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59799Re: [existlist] Re: Whose fault is it anyway

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  • eduardathome
    May 27, 2013
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      I am not saying that an author should be "dumbing down' academic books.
      What I am saying is that when an author publishes a book on philosophy to
      the general public, then he/she should take some responsibility in making
      their thoughts sufficiently clear so that the content can be understood by
      the general public to whom it is offered. Although I stand to be corrected,
      I don't recall a warning label on the cover of "Being and Nothingness"
      stating a level of accessibility.

      But more than anything, there is a fundamental principle here. If an author
      wishes to present a new philosophy [or any new thinking] to the public, then
      it should be clear enough to be understood. I just can't see how it can be
      done otherwise. Why would an author produce a book for the public, knowing
      that the content is so hidden in special terminology or phrasing that it
      will not be understood by those who do not meet some kind of accessibility

      People who write books are communicators. It doesn't matter what the
      subject is, the author is a failure if he/she cannot express themselves. It
      is not a matter of "dumbing down", but an ability to express ideas clearly.
      I would object to that phrase as it implies that the general reader is
      lacking in intelligence.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Jim
      Sent: Monday, May 27, 2013 6:54 AM
      To: existlist@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [existlist] Re: Whose fault is it anyway


      I don't agree with your manifesto for "dumbing down" academic books so all
      members of the general public can understand them.

      Researchers at the cutting-edge of their discipline, whether it be science,
      psychology, economics, law, philosophy or whatever, should be allowed to
      attempt to push back the frontiers of knowledge without being constrained to
      make their book accessible to the person who knows nothing about the

      I am sorry if you have bought books in the past which you have not
      understood and feel you have wasted your money, but generally books have
      bits on the cover to indicate their content and level of accessibility.

      Mathematicians publish books too, and I would not expect to understand new
      research in this area without "working up" from the lower levels of the
      subject to the higher levels.

      For me philosophy is a passion which engages my study and I am prepared to
      spend time struggling with difficult ideas and I read widely to get
      alternative perspectives.

      I agree that on a forum such as this, we all should strive to explain what
      we write or what we quote as clearly as possible, and that is what I
      attempted last time.

      By the way I did include the sentence ""Because "nothingness" (or
      nihilation) is just what consciousness is, there can be no objects in
      consciousness, but only objects for consciousness." I just put it in the one
      quote as this sentence followed straight on from the previous one.

      At the end of your post you write:

      "I think that is what this all comes down to. People can freely post
      whatever quote here, but members are not allowed to question the quote if it
      doesn't seem to make any sense. One doesn't question Sartre."

      This seems an hysterical over-reaction to me, and not based on anything I
      wrote. I cannot recall writing "Eduard, you are not allowed to question this
      quote. Nobody is allowed to question either Sartre himself or the online
      Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy."

      Rather what I attempted to do was respond to your post saying you did not
      find the passage clear, by attempting to express the ideas in my own way,
      which might be helpful to you.

      I think this forum should accept all types of contributions – whether the
      more scholarly ones you don't like – or the more direct ones you do like. We
      get hardly any posts here anyway, and restricting the form or content even
      more will probably result in no posts at all.



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