You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 09, 2016, 05:53:33 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.  (Read 2194 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #50 on: April 10, 2013, 09:20:12 AM »
Consortium11,

I see your point, but look at it this way:  Do armies fight wars, or do individual soldiers fight wars?  An army is after all a social organization of  soldiers.  I don't think anybody would describe a western-style army as a rhetorical fiction.  Some third and fourth world armies?  No comment.


The example you gave of Thatcher's principles in action, showing her to be not quite the ogress many want to portray her as is a sterling example of the argument in depth preparation I so respect you for.

edited for grammar
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 09:21:58 AM by Healergirl »

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #51 on: April 10, 2013, 10:11:04 AM »
I see your point, but look at it this way:  Do armies fight wars, or do individual soldiers fight wars?  An army is after all a social organization of  soldiers.  I don't think anybody would describe a western-style army as a rhetorical fiction.  Some third and fourth world armies?  No comment.

Individuals fight wars. That's why we hold individuals responsible for war crimes and the like rather than place then back on "the army". There are no armies without individual soldiers; an army is just a way of organising them.

The example you gave of Thatcher's principles in action, showing her to be not quite the ogress many want to portray her as is a sterling example of the argument in depth preparation I so respect you for.

Oh Thatcher was an ogress, have no doubt about that. While the enterprise scheme helped many it was an imperfect tool; put simply what business opportunities are there for an ex-miner with no other skills in a mining town where no-one has any employment, any money and all the existing businesses are collapsing because they were dependant on the mines? That's to say nothing of the original capital requirements or the need to present a business plan (which doesn't sound onerous but again, we're talking about miners who often had a limited academic education as there was seen as being no need for it). It was scheme that did do a lot of good and worked well for many... but it was aimed to a large extent at the prosperous south east and London and had limited impact on the areas where it was truly needed.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #52 on: April 10, 2013, 10:27:36 AM »
Consortium11,

Individuals fight wars?  mmm.  I have to differ on that.  Individuals engage in firefights, yes,  and can commit atrocities lumped under the heading of War Crimes, and such behavior can be greatly reduced or enhanced by attitudes at the top of the chain of command. Actual battles, let alone wars require a much higher degree of organization.  Individuals soldiers are, I think, the components of a larger social structure.   A society.  And not a rhetorical fiction.

A very imperfect analogy:  People are individual atoms of varying elements, societies are (very volatile, prone to spontaneous disassembly) molecules.  They are comprised of atoms,  they are not fictions.

And blame can and has been placed on armies, a great deal of effort was expended by the NATO countries to make sure that the West German armed forces had a different social culture than the preceding Wehrmacht.  There were some , well, many similarities - effective armed forces have many common traits after all, but socially, there was quite a bit of daylight between the two organizations  And I again stress that they were societies.

I bow in no-safeword submission to your assessment of Thatcher.

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #53 on: April 10, 2013, 10:38:51 AM »
Consortium - have you read Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones?  Can't recommend it enough.  I only mention as some of the arguments you are making are similar to his and it reminded me.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #54 on: April 10, 2013, 10:49:06 AM »
Kythia,

Thank you for that recommendation!

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #55 on: April 10, 2013, 11:17:40 AM »
Consortium11,

Individuals fight wars?  mmm.  I have to differ on that.  Individuals engage in firefights, yes,  and can commit atrocities lumped under the heading of War Crimes, and such behavior can be greatly reduced or enhanced by attitudes at the top of the chain of command. Actual battles, let alone wars require a much higher degree of organization.  Individuals soldiers are, I think, the components of a larger social structure.   A society.  And not a rhetorical fiction.

A very imperfect analogy:  People are individual atoms of varying elements, societies are (very volatile, prone to spontaneous disassembly) molecules.  They are comprised of atoms,  they are not fictions.

And blame can and has been placed on armies, a great deal of effort was expended by the NATO countries to make sure that the West German armed forces had a different social culture than the preceding Wehrmacht.  There were some , well, many similarities - effective armed forces have many common traits after all, but socially, there was quite a bit of daylight between the two organizations  And I again stress that they were societies.

I bow in no-safeword submission to your assessment of Thatcher.

I'm not disputing that individuals can act together as a whole in the way they describe. I'm disputing that by acting together anything fundamentally changes. The term "society" is just a shorthand for describing that collection of individuals, their thoughts, feelings, opinions, situations and prejudices. Likewise an "army" is just an organisational term to describe a collection of individuals (who in turn form squads, regiments, companies, battalions etc). You say the army fights the war... but what if the individuals who formed that army simply refused? Would a war be fought?

