Essentialism can lead us in many directions

Ever since high school, or maybe it goes back to elementary school, I have enjoyed writing essays.

This is an essay that occurred to me this morning of June 14, 2015, in the early morning hours, when the compartment of my mind that enjoys essays is active.

I recorded the essay with an Zoom H5 recorder as I would otherwise have quickly forgotten the text.

I transcribed the Zoom H5 file to text using Dragon Dictate software, and then did some editing of the draft text.

An essay regarding essentialism – June 14, 2015

So, we can say what everything comes down to is the capturing of the essence of things.

Capturing of the essence is a form of essentialism.

This was something that postmodernists, as they called themselves, took great issue with.

They opposed essentialism, but as it turned out, their attempt to define things, by labelling them as demonstrations of essentialism, had the consequence of expressing their own, unique, form of essentialism.

They were active in practising the essentialism that they claimed to observe in others.

As well, writers who advanced the above-noted conceptualization sought to gain command of how the word “essential” is used. Not that many people chose to go along with the project.


Previous posts about essentialism and postmodernism include:

Macfie’s overview (2002) of orientalism highlights the forces of individualism

Peter Burke (2005) prefers to speak of postmodernity as opposed to postmodernism

Instrumental reason

To make things brief, you need to create blurbs. You need to create political slogans, you need to say things in a few words. You need to say things in a way that people will readily understand. This is what brand images are about. This is what brands and personal branding are about.

In creating the essence, the point, as I see it, is to go with the evidence. That is, it makes sense to create distillations or highlights of longer overviews of things; and it makes sense to proceed with the distillation in a balanced and evidence-based manner.

The basic mechanism – which a person uses to create a distillation, or a blurb, or a brand – can be employed, up to a certain point, whether you go with the evidence or not, as a previous post highlights:

Stage magic and fair trade coffee

Instrumental reason is part of the human experience. It’s something that is at the heart of what we call it essentialism; it’s at the heart of a blurb, it’s at the art of political slogan. It’s a part of how evolutionary biology has brought us to this point in the here and now, as a human species.

So the argument, by advocates of postmodernism – the argument against what they, as postmodernists, defined as essentialism – was that the essence, that was extracted from the larger reality, did not correspond to the larger reality.

That is, the rhetoric did not correspond to the reality. So in a sense, we can say that seeking the reality is the name of the game, but it’s easy to mistake the reality for the rhetoric.

Ontario Elementary Teachers Refuse to Mark Report Cards

Regarding another topic:

Recent news stories regarding labour disruptions by teachers in Toronto brings to mind a previous comment:

As a retired teacher, I do not support the current labour disruptions organized by Ontario teachers

With regard to this topic, a June 11, 2015 CBC article is entitled: “Report cards nixed for TDSB elementary students amid teacher job action: Students will receive a letter confirming their grade placement for 2015-16 instead.”


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