Re: The Main Problem

John Priestley (
Sun, 22 Oct 1995 21:18:23 -0500

Eric sez:

>I think you may be extrapolating in the wrong direction if you assign the
>opposite to 'anything goes.' I don't think that's necessarily the direction
>Fred's rant goes if you take it to an extreme.


Thanks for qualifying my response. I see that I was making something of a
straw-person out of Fred's rant -- but it was more in the spirit of putting
a limit on it than of putting it out of commission.

Eric sez further:

>Prescriptivity, on the other hand,
>is the other way around. It is the artificial maintenance of rules in
>spite of any relevance they have to living, breathing, word-spitting

This is, in my view, a good characterization of what I believe Fred called
"bullshit prescriptivity." But I don't think it fairly characterizes
prescription. I mean, even an evolving, community-based consensus on what
makes sense amounts to, and is premised upon, a kind of prescription. Or,
more precisely, a complex of prescriptions. Without which nothing.

Really, if you knew me better, you'd be as shocked as I am to see me
defending prescriptivity. Well, in all fairness to me, I'm not. Not any
more than Fred is espousing anarchy. I'm just saying that it appears to be
inherent -- and may not be all bad.