Everything comes back to the individual. Everything beyond that is a useful fiction to organise and describe it.

Consortium - have you read Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones?  Can't recommend it enough.  I only mention as some of the arguments you are making are similar to his and it reminded me.

I have, although I disagree with much of it. I agree with him about the hole that was left in working class culture (and pride) with the collapse of their traditional industries, the casual contempt of the working class (often by the metropolitan left) and the way successive governments have essentially done little for the working class itself outside of offering ways for people to "escape" it, leaving the far-right to slip in. The BNP gains most of its electoral support from old-labour heartlands to a large extent because despite it's far-right reputation it's actual policies are essentially a xenophobic rehashing of traditional working-class labour positions.

That said I think he's got on over-romantic view of the working class which borders on the "noble savage" trope, he views the working class as a singular whole (which even if it was ever true certainly isn't now immigration has widened the working class) and he uses the idea of chavs and working class interchangeably. I don't think that's correct; chav refers to something different. His view of class hatred is too limited; he suggests it is simply a hatred down the classes with the metropolitan elite's contempt for chavs being essentially disguised class hatred which misses the fact that a large amount of the dislike for chavs comes from fellow working class areas and individuals.

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #56 on: April 10, 2013, 11:33:00 AM »
That said I think he's got on over-romantic view of the working class which borders on the "noble savage" trope, he views the working class as a singular whole (which even if it was ever true certainly isn't now immigration has widened the working class) and he uses the idea of chavs and working class interchangeably.

Mmm, I interpreted him to be pushing towards a "pride" in the working class' view of itself.  While I agree he's talking very much as an outsider looking in 1) there's a long tradition - Orwell and beyond - of this over-romantic view and I felt he was deliberately trying to tap in to that 2) the book acknowledges that its target audience is the chattering classes who are, I would imagine, rather sympathetic to that sort of idealised view.  In short, I viewed it as rhethoric rather than anything harmful.

 
Quote
I don't think that's correct; chav refers to something different. His view of class hatred is too limited; he suggests it is simply a hatred down the classes with the metropolitan elite's contempt for chavs being essentially disguised class hatred which misses the fact that a large amount of the dislike for chavs comes from fellow working class areas and individuals.

But the working classs can and does hate itself as an outgrowth of class hatred.  Without going into Hyacinth Bucket (I feel there should be some analogue of Godwin's law relating to discussions of British Class and "Keeping Up Appearances") there has always been a certain "self-hating" element within the working class.  Well, within any demograph.  The internal hatred is simply as aspect of that - that the working class has been de-fanged and chavs are embracing that rather than anything else.  IMHO.

Anyway, sorry for derailing, just wanted to mention it.  I return you to your previously scheduled discussion.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #57 on: April 10, 2013, 12:09:49 PM »
Kythia,

You are not derailing!

Consortium11,

A Fundamental change in group behavior.... there are any number of studies which seem to indicate that people in groups do not act /react to stimulus the way people do as individuals.  A google search on individual and group behavior brings up 144,000 hits.  Im sure there will be something in that pile for everybody.

And are you sure that fiction is a term you want to use when describing an institution with the longevity and impact of "army"?  If an army is a useful fiction, I am tempted to respond  "So are love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy  and loyalty."  but I believe those to be real.  Now, societies and governments are bootstrapped into existence in that they are real because their component members say they are  - but so do their opponents.  If they are not real, then there would be no need to oppose them.  God may not exist, but the Catholic Church certainly does.  Another useful fiction?

  What is real to you, then?

This verges on tautology perhaps, but if the soldiers refuse to fight, why did they become soldiers?  And yes, even conscripts do have a choice in the matter of whether or not to serve in an army.  The classic example of soldiers refusing to fight is the Tsarist army in WWI, during the revolution - but they did fight back when attacked, so the example does not really hold up.  I think you are getting into Perfect Gas behavior territory here. 

But yes, the war would be fought - with new soldiers if need be, if opinion is so polarized as you described, the opposite pole would fill the ranks.

edited for spelling.

 
« Last Edit: April 10, 2013, 12:36:12 PM by Healergirl »

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #58 on: April 10, 2013, 03:43:15 PM »
A Fundamental change in group behavior.... there are any number of studies which seem to indicate that people in groups do not act /react to stimulus the way people do as individuals.  A google search on individual and group behavior brings up 144,000 hits.  Im sure there will be something in that pile for everybody.

