A category mistake or category error is applying reasoning that’s valid for a type of thing to another thing for which it is not valid. That’s how you get errors that aren’t even wrong, they’re about something else completely different.
Often the trolls who come by don’t seem to realize that, and are arguing things that make no sense for what we were discussing, like that long ago French kept man who thought that the big question is “But who is going to be in charge of what news get published?” While we, basically, just wanted the government to stop using its power to stomp on people speaking the truth.
I mean, he had other — severe — mental issues, but that one was the biggest category error of all. For him it was necessary to have someone in charge of what gets said and published, while we, nurtured on the first amendment, want everything to be said, and let the individual decide what’s believable. Which btw was why the other side of science fiction saying we wanted to silence them was jaw dropping — besides the fact that none of us had the power to silence anyone, even if we wanted to. Saying something sucks is our opinion, not silencing anyone — because we very much want them to be heard. The more they write the more the crazy is visible. We, personally, meanwhile, just want the same privilege.
Then there was the troll we dealt with recently whose main purpose seem to be to demoralize us, but he had no clue where American morale lies, so what he kept saying: our president (Eh. “President”.) sucks, the withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster, and our political class is ruining the economy is all true. But that doesn’t touch what America is, only what is being done to it. (One can’t expect Russians to understand that.) So he was applying a category error, by thinking this blog would be the same as its equivalent in his homeland, and he could make us feel bad by saying what would make him feel bad about his country.
Or take the person who left me a comment (not approved, no.) saying he would contribute to my fundraiser if I promised to donate it all to my “beloved Ukranians.” (Yes, probably Reziac, [Reziac says it’s not him, and I believe him. Sorry to assume it was him without its being him, but the word choice was very similar. Anyway, it doesn’t matter much tot he point.] and I wonder what the heck is going on. Like so many people over the last few years, all I can say is “he used to be sane.) Apparently saying that Putin is a remnant KGB horror, bent on recreating the USSR and that he will continue to take over the former Russian sphere, if allowed to do so is the equivalent of “loving” the Ukraine, which we all agree, yes, is corrupt (All former communist countries are. It’s what it leaves behind.) This is not only a category error, but a philosophy error that consists of “If you don’t love a, you must love b” instead of “I don’t think we should fight on Ukraine’s side (or anyone’s side), we have problems of our own. I’m not comfortable with our massive financing of their defense (mostly because most of it isn’t even going to them, and what is going is not particularly coherent or well supervised. I mean, it’s probably better for them to have weapons than the Taliban, for whom we left weapons, but I’m still not comfortable beyond a bare minimum.) But Putin absolutely needs to be smacked on the nose, and he is a crazy person trying to recreate Russia’s past glory. (Heck, the EU is in the right on this, and this might be the only time you hear me say this about the EU. But I guess they feel the wolf nearer, and like Russia are sclerotic countries with low birthrate and high geriatric populations, for whom he is a much bigger threat.)
This is what RES often refers to as “Talking pussy while we’re talking bear.” (He meant the animal. Get your minds out of the gutter. Okay, fine, at least get them out of the ditch below the gutter.)
This morning, while I was trying to figure out what’s making my tomato plants not fruit (would you believe fungus? I finally figured it out.) I realized all of Marxism is a category error. This is not strange, since Marx came from a completely different society, and even there he was an odd duck who didn’t understand people, and privileged enough to not “get” human native intelligence and cunning.
I mean, even then it was a category error, even back then. While the class structure and the old/old families and fortunes of Europe seem powerful and forever immutable, they are not. That is just the surface they present, because if your entire system is based on “betters and lessers” with this being determined from birth, then you must pretend it is immutable.
But the fact is that the hemophilia that destroyed the royal families of Europe in the last two centuries came from a humble tailor in one of the German principalities. And the very blue blooded Princess Diana was distantly descended from a Shepherd (back in Shakespeare’s day. He became wealthy and married up, and then his children married up and then…. In three generations they were nobility, without this person ever having the kind of attainments that Shakespeare did, for that matter.)
It’s more common than anyone thinks about, even in the most hidebound society, even without involving things like extraordinary genius, or power, or a stroke of great luck, or even marital infidelity. (Though that too. It was said that the faces of Roman patricians often reflected those of famous gladiators of the past generation. I don’t know how true.)
