‘Sloppy thinking leads to sloppy writing’

George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English Language” in 1946 that our use of the English language “becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Dennis Dutton provides a couple of examples, and explains why:

Exhibit A: “This book was instigated by the Harvard core curriculum report in 1978 and was intended to respond to what I took to be an ominous educational reform initiative, that without naming it would delegitimate the decisive, if spontaneous, disclosure of the complicity of liberal American institutions of higher learning with the state’s brutal conduct of the war in Vietnam and the consequent call for opening the university to meet the demands by hitherto marginalised constituencies of American society for enfranchisement”.

Exhibit B: “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways, to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and the rearticulation, brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure, inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony, as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power”.

Read the full story here: Sloppy writing breeds sloppy thinking

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