Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 2, 2008

Parrot Philosophers

Filed under: Just Thinking — Punchinello @ 1:17 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Ayn Rand coined the term “secondhander” to mean someone who has no understanding or comprehension of a concept. The secondhander simply repeats a phrase and believes they understand its meaning. We’ve now reached a point in history where people do the same with entire philosophies, religions, and ideologies.

When we manipulate a set of words, divorcing them entirely from their underlying meaning, then we can make anything mean anything, or nothing mean something. Take, for instance, “global warming,” “secondhand smoke,” “social consciousness,” “going green,” “sustainable energy,” “right to life,” and most other so-called “pressing issues.” The terms mean nothing at all without a foundation of some sort of theory and conceptual framework.

Do the people spouting this nonsense have such a framework? Can we ask a global warming zealot what’s their underlying environmental philosophy? Of course not! They’re just parrot philosophers, echoing meaningless terms that spread like a virus.

Many of us have heard the term narcissism, a psychological disorder. Most people vaguely associate narcissism with staring in a mirror, perhaps calling up misty images of the original story of Narcissus and Echo. Yet fewer people still remember Echo, a key figure in the original story.

Narcissus represents someone so taken with themselves that they’re unable to comprehend the existence of others. The problem is that for each narcissist, we almost always have an Echo — someone who only repeats whatever the narcissist has to say, believing it’s all of truth. In a culture riddled with narcissism, it stands to reason we’d be inundated with parrot philosophers!

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