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Kinshavo wrote

I think this point is very important. The instrumentalization of the language by the academia builds an actual intelectual hierarchy. This is very remnant of the bolshevism, the inteligentsia creates the words and concepts, and an hermetic theory distant from the average people.

I read a lot of critique of philosophersr like foucault and deleuze that appear to write obscure text just for the sake of writing hard.. an inverted poetry of sorts of you like.

Anyway, burn the academia, Social Theory is dead, Political Theory is dead, burn the social science libraries. The life is on the Streets, not in dead ink on dead paper. [Now you can throw a brick at me for the edgy remark]


tabby wrote (edited )

I think you're too charitable. It's obscurantist bullshit, and it's not even worth trying to understand or engage with.

Edit: I don't mean to say that anything above my comprehension level is obscurantist. Sometimes, I have to admit that I'm not someone's intended audience or I lack the necessary foundational knowledge or raw intellect to understand an advanced concept.


inthedustofthisplanet wrote (edited )

I don't think all things can be explained in simple terms and nor should we try to do this all the time. People have their own unique ways of expressing themselves and I'm not sure if there is an academic rabbit-hole, so to speak.

Knowledge doesn't move in a single direction with a definite end-point and this should be obvious once you see how philosophers have drastically varying degrees of understanding among people.

Now when you get into fields like psychology which is intertwined with media, as well as the State and their desire to control bodies and the movement of thought these can be valid points to raise.

tl;dr I think making a blanket statement about any writing that doesn't conform to the desires of the reader at hand doesn't make any sense. We may as well react negatively against any new formulations of thought because it's all just a bunch of nonsense, right?


ruin wrote (edited )

Sometimes. I typically don’t bother engaging if I sense the writer is being willfully obscurantist.

Taking it further seems rather too close to anti-intellectualism. This line of thinking has been used by reactionaries as a tactic to repress radicals and anarchists since time immemorial.


catachresis wrote

As long as academia is written with academics as the target audience it will never become easier to understand for the normal person. This makes me wonder if language doesn’t exist to explain some topics in an understandable way because of how far abstracted the topic is from the real world, but at that point, why?


masque wrote (edited )

I have more trouble with pseudo-academic "internet discourse" than I do with actual academic works. I think it's fine for highly-specific fields, be they mathematics or political philosophy, to naturally develop their own jargon suited to talking about ideas or distinctions that aren't concisely described in everyday speech.

What I don't understand is the online manifestos that read like prose poetry, where everything is expressed in metaphors and examples that seem to be united by a vibe rather than by a coherent argument.

EDIT: Making academic work accessible to people outside of the field is traditionally the domain of "popularizers" who specifically are good at expressing the debate in a way that doesn't require a background, and I think that's a reasonable division of labour in theory.


rot wrote

if they use uncommon words or use words in an obscure alternate meaning and don't bother to define the terms then I won't even bother with reading the whole work most of the time


masque wrote (edited )

Courses like organic chemistry, physics or calculus are simple enough that even people considered far beneath and too unintelligent for the classes could fairly easily understood if explained without the purposeful academic barriers.

I'm curious as to what the "purposeful academic barriers" to introductory-level physics or calculus are, in your opinion.


snack wrote (edited )


But also: I really think it depends - not only on the field, or the academic (person), but on the actual text itself. Now i can't talk for every field, but if i were to compare all the papers i've ever read, i don't know, they're all really different from each other. There's some that are really easy to understand, and others that take you forever - and it has nothing to do with their quality. I've read good ones that were easy, shit ones that were hard and vice versa.

that being said, academia definitely has huge problems with its communications - accessibility for one. Even if you were to understand everything, it's of no use to you if you don't have access. There's this argument in the open science movement, which demands that the public should have access to scientific research, because they are the ones paying for it.

edit: typo


masque wrote (edited )

I see what you're getting at, but I'm not sure I agree. Focusing on calculus (since my background is in math), I can't think of anything specific about how it's taught now that seems to be a holdover from a deliberate barrier. Sure, the formalism might seem opaque to a beginner (e.g. the "d/dx" notation and the limit definition of the derivative are arguably not useful at the introductory level), but this stuff persists because it serves a real purpose for more in-depth study of calculus, and part of the role of an introductory course is to start introducing the stuff that will pay off in later courses.

