Are nouns “illusory”?

It came up in a discussion. The point being made is that since things are changing all the time that it’s not right to use nouns to refer to then as some kind of fixed and permanent things but to use action verbs to do so. Like thinking, working, etc.

Doesn’t make sense to me since those are actions. A noun doesn’t imply the object is permanent or doesn’t change.

In some forms of Buddhism (I have studied Il Won Buddhism), everything and in your context every noun is a construct of the mind, and outside of that does not exist. But also in some weird ways, to relate it to a different subject, nouns are akin to matter and verbs are like energy and are part of the same thing (given the equation e=mc^2.), and thus somewhat interchangeable. Such things as what a door does defines a door, thus the verb and the noun are one of the same thing, and all a construct of our mind which is organizing things into thing they are not, and in the process creating the object that really does not exist.

No. You read some pretty dumb websites.

That seems like nonsense and more like a guess than anything else. I don’t really think what a door does makes it any less of a noun. As far as I know opening and closing aren’t objects.

If it’s a construct of the mind then shouldn’t you be able to “deconstruct” a train barreling at you? How do they know it doesn’t exist outside the mind? I wouldn’t call verbs energy since energy would still be a noun.

The door does exist. You can say we “organize” things into what they are not, but I can say that we recognize things that are similar and belong to groups. Biology seems to support that with animal species. We don’t create we recognize.

Or to put it short hand it just sounds like nonsense or poetry, but at least poetry is amusing. Still doesn’t address my comment though.

This was the comment i saw:

"Simple! In this human world of perpetual incessant and unrelenting unstoppable change, it can only be a world of perpetual ‘motion’, of perpetual ‘movement’, of perpetual ‘flux’, of perpetual ‘evolution’, [Oops! There goes Christianity out the window!], nothing of a permanent substrate, tangible of intangible, [and for ease of discussion we shall simply call this thing a ‘noun’], can be found that is a continuum from one point in a moment in time that carries over intact to the next moment in time.

Note, and I wish to make this thoroughly clear, there is no denying about the full and actual sensual reality of your ‘experiencing’, [let us get used to not using the illusory ‘noun’ and stick to active or intransitive 'verb’s], your ‘thinking’, your ‘doing’, your ‘working’, your ‘eating’ and ‘sleeping’ and your ‘being’ etc. But beyond your ‘experiencing’ etc. the ‘verb’ can never renascent and crystallise into a ‘noun’, an immutability that carries over to the next moment in time.

Let us think!

We are a different ‘we’, you are a different ‘you’, and I am a different ‘I’, physiologically and physically speaking, from one moment in time to the next. The tree in your front yard is a different tree in the very next moment in time. The world we live in is a different world in the very next moment in time. In fact the universe expands by 8-10 miles every second! The stars you see in the night sky might no longer exist! The little midges you see around the rose bush might not be around the next day."

It’s like rewriting the definition of noun to something it isn’t.

Reminds me of the concept of a RIST from Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (a RIST is a Relatively Independent Sub-Totality - or what someone would call a “thing” or a noun, if one weren’t sophisticated enough to realize that everything and every person is always changing and interconnected with everything else, man)

So this wasn’t a grammatical question…

Kant proposed that there was such a thing as a (not directly observable) Thing-in-Itself, while some other philosophers rejected its existence. I take it you side with the latter? But that does not matter, since plain language obviously does not pretend to refer to these really real Things anyway.

Try googling “Sir, I refute it thus!”

The term noun itself does not refer to any “things,” but is simply the function that a chunk of language serves within larger chunks of language. It is pointless and sophomoric to be talking about whether “nouns” are “illusory.”

I tried to compose an actual rebuttal, but I failed because I cannot even identify the point it is trying to make. This is asinine word salad that barely approaches a coherent thought, much less an actual philosophy or argument. It is “not even wrong” in the sense that a shambling assemblage of Jaden Smith tweets does not, by aggregation, resemble a thesis that could be supported or refuted.

The only part of the post that is even halfway comprehensible is the last paragraph, and even that is spectacularly wrong. The only way this post could be any stupider is if a monkey literally pushed the keys at random.

This is basically it.

The tree in my front yard exists, and has branches and roots and bark and roots and drops leaves all over my lawn every autumn. The fact that it grows doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong to the class we call by the noun “tree” - the fact that it grows is one of the characteristics of trees. If I cut it down, it isn’t a tree any more - it’s a log.

The fact that things can change doesn’t mean they aren’t what they are now. It is therefore proper - indeed, almost unavoidable - to refer to them using nouns.


Right. It’s a straw man set up solely for the purpose of sophistic self-puffery. No one has ever held that substantives by definition exclude dynamic qualities.

It’s a comment from someone that read the wikipedia on Plato, got it just enough to blow their mind, then tried to come up with something else to prove they were smarter.

No man steps into the same river twice, unless it’s nighttime and he’s drunk.

This is the kind of Zen koan Jack Handey would come up with if he were Buddhist.

Or high.


Machinaforce, I’d recommend you stop chatting with Cratylus.

Your quote includes the pearl “of perpetual ‘evolution’, [Oops! There goes Christianity out the window!]”

Is that your addition in the brackets, or was that in the original? Either way it is the kind of nonsense thinking where people conflate stellar evolution and biological evolution and think they’re making a solid argument. Those kinds of people shouldn’t be allowed to use nouns or verbs.

I assumed that they just heard the word ‘evolution’ and got confused. The majority of Christians believe in ‘biological evolution.’ It’s only fundamentalists that don’t, primarily Evangelicals. And in the context of the post where evolution means ‘a state of perpetual change,’ pretty much everyone agrees that the world is constantly changing, so I don’t get why that contradicts Christianity or Buddhism or Islam or atheism or anything else at all. I guess this is just to say that posts shouldn’t be written when you are either high, you fail to understand the subject matter or you are both.

The completely gratuitous slap at Christianity makes the whole concept suspect in my mind. Not so much because I want to defend Christianity, but that those who feel superior to those of that faith often make such convoluted philosophical spiels just to prove how superior they are. And those spiels are often bogus as well.

In other words, if you really were a superior sort, you wouldn’t make gratuitous slaps at outlooks other than your own.

Evangelicals are not fundamentalists. The largest branch of the Quakers is the Evangelical Friends Church. Most (not all) evangelicals have no problem with the concept of evolution.

Some discussion of the differences from a more secular source: