the usefulness of certain words

There are certain words that, for some people, immediately arrest all rational thought. Examples include conservative, liberal, democrat, republican, Christian, socialist, evangelical, atheist, etc. These words are invested with what I will call psychological baggage: they produce a state of mind that is dominated by emotions. These emotions affect a persons ability to reason: emotion is a more powerful influence than reason. And they affect all other terms that are used in the conversation. It becomes impossible to understand or sympathize with the other person.

The modern mind especially loves to categorize things, and persons are not exempt from this process. After the use of one of these words, the conversation is interrupted by a process of categorization – oh, so if you’re one of those people, you must think that …. And so on and on. But no matter if a definition can be agreed upon, people have preconceived notions of what these words mean and represent.

So I find it’s not best to use these types of categories in conversation unless there is a certain understanding that is already in place. The words are useful, but not if they inhibit our ability to distinguish persons from ideas.


Dave said...

Do you really think these kind of characterizations are only symptomatic of the "modern mind"?

Zach said...

no, you're right.

I guess it started with Aristotle.

I don't know what I'm talking about.

Dave said...

Haha, sorry. I didn't mean to come off as pretentious with "do you really think...", but after reading what I wrote now, it looks like I did.

Zach said...

no not at all
no problem - it was a helpful comment