See also :

(Content from this page has been transformed into a WikiDrama on PlainTalkDrama)

If anyone thinks of a better name, feel free to move this content to a page with the better name. Just make a link from here to there. – MattBowen

No, No.

Don’t change a thing.

This is perfect.

It means exactly what it says.

Most of philosophy is PainfulTalk, and when it is not it is even worse, because things are said in a plain and simple way which tends to hide the fact it is often more profound than what it seems. So, in one sense, it may be a good thing that it is painful.

Some thinkers tried (and sometimes, succeeded) to say the same philosophic things in a rather more poetic manner (e.g. Al-Hallaj, Lao-zi, Gibran, Dogen…) but this too may be an illusion. Indeed, poetry is more easily understood by people who have their mind conformed towards poetic style, but for other people, it may be as painful as classic philosophy.

I suggest you to consider that a philosopher who writes in german, or a poet who writes in english (for instance : Heidegger… or James Joyce…) does not really write in german or in english, but in his own language, which uses very accidentally the same words as the usual german or english language.

Thus, to read and to enjoy the reading of Sein und Zeit or Finnegan’s Wake is nothing but an exercise of translation of some very weird foreign language into your own one.

And furthermore, but maybe we should consider this to be the general case, as if every single individual on Earth were speaking his own private language…

So my conclusion will be : Long life to PainfulTalk ! – NicolasMontessuit

Nicolas added [PoeticTalk? poetic talk] to it and see how more beautiful, how more precise it gets by having three rather than two views on it? I often slip into using metafors for explaining things. They make a feel for a location instead of transmitting the GPS data for it. All ways of XTalk are precious, they are diversity, they are the source for understanding something from different points of view.




Recently I read how a papua-chief commented on a piano concert in the beginning of the nineteenth century: “Somebody alone fights with a big box sourounded by a lot of noise.” Right. Diversity.

What is painful about painful talk is to see these people not being able to communicate their ideas to more diverse people, to see them limited to an outdated and ineffective programming language. Painful talk might work for some people who wasted their time on learning this code to be able to talk to others who also wasted their time on learning this code. It’s perfectly ok to try to translate painful talk to plain talk or [PoeticTalk? poetic talk]. But maybe there are more important things to do at the moment? Maybe it should be [IneffectivelyCodedTalk? ineffictevly coded talk] instead of painful talk as it is not painfull for everybody? There are actually people who like it. Dunno.

On the other hand: ideas first come out in your own language only, sure. How much you care to translate them or have them translated is important too.

Let’s not fuzz about Wittgenstein, Heidegger or Nietzsche or whomever tooooooo much. We push the buttons here. The (nesseccary) fun part of it.


Precisely. You understood me. The problem is not with PainfulTalk, PoeticTalk?, or WhateverTalk?, but with style. There are people who speak painfully, but have style. Others are only painful (technocratic litterature, for instance).

Now we have the possibility to meet from every part of the planet to share common goals, now we have the Internet, the problem of language urges a lot. But this is a very old problem, it is just that its conditions have changed.

It will always be a problem of translation. Somebody thinks of things which may be similar to yours, but using a different language, or the same language but different words (which is the same problem).

I see only one solution : everybody assumes his/er responsibility of translating, translating, alwxays translating what the others say. Always. And with pleasure.

But this has a name : discussion, debate, critic mind, maieutics…

You need not promote a particular style to achieve this. – NicolasMontessuit

It helps understand what talk is to have pages like this here. Understanding may start by deviding things into subcategories. Seems we have a lot to think about talk/language/code. Seems to be all one big soup.

Communities also come into account here. A talk may not be considered painful inside a given community and seem so to outsiders. Painful talk is caused both by a community which is too closed (academia, lawyers, administration), and by people who aren’t good at adapting their speech to outsiders (some people may manage that quite well). The failure can be seen as coming from the community when it doesn’t filter painful speech out of it’s output (In some cases like philosophy, there may be no clear distinction between what is for inside the community and for what is outwards-bound).

I like the idea of translating and retranslating. I think an important part of education could be to rephrase in your own terms what you learn. Not only can it help us learn, but if it is collectively done on the web, it can become a formidable source of scientific vulgarisation as well as a potent feedback loop. But then this is drifting slightly off subject.

Not at all, you’re plainly in the subject, Emile. If I rightly understand you, you are saying that by retranslating each sentence the others say to us, we make the whole thing advance. I nearly feel that any discovery is just the rephrasing of old data into a new shape. So translating is the main activity of human mind, and by retranslating in my own way what you seemed to mean, I’m just showing how things should be led, imho. – NicolasMontessuit

Nah, I don’t buy it.

Here’s what happens:

A Chemistry student starts reading the Chem texts assigned to her. She says, “God, this sucks! This is so poorly written!”

But she has to study, or else she’ll be kicked out of school and can’t practice Chemistry.

After four years of abuse by textbooks, she’s got a piece of paper saying she knows Chemistry.

Now some poor frosh comes in, and has to study the textbooks. He says, “God, this sucks! This is so poorly written!”

But the recent graduate’s attitude has changed. She says, “No, no, this is good for you. Every word, every sentence here, is properly placed. This is absolutely the best way you can learn. There are no books better than this book. There is no better way. Perhaps some small tiny changes can be made, and we’re sure that the new revisions of the book will be better in these ways. But really, these books are going to become your best friends.”

The simple fact is: It’s PainfulTalk. The textbooks are horrendous.

What has changed is that our recent graduate has come to worship these books because she’s invested so much of her life into them. She’s invested into a social pyramid.

If you were to take a really really good Chemistry book, the likes of which doesn’t exist today, and showed it to her, she would find all kinds of myriad faults with it. “It isn’t right, it isn’t right,” she’d repeat over and over.

Even if you had 100 high school kids who learned as much Chemistry through the better books (or perhaps they are hypertexts, or games, or whatever), in 1/4 the time, she would still be saying, “It’s not right, it’s not right; They are getting only the outer concepts; they are not penetrating into the depths of the subject. Such depths can only be gained by hard labor at the grindstone, and by paying your dues.”

Some people just can’t stand the idea that some other people can accomplish some end easier than they did. “I had to pay $100! How can that guy get by with just $10? No way!” They punish the people who got by with $10 by using PainfulTalk. They use PainfulTalk to keep the people who (by PlainTalk) got what they paid so dear for.

The argument that “It’s all translation in the end, so everyone should love translating” is ludicrous. That’s like saying, “Well, everyone has to travel to get to work. So everyone should love traveling. And we should tear up all the roads, and put mountains in our path, so we can enjoy hiking to work. Because it’s all traveling in the end. We should love traveling. We should make travel as difficult as possible, whenever possible, and people will love us more for it. Because they get to do more traveling.”

Fuck no.

Give me teleportation.

If I want to take a road trip, then, then I will take the road trip. But we should win our freedom first.

Agree completely. The world is complicated enough to make us learn learning by learning the most effective way and not by learning in a ritalized and artificially kept complicated way. When watering the flowers in the garden you do not put on diving glasses either, do ya?