I'm not disputing that people act differently in groups; that's a fact of life so obvious it doesn't need evidence. But it is still individuals acting, even if in a different way to if they were not in a group. It is still rooted in individuals.

And are you sure that fiction is a term you want to use when describing an institution with the longevity and impact of "army"?

"Army" is simply a term first used in the 14th century to describe a collection of individuals in a particular set of circumstances, based on some Anglo-French and some latin. What matters is what the individuals that make up an army do. The Roman soldiers weren't made great due to the Roman army... the Roman army was made great due to the individuals that made it up. Armies cannot exist without individuals, cannot do anything without individuals and have no power without individuals. An army is just a way of organising individuals.

If an army is a useful fiction, I am tempted to respond  "So are love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy  and loyalty."  but I believe those to be real.

Apples and oranges. The things you mention are emotions/mental states. An army is not.

Now, societies and governments are bootstrapped into existence in that they are real because their component members say they are  - but so do their opponents.  If they are not real, then there would be no need to oppose them.  God may not exist, but the Catholic Church certainly does.  Another useful fiction?  What is real to you, then?

If the Catholic Church had no individual members (that is if no individuals identified as belonging to it) then would anyone need to oppose it? Would anyone oppose it?

Do we oppose fascists or fascism? For what is fascism without fascists?

But yes, the war would be fought - with new soldiers if need be, if opinion is so polarized as you described, the opposite pole would fill the ranks.

And then that would be in the individual soldiers deciding to fight. The army itself cannot do anything, it is the individuals that do it.

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #59 on: April 10, 2013, 04:06:25 PM »
Mmm, I interpreted him to be pushing towards a "pride" in the working class' view of itself.  While I agree he's talking very much as an outsider looking in 1) there's a long tradition - Orwell and beyond - of this over-romantic view and I felt he was deliberately trying to tap in to that 2) the book acknowledges that its target audience is the chattering classes who are, I would imagine, rather sympathetic to that sort of idealised view.  In short, I viewed it as rhethoric rather than anything harmful.

In what other circumstances would we form the opinion like that is mere rhetoric and not harmful? It's patronising, offensive and simply not true.

But the working classs can and does hate itself as an outgrowth of class hatred.  Without going into Hyacinth Bucket (I feel there should be some analogue of Godwin's law relating to discussions of British Class and "Keeping Up Appearances") there has always been a certain "self-hating" element within the working class.  Well, within any demograph.  The internal hatred is simply as aspect of that - that the working class has been de-fanged and chavs are embracing that rather than anything else.  IMHO.

I don't disagree; but Jones does. Throughout the book he talks about how the various higher social strata's have class hatred towards chavs (and extends this to cover all the working class) without accepting the dislike for chavs within the working class. He avoids discussing the divisions within the working class (one of the reasons why his view of the working class is a singular whole is unhelpful) and the impact they have had and continue to have.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #60 on: April 10, 2013, 04:10:06 PM »
"Army" is simply a term first used in the 14th century to describe a collection of individuals in a particular set of circumstances, based on some Anglo-French and some latin. What matters is what the individuals that make up an army do. The Roman soldiers weren't made great due to the Roman army... the Roman army was made great due to the individuals that made it up. Armies cannot exist without individuals, cannot do anything without individuals and have no power without individuals. An army is just a way of organising individuals.
Your example is spectacularly poorly chosen. The reason the Roman army was great was because of the discipline and training instilled by it as an institution. So yes, Roman soliders were pretty clearly made great by the Roman army.

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #61 on: April 10, 2013, 04:11:40 PM »
In what other circumstances would we form the opinion like that is mere rhetoric and not harmful? It's patronising, offensive and simply not true.

Hmmm, thats an interesting point.  I reserve the right to wake up at three in the morning with a perfectly formed counter argument but until/unless that happens I think you may be right there.  I had perhaps dismissed it too readily.

Quote
I don't disagree; but Jones does. Throughout the book he talks about how the various higher social strata's have class hatred towards chavs (and extends this to cover all the working class) without accepting the dislike for chavs within the working class. He avoids discussing the divisions within the working class (one of the reasons why his view of the working class is a singular whole is unhelpful) and the impact they have had and continue to have.

