March 19th, 2006

ozarque figure

Linguistics; political language; "The Value of Values"...

"The Value of Values" is a paper described as "a passage from the first phase of the Rockridge Manual for Progressives," a manual which "provides a map of the overall framework of values and ideas for progressive thought, and offers practical material on how these concepts can be applied to communicate our positions honestly and persuasively."

Presumably we can safely assume that the excerpt was chosen very carefully for its excellence and is intended to persuade readers of the quality and usefulness and desirability of the complete document. Here's a sample:

"Values are guiding principles of behavior that have to do with comport (integrity, discipline), communication (honesty, truthfulness), and our basic beliefs about people (freedom, equality, worth) and how they should be treated (justice, equity). One of the most salient differences between the conservative and progressive interpretation of values is that conservatives typically understand values with respect to the individual, while progressives see them as fundamentally social, guiding relations among people."

"Values are guiding principles of behavior." All right; so far, so good. But then we're told that these are principles "that have to do with comport." And at that point I am lost. My dictionary classifies "comport" as a verb, not a noun, used primarily in sequences such as "He comported himself with dignity," meaning that he "behaved" with dignity. I went to Google and looked at a batch of definitions; none of them disagreed with my dictionary. What is "comport" doing in that definition of values? If it's a typo, why is it still sitting there and what is the word supposed to be?

Suppose we assume that "comport" has a meaning I'm just too thickheaded to understand, and focus on the definition as it stands. It says that values are guiding principles of behavior, and that there are four classes of values:

1. those that "have to do" with comport, such as "integrity" and "discipline"

2. those that have to do with communication, such as "honesty" and "truthfulness"

3. those that have to do with our basic beliefs about people, such as "freedom" and "equality" and "worth"

4. those that have to do with our basic beliefs about how people should be treated, such as "justice" and "equity"

Could we discuss the adequacy and clarity and usefulness of this definition, please? Maybe I'm missing something.

The more I read this excerpt from the manual [online at ], the less it says to me.