I agree too (=

But I suspect painful talk won’t go away very easily, partly because of the mechanism Lion described, parly because it is useful.

Once you are in the knowledge community, once you have grasped the concepts, painful talk isn’t painful any more, and I suspect that’s the case whether you learnt through PlainText, comics, hypertext, games or that old PainfulText?. Which means that those 100 students who learnt quicker may then find it convenient to talk between themselves using PainfulTalk.

The way I see how this could change, is to encourage the creation of simpler material, and translations, and reformulating things your own way. This will not destroy painful talk, since experts will still find it more convenient to express there ideas more acurately and simply with their own jargon, or will leave some things imprecise as they are clear for the initiated. However we may expect this internal jargon to slowly erode and become less painful with time. We can’t kill jargon, we can’t do advanced quantum mechanics research with everyday words, but the jargon can be made easier. Through ceaseless contact with the mundane world and it’s inadequate language, only essential pieces of jargon will remain, and would do so in as simple a form as possible.

Or, in other words, some talk may always seem painful to some, because pat of it is necessarily painful.

I don’t think “everyone should love translation” but I think translation may be a way to get us out of this trap. Painful talk is painful and the only way out is to translate it. The people who already master the jargon aren’t always making any big efforts to getting themselves understood to laymen. So, translation should be encouraged and the learning process may be the best place to do so.

So, translation should be part of the learning process (which is the interface between the in-group and the out-group). Or maybe refactoring, or reformulating, these concepts are pretty near. Exams should include “describe photosynthesis with words of four letters or less”, “Explain hegelian dialectics as if you were talking to a six-years old”, “Explain chaos theory using only pictures”, etc. (When I talk about “exams” it may be whatever takes their place in the learning process, this doesn’t need to fit into our current school system).

That will not select the same people (In fact, it may select the wrong people, but hey, it’d be interesting to try).

Hmmm, as an afterthought this may still be a bunch of bunk. Communities of knowledge are Evil (because knowledge is good, putting barriers around it to form a community isn’t), so I guess it depends on whether you want to change things within those communities, making them more open, or just build something new outside … I guess what I wrote here corresponds more to an approach to save the communities, whereas Lion is more inclined to let theme drown and start anew.

(Hm. I wonder if a PatternLanguage is a good alternative to jargon ? WHere do these two concepts stand with respect to one another ?)

I agree strongly with the idea that translation is a good way to learn. In almost any specific field, it is also very necessary. Thus, we have things like A Very Short Introduction… books, For Beginners comics, and field specific dictionaries (like A Dictionary of Narratology ISBN 0803287763 (alternate, search)). All of these secondary sources do some translation, summary, and paraphrase of field-specific terms and concepts, as to help the uninitiated feel less disoriented when confronting primary source material. And this is not a bad thing, at least in my mind. Books which employ specific vocabularies which are not part of the average person’s working vocabulary are not necessarily evil or even PainfulTalk. It’s really hard to talk about WikiPedia:Quarks when you have to explain what a quark is every time. However…

Sometimes people write in ways that are overly-complex, overly-wordy, or imprecise. Writers will use words which are vague or coin new terms and not define them properly. They may use unconventional and/or forced metaphors which are generally unclear. They may also write in structurally unsound ways – often times in academic writing one will encounter articles that have no explicit (or even implicit) thesis, but that are instead just a lot of good ideas thrown on a page in some order. The reader is left to make the mess coherent as best (s)he can.

All of this is acceptable to do in creative writing, which operates in a very different way from non-fiction essay/article type writing. Creative Writing is guided by certain norms which help guide readers to “make sense” of the mess left them (though look at early criticism of Joyce’s Ulysses and you’ll see some expressions of pain). In non-fiction, however, clear definitions and structure greatly facilitate the transmittal of knowledge. Without clear terms and structure, one ends up with a feeling of disorientation and often times frustration, which here can be equated with pain.

A fun example can be drawn up pretty quickly. The first sentence of the ShopTalk page is: “The term ShopTalk comes from the expression “Talkin’ shop,” which refers to people who use specific vocabularies to talk about some field which the uninitiated may not understand.” This is hopefully PlainTalk. In PainfulTalk, this sentence might read: “The term ShopTalk comes from the expression “Talkin’ shop,” which refers to a situation in which two or more participants employ a specific lexicon which relates to a specific knowledge domain with which some third-party spectator is unacquainted and therefore cannot decode or process.” If I were feeling very painful, I might then go on to some entirely new topic which somehow relates to jargon in a not-obvious, tangential way. This is PainfulTalk, at least in my mind.

I’m sorry; I’m shaking my head and grinning.

Guys, PlainTalk is Plain Talk. If you need it turned into some scientific equation, it’s not Plain Talk any more.

And look, this is much about attitude and approach to knowledge, as it is about how you string your words together.

I’m going to do something that I hope won’t be too offensive. It’ll be offensive, but please don’t take too much offense out of it. What I’m going to do is take something that you’ve written, and disect it, with an eye towards Plain Talk. So, here’s crossing my fingers hoping that we can still carry on a conversation afterwards.

:I agree strongly with the idea that translation is a good way to learn. In almost any specific field, it is also very necessary. Thus, we have things like A Very Short Introduction… books, For Beginners comics, and field specific dictionaries (like A Dictionary of Narratology ISBN 0803287763 (alternate, search)). All of these secondary sources do some translation, summary, and paraphrase of field-specific terms and concepts, as to help the uninitiated feel less disoriented when confronting primary source material. And this is not a bad thing, at least in my mind. Books which employ specific vocabularies which are not part of the average person’s working vocabulary are not necessarily evil or even PainfulTalk. It’s really hard to talk about WikiPedia:Quarks when you have to explain what a quark is every time. However…

First, let’s look at this, and say, “Man, that reads like a thesis.”

It’s like you’re about to submit a paper to a professor, and you have to write it in professor-ese, otherwise people might laugh at you or call it “unprofesional” or “unacademic” or something, right?

Like, consider how it could otherwise be written:

“I agree; I think translating things into your own words is a good way to learn. In most fields, you need to learn the jargon of that field, and you do that by translating it into your own language. That’s why we have things like “A Very Short Introduction…” books, “For Beginners” comics, and field-specific dictionaries. These help you get used to the words and models and arguments at work in the field. Then beginners can step up to more advanced texts. I don’t think this is a bad thing. But books which use words that average people don’t use aren’t necessarily evil or PainfulTalk. It’s really hard to talk about WikiPedia:Quarks when you have to explain what a quark is every time.”

See? Same ideas. Same level of abstraction. But it’s easier to follow.

What changed?

  • “I agree strongly with the idea that…” to “I agree; I think…”
  • Took out the “Dictionary of Narratology”, and accompanying ISBN number.
  • Took out the reference to “secondary sources” vs. “primary sources.”
  • “as to help the uninitiated feel less disoriented” turned into “These help you get used to…”
  • “Books which employ specific vocabularies which are not part of the average person’s working vocabulary” turns into “But books which use words that average people don’t use”
  • The last sentence, “It’s really hard to talk about WikiPedia:Quarks..,” was perhaps the most easy to understand sentence on the whole thing, and remains completely unchanged. As it happens though, that one sentence was unblemished PlainTalk.