Here I do disagree with you though.  He doesn't mention every part of the situation, no.  But thats not to say his points are wrong, simply incomplete.  He's writing a book aimed at guardian readers, not at the working class (I hope we can leave the massive assumptions made in that statement alone and that you understand the point I'm trying to make) and so has, rightly IMO, aimed his arguments towards the issues that most affect and can be affected by them.

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #62 on: April 10, 2013, 04:39:43 PM »
But even Guardian itself picked up on the points I mentioned...

There's no reason for a book like this to not dwell on the internal divisions within a class, especially when exploring them actually gets back to his key point. He mentions the right-to-buy scheme as a deliberate way to undermine the working class but then doesn't take the point onward; the right-to-buy scheme gave one of the biggest boosts to the "aspirational" working class who didn't want to be working class any more and form one of the major groups within the working class who dislike the "chav" culture. It also fuelled the chav culture itself by allowing them to borrow against homes the owned to fuel a more material lifestyle which in turn frustrated some of the "working pride" sector of the class. It's all points that would fit well into his idea of the upper echelons of society deliberately trying to cut apart the working class, as would a look into immigration the UK, especially of relatively low skilled labour. Yet he leaves the points unexplored.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #63 on: April 10, 2013, 06:06:51 PM »
Consortium11,

An army is not an emotion/mental state?  I most strongly disagree.

The whole point of basic training is to change civilian emotional reaction/habits of thought into military patterns.

 You said  "An army is just a way of organizing individuals."  Oh no no.  Organization is never merely "just", organization is the point, we are pack hunters, organization, flexible, adaptable organization is what we do.

 
Here is the problem I have with describing an army as a useful fiction.  If an army is a useful fiction, then so are organized religions, so are corporations.  If armies, religions, corporations are all useful fictions, then the term has no meaning, the useful fiction is in fact practical reality.

So, I repeat: What is real to you? 

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #64 on: April 11, 2013, 03:28:37 AM »
An army is not an emotion/mental state?  I most strongly disagree.

The whole point of basic training is to change civilian emotional reaction/habits of thought into military patterns.

 You said  "An army is just a way of organizing individuals."  Oh no no.  Organization is never merely "just", organization is the point, we are pack hunters, organization, flexible, adaptable organization is what we do.

The US has eight field armies. Eight. The reason?

To organise.

An army is a concept. It is a name of a piece of paper. It is an idea. An army doesn't do anything. The individuals in the army do things.

Here is the problem I have with describing an army as a useful fiction.  If an army is a useful fiction, then so are organized religions, so are corporations.  If armies, religions, corporations are all useful fictions, then the term has no meaning, the useful fiction is in fact practical reality.

I'll pick on corporations as they're the perfect example.

Corporations are a legal fiction. A very useful legal fiction but a fiction none-the-less.

If a corporation a person? Does a corporation think? Does it ponder? Does it live? Does it die? Does it breath? Does it feel pain? Does it feel sadness? Including and excluding the prior as appropriate does it innately have any of the characteristics which we would say make someone (or something) a person?

And yet legally it is a person. In certain areas a person the same as you and I.

That's a fiction. It's universally regarded as a fiction. I know of no-one who genuinely thinks that say Microsoft is a real person. Yet we treat it as a person every single day. Because it makes life easier for us. Because it allows us to organise better. Because it is a useful tool to pretend that corporations have a legal personality. It is a fiction... but a useful one.

So, I repeat: What is real to you?

It is perhaps easier to reverse the question; what isn't real?

What isn't real are the filters we apply to the world to make it easier to deal with. What isn't real are the conventions and ideas we apply to make things more practical. What isn't real are the things that can be reduced down.

Let us return back to the original starting point. "Society".

The term itself comes from the latin word for essentially "comrade". It is about the bond and/or interaction between individuals. It is those individuals that form it, the individuals the drive it and the individuals that can break it. Can we touch society? Can we talk to society? Or can we touch and talk to the individuals (either singular or together) who make up society? Can a government do anything for society that in reality isn't based on doing something for the individuals that make it up?

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #65 on: April 11, 2013, 06:41:21 AM »
Consortium11,


Corporations are a legal fiction?  Oh, that was very much a cloudy choice of words.  Fictions have no standing in a court of law, facts do, and corporations are very much legal facts.  You can take them to court, and they can take you to court.  Personhood of corporations is a daft idea, but legally.... unfortunately they are.

