Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why quoting others is childish

This isn't of any particular importance, but it is an incredibly widespread and pretentious phenomenon worthy of being outed. I figured that, since I'm making so many posts lately, I might as well...

1. Absolute associations are stupid. Inevitably, there is going to be some point on which you and the person quoted disagree, so why exalt him or her in the first place? Focus should be on ideas at all times, rather than individuals -- unless, of course, there suddenly becomes a valid reason for focusing on individuals in similar instances in the future, which can be said of just about anything.

2. It's an appeal to authority. What's so hard about paraphrasing the quote, or otherwise putting the concepts that it lays out into your own words? Everything that we disseminate or teach comes from somewhere else; if we take the vast majority of what we learn and put it into our own words when attempting to convey it to others, then why are there ever special cases? Furthermore, even if the quote is as concisely or accurately as the concept can be put, why give credit to its source? In a deterministic universe, there is no reason to ascribe merit to someone for merely being in the right place at the right time and having an experience conducive to his or her understanding of a given concept; it was predetermined that said experience would happen, anyway -- which obliterates the ideal of recognizing individuals for "accomplishments."


  1. An additional thought:

    When quoting someone, you're essentially conceding that he or she is superior at representing a set of ideas -- either relatively superior to you, or the definitive authority on the ideas, period.

    If the person quoted is superior only to you, good on you for bringing him or her to our attention; now remove yourself from the conversation if you don't have anything to add yourself so that we may investigate the approach and arguments presented by your source.

    If the person quoted is superior to everyone, fine, but as soon as you append his or her name to the quote, you're essentially promoting adulation, which is how jealousy, war, social inequities, and deification result.

  2. I am a complete goddamn idiot who understands nothing about sociology, logic, morality, philosophy, psychology, and the universe as a whole-Leaving Society