critique needed

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critique needed

Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:36 pm

I am working on a project and would like to ask for some critique and possible edit advice for the following statement I put together. Thanks!! :)

Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor is it maintained through the use of oppressive force; coercion; deception or suppression. It is won by those who choose to become informed independently without external controls. It is won by those who choose to develop and use an open and critical mind with a willingness to explore and challenge and the courage to challenge a standard doctrine if that's appropriate. Freedom is maintained by remembering this.

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Post by DMB » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:59 pm

I suggest the following amendment with regard to wording and punctuation:
Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor can it be maintained through the use of oppressive force, coercion, deception or suppression. It is won by those who choose to become informed independently without external controls. It is won by those who choose to develop and use an open and critical mind and who also show a willingness to explore and the courage to challenge standard doctrines where appropriate. Freedom is maintained by remembering this.
The semicolons you had in the first sentence were grammatically inappropriate. Normally they are used to separate whole clauses. They are used to separate elements in a list only when those elements are complex enough to require internal commas. Otherwise, commas are the appropriate separators.

With regard to content, I'm not sure I fully understand what you are getting at. How much difference is there between "oppressive force" and suppression"?

Presumably you were inspired to write this by some RL events. I'd find it helpful if you could give more details. I accept that you probably want to end up with something succinct, but it's often helpful to write something quite a bit longer and then gradually pare it down.

I'm not sure that you really need the last sentence at all.

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Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:31 pm

[quote=""DMB""]I suggest the following amendment with regard to wording and punctuation:
Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor can it be maintained through the use of oppressive force, coercion, deception or suppression. It is won by those who choose to become informed independently without external controls. It is won by those who choose to develop and use an open and critical mind and who also show a willingness to explore and the courage to challenge standard doctrines where appropriate. Freedom is maintained by remembering this.
The semicolons you had in the first sentence were grammatically inappropriate. Normally they are used to separate whole clauses. They are used to separate elements in a list only when those elements are complex enough to require internal commas. Otherwise, commas are the appropriate separators.

With regard to content, I'm not sure I fully understand what you are getting at. How much difference is there between "oppressive force" and suppression"?

Presumably you were inspired to write this by some RL events. I'd find it helpful if you could give more details. I accept that you probably want to end up with something succinct, but it's often helpful to write something quite a bit longer and then gradually pare it down.

I'm not sure that you really need the last sentence at all.[/quote]

Thank you. Grammar and content advice much needed. I have much to learn. I am simply overwhelmed and frustrated by how much I do need to learn and I am finding it difficult to organize a structured way of going about that. Where to start and how to stay on course in a way that I can begin to see measurable and satisfactory results.

I am trying to create a guiding statement for myself that reflects my opposition to State power (or any other body of concentrated power) that uses violence, threats, propaganda, and the like. Also, to assert my desire to become well informed and to clearly understand what it is that I need to work on to facilitate this and to overcome my weaknesses.

It is entirely a personal project, but I want it to be well done, well stated, and meaningful. Something to help anchor and guide me.

I replaced "suppression" with "the marginalization of persons or ideas opposed to". Does that work?

revised statement:

Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor can it be maintained through the use of oppressive force, coercion, deception or the marginalization of persons or ideas opposed to. It is won by those who choose to become informed independently without external controls. It is won by those who choose to develop and use an open and critical mind and who also show a willingness to explore and challenge. It is won by those who find the courage to challenge standard doctrines and greater forces where appropriate.

adding paragraph:

That means knowing and understanding many things but also, much more important than what you have stored in your mind, to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, and how to proceed independently, so that you may better deal with the challenges that the world presents to you. As you proceed down the path in the course of your self education and inquiry and investigations, be ever attentive for the opportunity to enter into cooperation and solidarity with others.
Last edited by Serf on Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Koyaanisqatsi » Sat Dec 10, 2016 8:53 pm

Well, historically, freedom absolutely has been won by bloody sacrifice. In fact, that's pretty much the only way it has ever been won. Only rarely has freedom been won by decree or law and that only comparatively recently in the course of some five thousand years of recorded human history. I'd either omit that or rephrase it.
Stupidity is not intellen