 I do note the irony -which I am sure is intentional -  of a writer with the handle of Consortium11 arguing that consortia cannot be real.



 
It is perhaps easier to reverse the question; what isn't real?

What isn't real are the filters we apply to the world to make it easier to deal with. What isn't real are the conventions and ideas we apply to make things more practical. What isn't real are the things that can be reduced down.
 

If that is your definition of what is not real, then Literacy and Language themselves are not real.   Writing is composed of marks on a surface that have no inherent meaning - if the meaning was inherent, we would not need to learn how to read - and perhaps write.  The marks that compose writing have meaning that is assigned to them in our own heads.  Likewise language, we understand it because we learn to understand it.

Quite literally, Literacy and Language are conventions and ideas we apply to make things more practical to do and use.

This calls into question the basic utility of the useful fiction concept, because utilizing a useful fiction to discuss the existence of useful fictions is very much like arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.


Are you a deconstructionist?

Offline Kythia

  • Noooo-one Fights like Kythia no-one bites like Kythia
  • Dame
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Oct 2012
  • Gender: Female
  • No one chain smokes Marlboro lights like Kythia
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 1
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #66 on: April 11, 2013, 06:49:33 AM »
Corporations are a legal fiction?  Oh, that was very much a cloudy choice of words.  Fictions have no standing in a court of law, facts do, and corporations are very much legal facts.  You can take them to court, and they can take you to court.  Personhood of corporations is a daft idea, but legally.... unfortunately they are.

Sorry, I think you've misunderstood consortium's point a little.  Legal Fiction is a precisely defined term and corporate personhood is perhaps the best example of it.  It's essentially a "trick" played by the legal system.  Everyone accepts that a corporation isn't a person in the same sense as me or (if for the moment we assume other people are real) you.  But treating them as one makes various things easier.

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #67 on: April 11, 2013, 06:51:53 AM »
Kythia,

I take the correction like a grown woman, minimal sniffling ensues.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #68 on: April 11, 2013, 10:13:52 AM »
Consortium11, if I understand your point correctly, it seems you are arguing against the reality of anything that does not have a tangible presence. ("Can we touch society? Can we talk to society?") In that case, I think you were dodging a very valid point earlier when Healergirl asked you if love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy  and loyalty were real. I would also ask you what you think you're communicating on at this moment. Can you touch the Internet? Can you talk to it? Sure, you can touch the individual machines, but that's not the same thing, is it?

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #69 on: April 12, 2013, 02:33:54 AM »
Corporations are a legal fiction?  Oh, that was very much a cloudy choice of words.  Fictions have no standing in a court of law, facts do, and corporations are very much legal facts.  You can take them to court, and they can take you to court.  Personhood of corporations is a daft idea, but legally.... unfortunately they are.

 I do note the irony -which I am sure is intentional -  of a writer with the handle of Consortium11 arguing that consortia cannot be real.

Kythia's already mentioned this. The reason you can take a corporation to court and in turn be taken to court by them is because of a legal fiction; the fiction that legally corporations are (or at least have many of the same rights and responsibilities as) people.

If that is your definition of what is not real, then Literacy and Language themselves are not real.   Writing is composed of marks on a surface that have no inherent meaning - if the meaning was inherent, we would not need to learn how to read - and perhaps write.  The marks that compose writing have meaning that is assigned to them in our own heads.  Likewise language, we understand it because we learn to understand it.

Quite literally, Literacy and Language are conventions and ideas we apply to make things more practical to do and use.

Indeed. Language in something we applied to the world to make it easier for us to understand and to communicate. The existence of multiple languages in the world shows that there is nothing inherent about an object that means it is it's name in English (or French or Spanish or German etc).

This calls into question the basic utility of the useful fiction concept, because utilizing a useful fiction to discuss the existence of useful fictions is very much like arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

I don't see the connection. As a general rule I dislike the "angels on pins" concept as it seems to me to be an argument for reducing everything to ruthless practicality and dismissing any arguments that don't. Moreover if I derive pleasure from a discussion then can it really be said to be a waste of time, even if the subject matter itself is of little practical import?

Beyond that I think the discussion is useful. Take the discussions on threads below about sexism and what's known as "rape culture". If society is sexist and is creating a culture where rape is trivialised is society doing that in and of itself or does it do it because enough individuals within society think a certain way? Once you identify that then the question turns from "how do we change society" to "how do we change individuals"... and that to me is the key question.

