation of words.

So ideas corrupt, and corrupt completely.

Nowhere did I suggest that we make things quantifiable nor predictable, merely asked if they are!

__________________________________________________________

Effect...

You're just saying the same as cause and effect by using "causes causing". Do we really need to re-invent the wheel?

__________________________________________________________

What is Consciousness?

Refer to the context of the question.

no assumption, fact is never assumption.

Circular reasoning. Assuming that it's a fact is itself an assumption. 

"As you say yourself, the process of thought has a totality..."

I never said any such thing. The statement "one thought flows into the next" does not imply that the Thinker is capable of identifying a clear dividing line that separates one thought from another. The flow is a continuous 'stream' and not broken up into distinct 'units.' What you are describing is the Content rather than the Form of thought. In other words, you can say to yourself, "A minute ago, I was thinking about music, but now I'm thinking about cheeseburgers, and this thought of cheeseburgers is different than the thought about music." However, this merely pertains to the Content of what is being thought about and not the Form of Thought as such - i.e. as a continuous 'flow.' 

So to get back to the word essence, it is quite simple...

Have you stopped to consider the possibility that it's your understanding of the word that's simple and not the word itself?

I do not talk philosophically nor use the language of philosophy nor philosophers.

Well I do, so get used to it. Your colloquial use of the language is a deficiency with your logic, not mine.

Essence is simply the actual quality of whatever, the overall.

Yeah, you've said that already. I, however, reject this premise and maintain that the term 'essence' refers to something more than just 'actuality' - i.e. the very sort of reified abstract ideal that you are otherwise trying to critique.

If someone has a philosophical bent, that shapes their perception, and thus your idea gets in the way of straightforward communication.

What you call "straightforward" communication, I called dumbed-down communication. Anyone who says they want to dissect the mechanics of thought should be prepared to accept the fact that there's nothing "straightforward" about it. That's the minimum price of admission to make this sort of conversation worth the time.

is to say the idea of a Christian is completely different from the idea of an Atheist.

Actually, it's to say the exact opposite: each in their own way, both Christians and Atheists embrace the belief that ideas are quantifiable - the former elevating "the Spirit of God" to the status of an alienated ideal, the latter doing likewise with "the Spirit of Man" or 'Mankind' - in other words, by conceiving of their respective ideas as 'essences' to be venerated above all else. The problem is not with which essence they choose to venerate, but the fact they implicitly embrace the notion of 'essence' at all. 

we can see there is no fundamental difference between a Christian and an Atheist.

That's all well and good but, by affirming the concept of 'essence' you're doing exactly the same thing as you accuse Christians and Atheists of doing - i.e. worshiping an alienated Ideal.

Hence, idea is quantifiable and predictable, and has nothing to do with the "techno-industrial civilization". That is fear getting in the way of clarity. The "techno-industrial civilization", is an idea. Can you see that? In its totality?

Again, I reject the premise that there's anything to "see." There is no "totality," as much as you want there to be one. By suggesting that there is, you are implicitly embracing the notion that ideas are quantifiable, even if your intention is to do the very opposite. And making ideas quantifiable is absolutely what techno-industrial civilization does to keep people under control.

Now we've reached the essence of what I'm talking about. Those with an idea are never free, are at the very mercy of their own mind. The idea is itself the coercion, the authoritative action, etc.

In order for your argument to be consistent, you would have to say the same thing about the idea of 'essence' itself. Otherwise, this is just a case of Orwellian doublethink.

Nowhere did I suggest that we make things quantifiable nor predictable, merely asked if they are!

You may not have stated it outright, but you implied it by suggesting that ideas possess a 'totality.'

You're just saying the same as cause and effect by using "causes causing". Do we really need to re-invent the wheel?

No, I'm not. By speaking of effects as being the indirect consequence of causes interacting among themselves, I am introducing the play of contingency into the 'gap' between cause and effect. This is in contrast to the classical understanding of the relationship between cause and effect as one of direct necessity and entailment.