Sure, we could probably totally redo our notation and formalism from the ground up in a way that would make it more accessible to beginners while maintaining the same utility for experts working in the field, but that would be a pretty big undertaking. We could probably also create a more accessible "introductory-only" course specifically focused on explaining the ideas of calculus to people who have no intention of going beyond the introductory level, but I'm not sure how much demand there is for something like that.

I think it's a bit like using vim. It seems unnecessarily complicated when you're learning, but the complexity does pay off with efficiency later once you become proficient.

EDIT: I guess tests etc. could be holdovers from deliberate barriers, as you pointed out, but I'm talking about the language specifically.


thelegendarybirdmonster wrote (edited )

yes I agree, fields have specialized words because the people who use them every day need to describe the nuances of phenomenons easily.

but, like your example with vim, it kinda sucks that only articles written in computer modern get read (latex is a useless barrier, even if imo it's the best tool).


masque wrote (edited )

I know that early acadamia did want to make barriers for the non academics to get into it. I wouldn't be surprised if that idea influences how they create specialized terminology.

I think that early academia didn't need to create special terminology as a barrier, because the use of Latin was already an effective linguistic barrier, and there were also tons of economic barriers.

Tho, I think it's just as presumptuous to assume that most or all of such barriers are added solely for convenience and with no malice.

I tend to believe that not attributing something to malice when it can adequately be explained without malice is a) usually more reflective of the real world, and b) less likely to get written off as an "absurd leftist conspiracy theory."


milkweed wrote

People here are mostly anti-intellectual if you haven’t noticed. Ziq and the rest of these people would just like to burn everything and exit civilization. And they idealize the 100.000 years before civilization.


ruin wrote

The essay you’re referencing, if I recall correctly, opposed the overused margarine words and sloganeering in the anarchist vernacular and is critical of calls for more “common” language in theoretical discourse.


masque wrote (edited )

I & many others find it implausible that Brahe would consciously think to himself "I need to publish in Latin and invent new words in order to keep the poors from understanding astronomy, as part of a more general policy of maintaining class divides." It seems like an unnecessary assumption for explaining how an oppressive convention like publishing in Latin could persist and benefit the elites.

It's a particular case of the whole "individual vs. systemic" divide in terms of how people think about racism, misogyny, class divides, and so on. Systemic oppression arises in ways that are obviously affected by individual views and actions, but it is also more than the sum of its parts and can often be created or perpetuated by people who are oblivious to (or even opposed to) the oppressive results. This is something that a lot of people don't get or are resistant to believing, and it causes a lot of pushback against activists criticizing systemic problems. So I generally try to emphasize this view of systemic oppression over language that implies specific planning on the part of the oppressor class, except in cases where the planning was very explicit (e.g. redlining).


thelegendarybirdmonster wrote

yes, he distinguishes between:

  • acid words: "new words" meant to make people think, describing something new (or renewed). They're used by the (((nerds))) of anarchism. acid because they have a ting

  • butter words: often "old" acid words, that are used by everyone, without really knowing what they mean, and without much of their original meaning. They're dissolved and are can be slipped in anywhere to make discourse slick (hence butter).

His approach was mostly from an activist side, but I feel like there's a similar phenomenon in science (the only academia I know) where new words appear. for example, I feel like "AI", "ML" were once acid words in CS, but are now butter words in everyday life.

In physics I don't have examples of words who's meaning have been dissolved (except for quantum maybe lol), but more that new words appear to distinguish different cases of some phenomena.


masque wrote

I feel like "AI", "ML" were once acid words in CS, but are now butter words in everyday life.

I think "AI" has definitely been diluted to the point of near-uselessness, but ML is still useful for referring to an identifiable class of tools and techniques.


