How do you use languge in your notes?

This question may be a little bit awkward. How do you use language in your notes? I mean what words do you use what you try to avoid using?

I began to think about this after reading a wikipedia article about a Polish Philosopher Taduesz Kotarbiński and a book written by him. Taduesz Kotrabiński developed philosophical theory called Reism which is similar to materialism. Reism is a doctrine that only things exists. Things are objects that can be located in the time and space. In conclusion, only things that can be located in time and space exist.

In his work, not only he did develop an ontological theory but also a semantic theory. In his point of view, a sentence is meaningful only when it has only names which can be associated with objects that exists according to Reism (they can be located in time and space) or it has names which can be translated to names which can be associated with objects that exist. using language in this way was supposed to get rid of philosophical problems caused by wrong terminology and straighten our thinking.

This made me rethink the way I use language in my notes and stop using terms which are not “real” according to Reism. That was quite hard. It figures that we use many terms which meaning can not be found in time and space for example groups, features…
Eventually, I gave up and now my strategy is to articulate my thoughts as clearly as possible and define all of the non-reistic terms before using them. Have you ever had problems with language in your notes?


Thanks for an interesting question. I personally have more of a post-modern philosophy. Meaning of experience is highly personal to the individual, ie subjective. There is no “right or wrong” way to think. The notion that we should “straighten our thinking” left me shuddering!

This view of knowledge being subjective and meaningful to the individual extends to notes, they make sense to me only, they are an extension to my subjective, personal brain that only I can have. If we were to read the same article we would write different notes; there may be commonalities, but they would be different.

Although I don’t want to offer guidance as you haven’t asked for it, I would suggest being as organic and personal as you can with your notes. They’re an extension of you, there is no need to satisfy a philosopher. :wink:

Thanks again for an inspiring post.

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Hmm, this is really interesting, and I think the answer to that lies on what kinds of notes you think of
Personally I only use Obsidian for academic notes (for books and articles), the way I take notes are building upon what relationships the models, definitions, formulas etc have with each other. For example if I took notes about a model I would firstly create a page about it, then I would create a different page about the model’s purpose, and create a link between them (the language I use is that I just use the word “purpose” to specify it), I will do this will all I can (no matter what type of relationship). When I write real sentences (like definitions), I generally try to paraphrase it as much as I can. But I think this system is just appropriate for academia, and not for general thought writing.
I hope this wasn’t too bad explained :slight_smile:

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I think that’s a rather limiting view on things. Almost all abstractions are things you cannot point at and say that they exist somewhere in time and space. And the ability to hold multiple, contrasting abstractions and let them play out is somewhat a defining characteristic of intelligence. It is not clear to me how the Reism language can be used to express abstract thinking.

Personally, I don’t have a philosophy about the language I use in my notes. However, I do have a heuristic where I tend to avoid big words (such as product management, unless I am referring only to product management as what the words suggest - the activity of managing a product) and strive to be as precise as possible.

This is because, I think, devils are in the details. If you don’t mind some technicality, take product management for example. If you think of product management in terms of the product-market fit pyramid, then product management can be defined (by me, at least) as the process of providing user an experience by building a set of features that aims to deliver some value proposition. Consequently, in this view successful product management means achieving product-market fit (matching value proposition against customer’s underserved need).

So if I am to take notes when researching UX topics, and somewhere it is mentioned that a specific UX framework could “improve your product”. Now product management (or product improvement for that matter, lateral thinking here) is an insufficient level of abstraction to be thinking at. You’d have to unfold it to the above definition, to which UX is the last layer.

Once you have loaded the precise definition of product management, you can then make connections between that UX framework and how it helps on multiple levels of the product-market fit.

Somewhat related

Reism is incompatible with Maps of Meaning

In Maps of Meaning, Jordan Peterson says (I am paraphrasing) that we not only view the world as things (objects) to be manipulated, but also as a collection of places to be. Physical spaces, but also abstract spaces too. One of the abstract spaces is “the better place”, or what should be.

Consequently, in Jordan’s view the Reism would be an insufficient language to describe our being, because it seems to lack the ability to express ideal places (what should be - what is not the present - what does not exist in time and space (yet)). Just thought it’s an interesting connection.


Product management
Product-market fit


Thank you for your answers! It figures that we all use language accordingly to our needs and that’s completely fine. My goal wasn’t to persuade you to be more reisitc but ask questions. The fact is that Kotarbiński’s Reism was confining and criticized philosophy. As far as I’m concerned even Tadeusz Kotarbiński eventually gave up on it. I did too since it would be impossible to be completely reistic. Nonetheless, reism was inspiring for me and forced me to ask questions about language and how to use it more effectively. In my opinion, using precise language serves the purpose too and I can see that some of you agree with me.