useful distinctions

distinctions I find useful

Between prophets, politicians and states people: A prophet is someone who, for the good of society, suffers in order to tell people things they would rather not hear. A politician is nearly the opposite. For their own good, a politician will tell people what they want to hear, regardless of whether it is good for the society or not. A statesperson is a hybrid: interested in the good of society, yet neither telling people what they don’t want to hear, nor suffering. Presumably this requires agility of mind and a great deal of discretion. The prophet knows the human soul to be alive. The politician does not believe that duplicity, avarice and connivance can injure the soul – perhaps because the dead cannot be injured. Suffering of the statesperson may come from agnosticism in these matters.

Between contradiction and disagreement: contradiction only requires knowing what was said, and denying it; disagreement requires also the possession an affirmative opinion that is in discord with the other opinion. It seems sneaky to try to pass off a contradiction as a disagreement. No I know that some will simply disagree with me about this. They will say that I’m being picky, or I’ve made a distinction without a difference, or contravened conventional usage. Although there is likely virtue in any of those criticisms, I’m talking about something else.

Aristotle, the ancient Greek, articulated a law of contradiction, which declares that a thing cannot both have and not have a particular attribute. I’m sure plenty of people have things to say about that, too. The binary aspect foreshadows a future digital age. But if this “law” is observed, it serves to help clarify all denotative use of language. With this in mind contradictions, when they appear, may be resolved by either making some further distinction in the way language is being used, or by correcting errors of logic.

To the original point, when someone simply contradicts something somebody else has said, let them also help to understand which distinctions must be clarified, or where the logic is faulty.

Between earning ones living and gaining money: Many who have earned mostly despair have plenty of money, while many who have well earned their living are in despair.

Between offense and defense: The offender wants to fight, the defender wants not to fight. Finally, provocation belongs to the offense. So that becomes a primary behavior to lie about.