The Instigator
ShabShoral
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
dylancatlow
Con (against)
Winning
3 Points

Christopher Langan is Unnecessarily Verbose

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
dylancatlow
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/6/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,079 times Debate No: 77323
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

ShabShoral

Pro

In this debate, I will argue that Christopher Langan is overly (i.e. to a degree that is more than is necessary) verbose (i.e. longwinded; linguistically complicated).

The BOP will be split as such: I will have to affirm the resolution, while my opponent must both negate my points and show that Langan's use of language is necessary.
dylancatlow

Con

This'll be fun.
Debate Round No. 1
ShabShoral

Pro

The simplest way to show that Langan’s writing is overly complex is to compare his explanations of his thoughts with much pithier versions that convey exactly the same information. All but the first quotation are taken from the CTMU. Without further ado:

Langan’s Original: “The precious, carefully cultivated orchids of academia often forget in the course of their well-referenced but ultimately omphaloskeptical self-explorations that they very much belong to an intellectual closed shop, and that their own cognitive gaps preclude definitive judgments on the cognitive adequacy of the weeds that grow wild and free beyond the sheltering walls of their ivory tower hothouses.”

Simplified: Academia fails to realize that it’s unfit and unwilling to judge ideas outside of its confines.

Why the simplified version is sufficient: It gets to the heart of the matter without using fanciful language and words like “omphaloskeptical”.

Langan’s Original: “The concept of syndiffeonesis can be captured by asserting that the expression and/or existence of any difference relation entails a common medium and syntax, i.e. the rules of state and transformation characterizing the medium. It is from these rules that the relation derives its spatial and temporal characteristics as expressed within the medium. Thus, a syndiffeonic relation consists of a difference relation embedded in a relational medium whose distributed rules of structure and evolution support its existence.

[…]

[A]ny difference relation requires a supporting medium with extension in the differential parameter. As illustrated, the medium distributes over both the linear relation “X differs from Y” and its relands (related entities) X and Y, bestowing on them a common “relatedness” property equating to “inclusion in the relational medium X(unisection)Y”, where X(unisection)Y is the unisect or “syntactic product” of X and Y. This common attribute invalidates any assertion to the effect that the difference between the relands is “absolute” or “irreducible”; the mere fact that the difference can be linguistically or geometrically expressed implies that it is only partial and that both relands are manifestations of one and the same ontological medium. Where X and Y represent arbitrary parts or aspects of the difference relation called reality, this diagram graphically demonstrates that reality ultimately consists of a unitary ontological medium. Accordingly, reality theory must be a monic theory reducing reality to this medium”

Simplified: In order for a relation between two things to be recognized, they must first share some “supporting medium” at the most basic level – two things on different “planes of existence”, so to speak, cannot be compared. As such, all real things must share a common “backdrop”.

Why the simplified version is sufficient: The core argument for monism is kept intact and no supports have been dropped – my formulation is changed only so that time and words do not have to be spent building a mathematical framework for a concept that can be understood perfectly without it.

Langan’s Original: “MAP, a theoretical refinement of the self-containment criterion set forth by the Reality Principle, extends the closure property of the definition of reality to the set of all real predicates. MAP effects closure on the definitive, descriptive, explanatory and interpretative levels of reality theory by making it take the form of a closed network of coupled definitions, descriptions, explanations and interpretations that refer to nothing external to reality itself. Another way to state this is that MAP, like the Reality Principle, requires that everything to which any reality-theoretic definition, description, explanation or interpretation refers be located within reality. This has the effect of making reality responsible for its own structure and evolution in the abstract and concrete senses.

[+ the following swarm of paragraphs basically restating this principle over and over]”

Simplified: Nothing referencing anything outside of reality is coherent.


Why the simplified version is sufficient: Langan is basically just saying that reality encompasses all that is real, and, as such, nothing outside of reality can be referenced. This is so self-evident that it’s mindboggling that Langan needs to devote so much space to it – utterly unnecessary.

