We are all conformists

by Robert Fortner


I paraphrased Antonoi Gramsci badly over beer with Nim. Here is a proper rendering, from Gramsci’s Letters from Prison:

In acquiring one’s conception of the world one always belongs to a particular grouping which is that of all the social elements which share the same mode of thinking and acting. We are all conformists of some conformism or other, always man-in-the-mass or collective man.

Such conformity (community?) underlies underlies language. Amartya Sen argues that Gramsci’s idea indirectly influenced Wittgenstein, leading him from his view of language as an abstract symbol system to something not reducible to math and logic. (RC’s own Vernon Carter believes Wittgenstein thought this way all along and was being ironic in the Tractatus.)

Gramsci isn’t quite paraphrasing Aristotle, who said something related, namely:

 He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.

Solitary confinement makes you insane.