So, to answer your question, yes, we absolutely do need to reinvent the wheel.

This is interesting, I've read this whole thread through around four times now and all I'm left with is this, it's going nowhere as one person is saying one thing and being ignored by the other person who is imposing his own ideas on to what the first person is saying. What is the point? If anything it reminds me of a preacher who would never allow questions to be asked.
to CB: there are always multiple reasons for writing online (or communicating in any way). one constant (ie regardless of if you're being heard by anyone else) is to clarify your own thoughts. Another is to communicate with others, who may or may not be the person you're responding to. (in other words, i agree that edclear doesn't seem like a good faith participant in these threads, but MD is not just talking to them, MD is also -- perhaps more importantly--talking to others reading this thread, who could be greatly impacted by what MD writes...)

the ineffability of communication, yea?

MD is also demonstrating (afaic) appropriate style when trying to find a common language, which is to go hard and get specific (not the only way to find common ground, but a solid way). and that is worthwhile in itself.

the ineffability of communication, yea?

I'm glad you brought this up because it really is the unspoken undercurrent of this entire conversation. The paradox of trying to describe Thought itself is that Thought is, in a sense, beyond Language; and, as such, will always elude any effort to describe it. We saw this ambiguity play out when edclear grappled on to my use of the phrase "one thought flows into the next" and used this to conclude that I was inadvertently saying Thought must therefore have a 'totality' after all. Had I used slightly different wording to make the exact same point (such as "thinking is a continuous and undifferentiated flow,") then the confusion wouldn't have arisen in the first place. In hindsight, I could have worded that sentence better, but struggling for the right words is one of the many difficulties that can arise when trying to communicate the ineffable.

Dot, what does that mean "i agree that edclear doesn't seem like a good faith participant in these threads"? I see him or her as asking questions and asking us to ask ourselves those as well. My reading was that Matt Dionysus was just trying to prove a point and not reading what edclear said half of the time. I'd go as far as to say MD was shouting edclear down.

I mean saying the use of the word essence is wrong is just arrogant beyond belief. The word according to Websters means:

ES'SENCE, noun [Latin essentia, esse, to be.]

1. That which constitutes the particular nature of a being or substance, or of a genus, and which distinguishes it from all others.

So how can anyone argue against the use of that word in the context that it was used? To say, "an idea has no essence", or "I reject that meaning", has no validation as you're just being totally authoritarian.

I can see what edclear is getting at, to dig deeper. I also noted bornagainanarchist saying a similar thing: "so i wouldn't even describe my view as "opposing" the idea of "culture", but more like a letting go process....more of an increase in my awareness of the present moment, and less engaged in abstraction".

My reading was that Matt Dionysus was just trying to prove a point and not reading what edclear said half of the time. I'd go as far as to say MD was shouting edclear down.

I mean saying the use of the word essence is wrong is just arrogant beyond belief.

It's kind of a matter of perspective, isn't it? If you want to take dictionary definitions at face value, then fine, that's your prerogative. But if your goal is to convince other people that they should do likewise, then it seems to me the premise of your argument should be something other than the restatement of its conclusion. Nothing I've said in any way prevents edclear from coming back and explaining why I should regard the word 'essense' as being synonymous with 'actuality.' However, if his argument rests on simply restating this as a fact, then I see no reason why I should just sit back and piously accept it.

"no assumption, fact is never assumption."

An assumption is something that you ASSUME. A fact is something that has lots of different definitions, i am referencing http://www.dictionary.com/browse/fact?s=t . But through this statement, I would assume that a fact is never an assumption. Is that correct? How are my philosophical skills today?

"It's kind of a matter of perspective, isn't it?" I wouldn't say that as word have definitions and for good reason, so we know what we are saying and others can understand us.

"However, if his argument rests on simply restating this as a fact, then I see no reason why I should just sit back and piously accept it."