Look at the second one- the Dictionary of Narratology- (ISBN 0803287763 (alternate, search))- like, what was that all about?

Who cares about the ISBN? This is CommunityWiki. We aren’t professors here. If we want the ISBN number, we’ll go look it up on Amazon or something. But I mean- nobody’s going to track down that number here, fish it out,- you know. It’s just us. It’s just CommunityWiki. So, we don’t have to put the ISBN there. None of us are going to go look it up and play academic.

And- number three- the “secondary sources” vs. “primary sources.” I’m wrinkling my forehead here, I’ve got one large eye, and one small eye, and they’re both squinting at those with skepticism. “Secondary sources?” “Primary sources?”

I mean, I may be wrong, but don’t we usually reserve that kind of talk for talking about canon? Like, some Jesuits studying the Pentateuch or whatever. And you’ve got- “This is the primary source,” and then “this is a secondary source,” and stuff like that. Maybe we can call Einstein’s and Feynmann’s papers “primary sources,” or something like that. But we’d never call a Chemistry college text book a “primary source.” And we’d never call a dictionary a “secondary source,” I don’t think.

So, I think what we’re seeing here, is something that I see happen a lot when people don’t do PlainTalk. I’m singling out your writing here, in this case, but realize that I don’t mean to pick on you- almost all my friends who stuck with college and went on to Grad school do the same thing- it’s just part of the cult. But anyways- This is a very common thing: When people avoid PlainTalk, when they’re talking in whatever they feel is “appropriate speech” for their status, they generally mess things up a bit. Especially if they become conscious of what they’re doing.

It’s like: If I’m talking with a co-worker about C++, my terms are generally (A) plain, and (B) on the mark. (Yes, there is “PlainTalk” and “PainfulTalk,” even among the skilled. In every field.) For instance, I’ll say something like, “Well, we really need to cache that data in the listener.” But you could turn it into technical PainfulTalk by saying something like, “We need backup redundancy storage at the client access point.” Some times I read some tech PainfulTalk, and then I go, “Say, what?” …and then I go, “Oh, wait, it just means “cache the data in the client.” Gee, why didn’t they tell us that. (And then the imaginary voice says, “Well, see, there are very good reasons…” …but in fact, there are not.)

See? PlainTalk vs. PainfulTalk isn’t really about whether you use jargon or not- it has a lot to do with the attitude and the presentation and stuff like that. Just people who want to speak PainfulTalk feel embarrased that they talk goofy, and they need to give some reason why. So they say, “Hey! I’m talking crazy like this, because jargon’s necessary!” And yeah- jargon is necessary. But still- there’s something wrong with the way it’s being done. You can just say “cache the data in the client.” There’s something in people’s minds that’s making them talk funny. And it’s not reasonable. It poses as reasonable, but it’s not really. Or, if it’s reasonable, it’s not for the reasons that it says it is. By that I mean something like- “The reason is really that, I believe that if I don’t talk this way, that my boss will be embarassed, and he’ll hire someone who makes him feel like he’s hiring professional technical people.” That’s a real reason. But it poses, presenting itself as this: “Because we need technical jargon because we can’t talk about Quarks explaining what a Quark each time yadda yadda yadda…”

As a side note- at the top of PlainTalk, it says that PlainTalk isn’t a rejection of Jargon. That’s because that’s usually defence #1 about why we need PainfulTalk. “We need this PainfulTalk because we need jargon.”

Okay, so where were we: Ah yeah. When people slip into PainfulTalk, generally working to convince by authority or something, people tend to make mistakes. They’ll say things that, if someone knows the language, and knows that field, they’ll think, “Uh, this is actually really wrong, but that other guy doesn’t think we know it. He’s just saying the big words he’s heard elsewhere, and is trying to get used to saying them.”

We get things like “transmittal of knowledge,” rather than “transmission of knowledge,” or something like that. Happens a lot. It’s like there’s some kind of stick shift that swaps between the “I’m a human being” mode to “I’m making an academic argument” mode, and suddenly the talking’s all funny. It can take some effort to move the stick back into “human being” mode, if we find ourselves stuck in academics mode.

Note that- I don’t think talking high is necessarily malice. (It’s clear to me that you particularly don’t hold any malice. I believe you’re working hard, struggling to make something here, in GoodFaith.) It’s not necessarily even trying to lord things over other people. Most of the time, it’s just: “Everyone else is doing it; If I’m not doing it, then I must not be learning the right stuff. I’m doing something wrong. So, I better learn to speak like the people in the sophisticated books speak.” And then it’s all downhill from there. At a certain point, many people begin to not listen to anybody who doesn’t talk like they expect. Because if they don’t talk right, then they obviously don’t know what they’re talking about. They’re not in the same universe. Strange but true. We tell ourselves, “It could never happen to me,” but I’m amazed how often I’m jerked around by high sounding PainfulTalk.

Hm. I think you get the basic idea.

“as to help the uninitiated feel less disoriented.”

“as to.”

“As to” is a great mystery to me. It can be PlainTalk too, but a lot of times, it’s a pretty good indicator that you’re working with some non-PlainTalk.

“As to help the uninitiated feel less disoriented”- it sounds like part of one of Dolores Umbridge's speeches (Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury, ISBN:0747551006.) That’s no accident- Dolores’ character was modeled after PainfulTalk, because she represents institutional power. Nor is it accident that Albus Dumbledore always speaks in PlainTalk. (If you know the story, note that Percy also speaks PainfulTalk…) If you haven’t read the Harry Potter books, I strongly recommend it- I’ll bet it’s a lot more educational than the Dictionary of Narratology. I haven’t read the Dictionary of Narratology, so I can’t really say. But it’ll be hard to match.

Anyways. It’s late. Summary time.


  • PlainTalk is as much about attitude and approach to knowledge as it is about how you string words together.
  • We analyzed and converted the paragraph starting with “I agree strongly with the idea that translation is a good way to learn…”
  • We talked about some signs of PainfulTalk- big words used incorrectly, “as to,”…
  • We talked about how PlainTalk-PainfulTalk isn’t about the existence of jargon. Rather, it’s about how that jargon’s used, how the reader is treated, yadda yadda yadda. Programmers, for an example, have both PlainTalk and PainfulTalk.
  • We talked about some motivations for PainfulTalk- malevolence (manipulation), drawing boundaries (status), and survival- wanting to fit in and be accepted.
  • And a brief aside into PlainTalk and PainfulTalk in Harry Potter.

Again: I expect this post is at least a tad offensive. But I think it’s best to talk in terms of the text that’s already here, and in immediate use, rather than decomposing some other text in some faraway place that matters little to us.

Oh- and one other thing, before I go to sleep-

The most hideous examples of PainfulText?, are those where the text would be shorter and clearer if they were written in PlainTalk.

Jargon- it’s supposed to help make text shorter, right? It’s supposed to make it so we don’t write in huge arguments over and over again- we can just use the word instead, and that word means all those arguments and explanations, right? But so often, the jargon makes the text longer!

