Punchinello’s Chronicles

November 20, 2008

Definition by Non-Essentials

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 6:44 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Have you ever tried to talk your way out of an armed robbery? What about having a calm discussion during a murder attempt? Or here’s one: Have to tried to persuade would-be rapists that they’re acting incorrectly and should consider women’s equality? How about facing down an attack dog or pit bull, one that doesn’t understand the idea of “language?”

Did the simple existence of “the rules” ever prevent anyone from being beaten up in school? Whose rules? What rules? And how about facing the bullies and thugs, then taking “a step back,” as so many people like to say? Was backing down or backing away a useful way to begin a calm discussion prior to getting the crap beat out of you or someone else near you, or having that attack dog take a chunk out of your face?

Discussion, politics, international relations, military action, import-export trade balances, foreign currency exchange rates, all require a common set of premises. All interaction with anyone requires a common language, a common belief system, and at least a passing acceptance that different cultures may potentially co-exist. And all of that — the entire edifice — it all depends on words and whether or not they mean anything in particular.

One of the major arguments taking place these days is over the basic concept of words. Do words have their own meanings, regardless of how people feel? Or do words have no meaning at all, other than whatever anyone feels like assigning to them?

Do words have such power that merely expressing those words will stop a missile in flight? Does a degree in language from a highly-decorated university in America instantly prevent the pirates of Somalia from taking over a ship? Can someone in the urban war zone simply call out “time out” and prevent a gang war? Have you tried “counting to three” in an assertive tone when faced with an imminent mugging on the streets of Tijuana?

You would think that such a question is the height of foolishness, but no, it’s become a serious question. Not only is it serious, we’re about to enter a period in history where the collapse of languge will directly affect everyone’s quality of life, even their basic survival.

This idea that words don’t mean anything in particular mostly comes from the Deconstructionist movement. That was started in the 1960s, of course, and is yet another folly that will someday be blamed on the Baby Boomers. In a nutshell, the theory proposes that anything is subject to interpretation. In practice, we now have the term “spin” in our daily lives.

Any word should have a definition. A definition is formed out of a specific, formal rule. The rule is that the definition must first reference the overall group (set) of “stuff” (entities, attributes, and measurements) that contains the particular thing being defined. Secondly, the definition must explicitly state the unique, indentifying characteristic (attribute) for that thing.

No other thing may have the exact same (unique) identifier. To accomplish this means subscribing to the theory of the Law of Identity, developed by Aristotle at least a couple of months ago. This law basically says that A=A and cannot be anything other than “A” at exactly the same time. In other words, A is not A and B at the same time.

What so often gets lost in the examination of definitions is the idea of what’s essential. What’s absolutely critical to the nature of something, that if you took it away would eliminate that thing or turn it into something entirely different? Could we still call brownies “brownies” if we removed all the chocolate? Sure we could. But in the real world, according to everyone else on the planet, would they be brownies?

The deconstructionists and modern educators would say that, yes, we still have brownies…if that’s what you feel good about calling them. Your feelings and self-esteem are far more important than whatever “word” we use to describe brownies. Preventing your embarrassment from having used the wrong word!…is more important than the meaning of language. Nobody can ever be “really” wrong, they tell us. That would make people feel “uncomfortable.”

What are we going to use to define something that in no way can be used to define something else? For example, suppose we say that a horse is an animal with four legs. The “animal” tells us that the horse is part of a group of living things we call animals. We have to define “animal,” but you get the idea.

However; would we say that “four legs” is unique to horses? Is the fundamental and essential part of a horse the four legs? Is that what’s critical to separating a horse from ALL other animals? What about a dog? Is a horse the “same thing” as a dog?

To use a non-essential characteristic as the defining attribute is to introduce total confusion into any sort of communication. That confusion brings thought, reason, analysis, logic, speech, and meaning to a screeching halt. And yet, that’s precisely what’s been happening now, over the past 100 years.

We’ve reached the point where non-essentials are considered defining principles, at least for more than half the population of the United States.

We hear that Al Qaeda has announced how happy they are to have Barack Obama as the new leader of the United States. They’ve suggested that Mr. Obama is a “house negro,” or house slave, and mostly does the bidding of the “white” people. Okay, that’s a racial slur, and not pleasant. But that’s not what’s important!

What’s happened here is that a tremendous number of useful idiots have bought into the belief that the United States should elect a leader based on how well that leader is liked by the rest of the world. Prior to the election, countless people “felt” (operative word) that feelings are more important than reality. Countless people felt that demonstrating racial equality is more important than national security.

More than half the population holds that the non-essential characteristic of a person’s skin color is actually the essential, defining characteristic of a human being. Those foolish idiots chose a president based on a non-essential, then worse, assumed that the rest of the world does exactly the same thing!

When the news media “discovered” that Hamas not only holds anti-semitic views, but that the terrorist organization has no qualms about expressing those views, they were shocked! This is a group that defines itself on the essential characteristic of destroying every single Jew on the planet, yet that’s not the essential quality. No, according to the journalists, it’s that they “speak badly” about Jewish people.

Throughout the last four or so elections, disagreements over principles, ideals, values, concepts, and reality have all been dismissed. They’ve been labeled as hate speech, anger, racism, and other such stupid terms. And more than half the population has agreed that the kindergarten-level discussion of reality means nothing.

America has bought into a fantastic illusion that everyone else on the planet gets their feelings hurt, complains to a court of justice (of some unknown kind), a new law is passed, and that’s the end of it. Nobody really means to use bombs, missiles, guns, knives and torture to get their way. That’s just “one interpretation.”

What will happen when those people discover that the rest of the world lives by a whole different set of standards? What will happen when they find out that nobody outside of academic America gives a flying crap about political correctness, peace and love, getting along, and compassionate concern over someone’s hurt feelings?

We’ve only just begun. The day of rude awakening is coming soon. We’ll just have to “wait and see,” I suppose. Things will “change.”

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