Langan’s Original: “M=R (Mind = Reality) Principle. In the above syndiffeonic diagram, mind is juxtaposed with reality in a space bounded by a box. The line separating mind and reality represents the supposed difference between them, while the interior of the box represents their comparability or “relatedness” (or more technically, their uniform differentiating syntax or unisect, denoted by means of the � functor). The extensionality of the line is just that of the box; without the box, there would be no extensional medium to contain the line, and no way to express the associated difference relation. Because the separation cannot exist without a common medium incorporating a differentiative syntax that distributes over both relands of the difference relation, the “absolute separation” of mind and reality has no model…and without a model, the premise of Cartesian mind-matter dualism fails. This indicates that reality and mind, information and information processor, must ultimately be regarded as one. Any Cartesianstyle distinction between them must be strictly qualified.”

Simplified: Cartesian Dualism fails because, for mind and matter, if they were on different planes of existence, to be related, they must share a medium in common – therefore monism.

Why the simplified version is sufficient: This was one of the oldest objections to Cartesian Dualism – all Langan did was dress it up in his neologisms. Nothing new is being described that could not be described with arguments hundreds of years old (which were in much more straightforward terms).

Langan’s Original: “It has already been noted in connection with MAP that where the external dimensions of a system are undefined, no distinction as to size can be made beyond the size ratio of the system to its contents. Consider a simple arithmetical analogy: 1/2 = 1000/2000 = 1(109999)/2(109999) = (…). Where the numerator and denominator of a fraction are both multiplied by a given number, the value of the fraction does not change; it is independent of distinctions involving the size of the multiplier. Similarly, the intrinsic proportionality of a self-contained system is independent of distinctions involving any external measure. This implies that with respect to a self-contained universe for which no external measure exists, no distinction can be made between the expansion of the system with respect to its contents, and the shrinkage of its contents with respect to it. In fact, because that which is undefined cannot change – there is nothing definite with respect to which change would be possible – apparent expansion of the container cannot be extrinsically defined, but implies a conspansively-equivalent intrinsic shrinkage of its contents.”

Simplified: The universe, since it cannot be compared and measured to anything “outside” it, cannot be said to grow or shrink – things can only be measured inside and within the bounds of the universe.

Why the simplified version is sufficient: Langan’s point is relatively simple and doesn’t benefit from the discussion of mathematics, the repetitive mentions of proportionality, etc.

dylancatlow

Con

I don't deny that Chris Langan's writing is quite complex. I merely hold that for various reasons, this complexity is often necessary to convey abstract (and sometimes very nuanced) concepts with precision. However, it's nothing that can't be managed with a bit of patience and concentration. Chris Langan acknowledges that his writing style overshoots the reading comprehension of most of his readers, which is why he is currently in the process of decompressing his theories. However, doing so will require far more words (he estimates 30x his usual word count) and effort on his part. I.e., it is not necessarily possible to describe his theories in a succinct way without sounding verbose or glossing over important aspects. Given additional space, he will be able to explain them more simply because the complexity will less concentrated, and he will have the room to guide people along. As we will see, my opponent's simplistic rendering of Langan's statements often leaves out important distinctions, are simply wrong, or rob them of their literary merits. Chris Langan's writing may be unnecessarily verbose if his goal were to simply give people a very vague sense of what his theory says, but it's not (indeed, he has already done so elsewhere). His goal has always been to present his theory precisely and convincingly.

1. Simplified: Academia fails to realize that it"s unfit and unwilling to judge ideas outside of its confines.

This fails to capture important details, as well as the tone of the comment. It doesn't mention the fact that he thinks academia is given undeserved respect. It doesn't mention the fact that he thinks academia shelters itself from outside criticism or alternative viewpoints. It doesn't mention the fact that academia believes itself to be objective, but in fact only considers ideas that come from within, and is thus circular. Omphaloskeptical is a pretty exotic word, but it fits the context perfectly, and isn't crucial for understanding what he's saying.