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Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:08 pm

[quote=""Koyaanisqatsi""]Well, historically, freedom absolutely has been won by bloody sacrifice. In fact, that's pretty much the only way it has ever been won. Only rarely has freedom been won by decree or law and that only comparatively recently in the course of some five thousand years of recorded human history. I'd either omit that or rephrase it.[/quote]

I agree with that entirely. But I also believe that it decays in our effort to maintain it with violence and such. Once it decays to the point of a loss of freedom then bloody revolution emerges and resets the clock. A cycle of madness repeated throughout history in my opinion. A history I would rather not see repeated and so I seek an alternative to that historical pattern of abuse.

might rephrase it though

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Post by subsymbolic » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:00 pm

Before trying to perfect the grammar, try reading it out loud with the sort of passion you appear to be aiming for.

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Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:01 pm

revised: (still not working for me as well as I would like)

Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor can it be maintained through the use of oppressive force, coercion, deception or the marginalization of persons or ideas. The failure to maintain freedom leads to yet another bloody revolution and the clock is reset. It was never truly won in the first place. Maybe it could be won, in a lasting way, by those who choose to become informed, independently without external controls and to develop and use an open and critical mind, along with a strong will to explore and challenge. It may be possible to create a lasting freedom, if we can find the courage to challenge the standard doctrines and greater forces, knowing that spilling blood fails and something new is required.

That means knowing and understanding many things, but also, much more important than what you have stored in your mind, to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, and how to proceed independently, so that you may better deal with the challenges that the world presents to you. As you proceed down the path, in the course of your self-education and inquiry and investigations, be ever attentive for the opportunity to enter into cooperation and solidarity with others who are also growing tired of the rinse and repeat madness of our human experience.
Last edited by Serf on Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:24 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:03 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Before trying to perfect the grammar, try reading it out loud with the sort of passion you appear to be aiming for.[/quote]

OK. I'll try, thanks.

ETA: THANKS! that does help
Last edited by Serf on Sat Dec 10, 2016 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Serf » Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:03 pm

revised:

Freedom is not won by bloody sacrifice. Nor can it be maintained through the use of oppressive force, coercion, deception or the marginalization of persons or ideas. The failure to maintain freedom leads to yet another bloody revolution and the clock is reset. Freedom was never truly won in the first place. We are enslaved to conflict.

Maybe it could be won, in a lasting way, by those who choose to become informed independently, without external controls, and to develop and use an open and critical mind along with a strong will to explore and challenge. It may be possible to create a lasting freedom, if we can find the courage to challenge the standard doctrines and greater forces, knowing that spilling blood fails and something new is required.

That means knowing and understanding many things, but also, much more important than what you have stored in your mind, to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, and how to proceed independently, so that you may better deal with the challenges that the world presents to you. As you proceed down the path, in the course of your self-education and inquiry and investigations, be ever attentive for the opportunity to enter into cooperation and solidarity with others who are also growing tired of the rinse and repeat madness of our human experience.

I choose to have faith in one thing only, that we can find a new way to exist together. I choose to believe this so that I may then begin to ask the right questions. In spite of all the historical evidence to the contrary, I choose to believe that humanity can grow the fuck up.
Last edited by Serf on Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:20 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Hermit » Sun Dec 11, 2016 3:17 am

Koy is about right. More often than not freedom is won through the use of force, and more often than not this force involves violence to the point of bloodletting. Gandhi's satyagraha and the civil disobedience campaign in the 1960s US are no indication that non-violent methods would have succeeded in other areas of conflict. If your piece is meant to introduce a larger work I would delete the first sentence altogether and discuss the issue of violence later.

Some expressions seem cumbersome to me. Maybe you are trying to express too much at the same time. Take "standard doctrines and greater forces', for instance. I would replace it with "status quo" and elaborate on that later.

We may be able to help you more effectively if you, as DMB has mentioned, told us what you intend your words to achieve, where you want to use them and where they are meant to finish up. You'll need to be fairly specific. For instance, is it supposed to serve as a kind of mission statement, an introduction to a thesis, or something else?

