What IS a Flockbinker, Really? The Philosophers Weigh In
by David Kennedy Bird
Abstract: One of the ongoing challenges we’ve experienced in association with this blog, is the fact that some of our most essential vocabulary never seems to have been defined. Flockbinker? Wamwam? Someone’s Mom? Perhaps even yours? The assembled throng furrow their brows; heads incline with justifiable concern; someone passes out and falls over from the mental strain. So we’ve brought in some brainy types to see if this problem can be rectified. These include some of the leading luminaries in the history of philosophical thought, as well as some of our regulars here on the blog. This exchange ought to be a real treat.
The Blogger: Okay, fellas, so here’s the question. What is a flockbinker?
Ludwig Wittgenstein: A flockbinker is all that is the case, in that particular realm of discourse in which the term ‘flockbinker’ is applied as relevant.
Rene Descartes: [Scoffing in a particularly French manner] That was ridiculous and did not mean anything.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Your Mom is ridiculous and doesn’t mean anything.
Rene Descartes: [Deliberately ignoring this remark] Rrmff. I would say that a flockbinker is that which (in its capacity as a flockbinker) thinks the thoughts of a flockbinker, and therefore, is, a flockbinker.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Wut.
Rene Descartes: Well, it was better than that stupide thing you said.
Plato: Okay. Here it is. In order to ascertain what the term ‘flockbinker’ applies to, we must first determine whether we are talking about a feature of the ultimate realm, or merely an item in the world of appearances. Of course, if a flockbinker is a feature of the Real world–that realm from which the world of our ephemeral appearances derives–then it will of course have its analog in the world of our perceptions.
Rene Descartes: [mutters] That, too, was ridiculous and did not mean anything. These people who have chosen to call themselves philosophers!
Francis Bacon: Well, what Plato calls the “world of appearances” is simply reality. Let’s strip away the foolish hocus-pocus. If a flockbinker can be demonstrated to exist–if he is available to our senses in the world of the real and concrete–then he is a real object. We cannot begin the discussion of his attributes until we have settled the issue of his existence.
The Blogger: Well, of course he exists! He’s at the very center of what this blog is about!
[Francis Bacon looks the Blogger up and down in the way that one would examine a particularly fascinating centipede.]
William James: Well, you know, this Plato fellow made a helpful distinction between different levels of reality. I’d like to, if i might, distinguish between the mental and the physical parts of the real world. It might be argued that any mental state in which a flockbinker is featured as real, according to the consciousness of the individual, is one that is, in a certain sense, peculiar to its own flockbinkerosity.
Everyone Present: Wut.
Little Biffy: So much philosophical talent assembled in one room! Gosh, i’m practically speechless! But not quite, heh heh. I would say that a flockbinker, insofar as it has any kind of independent existence, is a sort of logical placeholder for use in certain kinds of (generally quite funny) philosophical dialogues and syllogisms created by The Blogger.
The Blogger: What an excellent answer! This little fellow’s a winner if ever i saw one!
Little Biffy: [grins innocently]
Elvis Wu: Hmmm. The flockbinker, he is like a cup of the very finest rice wine that can be imagined. Each saloon claims to feature it on their menu.
Everyone Present: Wut.
Elvis Wu: When one has a reputation for being wise and inscrutable, it’s necessary to invest some effort from time to time in cultivating the impression.
[Francis Bacon looks at him sort of cockeyed. Wittgenstein, on the other hand, has obviously had his respect for Elvis Wu’s intellect considerably deepened.]
Jennifer Smith: Okay, here’s my question. If a flockbinker is not a real thing–
Plato: Define “a real thing.”
Descartes: Yeah. Define “a real thing.”
Jennifer Smith: Okay. A real thing is a thing that actually exists in the real world.
Plato: Define “the real world.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein: Yeah. Define “the real world.”
Jennifer Smith: [rolling eyes] Um. Okay. Whatever. Pass.
The Good Reader: Well, my question is, so long as we’re getting all serious about nonsense words and such, why do we need to define a flockbinker specifically, as if it were a real item, like my purse? Are we also going to define a squibblymidget?
The Three Scotsmen: Arrrgh!
The Blogger: Well, of course a flockbinker is a real thing! It’s what this blog is about!
The Good Reader: Okay. My little finger is a real thing. Is a flockbinker a real thing in the same sense that my little finger is?
The Blogger: Well, um, we would kind of need to, um. Uh. Hmmm. Yo.
The Three Scotsmen: Arrrrgh!
The Good Reader: I’m thinking that this discussion didn’t go quite the way you expected.
The Blogger: [Pouts, refuses to look her in the eye]
The Good Reader: [Not to be put off] Mmm-hmm, so, ya didn’t get the kind of conversation going that you were hoping for?
The Blogger: Go away.