Our actions or inaction help determine the direction the world takes. If we quickly accept a new normalized state of being in order to avoid the discomfort of being frustrated or angry, we put ourselves in a dangerous position of inaction. If you let your mind say that everything will be okay, tune out, and coast back to a relaxed state of mind, no change is ever going to come of the world.
Philosophers find E-prime interesting, since once you eliminate “be” words you can’t even say many of the classic logical paradoxes! You can’t pose stupid questions like “What is the meaning of life?” or “Who am I?” Most poetry cannot be rewritten in E-prime. You can’t utter philosophical pseudoprofundities like “I think, therefore I am.” I consider these beneficial results strongly argue in favor of the adoption of E-prime. Throw out “My love is like a red, red rose.” Such constructions encourage vague, imprecise, misleading, ambiguous, and foolish writing masquerading as profundity. We’d have to throw out most of Shakespeare, which I’d consider no great loss. Into the trash would go volumes of political speeches, advertising copy, and song lyrics, from opera to rock. Again, no serious cultural loss.
We generally use ‘be’ words to equate things. Most of the time we equate things that we shouldn’t. How does the poet’s love object resemble a rose? Does she have thorns? Does her complexion appear red? Does she smell bad? Does her beauty fade quickly? When one examines such foolish utterances they collapse into meaninglessness. This characteristic of poetry would cause little harm but for the fact that many people take such expressions seriously. Indeed, the average person commonly mistakes ambiguity for profundity. This weakness of the human mind makes people easy prey to advertisers, demagogues and snake-oil salesmen.
There is a guide to excellence, which may save many detours and delays: it is the middle way, the golden mean. The qualities of character can be arranged in triads, in each of which the first and last qualities will be extremes and vices, and the middle quality a virtue or an excellence.
So between cowardice and rashness is courage; between stinginess and extravagance is liberality; between sloth and greed is ambition; between humility and pride is modesty; between secrecy and loquacity, honesty; between moroseness and buffoonery, good humour; between quarrelsomeness and flattery, friendship; between Hamlet’s indecisiveness and Quixote’s impulsiveness is self-control.
Recently, I’ve started reading and trying to understand some pure mathematics – particularly the abstract algebra (Category theory). There was a question from someone asking why am I doing that to myself, instead of making “something useful”. I understood the question, given that I’m an engineer by training, so I’m used to applied mathematics, which has concrete uses. But I didn’t have an answer. So what’s the use of learning all the terminology and abstract concepts ?
Then I found this in Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy:
[learn the specialist’s language], as the specialist had learned nature’s, in order to break down the barriers between knowledge and need, and find for new truths old terms that all literate people might understand.
For if the knowledge became too great for communication, it would degenerate into scholasticism, and the weak acceptance of authority; mankind would slip into a new age of faith, worshiping at a respectful distance its new priests; and civilization, which had hoped to raise itself upon education disseminated far and wide, would be left precariously based upon a technical erudition that had become the monopoly of an esoteric class monastically isolated from the world by the high birth rate of terminology.
I think that explains why I’m trying to learn the language of the specialists.
We’re so busy tracking completion — how many miles run, books read, calories burned, cities visited — that we forget to remember a project’s value in the first place. In our race just to finish, we underestimate the benefits of quitting. I want to come out of the unfinished project closet. I want to consider the benefits of starting.