Here’s one:

“Real-time cooperative editing systems allow multiple users to view and edit the same text/graphic/image/multimedia document at the same time from multiple sites connected by communications networks. Consistency maintenance is one of the most significant challenges in designing and implementing real-time cooperative editing systems.”

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I prefer: “Keeping data consistent across servers is the main problem in writing cooperative editing software.”

Maaaybe add the word “Real-Time” in there. But that’s painfully obvious by the next couple sentences, so there’s really no need.

The funniest one is “text/graphic/image/multimedia.” I mean, can’t you just say “multimedia?” Or is “from multiple sites connected by communications networks” funnier? How else are we supposed to imagine that people are working on this thing? Non communicative networks?

Okay. Now I am really going to sleep. I’m getting batty.

Well, I had written a lot of things, but they must have crashed. Never mind, I will tell something different.

First, your examples show, Lion, that your concept of PainfulTalk, far from falling from heaven, applies in fact to very particular cases, which are informatic documentation. Let us look to other cases : a textbook of organic chemistry. Here, I will be very surprised if you can say something as “propyl-1 methyl-3 phenolbutyric acid” without cheating…

The reason is that the painful character of a chemistry textbook lies only in its apparent grammar. But for somebody who really enjoys organic chemistry, each sentence is as sweet as a Chanaan river (flowing honey). The fact most people find it painful comes not from the object itself, but from the fact that these people study chemistry because they are forced to :(

Never is pain objective. Pain is always subjective.

Besides, there is nothing particularly negative in pain. Without pain, there could not have been evolution, because it makes living beings avoid negative stimuli. You can’t have only the good without the evil, this is not the Tao…

What you struggle against is not really pain, indeed… It is the lack of good style, that is : you don’t fight painful things, you fight hideous ones. Just admit it, for it is a far nobler cause, indeed ! – NicolasMontessuit

No, this isn’t just about textbooks, since Lion points out pieces of PainfulTalk in something written here on this page. It’s about professorittis, which consists of, through obscure phrasing, abstruse vocabulary and circonvoluted sentences, attempting to project into the mind of the reciever an upwardsly distorted perception of the depht of the contents of the speach.

Which sucks.

And it’s not even conscious. You just feel compelled to use “high-sounding” speech, and Lion’s a living example that it isn’t necessary at all. I’ll try and keep what I write plain enough, I notice the academicalism seems to vary from one topic to another.

This reminds me of Richard Feynman … “When he was talking to ordinary people with no training in physics, he never fell back on his authority as a great thinker. He felt that if he couldn’t say it in everyday words, he probably didn’t understand it himself.”

So I’d say painful talk is partly caused by academic snobbery, partly by poor communication skills and partly by being subjected to too much painful talk (Which links to the first).

Once again, you miss the point. There is no problem with people who speaks like Pangloss (stupid professors). There is no problem, as long as the hearer likes it. Dive in german philosophy, I assure you that, if you like this, you will enjoy Kant and Hegel…

It is just as if you said that whipping somebody is intrinsically bad : but you know, some people like this.

The problem with what you call “professorittis” is not with the professor-like discourse (which I find boring most of time), but with the notion that there should ever exist such men as “professors”.

The problem is with mass education (which is a very good way of losing one’s time at school, and be disgusted with knowledge). But for any subject, there will always exist people who enjoy a little of painful talk, just because it is fun. – NicolasMontessuit

P.S.: (I realize that you all implicitly mix two level of characterization of “PainfulTalk”. An objective level : painful talk is when things are said in a way that gives headaches to most of people. A subjective level : painful talk is when things are said in order to appear much more clever than they are.

I certalinly don’t like the subjective painful-talk, but you cannot confuse it with the objective one, about which I was contributing in this page. As you may have spoken of a mix of subjective and objective painful talk, while I was only speaking of the objective one, this can explain why we do not get to the point.

Anyway, you should be aware of this mixing in your texts, because for example the first example of “painful talk” which is given here (Lyotard) seems to pertain to the objective case but not the subjective one (in other words, it is really as much profound as it says it is, but it still gives headaches when read).

The fact that you’re confronted to subjective+objective painful talk in your practice of professional informatics should not instill you the idea that purely objective painful talk in other areas is intrisically bad.) – NicolasMontessuit

Yes, in some cases the listener doesn’t mind. But what I meant by “professorittis” is when this is unintenional. When this actually confuses the listener. It’s a bit like the difference between a kleptoman and a thief.

And this is wider than education. Maybe it’s because of our academic culture that we have a tendancey to speak unclearly, but this happens in a whole lot of places.

(Hmm, clashing edits) Good point about the objective and subjective, though I’m not sure those are good names. I’d tend to call what you call subjective objective and vice-versa, so it may be better to find other words.

Zen masters and taoist philosophers thought that unclear discourse was always mind spoiling and time wasting. They spoke in sentences of ten words maximum. Chuang-zi says : “If two people argue about one thing, this is the proof it is not clear”. And : “If someone asks about the Tao, and another replies, then neither the former nor the latter knows what he means”.

So, this suggests a simple, crazy and fun exercise : try to say the equivalent of any of our contributions to this page in less than ten words… Who would like to play ? – NicolasMontessuit

There seems to be a returning to this idea that Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu wrote in PlainTalk. They ostensibly did, but as with a lot of other culturally-specific literature, it only appears plain on the surface. In Chinese (as in Hebrew or Arabic), words have many overlaid meanings, and part of the richness of the communication of Chuang Tzu, the Song of Solomon, or the Koran is that there is great beauty on the surface, but that repeated readings (even over a lifetime) reveal deeper meanings and inflections, like a pool of water. Much of this richness is lost to outsiders, just as much of Joyce’ Ulysses is opaque to most who didn’t live at that time, in that part of Ireland. Lao Tzu’s text may seem simple in its English translation, but ask a native Chinese speaker who knows the text well, and you’ll find that while the original text is quite short – roughly 40 short pages in English – large volumes have been written explaining it.

The Zen text of the hsin hsin ming is only a few pages long in English but some people study it for years. It appears as plain talk but is very rich with facets of meaning that only a Buddhist adept would understand (I’m certain that a great deal of this is lost in the translation). I don’t believe in the cases when he talks about language, Chuang Tzu is typically arguing for simplicity, he argues for what Lin Yutang calls “the futility of language”, the relativity of meaning. Simplicity is an idea popular in the West right now – our lives are simply too complex for our comfort – but I think it’s a stretch to consider Taoist thought as having an emphasis on simplicity. It was (to my mind) more about living according to natural laws, without artifice, about not contending against the flow of things.

Now, in the defense of philosophical discussion, or discussion from any localized community, simple or lay terms are often able to only convey simple ideas – not always, but often. Two good reasons that people such as philosophers or physicists use the language they do are (a) that they are trying to be exactingly precise in communicating with each other, to remove any ambiguity in their language; and (b) many of the concepts they wish to convey simply don’t exist in simple terms unless one wants to continually use a term by means of its longer simple-language definition (definition in situ). Communities invent terms to avoid having to continually use simple language (fishhook: “that metal hook-shaped thing we use to catch fish with”; cache: “that place we conveniently put things for awhile”).

