Re: MD Unofficial Rorty Dictionary

From: Matt the Enraged Endorphin (
Date: Tue Sep 24 2002 - 14:32:53 BST


Interesting idea. Let's have a go:

>ad hoc - temporary fix
This seems fine, but sometimes it may seem out of place to say that one is
"fixing" things. I usually prefer "for this moment". It is usually used when
making a description that wouldn't make sense or you wouldn't normally make in
a different context. For instance, my description of postmodernism and the MoQ
as irrational. Under another context (one more preferable than the one I was
writing under) I wouldn't describe either postmodernism or the MoQ as

>aesthetic axis - popular entertainment
This, I don't know where you got from. The aesthetic axis in American thought,
as I understand it, is simply a labeling under which we can arrange writers and
thinkers who have value diversity.

>ahistoric - generic
>ahistorical - universal
Ahistorical is right on the money.

>biconditional - depending on two things happening at once
This word I don't think I'll ever have to use again, but that's not what
biconditional means. In formal logic, biconditional is a summary of "If P,
then Q and If Q, then P" For instance, this statement is biconditional: "If
the cat is black, then it is mine. If the cat is mine, then it is black."
"Depending on two things happening at once" would translate into formal logic
as "If P and Q, then R" so that "If the cat is mine and the cat is hungry, then
I will feed it." But I don't think this has anything to do with much of what I
write (or Rorty writes). Like I said, I don't think I'll ever use it again,
and I'm sorry I ever did ;-)

>causally - circumstantial
This I don't get. This must be in reference to the way Rorty believes beliefs
are changed. However, I don't see why it needs to be translated into something
like "circumstantial" because now I don't know what it means. If
"circumstantial" means "circumstance A causes circumstance B" then I guess
count me in. But otherwise...?

>context - circumstances
>contextualize - to describe the circumstances
>contingent - influenced by
This is safe to say, though I don't prefer it. (Of course, you're not asking me
to prefer these definitions.)

>cultural context - beliefs of a group
>dialectical - logical
>distaste - don't like
>diversity - different from you
>essentialism - things everyone should know
Essentialism is a philosophical position that (and to make sure I get this
right, I'm referring to my hand-dandy Philosophy Dictionary) "maintains that
some objects--no matter how described--have essences; that is, they have,
essentially or necessarily, certain properties, without which they could not
exist or be the things they are." As my little dictionary says, this is a
metaphysical view dating all the way back to Aristotle (hence, Aristotelian
essentialism). This is something Rorty and the nominalists "distaste". They
argue that all anything has is descriptions, which can change.

>final vocabulary - your everyday speech
See Scott.

>historicist - story teller
This, I think is funny, and not too far off. (Contrary to Scott, I thought
historicist was a noun, as in, "Rorty is an historicist.")

>historicized - story retold
>incorrigibility - stubbornness
>intersubjective - among a group
>ironic - gentle sarcasm
See Scott.

>ironist - enjoys being gently sarcastic
>mediate - compromise
>narrative - story
>nominalist - only words are real
See Scott.

>Oedipal cycle - love of parent later turned to hate
True, but there are two parts. In the contexts I was using it under, the first
part is "love of parents turned to hate." This describes the heroizing and
de-haloing of those heroes. For instance, my relationship with Pirsig (and,
eventually, Rorty). The second part is the overcoming of the parents that
Oedipus undergoes by killing his father. I'm not going to kill Pirsig or
Rorty, but the effect is to come out on a better position then they did.

>plurality - majority
I think the only way I've used it is as a synonym for diversity, as in "many."

>poeticized - said in an unfamiliar way
Actually, I like both your and Scott's definition ("Said in an interesting,
non-literal way") because saying something in an unfamiliar way echoes Rorty's
following of Davidson in the definition of a metaphor: an unfamiliar noise.
Literal words are familiar noises and metaphors are not. As soon as metaphors
become familiar, they become literal. A poeticized culture keeps attempting to
make unfamiliar noises.

>poetized - to say differently
>pragmatism - true if useful
>pragmatist - show me it's useful
Do you mean, show you a pragmatist is useful? ;-)

>recontextualization - rewritten
>recontextualize - rewrite
>self-creation - invention
>sensitive - emotional
Since "emotional" is usually used perjoratively, I would shy away from this
one. I think the way I use sensitive is more like "empathic."

>solidarity - conformity
I agree with Scott. I think simple conformity is a perjorative redescription
i.e. attempting to show disdain for solidarity.

>text - words, writing
>vocabulary - words, word use

As you can see, about half way through I discovered Scott's list. Those are
pretty good.

I do have one fear, though. I have a pretty good sense for an ambush and this
smells like an ambush. Afterall, agreement on definitions is the first step in
the Platonic dialectic. Now, in the interests of discussion and dialogue, I've
thrown them out there. But, if you have an idea to grab me in a choke-hold,
then I'll slip out of it and out of the ring ;-) I usually let the context of
what I write define the words I use. It gives them more nuance then a simple
one line description (though, those can help if one has no place to start; I
know they do for me sometimes).


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