This is because applying “classes” even to a hereditary “nobility and wealth” society is roughly the equivalent of applying something that works in categorizing wool skeins to live sheep. At best you get a temporary and static picture of something that is not even vaguely static.
Yeah, sure, humans inherit temperament as well as physical characteristics from their ancestors. But how that works out is not as clear as “tabby cats have a certain temperament.” We seem to toss out very deep throwbacks, so that a shiftless family with horrible work habits will throw out someone who is driven and with extreme abilities. (Let’s remember, though obviously ADHD as heck from his work history, Leonardo DaVinci was the son of the village bicycle and an accountant of no particular distinction, both of whom had numerous other children who left not a dimple in history.) And vice versa, for whatever reason, families of high achievement will every so often throw out someone who just can’t or don’t wanna.
I sniff at “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations” because it is a gross over-simplification, it’s rarely THREE generations, and it is rarely the WHOLE family. Just a branch of it.
But the “essential tenor” of the ancestry does tend to assert itself, at least in a free market society. (Immigrants from highly regimented societies are different, and might be unleashed by living in a free market. Maybe. There’s a lot that goes into that, including nutrition.)
Supposing the lack of success of a family came from anti-success habits: laziness, lack of planning, etc. you can get the one member who “does good” and marries above (usually a female, but not always.) And you often see the children evenly divided, half staying at the level to which the member elevated her/himself and the other half falling. Or they hold on for a couple of generations, but in the third half of them revert.
And the same way, you can see someone who “falls” for no reason that’s discernible or because of say an alcohol habit, or an injury, but one or two of his grand kids rise.
Understand I’m not talking of eugenics, or of genes as immutable destiny. If I were, I might very well support Marxism or another form of socialism, to compassionately give to those who through no fault of their own, were born unable.
The left is forever going on about our concentrating “smart genes” in some families, but in the whole history of humanity this has never in fact happened. (The fact they use “ivy league degree” as a stamp for “smart” is another category error.) Because as I said, humans seem to have a very scramble-able (totally a word) set of genes, or at least the genes for character traits are given greater leeway than in other animals.
I’m talking about how human genetics are unfathomable and scramble in bizarre ways, that without even considering the side effects of upbringing and the times people live in, the effects of new industries, and other changes in the environment which humans continuously inflict on themselves.
Every change in technology destroys and creates fortunes, and elevates and plunges families through “classes” (in the Marxist sense of ranks based on income. Though in the sense of born to it, too, because rich people tend to marry up in “social class.”) And human technology (way of doing things) is always changing, even in what seems to us now stagnant or has been miss-characterized as stagnant, such as the middle ages.
So what Marx was trying to do: “Equalize the classes” is meaningless. It’s the equivalent of your coming to the kitchen, finding dishes piled on the sink and deciding you’re going to go into farming chickens.
Because there are no “classes” not even in class-based societies. There’s only humans, and we’re smart and fractious apes, forever going up and down and all around, world without end.
Are injustices perpetrated? Sure. We’re humans, not gods or machines (and machines can make category errors. Oooh, boy, can they. Depending on what they were fed.) But there are also injustices fixed. And more importantly, most people are free to at least “pursue happiness” — i.e. try to improve their lot — and the more free the society, the less artificial classification going on, the better chance to catch that happiness.
So, the entire adored theory of the academics is a massive category error. It might apply to machines, or to trees, or something. I don’t think it even applies to most animals. And it most certainly doesn’t apply to humans.
COMPLETELY UNRELATED NOTE: We haven’t started fulfilling the pledges from the fundraiser, including the thank yous, because it’s still coming into the mailbox at a rate. We are told it’s coming in, but we haven’t gone to collect, so we don’t know if it’s the new-fun-mail delays, or people mailed late. (And the answer to that is still Thank You. People mail when they can.) There are also still donations coming into paypal, late but marked as part of the fundraiser (and again, the answer is Thank You. I took down the fundraiser so I didn’t bother people with it, not because I wouldn’t accept donations past it.)
At this rate, I will do the thank you post and start emailing and mailing things out the first week of August. Sorry for the delay. Best laid plans, etc.