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:00 am

Third paragraph starts badly 'many things' then loses its way; first and second are much better. The problem here is that you are trying to craft it to sound spontaneous but you also want to pack a lot into a compact slice of prose.

To write short effective prose requires far more planning than long prose. Have you planned precisely what you want to say as your message isn't yet that clear beyond shun violence, get educated and make new mistakes. You need to be clear about what you are saying.

I know you are using alliteration, repetition, triplets and so on, the repetition works, while being a bit cliched and a bit ponderous, but the rest seems to be there because it's there. Don't use language or structural devices unless they are serving a specific, usually presentational, purpose. More to the point if you are going to alert an educated reader to so much artifice, assuming it is deliberate, then you better be looking at other structural devices like metre...

In sort, clarify your thoughts then treat speechwriting like poetry. Probably in iambic pentameter. ;)

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Post by Serf » Sun Dec 11, 2016 4:34 pm

[quote=""Hermit""]Koy is about right. More often than not freedom is won through the use of force, and more often than not this force involves violence to the point of bloodletting. Gandhi's satyagraha and the civil disobedience campaign in the 1960s US are no indication that non-violent methods would have succeeded in other areas of conflict. If your piece is meant to introduce a larger work I would delete the first sentence altogether and discuss the issue of violence later.

Some expressions seem cumbersome to me. Maybe you are trying to express too much at the same time. Take "standard doctrines and greater forces', for instance. I would replace it with "status quo" and elaborate on that later.

We may be able to help you more effectively if you, as DMB has mentioned, told us what you intend your words to achieve, where you want to use them and where they are meant to finish up. You'll need to be fairly specific. For instance, is it supposed to serve as a kind of mission statement, an introduction to a thesis, or something else?[/quote]

It is a kind of mission statement that I hope to be the anchor for my self-education. I wish to commit myself to an in-depth study of critical thinking and I am attempting to create a framework / foundation to work from.

"Freedom" is used not only for humanity at large but probably more so for my own personal freedom. I wish to come to my own conclusions independently.

I do not deny that history shows us how we have won freedom. What I wish to do with this statement is choose to believe that the past does not equal the future. Just because violence has been our preferred choice in the past does not mean that it needs to be our preferred choice moving forward. We could adapt / evolve but not if we choose to believe that we can not. We must believe that we can or we will not be asking the right questions.

"standard doctrines" was how Noam Chomsky used it. I added "greater forces". I suppose I could drop that but I kind of like "standard doctrines" because there are doctrines to be challenged that are not the status quo.

Thanks. I hope I was able to communicate what I am attempting to do here more clearly.

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Post by Serf » Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:03 pm

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Third paragraph starts badly 'many things' then loses its way; first and second are much better. The problem here is that you are trying to craft it to sound spontaneous but you also want to pack a lot into a compact slice of prose.

To write short effective prose requires far more planning than long prose. Have you planned precisely what you want to say as your message isn't yet that clear beyond shun violence, get educated and make new mistakes. You need to be clear about what you are saying.

I know you are using alliteration, repetition, triplets and so on, the repetition works, while being a bit cliched and a bit ponderous, but the rest seems to be there because it's there. Don't use language or structural devices unless they are serving a specific, usually presentational, purpose. More to the point if you are going to alert an educated reader to so much artifice, assuming it is deliberate, then you better be looking at other structural devices like metre...

In sort, clarify your thoughts then treat speechwriting like poetry. Probably in iambic pentameter. ;) [/quote]

The third paragraph is almost entirely a direct quote from Noam Chomsky in a short interview about being truly educated. the only part of that paragraph that I altered was to add at last statement "be ever attentive..."

You have given me much to go over in your comment here. THANK YOU. :notworthy:

It is largely a mission statement for myself but I would like it to be presentable to an educated reader as you pointed out since I am currently under the impression that the educated of humanity have all gone bat shit crazy. However, that POV may be entirely due to my own ignorance and is a POV I am perfectly able to accept as being in error. But I will need to see the evidence to the contrary. My burden though which I attend to address.

