I had a professor at Umass and when we would write something wordy and stupid (as undergrad poli sci majors are super apt to do) he would circle it in red marker and write TAUTOLOGICAL STATEMENT! This was a source of great shame, because it meant that my writing was elementary or that it smacked of undergraduateness (I then had aspirations of getting a PhD in political science AKA, I’ve always been kind of an asshole).
Over the past several years since taking his classes there has been a proliferation of tautologies making their way into common vernacular in the guise of inspirational quotes. I blame pinterest, facebook cover photos, twitter, and the fact that society seems less and less likely to think critically about anything. But slap a stupid “enlightening” phrase on to a colorful background with a fancy white font over it, and you have a hit!
Reading another blog (the-toast.net), it finally hit me why I can’t stand those statements. Its because the people that profess them the most are usually the most clueless, self-centered people I’ve met.
“You have never once watched your thoughts, nor your words, nor your actions; not once have you given a moment’s reflection to how your day-to-day behavior influences who you have become. You have lost several decades-long friendships after getting into explosive fights over relatively unimportant issues. You have never once entertained the possibility that you were not the wronged party in every one of those cases; you never will.”