We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Left vs. Right? No — Realist vs. Nominalist

5th September 2017

My thesis is that the ‘problem of universals‘ is a better conceptual framework for the modern political world than the ‘left vs. right’ paradigm that we inherited from 18th-century France.

Realists believe that, once we assign a name to a thing, however arbitrary that original assignment might have been, the assignment is locked — while the thing remains the same thing, the name we assign it ought to remain the same.

Nominalists believe that the names we assign to things are and remain completely arbitrary — if we wish to use a name assigned to a thing to include other things as well, we are free to do that.

Sound familiar?

As you might suspect, I consider myself a Realist, and judge most proglodytes to be Nominalists. A quick review of the way proglodytes use the terms ‘marriage’, ‘male’, ‘female’, ‘racist’, ‘sexist’, ‘homophobe’, and ‘free speech’ will, I suggest, adequately support my characterization.

The Nominalist agenda (and they always have an agenda) is summed up by Humpty-Dumpty’s response to Alice in Through the Looking Glass:

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

Nominalists aren’t interested in Truth; they are interested in ‘which is to be master’. That’s all.

My thanks to ZMan, who first turned my mind toward this fruitful perspective.

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