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Semiformalishmaybe

Worlds of Meaning

US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot by a man named Jared Loughner. Reading that Loughner was inspired by the philosophy of a man named David Wynn Miller, I went to Miller's Website to try to understand what beliefs were involved. Part of this was because of my past experiences trying to understand Kaczynski, which were surprisingly satisfying. As the Unabomber, Kaczynski had a well-worked out thesis arguing for Anarchoprimitivism, and if one accepts his arguments (not bad) and his values (which I don't), his actions made sense (and were sane). Related, Westboro Batptist Church's pro-shooting protests make a kind of sense (even as we deny the axioms on which their worldview is built).

Miller makes much less sense than Kaczynski or the Westboro leadership. Having listened to some portion of the downloadable audio on his site (after almost entirely failing to make any sense of the other site content), I immediately noticed that:

  • He is obsessed with grammar
  • He is a linguistic absolutist
  • He makes stuff up about history
By linguistic absolutist, I mean that he believes that words have intrinsic meaning rather than being arbitrary creations to which we glue concepts. This intrinsic meaning makes deconstruction, not usage, the ultimate meaning of words. He takes ths much further - he believes that sentences change reality and that grammar and linguistic manipulation (as his "technology") represents power.

It's fairly hard to understand, but there's no hint that there's anything but sleight-of-hand happening. I don't think there's an inner logic - the ideas will likely die whenever their creator does. Loughner's grumblings about illiteracy in America were likely meant in the light that literacy is meant to be understanding of Miller's ideas - if I am correct that Miller is the only source of these ideas and that there is no inner logic, this "killing for illiteracy" is ironic (maybe some ugly form of projection of inadequacy - perhaps Loughner's hatred of those who fail to grasp the "technology" is a way to deflect his own disappointment in not understanding it himself?).

I don't get any feeling that violence is suggested by the philosophy. The ideas are less sane than Scientology and could probably be called insane without risk of being dismissive, but even for someone inspired by insanity, Loughner seemed to be branching off on his own path (maybe insanity is always very individual?). 「I punctuated my name because it makes me a fact and not an adjective-pronoun fiction」

If anyone wants to give this a go and can manage to produce reasonable diagrams of Miller's thoughts, can explain them in simpler terms, or things there's some coherent ideas in there, please explain it to me. I consider myself to be pretty good at understanding diverse life/political/linguistic philosophies, and I'm disappointed in the results of my efforts here.

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