Political Correctness: A Nominalist Cookbook

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2 Responses

  1. Atlanta Bill says:

    The branding of so-called “political correctness” as a species of Nominalism ignores the fact that Nominalism, as practiced in the Scholastic Era of Late Medieval Europe, was characterized by its denial of the Platonic universals, preserved in the opposite position termed ‘Realism’ and which according to Aristotle underlay the reality of things in nature rather than the “accidental” characteristics that could be validated by experience– what we know today as the empirical aspects of a thing, a fact, a phenomenon, a process, etc. Thus, to attack political correctness by associating it with Nominalism takes the side of Platonism and Idealism. Aiming at verbal correctness as a way of avoiding any particular politically distorted reflection of reality puts speech altogether outside the Nominalist-Realist framework of Idealism and Impressionism (which says things are what they appear to be).

    Such attempts at correctness are endeavors to reflect material reality and as such are better subsumed under Materialism. To take an extreme example, the use of the racist N-word for a certain ethnic group (Materialism accepts, by the way, that there is no scientific basis for separate “races”) is Nominalist because it denies the Realism of the more universal characteristics of the members of the group when taken as a whole. The terms ‘Negro’ and ‘Black’ avoid the prejudices inherent in the epithet, but they are still products of a misguided Realism– the color term mischaracterizes all the members of the group as possessing a “universal” characteristic that does not exist in nature. Strictly speaking, not all the members of the group are black because many are better described as brown, and some are albino. On the other hand, the terms ‘African American’ and, better, ‘African Descendant’, are more flawlessly reflective of the underlying anthropological reality. If all the members of the group were slovenly and otherwise of poor character, then the N-word would be the one we should use, but that is far from the case. To use that term generally in referring to its members would be to use an epithet; or, if we like, would be “politically incorrect”.

    • Malić says:

      “The branding of so-called “political correctness” as a species of Nominalism ignores the fact that Nominalism, as practiced in the Scholastic Era of Late Medieval Europe, was characterized by its denial of the Platonic universals, preserved in the opposite position termed ‘Realism’ and which according to Aristotle underlay the reality of things in nature rather than the “accidental” characteristics that could be validated by experience– what we know today as the empirical aspects of a thing, a fact, a phenomenon, a process, etc.Thus, to attack political correctness by associating it with Nominalism takes the side of Platonism and Idealism.

      And what’s wrong with taking the side of Platonism? Btw. neither Platon nor scholastics are idealists – that’s a Modern invention – as well as Aristotle is neither realist nor opposite of Platon. There are no sides – they come with “-isms”.

      “Aiming at verbal correctness as a way of avoiding any particular politically distorted reflection of reality puts speech altogether outside the Nominalist-Realist framework of Idealism and Impressionism (which says things are what they appear to be).”

      I think that it would not be too insulting to note that this sentence doesn’t make much sense. If you want my advice, try to avoid -isms in philosophy. That way you will avoid confusion in your mind and expression.

      “Such attempts at correctness are endeavors to reflect material reality and as such are better subsumed under Materialism.”

      One could argue that. Yet materialism has to transcend it’s limitations in order to satisfy the needs of morality, aesthetics and, frankly, common sense. And that’s where nominalism comes in. In denying the reality of inherent purpose(s) in beings, it imposes it upon them and does it in such a way that it attempts to absolutely petrify in language what it dissolved in reality.You see, it’s because you cannot reflect matter. It’s pure nothing. And for this reason, philosophy taking this stance ends up in being the endless argument about words. The unity expressed in concept is a reflection of higher unity that cannot be exhausted in concept itself. Every average Joe and Jane knows this without ever hearing about Platon and Aristotle, because living is impossible on assumption that everything can be summed up in a system of notions aiming to absolutely reflect the reality. The need for this system stems from assumption that nothing is real or, which is to say the same thing, that everything is material. But the system itself can be defined as nominalist because it aims to transcend the materialism and ends up being sub-materialism.

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