I’m currently reading books by Robert Brandom and Jurgen Habermas, both contemporary philosophers. When they are writing about society and current events, their prose is readable, compact, and to the point. When they write about philosophy, their prose is similarly compact and to the point, but exceedingly difficult to follow for those who don’t know the definitions of the terms they use, as well as the history and usage of those terms within the philosophical community. A dictionary wouldn’t do here either, because it’s not a definition that’s needed but a knowledge of the word’s history, how it has been used by other philosophers. Sometimes a community will spend a great deal of time arguing about the meaning and usage of a specific term, like “reification” or “postmodernism.” When philosophers discuss things, all of the overtones of those terminological battles are conveyed within the discussion. I think this is probably common within most communities, not just philosophy.

To outsiders, such language may seem overly complex. I can understand Lion thinking that these people should just talk “plainly”, but the only reason the discussion doesn’t seem plain to him is because he unfamiliar with the language. This would be true if he were talking to model railroaders or fly fishermen too. The language of fly fishing requires a great deal of understanding of the tools of the trade as well as the local insect population. Fly fishermen coming into new territory must familiarize themselves with the local bugs and their vernacular names, what the fish are eating, and often the local names for the known hiding places, the bends in the river (e.g., “Jack’s rock”, “Fulton’s Shallows”, not found on any map except maybe written in pen on the back of a receipt for some fishhooks…).

Now, I won’t defend people who use complex language (thesaurus in hand) just to obscure the fact that they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. I’m only defending the natural need for communities to use language appropriately precise and accurate, and trying to explain that such language and its understanding is often somewhat of an island within a community and therefore a mystery to external observers. Given that this is the CommunityWiki, perhaps we should focus more on community-specific vocabularies (i.e., why they occur, their pros and cons, how to encourage cross-community intercommunication, etc.) and accept that people will communicate in ways they feel fit their needs, and not criticise them for doing so. – Murray

I like this page. It is about a very complex topic, where anybody can get lost like in a jungle. I’ll try to summarize the few things that I have understood from your writing and add a bit of my own.

There is PainfulTalk, we know it, we observe it. Pain is part subjective and part objective. It may be painful, because we do not understand the language used - just as it may be painful to ask your way through a foreign city without understanding the language there. That’s more or less our fault. On the other hand talk may be painful, because the talk is more complex and jargon-ridden than necessary. This is the fault of the author. I think this is the main topic of the page.

When is a talk too complex? I like Lions approach: when you can do simpler. It’s similar to programming. If you can find a solution that uses fewer words, fewer specialized terms, simpler sentences that lend themselves to less misunderstanding … then the text (code) wasn’t good enough.

There is translation. George Steiner argues in “After Babel”, a fantastic book about translation problems, that in the end any communication is a translation between individual languages.

On the other hand: it’s language. Let’s think like Mattis, the artist. If language was only about efficiency then this would be a poor world. Fuzzyness and miscommunication are part of creativity and inventions. One can’t pin everything down without making life poorer.

There is also a paradoxon of language. Words are symbols that abstract from real objects. Without such abstractions we couldn’t comunicate. But these abstractions are doubtful in a simple and a complex way. The word “tree” may produce quite different pictures and emotions in different people - that’s simple and usually no problem. The word “love” is commonly used, but so unclear that no-one can come up with a useful definition to decode what “I love you” really means. Then there are words like “truth” or “reality” that different philosophies define totally different and fight about the definitions because they are cornerstones of worldviews. The paradoxon: we need symbols, but in using them we simplify and so separate us from the reality that we want to grasp. In using and defining language people take the words as given and identical to the objects they represent. But words are just rough tools.

But if we adapt the tools, we redefine words in a subtle way, or we create new words, or - as in wiki - we create a pattern language. PainfulTalk is part of such a language. See also PagenamesAreAbbreviations. Such a local language is obviously necessary. Such a language separates us from the readers. This is also inevitable: if you step forward you create distance to those that are left behind.

Murray : zen and taoism are plain in the sense they use everyday words, so that ordinary people do not flee from them at first sight. For the rest, as you say, they convey much more than they seem. It was precisely what I said when speaking of PoeticTalk? in the beginning of the page : these kinds of discourse make use of much more than ordinary “logicism” and “scharfe Begrenzung”, so they are something which I call, for myself, “poetic”, even if this word may not seem fully adequate.

Helmut : I don’t think language is about efficiency, albeits it can be regarded in this perspective. The problem you mention (tree, love, reality) is known as ”the indexicality problem”, and the examination of this problem tends to show that :

(1) language is ambiguous, but this is an advantadge as world is moving and people numerous

(2) there is no way of suppressing this ambiguity and no need to do it

(3) there is no magic formula (such as canons of ”good style”) to goodspeak

(4) PatternLanguage is an utopia

On the other hand, if you replace the logicist determinations of an objective so-called pattern language, you will get a fuzzy holistic determination of some subjective or intersubjective device that can be used in holistic grammar, for the purpose of computational linguistics… – NicolasMontessuit

Good summary. So maybe we each have a pain tolerance. Then, reading becomes a compromise. Some pain might be worth it, like PagenamesAreAbbreviations. If you find something is too painful though, you have two options: make it more plain or quit. On wiki this opens up some really nice possibilities, since everything can be edited. That was probably the part that I liked most of Lion’s dismantling of my post: his re-writing of my PainfulTalk. So, maybe a general suggestion: when you find something that is more pain that you’d like to tolerate but that you think is worth while, try to make it plain. If you don’t succeed, someone else will hopefully try again. There’s also one other reason for painful talk that I’d like to add: sometimes people write awkward sentences. Some of us write only awkward sentences. But you really don’t need many to make a lot of pretty good sentences pretty painful. So especially when you read something that is awkward, try your best to fix it. Also, before I go to bed, over at c2 there’s KillYourDarlings, which talks about some of this stuff. It’s an interesting idea (to me) and relates to programming.

I took a bit of a long time to rewrite some more, so- the following was all originally intended to go under my first “No.” post.

That said, I particularly like Helmut’s response, and am a tad ashamed to post my response, after he wrote such a great one himself.

So, here was what I was writing, while Helmut was writing his own response, and others writing after him.

PlainTalk does not mean rejection of jargon.

Before you say anything, PLEASE repeat in your mind: “PlainTalk does not mean rejection of jargon.” And then if the next thing you want to type is, “But surely, Lion, you must believe that people need particular words for their particular place,” stop immediately, and in your mind, repeat out the syllables PlainTalk does not mean rejection of jargon. If you are then tempted to write, “Lion, some ideas are so complicated, you need a special wor-” stop immediately, and then not only say out the syllables, but think the thoughts too- PlainTalk does not mean rejection of jargon.

I know it’s a complicated idea, and it probably won’t all fit together at once. Your fingers will probably want to type something like: “Lion, surely you can’t mean that everything should be turned into baby talk,…” This is the point at which you need to step away from the keyboard entirely. It’s time for some fresh air. Get out of the apartment, go down the stairs. Take a walk down the street, and let some cool air wafte around. Hopefully it’s night with a nice chilly breeze, so you can think clearly. Tell yourself: “Plain Talk does not mean rejection of jargon.” Try it out a few times.

