[ExI] Kripke is in trouble!

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Wed May 8 21:08:35 UTC 2013

On 08/05/2013 18:02, Gordon wrote:
> Interesting. Dennett's observation about "surely" in turn reminds me 
> of some sage advice given me by a retired English professor and 
> personal friend of mine. In his view, all sentence adverbs should be 
> avoided.
> The author Stephen King takes it a step further, advising his fellow 
> writers to avoid not only sentence adverbs, but all adverbs. In his 
> view, similar to Dennett's observation about "surely," adverbs are 
> almost always evidence of laziness in thinking and writing.

They have a point. It is surprising how much better text reads when you 
avoid overexplaining things. If you need extra words to get your point 
across, maybe your core words are not the right ones. In fact, it is a 
great exercise to try to even avoid adjectives - think of Lovecraft: his 
adjectives rarely explain anything. You will feel like Hemingway when 
you get it right.

One useful piece of advice I got in an undergrad writing course was to 
search for 'quite' once you have finished the text. Then just delete them.

Ob transhumanism: training oneself in using language well seems to be 
one of those everyday skills that really improves one's life chances. It 
is not just about being suitably grammatical or writing good prose, but 
also things like being able to churn out text as needed - getting used 
to writing things seems to be a core skill for not just authors but most 
professions... including professional influencers.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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