A Philosopher Writes #8


Pembertonius of Cyrene: an inspiration to some, a warning to others.
Pembertonius of Cyrene: an inspiration to some, a warning to others.

As a philosopher I am often asked: what is the point?


On the face of it - definiens-definiendum - this is a simple enough question, but one which, properly considered, has any number of tricky corners to negotiate [See U. Bend [2008] "Stating the Bleeding Obvious: 18 Tricky Corners Every Philosopher Should Learn To Negotiate" Threadbone Studies in Contemporary Philosophy from Ptolemy to Plato [The Threadbone Press].


To start at the very beginning [See Julie Andrews [2002] "A Very Good Place to Start: Hidden Meaning in Rogers and Hammerstein's Classic Broadway Musicals" [Threadbone Press]: what, for example, do we actually mean by the word point? Let us accept pro tempore that point is, mutatis mutandis, a simple enough noun of only one syllable, susceptible to reasoned definition*. So you - the non-philosopher - might reasonably suppose. This is an important enough point on which to dwell for a moment, for though some schools of philosophical thought consider it - ontologically speaking - a pointless question [reductio ad absurdum: the point of a point is its point; ie. it would be a pointless point to make were it not so], we contend that everything points to the point being, in and of itself, of genuine significance sui generis [ie pointfull]: perhaps, we might argue - contingencies aside - the point entire or at the very least, the point at stake?


* reasoned decision may be taken to mean, in this context what I myself think at any given moment.


[NB We do not here enter into the issue of Pointless the popular Dorset Television Quiz Show. This is a self-evident trivialisation of an important epistemological issue for commercial gain and one with which we will neither cloud our discussions nor sully our reputation.]


Some philosophers [see, for example, Merrydew, Weatherspoon, Mayfield and Thwarpe [1887] "Pointing in the Right Direction" [Threadbone Classic Reprints] have argued that the essentialist core of the word - or [modus tollens] the "term" - point is something which, in certain specific circumstances and fallacious or solipsistic arguments notwithstanding, can be relatively easily agreed. The point of a pen is, for example, it’s nib. The point of an arrow? The arrow head. The point of an argument? Similarly, it's objective. The point of a pointer? It's point. And so on and so forth. [The point of my point? Hmm... trickier: you begin to see the point!] But once we acknowledge - modus ponens - that the noun as such has many other, sometimes complimentary but more often disparate and even ambivalent meanings, then the matter becomes an altogether deeper and more complex one - something which only highly-educated, hugely-experienced, and properly-trained philosophers can hope properly to fully understand. [Is there a point to all this? [Ed]]


Consider the groundbreaking work of Linnaen scholar Lexi Koggraffer [1814-1899] who in his classic 1864 treatise of cause and effect ["Anything You Can Do I Can Do As a Direct Result" Uitgeverij Threadbonus, Antwerp] offers several meanings for the word "point" and has even proposed a ten-fold classification of its mutifold categorical states. [We should note immediately, that subsequent use has only added to the list of acceptable meanings]. [Bugger! bugger! bugger! Just realised it's a verb as well. F**k!!] [Consider a re-write? [Ed]]


Ploughing on - and this is the point - to the trained and agile philosophical mind, the non-triviality of this aspect of the issue (the essence of the point) is critical, particularly when we reach the point (juncture) where we begin to lose sight of the point (focus) at hand. To fail to acknowledge this complexity would be to miss the point (crux) entirely - or rather to miss the whole point of the point (essence or significance), if you will. Though we can never hope for consensus, assurance of a reasonable degree of cognitive concurrence on the general direction of travel is useful at this stage. Are we still pointing in the right direction (goal orientation) or have we reached a point of divergence wherein the point (aim) of our discussions is no longer the main point (objective) but rather the point of radical and perhaps fruitful departure (juncture or disjuncture)?


This being tentatively established, the point now is to ... [That's quite enough [ed]].

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