Take drink-driving for example. This has been a crime in the U.K since the 1870's but despite that drink-driving was still endemic. One of the reasons is that while jurisprudence states that a law such as that is a way of showing society's disapproval (and through doing so shape society and its opinions) because it focuses on society and not the individual society didn't significantly change. The reality was it took about a century for drink-driving to be socially unacceptable... and it became that due to the efforts to focus on individuals and make individuals become aware of their actions. As more and more of the individuals within society came to consider drink-driving unacceptable then society came to consider it unacceptable.

Are you a deconstructionist?

Of the Derrida/Yale school? Not intentionally.

Consortium11, if I understand your point correctly, it seems you are arguing against the reality of anything that does not have a tangible presence. ("Can we touch society? Can we talk to society?") In that case, I think you were dodging a very valid point earlier when Healergirl asked you if love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy  and loyalty were real. I would also ask you what you think you're communicating on at this moment. Can you touch the Internet? Can you talk to it? Sure, you can touch the individual machines, but that's not the same thing, is it?

My point isn't to reduce everything to the physical and I apologise if my arguments come across that way. My argument is to separate out things that are "real" (that is to say in some way inherent) and things that are "fictions" (that is to say, they are things we have applied to this world which are not inherent to it). Without touching on the argument that things such as "love" are just chemical reactions and stimulated nerves in the brain, love is still real; we did not invent the concept of"love" (although as above we invented the term). Love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy and loyalty are (with the possible exception of "honour" which to me is very much a social construct) all real; they are not concepts we invented to make life easier.

My lack of tech knowledge may let me down here but the internet is a concept that exists in and of itself. In contrast the operating protocol (HTTP/WWW etc) are fictions we applied to it to make life easier for us much in way Windows style operating systems are a fiction applied to make computer usage easier.

Which leads to perhaps the problem with my argument. Taking it right back to the start, if we were to replace "society" with "car". Most of us would automatically say a car is real. Yet what separates it from society? Both are made up of individual component parts each of which influences how society/the car operates. If one wanted to change how a car performed one wouldn't change the car as a concept in and of itself... one would change the component parts. So in truth my argument would be that as a concept "car" isn't real (despite the fact that it is in many ways tangible... albeit you cannot touch "a car", you can touch parts of a car); it is a fiction we have invented, a shorthand to describe a certain set of parts arranged in a certain way.

The issue is how far this point goes. An engine has parts in the same way a car does. Is that reduced down? I say it has to be. Each of those parts has parts. Again, reduce it down. When everything is reduced away what are we left with? Simple raw materials? Plastics and metal? I don't think we need to go quite that far. I think we can reduce things down to a single part and build from there. A screw for example is a single part (albeit we call one section of it "the head"). Just as society can be broken down into component parts (Thatcher already mentioned one, the family) which can themselves be broken down further until we are left with the individual.

Your example is spectacularly poorly chosen. The reason the Roman army was great was because of the discipline and training instilled by it as an institution. So yes, Roman soliders were pretty clearly made great by the Roman army.

I apologise for missing this earlier.

So what did the training and discipline do? It made the individual soldiers better (either alone or in groups). Who did the training and installed the discipline? Individuals. Who decided on the training and installing discipline? Individuals. Every aspect of the "army" is entirely governed by the actions of individuals.

Roman soldiers were made great by individuals. The army in and of itself did nothing beyond organise them (which was another decision taken by individuals).

Offline gaggedLouise

  • Quim Queen | Collaborative juicy writer
  • Champion
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Jan 2011
  • Location: Scandinavia
  • Gender: Female
  • Bound, gagged and unarmed but still dangerous.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #70 on: April 12, 2013, 04:29:27 AM »
consortium11, in "the reason we can strike deals with corporations, take them to court or get taken to court by them ourselves is because of the legal fiction that corporations are persons, like you and me"

the word persons could just as well have been 'subjects' or 'conscious agents'. There's nothing very odd about saying something that isn't endowed with a human-form body, eyes and a brain can still be an agent, can influence others or make them change their choices by its being there and acting in its own way. And it would not mean the company, army command, church or even some animal would be any less real than you or me.

When Thatcher famously said "There is no such thing as society. There are only individual men and women, and families" she was trying to drive home the idea that society is not only an abstraction, it's simply a nonentity, a bogeyman people push around to try to (wrongfully) motivate their claims to have this and that. I strongly disagree with her on that one 8and some other things too).