"message isn't yet that clear beyond shun violence, get educated and make new mistakes." = that is largely what I am trying to say, even "make new mistakes" (better than making old mistakes in my opinion).

You have been very helpful. Thanks again.

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Post by Hermit » Sun Dec 11, 2016 5:09 pm

[quote=""Serf""]It is a kind of mission statement that I hope to be the anchor for my self-education.[/quote]
OK. In that case I suggest you make it more concise. This is actually very difficult. Have you heard of the student who handed in an assignment? The lecturer looked at it and said: "You were supposed to hand in 750 words. That's three A4 sized pages, double spaced with a one inch margin on the left hand side. Why did you give me six?" The student replied: "I didn't have the time."

Speaking from experience, that's no joke. It's bloody hard work, but if you succeed you finish up with something that is very clear, free of waffling ballast and helps you focus on the task. I think you should be able to read and digest a mission statement in under a minute, but that's just my opinion. For another take you might check out Wikipedia's article, funnily titled Mission statement. Although it concentrates on the commercial use of it, you'll find much of it applies to your, uhm, mission as it were, as well, especially the section on design.

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Post by DMB » Sun Dec 11, 2016 9:06 pm

I think you might approach it by making a series of short statements, each expressing a single idea. And they should be your ideas of what it is important and the goals you seek.

E.g.:
  • I want to think critically.
  • I want to attain freedom.
  • I want to avoid bloodshed
. etc.

Don't take the ones I have just written. I inserted them as an example of simplicity.

When you think the list is complete, assign priorities to the elements. Look for potential contradictions. Look for ways of resolving the contradictions. Look for repetition and redundancy.

When you feel you have a short but comprehensive list, Try summarising the whole thing in a single sentence or paragraph.

Then go back and try to pare it down.

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Post by Sey » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:38 pm

Your approach is bass-ackwards, I think.
Freedom is our natural state, our default position, not bestowed by government. The real question is how it's lost.
We give up a portion as part of our social contract, of course, but governments often arrogate a degree of control not commensurate with a smoothly functioning society, and there are also outside predators to consider.

So how do we prevent our "unalienable rights" from being subverted?

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Dec 11, 2016 11:34 pm

The third paragraph is almost entirely a direct quote from Noam Chomsky in a short interview about being truly educated. the only part of that paragraph that I altered was to add at last statement "be ever attentive..."
That would explain it... :D
You have given me much to go over in your comment here. THANK YOU. :notworthy:
My pleasure
It is largely a mission statement for myself but I would like it to be presentable to an educated reader as you pointed out since I am currently under the impression that the educated of humanity have all gone bat shit crazy. However, that POV may be entirely due to my own ignorance and is a POV I am perfectly able to accept as being in error. But I will need to see the evidence to the contrary. My burden though which I attend to address.
I'm more worried about the not educated at the moment.
"message isn't yet that clear beyond shun violence, get educated and make new mistakes." = that is largely what I am trying to say, even "make new mistakes" (better than making old mistakes in my opinion).
Cool, in that case I got your message and managed a precis. I confess that 'make new mistakes' is a personal rule of thumb.
You have been very helpful. Thanks again.
My pleasure. There are really two issues: first, becoming clear about precisely what you want to say, which usually involves moving from a vague sense that you know what you think and on to the ability to state what you think you think and then agree with that statement.

Second, there is learning how to express this in a way that will inspire both yourself and others. If I were trying to do that fast I'd look to other great speechwriters, Churchill comes to mind, as does Shakespeare when banging out a speech and have a go at reading them. You may well not agree with what they say, but think about how they say it - again, especially when read aloud in the way you want to sound.

It's a classic virtue circle - the more you practice the easier it gets.

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Post by plebian » Mon Dec 12, 2016 12:10 am

Machiavelli is about the best example available of the 3 part essay. Almost no one has a more organized outline.

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Post by Hermit » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:55 am

[quote=""Sey""]So how do we prevent our "unalienable rights" from being subverted?[/quote]
It's a bit late for that. The gate was opened, the horse has bolted a long time ago. Our "unalienable rights" have been subverted. Disregarding the underlying assumptions implicit in what you say, the question now is very much as Serf put it: "How do we win our freedom?"