Why don't you give an example of why you're saying "an idea has no essence", as I find it contradictory as in the answer to my question here http://anarchy101.org/16108/whats-an-anarchists-idea-of-the-ideal-sex-setup you say you agree with Wolfi Landstreicher when he says that free love has substance. That word substance could be replaced with essence and mean the same if you take words at the face value.

If substance applies to one idea why not all? Edclear made numerous attempts to clear the way by giving examples (which I find grounded in reality) but you block it by saying "no". So what is your reasoning? If you redefine a word then how are other people going to understand you unless you reveal your definition?

I'm actually glad that this confusion came up because it illustrates not only the fundamental imprecision of Language itself, but also the perils of communicating in an online environment. So let's start by addressing this statement right here:

I wouldn't say that as word have definitions and for good reason, so we know what we are saying and others can understand us.

The question I will ask you in response is this: what expectations are you placing on the function of 'definition' as such? Is your assumption that the purpose of dictionary definitions is to exhaust the possible applications of a particular word in a given context? Is this even what the people who write dictionaries aspire to or are their goals more basic than that? At best, dictionary definitions can only ever provide a decontextualized overview of the range of meanings that social convention ascribes to particular words. Linguistics is not a "hard science," it is the study of patterns within Language as a cultural product.

Why don't you give an example of why you're saying "an idea has no essence"

I already did that when I gave the example of someone sitting on the bus thinking about the lyrics of a song and then having their attention diverted by a restaurant billboard. Does the thought "I want a cheeseburger" have an 'essence' that is the desire for a cheeseburger? And, if so, wouldn't this mean that the preceding idea of "I wonder what this song is about" has an 'essence' that is entirely different? Or, to put this in more precise terms, is the Essence of an idea equivalent to its Content or does the concept of 'essence' strive after something more universal? 

If the Essence of an idea is equivalent to its Content, then it is only particular ideas that have essences and not the general concept of "the Idea" as such. As soon as you start talking about "the Idea" as a general concept rather than particular ideas about particular things, you automatically sidestep the Content of Thought and turn your attention to its Form. Edclear made it quite obvious that this is what he's after when he said,

"what I'm probing is more than just the process, the outcome. Looking from beginning to end, if you know what I mean... the origin of an idea, the whole action of such."

In other words, he's interested in the Form rather than the Content of Thought, yet continues to equate the 'essence' of an idea with its Content. And, if it's the Content of an idea that gives it its Essence, then there can be no talk of "the Idea" as a general concept possessing a 'totality' because each particular idea would possess its own unique essence. The upshot of all this is that the concept of 'essence' strives after an abstract universality that it can never achieve. By attempting to deduce the Form of Thought via its Content, the thinker remains caught in an infinite feedback loop that just keeps replicating itself. The way out of this is to simply accept the fact that Thought has no 'essence' and no 'totality.' It is just the continual flow of consciousness representing its environment to itself.

as I find it contradictory as in the answer to my question here http://anarchy101.org/16108/whats-an-anarchists-idea-of-the-ideal-sex-setup you say you agree with Wolfi Landstreicher when he says that free love has substance.

When I said that "I agree with Wolfi Landstreicher," the implication wasn't that I think his exact wording perfectly communicates what he was trying to convey. I was simply saying that I agree with the underlying premise that erotic desire exceeds the particular 'categories' within which particular people seek to express it. If you want to hold me responsible for Wolfi's less-than-ideal word choices, you could have also pointed out that, in that same quote, he speaks uncritically about the concept of "revolution," whereas I have critiqued it here: 

http://anarchy101.org/16134/what-do-anarchists-think-is-the-best-way-forward 

Certainly, "substance" isn't the word that I would have chosen had I been writing that article, but Wolfi's underlying point is, I think, still a solid one.

If you redefine a word then how are other people going to understand you unless you reveal your definition?