Offline HealergirlTopic starter

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #71 on: April 12, 2013, 06:35:25 AM »
Consortium11,

Thank you for the clarification!

The problem I am having is with your use of the word fiction - a word that carries a lot of baggage.  Learning that when  you use the term "useful fiction" you seem to be referring to things I would call "useful software tools", clears away a lot of the fog.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #72 on: April 12, 2013, 11:04:15 AM »
Beyond that I think the discussion is useful. Take the discussions on threads below about sexism and what's known as "rape culture". If society is sexist and is creating a culture where rape is trivialised is society doing that in and of itself or does it do it because enough individuals within society think a certain way? Once you identify that then the question turns from "how do we change society" to "how do we change individuals"... and that to me is the key question.
Except that the correct answer is "both". Hint: How do you think these individuals learn to think this way? How do you think such patterns are eventually rendered unacceptable?

My point isn't to reduce everything to the physical and I apologise if my arguments come across that way. My argument is to separate out things that are "real" (that is to say in some way inherent) and things that are "fictions" (that is to say, they are things we have applied to this world which are not inherent to it). Without touching on the argument that things such as "love" are just chemical reactions and stimulated nerves in the brain, love is still real; we did not invent the concept of"love" (although as above we invented the term). Love, honor, mercy, justice, cruelty, passion, envy and loyalty are (with the possible exception of "honour" which to me is very much a social construct) all real; they are not concepts we invented to make life easier.
Your definition of "real" seems to have some issues, then. As you have defined it here, the computer you wrote this on is not real. Computers are not inherent; they are merely a specific arrangement that we applied to certain items. I would say a far more useful definition of "real" is something which has actual, measurable consequences in the real world. Going back to my example of computers: You're reading this, aren't you?

My lack of tech knowledge may let me down here but the internet is a concept that exists in and of itself. In contrast the operating protocol (HTTP/WWW etc) are fictions we applied to it to make life easier for us much in way Windows style operating systems are a fiction applied to make computer usage easier.
Using your definition of "real", I don't see how this holds. How is the Internet in any way inherent to the world? For that matter, what is the Internet, if it is not a collection of useful protocols for arranging information and getting it from A to B? If the protocols that it consists of are not real, how is it real?

Which leads to perhaps the problem with my argument. Taking it right back to the start, if we were to replace "society" with "car". Most of us would automatically say a car is real. Yet what separates it from society? Both are made up of individual component parts each of which influences how society/the car operates. If one wanted to change how a car performed one wouldn't change the car as a concept in and of itself... one would change the component parts. So in truth my argument would be that as a concept "car" isn't real (despite the fact that it is in many ways tangible... albeit you cannot touch "a car", you can touch parts of a car); it is a fiction we have invented, a shorthand to describe a certain set of parts arranged in a certain way.

The issue is how far this point goes. An engine has parts in the same way a car does. Is that reduced down? I say it has to be. Each of those parts has parts. Again, reduce it down. When everything is reduced away what are we left with? Simple raw materials? Plastics and metal? I don't think we need to go quite that far. I think we can reduce things down to a single part and build from there. A screw for example is a single part (albeit we call one section of it "the head"). Just as society can be broken down into component parts (Thatcher already mentioned one, the family) which can themselves be broken down further until we are left with the individual.
Why is the individual real? Seems that, if we take your argument to its logical conclusion, the only things that are real are quantum states. Which, while technically correct, is completely useless as a concept, and I see no reason to support its use or advocacy beyond certain very narrow branches of metacognition.

I apologise for missing this earlier.

So what did the training and discipline do? It made the individual soldiers better (either alone or in groups). Who did the training and installed the discipline? Individuals. Who decided on the training and installing discipline? Individuals. Every aspect of the "army" is entirely governed by the actions of individuals.

Roman soldiers were made great by individuals. The army in and of itself did nothing beyond organise them (which was another decision taken by individuals).
A society, or an army, is nothing more than a group which follows certain expected rules. You cannot argue that groups-which-follow-rules are not real with one breath and then rely on their existence with the next. Either the army exists and is a thing, or it is not (and thus the organizational structure that makes it up is not either). Which is it?

Offline consortium11

Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #73 on: April 12, 2013, 12:28:34 PM »
Except that the correct answer is "both". Hint: How do you think these individuals learn to think this way? How do you think such patterns are eventually rendered unacceptable?

They learn to think that way from other individuals. Such patterns are rendered unacceptable because enough individuals view it unacceptable. We shorthand that by calling it society.