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Post by Serf » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:24 am

Mass reply

I thank all of you!! I have plenty of good advice here and I will be looking into it all. Also, I will write out something longer and pare it down as suggested.

When I post it, I hope you will not feel frustrated or feel you are wasting your time with me. It may still fail. I am learning. I view Secular Cafe as a very valuable resource and I can't thank you all enough.

I work an awful lot and I have very little free time so it could take a while.



Off topic question: This looks a little sketchy to me. Any comments on (Wikipedia)Trivium ?

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Post by Hermit » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:40 am

[quote=""Serf""]It may still fail. I am learning.[/quote]As long as you don't stop learning you may fail as many times as you like. Not failing means you're not doing anything. As J.A.Wheeler said, we must make our mistakes as fast as we can.

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Post by Serf » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:57 am

[quote=""Hermit""]
Some expressions seem cumbersome to me. Maybe you are trying to express too much at the same time.[/quote]

Yup. I see it now. thanks

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Post by plebian » Mon Dec 12, 2016 6:45 am

[quote=""Serf""]Mass reply

I thank all of you!! I have plenty of good advice here and I will be looking into it all. Also, I will write out something longer and pare it down as suggested.

When I post it, I hope you will not feel frustrated or feel you are wasting your time with me. It may still fail. I am learning. I view Secular Cafe as a very valuable resource and I can't thank you all enough.

I work an awful lot and I have very little free time so it could take a while.



Off topic question: This looks a little sketchy to me. Any comments on (Wikipedia)Trivium ?[/quote]
Meh. Critical thinking is a skill that also ideally teaches individuals to organize their thoughts. On a somewhat related note, I am almost the only person I know who found Aristotle's Rhetoric useful at all. I say 'almost' because I've encountered a few lukewarm exceptions but I will say that, if you have a very open mind and some understanding of greek thought at the time (which mostly means you have read some aristotle under the supervision of a teacher), he gets at the heart of several important concepts.

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Post by DMB » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:10 am

The Trivium was the first stage of learning at the mediaeval university. But that was at a time when students were much younger than they now are. So they were still children. After completing the Trivium, you could be a bachelor of arts. Then you took another four years on the Quadrivium, at the end of which you could become a Master of Arts.

When I went to Oxford, rather a long time ago but still after the Middle Ages, there were a few survivals of this system. All first degrees, regardless of subject studied, were BA. And then after four years more you could get an MA, and this degree involved swearing an oath to keep junior members of the university in order. Other bachelors' degrees, such as B Litt, BSc and BCL involved postgraduate work.

I think that there is such a difference between learning in the Middle Ages and learning now that there is little point in bothering with the Trivium. We no longer think that you can get nowhere without Latin, and we study subjects that were simply unknown in the mediaeval university. And I would say that seriously studying almost any academic subject should help to develop critical thinking.

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Post by Serf » Mon Dec 12, 2016 8:52 am

[quote=""DMB""]I think you might approach it by making a series of short statements, each expressing a single idea. And they should be your ideas of what it is important and the goals you seek.
[/quote]

So I took your advice and I am feeling a bit unsure about what I want to do now. I have a thought that I believe could help me learn all that I most care about. I am now thinking that I should use my list as a sort of curriculum and do a short essay on each one. I feel like I could learn a lot about writing, communicating, researching, etc....

If this sounds reasonable and If you all would be willing to teach and challenge me...

Here's my list (essays? - in order):

The Cycle of Violence in the Struggle for Freedom

Concentrated Power: The Decay of Freedom from Anarchy to Totalitarianism

Propaganda: Manipulation of the Uneducated Masses by Competing Power Players

Who Wages War? The People or the State Leaders?

Is State Power Justified in the 21st Century?

Direct Democracy: Pros and Cons

Why Critical Thinking and Education is Essential to Maintain a True Democracy

The Art of Intellectual Self-Defense

Redesigning of DD Using 21st Century Technologies: The Intellectual Revolution

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