A blupete Essay

Baffle Gab, Part 6 to blupete's Essay
"Language: Lexicographic v. Stipulative Meanings"

There are those, in the name of "subtlety and acuteness" and to the "applause of the schools," who are out to impress you. These are people who are on the inside and aim at "glory and esteem, for their great and universal knowledge." It is, as Locke points out, easier to pretend than to really acquired knowledge. Obscure language, "this artificial ignorance and learned gibberish," is "a good expedient to cover their ignorance, with a curious and inexplicable web of perplexed words, and procure to themselves the admiration of others, by unintelligible terms, the apter to produce wonder because they could not be understood." The most that they can claim credit for is in "the coining of new words" which are used only to the extent of "perplexing or obscuring the signification of old ones, and so bringing all things into question and dispute ..." Our modern collectivist world, unfortunately, is full of such people as they go about pitching their authority, in order to exercise dominion over those in charge of the purse strings, our elected representatives. Those who seek to spend your tax dollars purposely use "baffle gab" so to employ "the ingenious and idle in intricate disputes about unintelligible terms, and hold them [those who have to make government spending decisions] perpetually entangled in that endless labyrinth." There is no way it seems for the entangled to find their way out, no way "to gain admittance, or give defence to strange and absurd doctrines, as to guard them round about with legions of obscure, doubtful, and undefined words." These are not my words: they are the words of John Locke as he used them in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1690: I but subscribe to them.

[ See, also, Blue Pete's essays "On Writing" and "On Argument." ]

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Peter Landry

2011 (2019)