Wednesday 25 July 2012

Try replacing the word 'equality' with 'the same' or 'identical'


It's an interesting exercise, because it renders most sentences containing 'equal' (or equality) as very obviously false.

Having rejected 'the same'/ identical as valid synonyms, the next step in the exercise is to find another synonym which makes sense in the context.

This can be difficult...

Therefore, equal/ity is revealed as a fake concept, an obfuscator of thought.


e.g. "Liberty! Sameness! Fraternity!" - ahem...

e.g. "Equal opportunities" goes to Identical opportunities; "Equality of outcomes for men and women" goes to the same outcomes for men and women.

(But how can we make things identical or the same? Only one way: By making them identical or the same - by coercively imposing identicality and sameness.)

e.g. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created identical..." um, not really, so how about: "all men are created the same"... Nah. OK then: "all men are created with... indistinguishably-similar... wotsits..." - Oh, I give up.



Paul Warkin said...

"Equal" and "the same" have different meanings. 2+2 equals 4, but 2+2 is not the same as 4: one is a sum, the other is a number. I think "equal" can mean the same or identical in a specific attribute, not necessarily identical overall. But this doesn't really contradict what you're saying, because we still have to ask: in what sense are all men created equal? Which characteristic is identical among them?

Bruce Charlton said...

@PW - in a sense there is no such thing as a synonym: all words have subtly different meanings.

But these 'magic' words like equality, democracy, justice, freedom have the particular property that they cannot be replaced in a sentence without making it obviously absurd.

e.g. "*Democracy* is the only acceptable political system" - "*Replacing the government by some kind of mass vote* is the only acceptable political system."