CaptainACAB wrote

The only reason I was able to read as much of The Ego and Its own as I did was because I really enjoyed Stirner's criticisms of secular humanism, Protestantism, and Liberalism. The points after that were a bit of slog; I remember having to reread a bunch because I either glazed over or couldn't really understand what was being said; eventually, I just stopped reading it. I haven't read Wolfi's re-translation, so I don't know if it's just a case of a bad translation or not. I think I've pretty much gotten what I needed from Stirner anyway.

But everyone struggles with that, I think. It's just a matter of whether or not you think it's worth it. And you can tell that it's worth it when you really want to understand.


masque wrote (edited )

They could write their works in a way that is easier to understand but they choose not to. I do and it's not difficult.

What field are you in?

In many fields, many works are of such an incremental nature that it's not clear what someone who isn't already familiar with the field would be hoping to get out of it. In that case, you might as well use language tailored to be clear to the target audience.

The exclusion is more caused by trying to only include the in the in group rather than exclude those in the out group.

That's kinda what I'm saying. There's a difference between "deliberately erecting barriers" and "engaging in a behaviour for unrelated reasons that nonetheless acts as a barrier." And the reason for the behaviour in this case (i.e. using the language that will be the most useful to the audience you expect to be most interested in your work) is not inherently unreasonable and shouldn't be attributed to malice.


videl wrote

language just sucks


masque wrote (edited )

I'm in computer science

Ah, of course. I was too busy thinking about results in the vein of "Slightly tweaking the pretraining step for insert trendy architecture allowed us to beat SOTA on SQuAD by 0.7%" that I kinda forgot about how many (possibly more applications-y) papers would actually be of interest to the general public.

Tho, I can't imagine it being too interesting to tell someone with an ego as big as mine that I'm wrong. Thx

I was eager to defend myself largely because you've made me think about whether I'm inadvertently being exclusionary in the context of my own academic writing (which really is something I should think about), so it's not like I'm not also a big-ego-haver.


isvarahparamahkrsnah wrote

I speak in simple language and expect others to do the same.
I don't want to read through their linguistic gymnastics trying to figure out what the hell they meant.

Language was meant to convey points across, in a straightforward manner. Not make the audience spend an hour trying to decipher what in the fuck you just said.


arv wrote (edited )

Frankly, life is too short to read people like Delueze and Spivak. I have a job I enjoy, friends I like to talk to, political volunteering I need to do, and fiction I like to read. I mostly read a lot of "readers" and secondary sources for that reason.

EDIT: to expand on this I think there is a reason academics use some of the jargon they use and it's useful in communicating with other academics. some works just aren't meant for people who don't have phds in the subject.

also i saw an interesting opinion in r/CriticalTheory:

Judith Butler's 'A Bad Writer' Bites Back' addresses this.
Zizek's well known quote: “We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.” is another way of articulating the need for new language and concepts as well.
I think bad writing can tend to be jargon heavy but that's a condemnation of presentation/style rather than the jargon itself.


arv wrote

i think all the theories and formulas bring named after people instead of having more descriptive names is a serious barrier. maybe not to someone like you but definitely to people who don't have as much of an affinity for math. it makes people view it as a memorizing game.


_caspar_ wrote

it helped tremendously once I started reading more background on the ideas of Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx (although I had read Marx in school much earlier than being introduced to Stirner), and even Nietzsche. I actually think The Unique.. is pretty enjoyable to read if you have Wolfi's version (whose intro and footnotes are great).


Hibiscus_Syrup wrote

I struggle often, but when I do the payoff is sometimes really good. With some good work, its important to be hard and tangled, because the struggle to understand what is really being said is the same as the process of coming to understand something outside of common sense. Regular ways of using language often reproduces the values of the world as it is, and challenging fundamental ways we understand words and meaning and being is often done pretty well by forcing people to engage with texts as tough texts.

Plenty writing is obtuse and bullshit for no good reason though, I assume.


ziq OP wrote

What's anti-intellectual about burning everything? When a deadly force is suffocating you and everyone around you, the intellectual course of action would be to make sure you can breathe again, no?