Think about it this way; we can change individuals without changing society. We cannot change society without changing individuals. Unless you believe we can...

Your definition of "real" seems to have some issues, then. As you have defined it here, the computer you wrote this on is not real. Computers are not inherent; they are merely a specific arrangement that we applied to certain items.

I agreed with this in the below mentioned part about the car.

I would say a far more useful definition of "real" is something which has actual, measurable consequences in the real world. Going back to my example of computers: You're reading this, aren't you?

Surely this is far too wide? If a child is told a dragon will eat them if they are naughty it may well have an actual, measurable consequence in the real world as the child changes his behaviour for fear of dragons. Does that render dragons real? Or, at the very least, does it render the idea of dragons real? And even if it's the latter, what isn't real in such circumstances?

Using your definition of "real", I don't see how this holds. How is the Internet in any way inherent to the world? For that matter, what is the Internet, if it is not a collection of useful protocols for arranging information and getting it from A to B? If the protocols that it consists of are not real, how is it real?

This may be a case of my tech knowledge letting me down but doesn't the internet exist outside of the protocols and the world wide web; the protocols are a way to link the internet which in turn allows users to access the world wide web?

If I've misunderstood the system I apologise; it is my fault for engaging with a bad example.

Why is the individual real? Seems that, if we take your argument to its logical conclusion, the only things that are real are quantum states. Which, while technically correct, is completely useless as a concept, and I see no reason to support its use or advocacy beyond certain very narrow branches of metacognition.

Can we separate the individual from the parts that make it up? Especially in this context?

A society, or an army, is nothing more than a group which follows certain expected rules. You cannot argue that groups-which-follow-rules are not real with one breath and then rely on their existence with the next. Either the army exists and is a thing, or it is not (and thus the organizational structure that makes it up is not either). Which is it?

The army exists in the same way that corporate personhood exists. It is a useful fiction. It does not mean it doesn't have consequences or does not have an impact. Merely that when all things are said and done what matters is the individual. Other individuals within the army can train an individual, can better equip an individual, can teach an individual discipline, can organise a group of individuals... but it is all individuals.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: Even an Iron Lady must yield to time: Margaret Thatcher is dead.
« Reply #74 on: April 12, 2013, 01:38:18 PM »
They learn to think that way from other individuals. Such patterns are rendered unacceptable because enough individuals view it unacceptable. We shorthand that by calling it society.

Think about it this way; we can change individuals without changing society. We cannot change society without changing individuals. Unless you believe we can...
Think about it this way: Groups act in ways no individual member would, and in fact in ways the individual members find reprehensible. Unless you think that mob mentality and the bystander effect simply don't happen...

Surely this is far too wide? If a child is told a dragon will eat them if they are naughty it may well have an actual, measurable consequence in the real world as the child changes his behaviour for fear of dragons. Does that render dragons real? Or, at the very least, does it render the idea of dragons real? And even if it's the latter, what isn't real in such circumstances?
It renders the idea of the dragon real, yes. The dragon... not so much. What isn't real? Well, let's start with the goddamned dragon. What measurable effect does it have on reality?

This may be a case of my tech knowledge letting me down but doesn't the internet exist outside of the protocols and the world wide web; the protocols are a way to link the internet which in turn allows users to access the world wide web?
Not really. It's protocols and the servers/network cables those protocols use. "The internet" is just a convenient term for a large group of interconnected networks that share common protocols. Does that make it any less real? Can you no longer respond to this message?

Can we separate the individual from the parts that make it up? Especially in this context?
Yes, yes we can. We can talk about how an airplane flies in terms of aerodynamics and wing shape. Is this a usable, workable model? Yes. We could also talk about it in terms of chromodynamics. Is this more accurate, and likely to give better results than the aerodynamic model? Yes. Is it a usable, workable model? Not within our lifetimes. Being able to think of things in abstract and aggregate terms is necessary to function with a merely human brain.

The army exists in the same way that corporate personhood exists. It is a useful fiction. It does not mean it doesn't have consequences or does not have an impact. Merely that when all things are said and done what matters is the individual. Other individuals within the army can train an individual, can better equip an individual, can teach an individual discipline, can organise a group of individuals... but it is all individuals.
I see the line of "individual" as arbitrary. Why stop there? If you insist on reducing everything to its parts, why does the (ridiculously nebulous) concept of "person" matter?