2. Simplified: In order for a relation between two things to be recognized, they must first share some "supporting medium" at the most basic level " two things on different "planes of existence", so to speak, cannot be compared. As such, all real things must share a common "backdrop".

This sentence doesn't convey nearly as much information as the original. It doesn't tie the term "syndiffeonesis" to the concept. It doesn't clarify what is meant by "supporting medium", and how it relates to the objects. It doesn't explain how a syndiffeonic relation is stratified. It doesn't pursue the implications of this concept (that reality theory must ultimately be a monic theory). It doesn't explain that two things can be different, their difference just can't be irreducible.

3. Simplified: Nothing referencing anything outside of reality is coherent.

Doesn't connect MAP to the Reality Principle. Original statement never says that it is "incoherent" for something to refer to something outside reality. Rather, it is says that if some aspect of reality were to refer to something outside reality, it would be in reality, which is a contradiction. Never concludes that this means reality is responsible for its own structure and evolution.

4. Simplified: Cartesian Dualism fails because, for mind and matter, if they were on different planes of existence, to be related, they must share a medium in common " therefore monism.

This doesn't help explain the diagram. Way too vague.

5. Simplified: The universe, since it cannot be compared and measured to anything "outside" it, cannot be said to grow or shrink " things can only be measured inside and within the bounds of the universe.

Doesn't reference MAP. Doesn't use the example of a fraction being multiplied to get the point across. Doesn't explain that an expanding universe would be logically indistinguishable from a universe with shrinking contents (which becomes very important later on).
Debate Round No. 2
ShabShoral

Pro



1. Academia fails to realize that it’s unfit and unwilling to judge ideas outside of its confines.

Those observations are all subsumed under my simplified version - they offer no additional impact to his point when conveyed separately, and, as such, doing so is unnecessary. His views on academia are made plain in both statements, though the second is much more of a summation than the first, which is perfectly fine - the point still gets across.


2. Simplified: In order for a relation between two things to be recognized, they must first share some "supporting medium" at the most basic level " two things on different "planes of existence", so to speak, cannot be compared. As such, all real things must share a common "backdrop".

The term "syndiffeonesis" is, in itself, unnecessary - the concept is clearly explainable without the need for the invention of neologisms out of thin air. Langan's idea of a "medium" is essentially common sense, and therefore doesn't need explicit explanation past merely naming it as a medium. The "stratification" of a syndiffeonic relation is completely irrelevant to any practical understanding of the CTMU, and, as such, is unneeded verbosity. Monism is directly reached by the statement "all real things must share a common "backdrop". The fact that two things can be different in some aspects but not all is clear from my statement - "at the most basic level" shows that there can still be differentiation above it but not at it, which is exactly the same conclusion Langan reaches.

This sentence doesn't convey nearly as much information as the original. It doesn't tie the term "syndiffeonesis" to the concept. It doesn't clarify what is meant by "supporting medium", and how it relates to the objects. It doesn't explain how a syndiffeonic relation is stratified. It doesn't pursue the implications of this concept (that reality theory must ultimately be a monic theory). It doesn't explain that two things can be different, their difference just can't be irreducible.

3. Simplified: Nothing referencing anything outside of reality is coherent.

MAP is self-evidently connected to the Reality Principle, so an explicit statement pointing that out is unnecessary. Contradictions are, by definition, incoherent. The logical conclusion of my formulation of MAP is that reality is responsible for everything, since reality is everything, so of course it implies that reality is responsible for its evolution and structure. That's just one step of deduction away from my statement, and that step did not need to be drawn out like in Langan's writing.

4. Simplified: Cartesian Dualism fails because, for mind and matter, if they were on different planes of existence, to be related, they must share a medium in common " therefore monism.

