Should

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Social Epistemology / Abstractions /
@ K. 2006 07 15

Stop shoulding me.
bk (to pk)

The word, the idea, the imaginary imperative should can have no sensible meaning without recognizing the normally invisible conditionals attached to it.

You should stop smoking IF you want to live longer
    you want to have an emphysema-free old age
 
you want to annoy people less

See?

“If” is a conditional. It could be any conditional. Try unless.

You should not eat the seed corn UNLESS you’re certain to starve otherwise
(or drink the well-primer water …)   AND you don’t give a damn about anybody else.

Confusion comes I believe because we’re so accustomed to understanding that God is the one doing the shoulding, and if not God, then Thomas Jefferson. The convention-bound are not comfortable considering moral variables. They want the imperative to go: Keep your legs crossed (you young hussy); not Keep your legs crossed: unless you don’t care that you’ll ruin the bride price your father can get for a virgin.
(Maybe the girl wants to destroy her value as chattel!)

legs crossed
thanx everythingweird

I no longer recall any of the specific situations in which bk accused me of “should”ing. I do know that at least some of those of us who enjoy shoulding, may not mind the ignorant, the lazy, the inflexible, those without imaginations, confusing the speaker with divinity. At the same time, there’s a high price to pay for those who come anywhere near association with divinity: the godless, crossing themselves in a fury, will hogtie you and hang you over the altar where they can help themselves to a slice at any time.

I know one problem bk is not the only correspondent to balk at: pk’s unrepentant abbreviations: enthymemes, logic with one or more steps missing. (How about ALL of the steps missing!?!?!?)

July 15, 2006 11:53:48 AM EDT

bk responds within minutes of my altering him to the posting of the first draft:

I’ve made the same point about should being a conditional, but I think you leave out an important exception.

99.9% of shoulds might be conditional, but you eventually and inevitably trace them back (if you bother) to a grounding should with no condition. This is your axiom.

Some people think the axiom is customary (we should strive for equality), or self-evident-but-not-defensible (we should strive for survival), and some of us think we have axioms that are a-priori true: you should not initiate force.

My preferred should is negative: Thou Shalt Not…

Not Love Your Neighbor, not Honor Your Parents, but Don’t Steal, Don’t Murder, etc.

Ivan Illich tried to train us to prefer negative prohibitions to positive commandments:

Thou shalt not make attendance at any ritual compulsory. Thou shalt not ask which compulsory ritual fathered the magic of your skills.

Deschooling Society-pk paraphrases, not quotes:
In other words:

No school. No diplomas.

Unrestricted information instead.

I got Ivan’s lesson but did not altogether change all of my habits.


bk’s “self-evident-but-not-defensible (we should strive for survival)”: that’s good. That’s very good. Bulls eye.

It can be terrifying to face one’s axioms.

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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