I already gave my definition of the word 'essence' when I said that "[i]t is generally taken to mean an idea as a reified 'object' or ideal 'Form' of a particular concept..." What I see as the elephant in the room here is not so much an "authoritarian" effort on my part to impose definitions on other people (which you yourself said above that I haven't even presented), but a fundamental disagreement on the function of Language as well as the nature of Truth and causality. Call it what you will: necessity vs. contingency, essentialism vs. anti-essentialism, determinism vs. anti-determinism, etc. 

If there is an authoritarian enforcement of definitions going on here, it is coming from the opposite direction whenever edclear proclaims it to be a "fact" that ideas possess a "totality" or uses the word "essence" in an oversimplified manner and just assumes he won't be challenged on this point. Like I said in my previous comment, if you want to take dictionary definitions at face value, then be my guest; but don't assume that, just because you're willing to take something on blind faith, everyone else is obliged to as well. 

"what expectations are you placing on the function of 'definition' as such?"

Without definitions words are meaningless, and communication in this type of environment would be near impossible, reduced to what, emoji's? And yeah, words are about context within a cultural context. We are all taught the meanings, how these interlink with other words to give an overall meaning. Not decontextualized but very much within context. Even if it was a verbal learning, we still know the context. Probably even more in a verbal setting as its easier to pick up other signals!

"Does the thought "I want a cheeseburger" have an 'essence' that is the desire for a cheeseburger?"

Well it has substance in the sense that we all know what a cheeseburger is or we could desire one could we? If we've tasted one, we know even more of it's "essence", even if that is on a personal level, I like it or don't.

"And, if so, wouldn't this mean that the preceding idea of "I wonder what this song is about" has an 'essence' that is entirely different?"

It could be the essence concerning different things is different as all ideas do have different corresponding emotions or feelings. Why not?

"If the Essence of an idea is equivalent to its Content, then it is only particular ideas that have essences and not the general concept of "the Idea" as such."

That seems like poor reasoning to me as every thought is different but when viewed on another level, the same. I could use an example like: Brand A of ibuprofen is the same as Brand X as they both contain the same dose of active ingredient, i.e. essence. Or I could say there are hundreds of languages and all can express the exact same thought. Maybe that's what Edclear was getting at, to "get beyond the superficial".  I think I know what he or she means. It's like an apple. In our language it's apple, in French it's pomme, in Geman it's apfel, but the essence is the apple, the real thing. It is a general thing; apple. That would be the "universal essence". It seems to me that you are interpretating what Edclear is saying and making it more than it is due to imposing your own Platonic bias (or anti-bias).

I would say you are targeting content, i.e. the variety of apple over just  apples. Everyone knows what an apple is even if not the particular variety, like a red delicious or gala. Whereas Edclear is saying "look beyond the variations", like he said about a human being. If we focus on black skin and we then say black people are different to white, that is plainly wrong. That's why he or she is saying "what I'm probing is more than just the process, the outcome. Looking from beginning to end, if you know what I mean... the origin of an idea, the whole action of such".

"When I said that "I agree with Wolfi Landstreicher,""

So you got the essence, "the underlying premise", and that was enough to stop you taking issue with the wording.

"If you redefine a word then how are other people going to understand you unless you reveal your definition?"

I would disagree that that is the general definition of the word essence, sound like an esoteric definition rather than general.

Again a quick google brings up a general definition from The Free Dictionary which is more in line with what Edclear is saying:

es·sence

(ĕs′əns) n.

1.

a. The intrinsic or indispensable quality or qualities that serve to characterize or identify something: The essence of democracy is the freedom to choose.

b. Philosophy The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things, especially as contrasted with its existence.

I'd disagree that Edclear is the one being authoritarian as he's fleshing out his answers and questions all the while you are making far more statements as though they are matter of fact which cannot be challenged. Seriously dude, I think you've taken off on a tangent and lost the essence of the thread.

"I would say you are targeting content, i.e. the variety of apple over just  apples."

