In writing, relationships, systems, we permit hierarchy and linearity as expedients, even though they are often unnatural. They endure, however, as they delight those who genuinely appreciate them, because freedom and choice make them uncomfortable.
The totality of hyperlinks between webpages is arguably the most interesting informational structure ever created. It should be the our common inheritance but, because modern Web hyperlinks go one-way only, this system is mostly invisible, or sold back to us, flawed, for profit.
Philosophy Smell #4: “Book Barricade”—To refuse to engage with people until they read certain writings. Avoid, because: 1. Useful corrections come from people who read different books; 2. If it’s that good, it’s worth summarizing; 3. Truth is sharpened in collision with error.
If one held stock in our values, the market would go in both directions at once: incremental improvements marked by crashes; sudden spurts of idealism, slowly ground down by cynicism and compromise. Unlike in the market, one should buy as high as possible and never sell.
I just discussed with a friend the merits of a multi-national discussion group in which we both participate: 1. It’s hard to gauge what is trendy, universally, making cheap signalling much harder. 2. To aid linguistic clarity, people avoided jargon, which aided overall clarity.
Philosophy Smell #3: “Definition at a Distance”—Using or insisting upon the use of novel definitions for words in discussion. Theoretically, you can use any word for any thing, but definition at distance is slower and more open to slight of hand than using the common meaning.
Philosophy Smell #2: “Cargo Critique”—deploying a critique by going through the motions of a popular philosophy without a true feel for its workings. A key tell is fill-in-the-blank philosophizing which, like a “cargo cult” plane, looks the part from afar, but won’t fly.
Philosophy Smell #1: “Drive-By Syllogism”—barraging people with rapid-fire logic on controversial topics, often demanding immediate “yes/no” answers; apparent victories often come, merely, from confusion. Common among Christian apologists, Anarchists. I suffer from the habit.
New term: “Philosophy Smell” — I believe I’m the first to use it. It’s “Code Smell” as in programming, but for philosophy. Code smells are not bugs/don’t break the program; rather, they show design weaknesses that may slow development or increase the risk of bugs in the future.
Dear Max, it was wonderful to meet you last week. It bears repeating that I felt as though talking for the first time to a hidden collaborator.