At some point, lose the whole phrase, and just repeat, “Plain Talk,… Plain Talk,… Plain Talk,… Speaking Plainly…”

This is not a complicated idea.

Then, if you like, if you are so inspired- come back indoors, fire up CommunityWiki, and write a response to this message. It could be something like, “You know, I think Plain Talk isn’t such a bad idea. You’re right, Lion. We talk pretty weird some times. But I like Plain Talk. And I think it’s a good idea. Thanks for advertising on behalf of Plain Talk.”

Or you could say something like, “As the postmodern dictum behooves us to be wiser than to accept any simplistic and absolutist notion of moral strictness such as the doctrine of “Plain Talk” would have one believe in, we shall show the errors (or simply misunderstandings) of ontological intertwingliness that we find in it’s narrative scope. Let us consider now the morphisms under the topical microscope, so to speak, and compare its notions with the notions of more elevated thinking. We begin with the conception that all language can and should be reduced to the plane of comic books, which we shall show both meaningless and false (in our own, deeply relativistic concept of disapproval, rather than actual incorrectness) by a number of considerations, categorized into…”

I observe that people think that what is obscure and PainfulTalk- I observe that people think that it is superior.

And I observe that people think that what is plain and clear- I observe that people think that it is inferior.

One of those “Up is Down” and “Down is Up” type of things.

A friend showed me a presentation she was giving. I said, “The language is all funny. See; We can rewrite it like so…”

…to which she replied, “Yeah! But these are college educated people. These are managers. We can’t talk to them like that; They aren’t third graders!”

“But isn’t this shorter?” (Yes.)

“But isn’t this clearer?” (Yes.)

“Doesn’t this say everything that the first said?” (Yes.)

“Wouldn’t we call this: “Better”?”

She responded: “But I can’t talk down to these people!”

Is it a disservice to communicate clearly?

In the end, I agreed with her.

I said:

“I agree, you should give the presentation just as you wrote it. The other people in the meeting will be impressed. They will call you professional. They’ll think you went to college. It’ll be good for your work. This is an important meeting; This is how they’re going to expect you to talk: Lengthy, and obscure. They will feel more secure if you talk with them in this way. They will feel like professionals, too. This is what they want, this is what they like. It’ll be good for your career.”

“But understand this- understand that it’s not good because of how it’s written. It’s not good because this is a superior way of writing. Rather, understand that it is an inferior way of writing. It is not clear. It is not easy to read. It doesn’t do anything to help with decision making. Rather, understand that it is good because it fits with the way our society presently works. Recognize that it’s good because it fits in with the way our society shapes itself right now.”

“But never, ever, ever, let yourself be fooled into thinking that this is actually a better way of talking, or worse, a better way of thinking. Because it isn’t. This is inferior.

If we are working on making something like a Free Society online- if we think that Wikipedia is a cool thing, if we think that it’s good to teach each other things online, if we think all these things, then I would think we should pay attention to these ideas.


Because we can actually do things right now.

There are people who are trying to make something new, but they still have in their head these old ideas about what is “good writing.” And I mean to say here that- no, we shouldn’t be thinking and speaking that way any more. We should reclaim our talk.

When we see two pages of text, saying the same thing, side by side, but one is PlainTalk and one is PainfulTalk, then we should choose what is PlainTalk.

If you are in a company, and you have to make a paper for your boss, and you have two pages side by side, one PlainTalk and one PainfulTalk, then in that case, you choose what is PainfulTalk. Or if you are trapped in school, and you have to make a paper for your professor, and you have two pages side by side, one PlainTalk and one PainfulTalk, then in that case, you choose what is PainfulTalk.

But that is not our case.

We are building, I believe, a Free society, or at least a Free space. And I think that we should choose what is PlainTalk.

Because it is better, and because we can.

I’ve got a hoard of Science books in my bookshelves. What’s my favorite science book? It’s called “The Boy Scientist.” It’s one of the best science books ever written. And none of you have ever heard of it. It’s the most plain speaking, most powerful book on science I’ve ever seen. I mean, it says it right there on the cover of the book: “Knowledge is Power.” Big letters, bold. Very powerful book.

It was written in 1925. It tells you how to do anything and everything. It’s chapter on Chemistry shows you how to make your own glassware, make your own burner, and then sets in on how to make various chemicals. “Hydrogen Sulphide, and How to Make It.” “Potassium Hydroxide, and How To Make It.” “Ammonia, and How To Make It.” “Sulphuric Acid, and How To Make It.” Shows you how to pour Hydrogen, an easy way to make pure Nitrogen, all kinds of stuff. “Foo, and How To Make It.” And I mean, it really shows you how to make all kinds of mad chemicals. You could never publish this book today. There’d be parents protests and talks of “appropriateness” or something like that. It doesn’t take more than 2 paragraphs to say that everythings made of molecules, that molecules are made of atoms, and that the atoms can be recombined. There’s a great, brief, section on “What Chemical Equations Are.” This is just one tiny chapter of the book. In the book, boys are also taught how to do surveying, how to read constellations, how to triangulate, how to use a microscope and what to look for, what kinds of things you can see, how to make X-Rays, all kinds of stuff. It’s to the metal, so to speak. It also has great chapters on geology, evolution. Great diagrams of the crust- and let me tell you- by “great diagrams,” I mean these are fantastic diagrams. They are really well made. They follow everything I know about how diagrams should be made. They follow none of the mistakes I see in most diagramming that goes on in general. Going on: Crystal shapes, spectroscopes; … How to make your own freakin’ X-ray machine. How to make a radio. How to set up your aerial. Then photography. How to make your own camera. I mean, the book just goes on and on. It is the best science book I have ever seen.

And it all-

The whole thing-

-is written in Plain Talk.

It is not condescending. It is not written without jargon. And yet: It is perfect Plain Talk.

(The author of the book wrote another book that I haven’t read, though I’ve always wanted to see it- I think it was written in 1930, and it was about how to make your own TV station, or something like that.)

Plain Talk can appear in anything from the simplest of children’s stories, to the most sophisticated and technical papers ever written. The use of jargon isn’t the point, though a thing that happens in PainfulTalk a lot is caking on the jargon. The use of jargon isn’t the point.

I don’t know that I can really say what the point really is. And frankly, that doesn’t bother me- because I know it when I see it, and other people (well, most people) know what I’m talking about when I say it, too.

But if I had to put some words to it, I might say: It is writing that is authentic. It is writing that is direct. It is writing that is meant to be understood. It is fair, in the sense of equitable, but also in the sense of beautiful, though perhaps in a modest way. There is a heart to it, even though it may be on something purely technical. Perhaps it is also inclusive, with an attitude of “here’s something that you can learn, if you like.”

Do these ideas make sense? Am I communicating clearly?

Do you see why this matters? Do you see why I care about this?

Do you see why I believe this is particularly relevant for us now, in the context of the HiveMind and all?

Because we’re making things like Wikipedia and stuff now.