Both the "variety of apples" and "apples in general" pertain to the Content rather than the Form of Thought because "an apple" is an idea about a particular thing and not an idea about "Ideas" in general. As soon as you make "the Idea" itself an object of Thought, you automatically step outside the realm of Particular Things. It makes no difference whether you're talking about one particular variation within a category of Particular Things (e.g. a Granny Smith apple vs. a Macintosh apple) or the entire category. Either way, you're still focussing on the Content rather than the Form of Thought. This is the entire point of what I'm getting at: in order to attribute an essence to "Thought" in general, you would have to arrive at it by identifying a universal quality that is inherent to all ideas about Particular Things rather than from the perspective of Thought as an emergent process. It isn't enough to say that the quality which "ideas about Particular Things" have in common is the fact that they are thought about. This simply returns us to the original question of, "What do you mean by Thought?" In other words, it is a tautology. 

So you got the essence, "the underlying premise", and that was enough to stop you taking issue with the wording.

You're presenting a false equivalence between the terms 'essence' and 'premise.' A 'premise' is simply a rhetorical proposition whereas an 'essence' is an alleged ontological property. This is like saying that the statement "apples are red" is equivalent to the actual redness of the apple itself. Propositions might refer to Properties, but they are not one and the same thing. This is just another overly colloquial use of the language in an effort to muddy the waters of this debate. You can post as many dictionary definitions as you like and it won't change that.   

I'd disagree that Edclear is the one being authoritarian as he's fleshing out his answers and questions all the while you are making far more statements as though they are matter of fact which cannot be challenged.

No, he really isn't. When I posed the question, "Why assume that an idea even has a totality," what was his response? Answer: "no assumption, fact is never assumption." When I posted my own definition of the word 'essence,' it was never under the expectation that it would be passively accepted by anyone. If that was the case, I wouldn't be here debating with you right now and it would be me who is conspicuously absent from these proceedings rather than edclear. The fact that you don't like or comprehend my definition of the word 'essence' doesn't mean that I am imposing it on you or anyone else. I posted it in direct response to a definition that, in my view, is inadequate because it isn't nuanced enough to address the problems it raises. I fully anticipated that my counter-definition would be challenged in precisely the same way that it was intended to challenge edclear's definition - and that is exactly what's happening.

Seriously dude, I think you've taken off on a tangent and lost the essence of the thread.

I don't think so. I think the major obstacles here are the comprehension difficulties of my primary interlocutors.

"This is the entire point of what I'm getting at: in order to attribute an essence to "Thought" in general, you would have to arrive at it by identifying a universal quality that is inherent to all ideas about Particular Things rather than from the perspective of Thought as an emergent process."

What do you mean by "emergent process"?

Reading these answers I do agree "the world would be much better without ideas" because now I have to refer to a dictionary every other sentenceblush.

"You're presenting a false equivalence between the terms 'essence' and 'premise.' A 'premise' is simply a rhetorical proposition whereas an 'essence' is an alleged ontological property".

Dude, I was being facetious, and like The Joker said "Why so serious?" This is the way ordinary people talk, we don't have to philosophize as things like the "redness of apples" is pretty much obvious.

"This is just another overly colloquial use of the language in an effort to muddy the waters of this debate".

Do you mean the use of the definition? That's to clarify not muddy. I could argue that you are overly using language to evade simplicity and talk as we all do "on the streets".

"When I posed the question, "Why assume that an idea even has a totality," what was his response? Answer: "no assumption, fact is never assumption.""

He or she clarified that by going into totality (another word you love to hatelaugh). And the analogy of the tree struck me as expressing his or her idea clearly.

I don't understand the logic in using an established word in a different way. I also do not understand why your definition adds to what is a pretty simple use of the word. Why not concede and meet the meaning of the word to make the debate fluent? Or at least flesh out your definition for the sake of clarity.

"I think the major obstacles here are the comprehension difficulties of my primary interlocutors."

Hopefully you were laughing when you wrote that, otherways I may take it as you think I'm a Jock.

What do you mean by "emergent process"?