The diagram was inherently unnecessary, hence the exclusion of any mention of it. The principles in Langan's writing are all represented in my statement, so there is no issue.

5. Simplified: The universe, since it cannot be compared and measured to anything "outside" it, cannot be said to grow or shrink " things can only be measured inside and within the bounds of the universe.

MAP is a self-evidency that doesn't need to be referenced every time it is used. It's absurd to state "I'm using the law of identity" every time you solve a simple math equation - why is constantly bringing up MAP any different?

My statement didn't give an example of a fraction being multiplied for a reason - it's unnecessary.

"Doesn't explain that an expanding universe would be logically indistinguishable from a universe with shrinking contents (which becomes very important later on)."

Again, things are verbose when they spell every simple conclusion out when doing so is unnecessary because the reader could have came to that conclusion themselves.
dylancatlow

Con

My opponent seems to think that if something can be described in fewer words, it is necessarily verbose. Of course, that is obviously absurd. I don't think my opponent really believes this - he's merely in "debate mode" and has acquired a rather severe case of tunnel vision. Virtually all philosophers go into more detail than is absolutely necessary for conveying their theories (as well as virtually all writers on all topics). Something is only verbose when it contains words or sentences which don't clarify, or clarify things which has already been explicitly stated, and can be safely eliminated without affecting the quality or clarity of the writing. Let's take one of my opponent's sentences as an example: "Those observations are all subsumed under my simplified version - they offer no additional impact to his point when conveyed separately, and, as such, doing so is unnecessary."

Is "and, as such, doing so is unnecessary" really *necessary* to say? No, but it doesn't mean it's verbose.

1. Academia fails to realize that it"s unfit and unwilling to judge ideas outside of its confines.

Those observations are all subsumed under my simplified version - they offer no additional impact to his point when conveyed separately, and, as such, doing so is unnecessary. His views on academia are made plain in both statements, though the second is much more of a summation than the first, which is perfectly fine - the point still gets across.

- Not really. In fact, your simplified version misrepresents his point. His argument was not merely that academia is unwilling and unfit to consider outside views; it's unfit in part BECAUSE it's unwilling. I.e., since it is an intellectual closed shop, it is incompetent to judge his theory since it has little experience in dealing with such ideas.

2. Simplified: In order for a relation between two things to be recognized, they must first share some "supporting medium" at the most basic level " two things on different "planes of existence", so to speak, cannot be compared. As such, all real things must share a common "backdrop".

The term "syndiffeonesis" is, in itself, unnecessary - the concept is clearly explainable without the need for the invention of neologisms out of thin air.

- My opponent apparently doesn't understand the function of terms. Concepts are *never* explained in terms of the names we give them, they merely make it easier to talk about the concept. The term is not made out of thin air; it brings together "syn" and "diff" (two roots which are already defined) into a single term. The only reason Langan had to invent the word in the first place was because he was describing a concept which had not been thought of before (at least not in such precise terms). Kant had to invent the word "noumena", yet no one would complain about that. Language is always evolving, and new words have to start somewhere.

Langan's idea of a "medium" is essentially common sense, and therefore doesn't need explicit explanation past merely naming it as a medium.

- Not really. When most people think of a medium, they think of something which contains something else. The notion that the medium imposes order on the things it contains might not be obvious to some people.

The "stratification" of a syndiffeonic relation is completely irrelevant to any practical understanding of the CTMU, and, as such, is unneeded verbosity.

- No it's not. In fact, if someone were to miss that fact, the very concept of syndiffeonesis would appear contradictory. Moreover, the stratification is necessary for explaining the conspansive structure of the universe, which is necessary for explaining how reality self-configures.

Monism is directly reached by the statement "all real things must share a common "backdrop". The fact that two things can be different in some aspects but not all is clear from my statement - "at the most basic level" shows that there can still be differentiation above it but not at it, which is exactly the same conclusion Langan reaches.

- "Backdrop" is a mathematically imprecise term.

