Saturday, 28 April 2012
Dark Points of Interference
This struck me. I immediately applied this to every thinker I dislike. Typing it out, I realised he was talking about me.
“Much greater is the evil which lies in the pompous retinue of technical terms – scientific expressions and metaphors, which these systems carry in their train, and which like a rabble – like the baggage of an army broken away from it's chief – hang about in all directions. Any critic who has not adopted a system, either because he has not found one to please him, or because he has not yet been able to make himself master of one, will at least occasionally make use of one, as one would use a ruler, to show the blunders committed by a general.
The most of them are incapable of reasoning without using as a help here and there some shreds of scientific military theory. The smallest of these fragments, consisting in mere scientific words and metaphors, are often nothing more than ornamental flourishes of critical narration.
Now it is the nature of things that all technical and scientific expressions which belong to a system lose their property, if they ever had any, as soon as they are distorted, and used as general axioms, or as small crystalline talismans, which have more power of demonstration than simple speech.
Thus it has come to pass that our theoretical and critical books, instead of being straightforward, intelligible dissertations, in which the author always knows at leas what he says and the reader what he reads, are brimful of these technical terms, which form dark points of interference where author and reader part company.
But frequently they are something worse, being nothing but hollow shells without any kernel. The author himself has no clear perception of what he means, contents himself with vague ideas, which if expressed in plain language would be unsatisfactory even to himself.”
Carl von Clausewitz
On War, book two
(paragraph gaps added by me, dude was German, he liked density)