Fight of Final Vocabularies

This week’s unlecture got stuck in one of the most boring academic argumentative techniques – defining and redefining definitions in an attempt to reach a final vocabulary. I understand why this occurs, both parties need to understand the other’s terms in order to critically debate, and the unlecture also demonstrated why this defining matters  – there was a lot of slippage about the definition of technology (by all speakers) which I think meant at times that Elliot and Adrian missed each other’s points in particular.


A final vocabulary, as defined by philosopher Richard Rorty, is the set of words individuals carry about to justify their actions, beliefs and lives. These words are as far as that person can go with language, “if doubt is cast on the worth of these words, their user has no noncircular argumentative recourse”. The most obvious point that arose from this unlecture, outside of the content, was that culture, technology, technique and even nature to a certain extent, have become platitudes.


A person’s vocabulary can never be closer in reality than another person’s. A word does not inherently possess the essence of the object to which it supposedly refers in reality. The object in reality does not even possess a real essence. The reality is different dependent on the person. Language is just another technology or technique that represents and enables, not exists. Also, it must be noted here that the converse argument to this would be that this is a relativistic view however, any redefining is actually just replacing an old vocabulary with a new one and, as Rorty says, the person who attempts to reach a final vocabulary in argument has a misbelief that “knowledge is a relation between human beings and reality”.

Next time, let’s instead get even more academic and be meta-stable in debate, as Sartre would wish.