We don’t need to write like we’re trying to win the approval of our professor, or even the New York Times now. We don’t need to choose strange language. We can communicate on an even par.

Now, if that doesn’t interest you- if you’re someone who likes to make their own language of “distinguishment,” or if you consider yourself an “engineer” and you think that engineers are superior to non-engineers, and want to couch everythings in the words of engineers- or, you know, you need something to keep the rabble out- whatever disease you might have; If this PlainTalk does not interest you, then that’s okay. You can hang with your select group, and do your select things.

If you are someone who is sympathetic to the values I’ve described, but are concerned that PlainTalk is about a bunch of rules and formalisms, or that PlainTalk is the end of necessary jargon, or something like that- then: Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean that. Just strive to be understandable. Given a choice between two texts saying the same thing, and one is easier to read than the other, just choose the one that’s easier to read. If you need a term, introduce it in a friendly way. As a metric, you can ask yourself: “Is this word correct for this situation? Is this word necessary for what I mean to say? Is this word going to treat people well?” (Take a particularly vicious example of PainfulTalk, and see how horribly it fails all tests!) I’ve got it kept in the phrase, “Is it True, Is it Necessary, Is it Kind?”

Now, if a bunch of gear-heads are talking amongst themselves, talking ShopTalk, then obviously- what’s PlainTalk amongst themselves is going to be different than if one of them is writing an article for lay people. But the same principles apply in both cases. Between the gear-heads, they should be talking what they consider plain. When one sets out to write for lay people, about what he knows, he should talk in what the new people consider plain. For the same reasons.

So I believe.

There’s a connection, I think, between the conversation we’re having here, and between the conversation Habermas had with postmodernists. This is why I feel comfortable about the idea of this person “Habermas,” even though I haven’t read a word he’s written yet- because the things he said and did seem very similar to what I feel and think.

Habermas believed, I think, that there was something good. The postmodernists- they thought that everything is relative. But Habermas thought, “No, there’s something good.” And he, like I, fixated on the nature of communication itself. I’m talking about PlainTalk. I don’t know if Habermas ever talked about PlainTalk. But I’ll bet he did it- I don’t know if I said this or not before, but I read that he used to stay in at the restaurants, talking till very late, with people. I read something about even bartenders and waitresses and people at nearby tables coming to hear him talk, and talk with him.

I’ll be that was PlainTalk that he was speaking. I’ll bet serious money that when he was talking, he wasn’t going off in weird Academicese, like most of our papers that we worship. I’ll bet he was talking in a way that made sense, about things that made sense, and about things that people actually cared about. I’ll bet it was all PlainTalk.

And I’d even venture that he thought about that some times. I’ll bet he thought about the way people talk, and what that means, and stuff like that.

So, I feel some connection with this guy’s ideas. I’ve just never read them. I’ve suffered WikiPedia:Critical_Theory. (Which, I should say, is much improved over how it used to be.) I’d like to understand what he said. Maybe he could draw a comprehensive map of “The Plan” of the Enlightenment, or whatever it would be. Perhaps he’s got diagrams of society, or something. I don’t know what he has. But he thought a lot, and wrote a lot; Maybe there’s something I can use in there.

Okay. It’s late. Time to sleep. Hope this all made some sense.

Having read Helmut’s response, I want to note something about it-

It uses a technique, a technique that Rudolph Flesch, the author of “The Art of Plain Talk,” mentioned.

Here’s what Helmut said:

“But if we adapt the tools, we redefine words in a subtle way, or we create new words, or - as in wiki - we create a pattern language. PainfulTalk is part of such a language. See also PagenamesAreAbbreviations. Such a local language is obviously necessary. Such a language separates us from the readers. This is also inevitable: if you step forward you create distance to those that are left behind.”

The line “If you step forward you create distance to those that are left behind.” – that line says something very complicated, but in a way that we all instinctively understand.

If I had been writing it, or some PainfulTalk writer had been writing it, it might have gone something like this:

“If you want to write about more complicated ideas, than you need to use more sophisticated words. Those sophisticated words would require additional explanation for people. You’d have to explain the new words to people, and it’d take longer to say things and to explain them. So, if you want to make any progress, you have to make new words, which means people are going to have a harder time understanding what you said.”

You know- spelling it all out.

But that’s unnecessary.

You can just say: “If you step forward you create distance to those that are left behind.” And we can piece it all together, see how it relates, and everything.

Another example was on MeatBall:TechnologicalDeterminism. Helmut wrote, “Social “water” runs in a technological “canyon”: where it can and how it wants, highly dynamic and unpredictable in detail, (only) slowly shaping it over time. A constructivist is like a water drop talking to a canyon wall “I can shape you” - no, he can’t. A determinist is like a canyon wall talking to the river “you will always run my way” - no, it won’t.”

This image gives us a clear understanding of what we (both us in CommunityWiki, but also the larger “we” of the entire academic world,) have, literally, spent volumes and volumes and volumes of text on.

It is not mysterious. It is not Zen. It is not Tao. I don’t think it is even particularly profound, though the imagery is nice, and probably shows up on a lot of silk screens. It’s just clear, I think. Clear, short, and plain.

Rudolph Flesch wrote about this technique in his book on Plain Talk. Sadly, (or fortunately,) it’s lent out to a friend right now- it’s one of those “permanently on loan to people” books. But Rudolph compared this technique to the way that the Chinese wrote.

Now, I don’t know if the particulars are true, but he said that Chinese is a very simple language, and that you can’t say as complicated things as you can in English. But he also said that that was okay, because they had regularly invoked very well understood sayings and metaphores, and they would say these metaphors in order to make what was meant clear.

“Rich like Jade,” or “Strong like a Tiger,” or- I forget the real examples. He knew them. They would say things like, “Avoid being common like stones or rare like jade.”

To be sure- we do the same thing too. But I guess we don’t have as ritualized and common set of understandings, like I am led to believe that the Chinese did.

At any rate- Rudolph was saying that this helps communicate abstract ideas with lots of depth and implications, but in a plain way that everyone could follow and understand.

And it strikes me that that is exactly the technique that Helmut has been using.

Okay. Now I am really going to sleep.

Short comment on the Chinese : Yes, indeed, there are a lot of Chengyu (Which could be translated as “proverbs”, except they are used much more often, and are not considered “popular”), that consist of four characters and generally have a story behind them.

Some are pretty straightforward, like “kill a chicken to scare the monkeys” or “pull on the plants to make them grow faster”, some are obscure unless you know the story “Mo Di sticking to rules”, “to bite one’s bellybutton”, “a pearl hidden under a black dragon” …

Using these is a sign of culture and education, though us poor foreigners might consider that PainfulTalk (I wouldn’t consider it as such - I generally don’t understand but it’s not the same at all as using complex expression when a simple one is possible).

Suppose for instance it would be good for some reason that anyone knew metaphysics (!). A Lion program would be : “we all rewrite in a boy scientist style (but with jargon, of course), and thus, people will like metaphysics and be better at it”. My program would be : “we do not rewrite any of the books, but we give the ability of enjoying their weird style to people who show even little interest in metaphysics (and we do not bother the others with it)”.

