Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Philosophers are bad writers.  Generally speaking, this is a fact.  As a philosopher myself, and one who first voiced this observation (at least as far as I can tell), I'm coming to terms with this.  It isn't that we can't say what we mean-although few know what I'm talking about most of the time-but we can't just say what we mean.  When reading a philosopher's writing, we find ourselves re-reading sentences at an alarming clip.  And then, when that doesn't work, we have to back track.  You might start on chapter 5, but you'll be in chapter 3 before you know it.  Or watching Ducktales on youtube.

The reason I bring this up is because I'm on the stroll again.  The 'track', as it were.  For those of you unfamiliar with those brilliant colloquialisms, I'm whoring myself out.  Again.  As a writer.  Fortunately, this time it's for a philosophy class.  I don't have to cram three years of nursing school into twenty minutes of preparation.  This time.  And upon accepting this assignment, I was given a syllabus.  By one of my old teachers, actually.

It was irritating to read.  The dude thought he was lecturing for Wittgenstein, Schopenhaur, and Descartes or something.  I mean, I knew what he was saying, but this is an intro to philosophy class.  These kids don't have a hundred units of this crap under their belts.  I remember the dude being uptight a little bit, but not this bad.  And I caught him using the wrong word.  Ha!  I told the kid that I'm helping cheat that he could use that if he wants to be smart guy for a day.  Just catch this clown in his egomaniac neurosis.

He said, in the syllabus, "circumlocutious".  Everyone knows the term is "circumloquacious".  Right?  A person can engage in 'circumlocution', as an activity and can possibly 'circumlocute', like as a verb.  But as a descriptor, the word is 'circumloquacious'.  Spell check and squiggly red lines can go eff themselves because I know the word, even if this thing's puny little dictionary doesn't.  So, it wouldn't matter if you asked someone off the streets whether or not they knew the word and they didn't, because who uses that?  But if you're gonna try to be Smarty McSmart pants Jenkins when teaching an intro to philosophy class, then you better get the word right.  Just sounds like when rappers  get over their terminological head and bust out some wrong ass words.  Act like a professional Schubert.  They are paying you right?

So, sorry for the worthless and 'periphrastic' post, but I'm just priming the pump for a night out on the town with my date.  A philosophy paper.  And so, even though I am, by my own definition, a bad writer I'm gonna crank another one out.

Sadly, I kind of embrace my bad writing.  Philosophy is like a cult.  It's been driven into our heads for so long that we have to 'can (as in the garbage can)' the ambiguity, that it's second nature.  I find myself getting irritated when I talk to people on the streets because they make vague arguments or use terms loosely.  Even at church, I find myself evaluating certain arguments for soundness.  I don't doubt the Bible or question God, but arguments that I hear from teachers get a close scrutiny.  I'm not sure if this is the best way to go through life, but the dice has been tossed.  Hope I don't crap out.


Peter Anderson said...

i love that you get into arguments with people on the street. and then get irritated when they cant hang.

Cwatts said...

Fools better step up their game if they're gonna disagree with me.