Thursday, May 17, 2012

Against Recent Philosophical Style

For the summer, I will be posting a lot of snippets from my manuscript as I edit it.  The following is a manifesto against recent stylistic techniques in academic writing in the humanities.

I must address a communicative and grammatical problem before I engage the technical details. When writing about functional and processive concepts, the English language forces the writer either to “lie” with the grammar, which rejects such thinking with every stable noun and discrete verb, or render the text more difficult to read through common stylistic techniques such as “verbing nouns” through verbing or nominalization. I have chosen to “lie” with my grammatical usage, which whispers of fixities and discreteness while the concepts they communicate are anything but. For instance, “intelligence” is not a faculty or power, neither a stable thing nor consciously employed, but a pattern of activity that satisfies the demands of the situation given the best norms available to the agent.  Intelligence is a performance and event that a person of such character is likely to produce.

Much of the task at hand is to articulate Deweyan insights with more rigor and formality than he offered while not divorcing myself from his diction and concepts.  Hence, though I write of the imagination, emotion, horizon, etc. that does this or that activity, there is no real distinction; do not be fooled by the definite article, “imagination” employed as a noun, or the syntactical division of subject, verb, and object and the previous sentence. Dewey does not follow these recent stylistic techniques, and I will not.  I ask contemporary scholars to pardon me for following his lead.

I have posted on this previously.

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