Helpful

I often wish that I could just post a link with my scratch notes; if I did, this post would have been up two hours ago. But you come here to read full sentences, so it is the least I can provide. However, it is not that simple: while I am certainly not famous, I am lucky to have an audience. It is important for me to remember that I cannot write solely for myself, since other people might read it. No matter whether it is a longer article or just a quick link, I don’t want to further the spread of something that I believe to be false or unhelpful.

~ Nick Heer from, https://pxlnv.com/linklog/digital-garden/

For me, the purpose of writing for my blog is to help me clarify my thinking; It’s a big part of my ongoing process of reflection. That said, I’m well aware that others are reading, and whenever possible I would like what I write to also be helpful to my readers. At the very least, I’d like it to not be unhelpful.

I’m pragmatic. I’ve had that hurled at me as a criticism on more than one occasion. But—hey, pragmatism—it’s important to understand why someone is being pragmatic. I’m pragmatic because I want to be understood, and I want to understand others. That’s as opposed to being pragmatic as a defensive maneuver. To be fair—look, more pragmatism—I enjoy deploying pragmatism for humor, but I’d like to think it’s self-evident when I do so.

Take for example the common adage, “You get what you pay for.” It’s understood that it’s not literally true in all cases; one can get swindled by an unscrupulous seller, but that’s not the point of the adage. The point, obviously, is that if you’re a cheap-skate and try to save too much, you end up getting crap. The pragmatist in me loves to point out that we can fix that adage so that it is literally true always, and makes clear the point. A more convoluted grammar serves better, “You don’t get what you don’t pay for.”

That’s my go-to explanation for pragmatism. Which of those versions is better? The first has simplicity and clarity, but it buries the lead and requires actual thought to get at the kernel of wisdom. The second puts the wisdom on the surface; but it’s a convoluted double-negative that makes one sound like a grammarian.

…at which point whomever I’m discussing pragmatism with is starting into the deep end of the thinking pool, and I point out: Bingo. The specific answer in this discussion doesn’t matter. You’ve now been, at least briefly in this dicussion, a pragmatist. Don’t we now understand each other better?

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