By the way, Lion, I would like you to answer this question, because it has to do with the meaning of “jargon”, which does not seem clear : do you consider Heidegger’s Sein und Zeit to be PainfulTalk ? (I chose a deliberately extreme example) – NicolasMontessuit

Lion, if I’m to spend a good deal of effort writing and then receive initial replies of “No” followed by rather insulting longer replies, why should I bother? I don’t need need or appreciate advice on getting some fresh air. You apparently think I’m unable to grok what you are saying. As you say, it’s not complicated. I also do not appreciate that the only acceptable or appropriate response to your ideas is acquiescence. That kind of dogmatism doesn’t fit well into the two of us actually communicating. You say that you aren’t even sure you can express what the point you’re trying to make is, yet you feel perfectly comfortably assaulting my position.

Let us not get warm on this. Lion seemed a little bit too “ciceronian” in his way of making things clear. If you felt it bad, this shows that what you do not like in professoring is not the plain/painful style, but, rather, the way they explain you that you understand nothing (or inadvertendly seem to explain you that, in this case).

I think Lion said really interesting things, I just want to show that he may see only 50% of the matter. To show why, I will take his “traveling metaphor”. This is not a perfect argument at all, and I’m surprised nobody reacted to this. Here is the argument :

The argument that “It’s all translation in the end, so everyone should love translating” is ludicrous. That’s like saying, “Well, everyone has to travel to get to work. So everyone should love traveling. And we should tear up all the roads, and put mountains in our path, so we can enjoy hiking to work. Because it’s all traveling in the end. We should love traveling. We should make travel as difficult as possible, whenever possible, and people will love us more for it. Because they get to do more traveling.”

Fuck no.

Give me teleportation.

If I want to take a road trip, then, then I will take the road trip. But we should win our freedom first.

Now I won’t analyse it by means of syllogism (omfg it would be too painful! :) ) but I will simply give the parallel counter-argument, using the same kind of myth (plain, huh?) :

The argument that “It’s all translation in the end, so everyone should do translating” is necessary. That’s like saying, “Well, everyone has to move from one point to another to do something. So everyone should be able to walk, to run, and for some ones, to swim or to climb. And even if it is useful to take a car or a plane to go to California, this does not mean at all that we should suppress our legs. Because it’s all traveling in the end. We should love traveling. We should make it as pleasant as possible, whenever possible, because the essence of life is in moving around, and wisdow consists in making enjoyable what is necessary.”

– (But anyway, Lion, my question whether Heidegger is PlainTalk or not, according to your standards, was not a joke neither a gratuitous question. No offense intended. I would be happy you answer me, Lion, because your point of view interests me a lot) – NicolasMontessuit

Pretty cool Nicholas, your point of view interests me. You proove flexible in Talk, more than I do, I think, and that’s precious. Translation, know?
But (one of) the real problems is, that we can’t copy Heidegger in here to discuss it. It’s pretty pretty likely coyrighted. That is the problem.

Probably ILLEGAL PART: I think what is needed should be copied in here, just like the wikipedia article. C’mon. We need an anonymous ip for that and a list of things we need to be copied in here and someone to do the anonymous copying. C’mon. It can’t be that hard? Are we Community-wiki?

Btw this was written by xyz using the ip Mattis Manzel usually uses. Shared, know? Could be anybody, know? :) :) :)

Well, it is not illegal to copy an excerpt of Heidegger (Sein und Zeit is good for that). I give it to you in german (original) and in french (translated edition). It is about the Dasein (i.e. the kind of being for which its being lies upon the fact of being, - typically : us humans), the world (the question being : what exactly is the world ?), and other things such as objects and tools.

(Caution, dangerous…)

A. Die Analyse der Umweltlichkeit und Weltlichkeit überhaupt

§ 15. Das Sein des in der Umwelt begegnenden Seienden

Der phänomenologische Aufweis des Seins des nächstbegegnenden Seienden bewerkstelligt sich am Leitfaden des alltäglichen In-der-Welt-seins, das wir auch den Umgang in der Welt und mit dem innerweltlichen Seienden nennen. Der Umgang hat sich schon zerstreut in eine Mannigfaltigkeit von Weisen des Besorgens. Die nächste Art des Umganges ist, wie gezeigt wurde, aber nicht das nur noch vernehmende Erkennen, sondern das hantierende, gebrauchende Besorgen, das seine eigene “Erkenntnis” hat. Die phänomenologische Frage gilt zunächst dem Sein des in solchem Besorgen begegnenden Seienden. Zur Sicherung des hier verlangten Sehens bedarf es einer methodischen Vorbemerkung.

[in french…]

A. L’analyse de la mondéité ambiante et de la mondéité en général

§ 15. L’être de l’étant se rencontrant dans le monde ambiant

La présentation phénoménologique de l’être de l’étant se rencontrant à proximité s’effectuera au fil directeur de l’être-au-monde quotidien que nous appelons aussi le commerce du monde et le commerce avec l’étant au sein du monde. Le commerce est déjà émietté en une multiplicité selon les variétés de la préoccupation. Mais, comme il a été montré, le genre le plus immédiat du commerce n’est pas le connaître réduit à la seule perception, c’est la préoccupation qui utilise en exerçant une activité et qui est douée d’une “connaissance” à elle. La question phénoménologique porte d’abord sur l’être de l’étant se rencontrant au milieu de cette sorte de préoccupation. Pour donner au regard toute la sûreté exigible ici, une remarque préliminaire de méthode est indispensable.

Okay, this was great, no ? ;)

Excerpt copied by somebody who has used the IP address of NicolasMontessuit

I wonder about the bitterness in some contributions. There is simple talk and there is PainfulTalk, extremes that we observe and a spectrum in between. So what?

I don’t know why copyright enters the discussion. We have a right to cite anything as a part of a discussion or greater work. Of course not whole pages or chapters, but that wouldn’t be wanted anyway.

I don’t know why Heidegger enters the discussion. I admit that I tried to read Heidegger a long time ago. My father had two of his books and they were pretty unreadable to me. When I look at what Nicolas cited I definitely think it’s painful. Words are tuned to different meanings but it is not done in the open. Philosophers talking about reality should first have studied natural sciences where the difference between reality and perception is obvious.

I forgot to summarize one aspect of PainfulTalk. I talked about the difference that’s inevitable and the difference that’s avoidable. I forgot the difference that’s intentional. PainfulTalk is used to impress people, to show academic quality, to assume and defend a position. PainfulTalk is often used to create a status difference between people. I think that this is what people hate and what (other) people defend.

I think we’re getting to Copyright and Heidegger because we need to try to refactor this a bit. It’s getting really unwieldy. There’s also been a bit of InsultingTalk?, which would be nice to filter out of the good points that have been made. I’m going to try to summarize the Anti-PainfulTalk side of the argument as best I can. Let me know if I’ve missed something.

A standard: PainfulTalk1

Define external redirect: InsultingTalk IneffectivelyCodedTalk WhateverTalk PoeticTalk PainfulText

EditNearLinks: PagenamesAreAbbreviations GoodFaith NicolasMontessuit