I mean exactly that: a process that is constantly emerging rather than one with an outcome that is predetermined.

Dude, I was being facetious...

This may come as a surprise to you, but typed characters on an LCD screen don't exactly convey your tone of voice or facial expression. How am I supposed to know if you're being facetious?

Do you mean the use of the definition? That's to clarify not muddy.

I too posted a definition but, for some arbitrary reason, you don't seem to think it occupies equal footing with your own simply because I didn't get it from Merriam Webster or wherever yours came from. Considering the fact that the people who write dictionaries don't aspire to anywhere near the level of intellectual rigour that philosophers do when they come up with their definitions, I see no reason to embrace yours above my own.

He or she clarified that by going into totality...

He didn't "go into" anything whatsoever, he just stated it as a fact and then moved on.

I don't understand the logic in using an established word in a different way.

And I don't understand the logic of clinging to what's "established" just because stepping outside it might be uncomfortable.

I also do not understand why your definition adds to what is a pretty simple use of the word.

If something being "simple" is what makes it worth holding on to, then it's probably just a matter of time before that movie Idiocracy with Luke Wilson becomes a reality. At least down there in Yankee Doodle Dandyland, it looks like it already has.

Why not concede and meet the meaning of the word to make the debate fluent?

Because there's nothing to concede to because you haven't given me good enough reasons to concede to it.

Hopefully you were laughing when you wrote that, otherways I may take it as you think I'm a Jock.

What I think is that this entire conversation has pretty much run it's course and I kinda feel like I'm getting dumber by even continuing to involve myself with it.

"I too posted a definition but, for some arbitrary reason, you don't seem to think it occupies equal footing with your own simply because I didn't get it from Merriam Webster or wherever yours came from."

It's not "my definition", it's a consensus. I know words change overtime, but the definition you use is esoteric and quite frankly not applicable to what he or she said. Dude, it seems like you are looking through the proverbial rose tinted glasses. It is like you just like arguing for arguments sake.

Philosophers philosophize but where has that got humanity? At least we can all understand language without understanding philosophy, and as you are so much in the habit of asking, which philosophy, as there are just so many differing schools of thought. So who is right? Who is wrong? And when right becomes wrong, what then? That is how nonsensical it seems to me. Probably delusional is the correct word here.

"He didn't "go into" anything whatsoever, he just stated it as a fact and then moved on".

Seems to me, if you take the totality of what he or she wrote it is a clear follow on; fleshing out "fact" with the example of the tree. How can you say that is not an example of a totality?

"And I don't understand the logic of clinging to what's "established" just because stepping outside it might be uncomfortable".

The word is just a word, it is not about my comfort zone, just what applies to a given situation. Rejecting things due to them being "established" just seems so infantile. You were taking the persons words out of context even after they pointed that you.

"What I think is that this entire conversation has pretty much run it's course and I kinda feel like I'm getting dumber by even continuing to involve myself with it."

Yeah, whatever. Ever read Wilhelm Reich, the Right Man?

In the immortal words of Dieter on Saturday Night Live, "this conversation has grown tiresome. Now is zee time on Schprockets ven vee dance!"

*cue artsy-fartsy German techno music*

:-P

In response to curious bystander: the issue is that there is no such thing as "right", "wrong", "errors", "mistakes" except within human thought systems. Philosophy is really only useful as an exercise,  it is useless for discovering the truth because the only truths that can be discovered are obvious ones. In the broadest use of the word, all human beings are philosophical...i found this conversation im commenting on to be a little too rediculous and esoteric

"i found this conversation im commenting on to be a little too rediculous and esoteric"

Is that really such a bad thing? You said yourself that philosophy is useful is as an exercise. If people just keep defaulting to the assumption that such conversations are "too esoteric," then they'll never take place.

...it is useless for discovering the truth...

At no point during that conversation was I under the impression that it would result in anyone discovering any sort of "truth." My reasons for engaging in it were entirely different.

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