View Single Post
Old 11-25-2013, 01:08 PM
hyperskeptic's Avatar
hyperskeptic hyperskeptic is online now
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Georgia
Posts: 412
Default The Uses of Concepts

Originally Posted by london View Post
I can't see . . . I don't see . . .

It wasn't my aim in starting this thread to push the idea of RA on anyone, even on myself. I'm really only trying to see if the idea does any useful work for me as I continue to develop an unconventional way of relating to other people.

If it doesn't do useful work for you, well, that's all right.

Last night, I was starting to think of 'polyamory' and 'relationship anarchy' as defining an overlapping conceptual space, the kind of thing you could represent with a Venn diagram.

After reading Marcus' posts - for which thank you very much, Marcus - I'm not so sure. The concepts themselves don't really overlap, though someone might make use of one or the other in making sense of their own relationships in practice.

I've written in this thread that I'm basically a pragmatist, and I mean that in a fairly technical, philosophical sense. One aspect of pragmatism is a kind of theoretical or conceptual pluralism: rather than insisting on a single correct theory or concept or outlook or whatever, pragmatism leaves room to experiment, to try on various conceptual frameworks in order to see which ones are useful in particular contexts.

It seems to me, then, that 'polyamory' is one conceptual framework that includes a number of assumptions about what human beings are and how the world works and what our aims should be; 'relationship anarchy' is a very different conceptual framework that includes some different assumptions about what human beings are and how the world works and what our aims should be.

To use one framework is to pick out certain features of the world as important, while other features recede from awareness; the framework connects and makes sense of those features in a particular way.

So, for example, polyamory frames the world of intimate relationships along a one-many axis.

Switch to the other framework, and what was in the foreground may slip to the background, and vice versa; the other framework identifies different aspects of the world as significant, and connects them together in different ways.

So, for example, relationship anarchy - if I'm understanding it - frames the world of intimate relationships along an external-internal axis, in terms of the locus of control over the form and expectations of relationships.

In practice, one is a hammer, the other is a spanner: they serve different functions and you should reach for the one that will be useful for the purpose at hand.

I mean, you can drive nails with a spanner, but why would you?

And, yes, you can get up to all kinds of mischief with a spanner, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use when you really need to fix the plumbing.

Besides, you can get up to all sorts of mischief with a hammer, too.

Last edited by hyperskeptic; 11-25-2013 at 01:10 PM.
Reply With Quote