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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Say What?

Post-modernism and other such "fields" use language that is so tortured it is difficult to understand what is being said. This is a shame, unless what is being said doesn't amount to much. Here's an example from this review of two books focusing on murderous totalitarian regimes written by Maximilien Robespierre and Mao Zedong (few better to tell us why it is justified to kill as many "state enemies" as possible):
"The claim that the people does exist is the basic axiom of `totalitarianism,' and the mistake of `totalitarianism' is strictly homologous to the Kantian misuse (`paralogism') of political reason: `the People exists' through a determinate political agent which acts as if it directly embodies (not only represents) the People, its true Will (the totalitarian Party and its Leader), i.e. in the terms of transcendental critique, as a direct phenomenal embodiment of the noumenal People."

There are at least six words in this strained sentence that most people have never heard of and have no idea of their meaning. Here are my nominees:
axiom: A self-evident principle or one that is accepted as true without proof as the basis for argument; a postulate
homologous: Corresponding or similar in position, value, structure, or function.
paralogism: A fallacious or illogical argument or conclusion
transcendental: Of or characteristic of a system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual about the empirical and material;
noumenal: Of or pertaining to the noumenon; real.

The sentence cited above is from an introduction to one of the books and does not reflect the thoughtful words that comprise the actual reviews.

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