This sentence doesn't convey nearly as much information as the original. It doesn't tie the term "syndiffeonesis" to the concept. It doesn't clarify what is meant by "supporting medium", and how it relates to the objects. It doesn't explain how a syndiffeonic relation is stratified. It doesn't pursue the implications of this concept (that reality theory must ultimately be a monic theory). It doesn't explain that two things can be different, their difference just can't be irreducible.

3. Simplified: Nothing referencing anything outside of reality is coherent.

MAP is self-evidently connected to the Reality Principle, so an explicit statement pointing that out is unnecessary.

- When proposing a principle such as MAP, it is perfectly reasonable to say what it is based on, even if it might seem obvious. What's more important: saving some people a second of time, or ensuring that everyone understands what you mean.

Contradictions are, by definition, incoherent. The logical conclusion of my formulation of MAP is that reality is responsible for everything, since reality is everything, so of course it implies that reality is responsible for its evolution and structure. That's just one step of deduction away from my statement, and that step did not need to be drawn out like in Langan's writing.

- Yes, but it explains *why* it is contradictory (and thus incoherent).

4. Simplified: Cartesian Dualism fails because, for mind and matter, if they were on different planes of existence, to be related, they must share a medium in common " therefore monism.

The diagram was inherently unnecessary, hence the exclusion of any mention of it. The principles in Langan's writing are all represented in my statement, so there is no issue.

- In order to demonstrate that the diagram was pointless, my opponent must prove that it did not help anyone grasp his argument better, or that there was no reason to think it might. Appealing to the fact that it is "obvious" to himself isn't a valid argument.

5. Simplified: The universe, since it cannot be compared and measured to anything "outside" it, cannot be said to grow or shrink " things can only be measured inside and within the bounds of the universe.

MAP is a self-evidency that doesn't need to be referenced every time it is used. It's absurd to state "I'm using the law of identity" every time you solve a simple math equation - why is constantly bringing up MAP any different?

- The only reason MAP is used in the first place is because it is thought to be a self-evidency. Does that mean it is pointless to spell it out? Of course not. That would imply that Aristotle was wasting his time when he wrote about the syllogism. The *implications* of MAP are even more necessary to spell out.

My statement didn't give an example of a fraction being multiplied for a reason - it's unnecessary.

- Again, this is irrelevant.

"Doesn't explain that an expanding universe would be logically indistinguishable from a universe with shrinking contents (which becomes very important later on)."

Again, things are verbose when they spell every simple conclusion out when doing so is unnecessary because the reader could have came to that conclusion themselves.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Enji 1 year ago
Enji
A key point in this debate is being precise versus being concise. Con argues that Langan's complex writing is necessary to convey abstract and nuanced concepts with precision, whereas Pro claims those ideas can be presented much more concisely while retaining their original meaning.
Con"s arguments are weakest in Round 3 when he attempts to avoid defending the necessity of particular language. Unfortunately, "show that Langan's use of language is necessary." is the resolution he agreed to. Attempting to change the instigator"s framing of the debate in the final round so the instigator no longer has the chance to respond is poor conduct.
1.Con adequately shows this simplification doesn"t accurately represent Langan"s argument (e.g. it's unfit in part because it's unwilling, academia is given undeserved respect).
2.Con argues that one of the roles of this part is to define "syndiffeonesis" so the use of the specific word is necessary (so when the concept is used elsewhere it can be concisely referred to by this name, rather than its definition).
3.I agree with Con, explicitly stating conclusions and relationships between concepts is important.
4.Con fails to establish that the diagram or its explanation contributes additional meaning beyond Pro"s simplified version.
5.I"m inclined to agree with Pro that the ratio analogy doesn"t provide additional clarity and is unnecessary.
Pro"s simplifications generally lack the precision and accuracy of the originals. Arguments to Con.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Enji 1 year ago
Enji
ShabShoraldylancatlowTied
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments