Recently in two very different contexts I have encountered someone saying that “X misses the point of Y” or “Y goes against the whole point of Z”.

Please just skim the Wikipedia article about teleology. I’m not asking anybody to get a PhD in order to use a phrase, but just be aware that there are buttery flaky layers to this whole deal.

Has “the point” been established earlier in the discourse such that we agree on it for the purpose of discussion?

Are you confident there is one point to the thing? Is it that you are willing to say there can be no other purpose, or that you are only aware of one purpose, or that you would like to assert that the purpose you have in mind is the most important? If you don’t make an argument to the former or the latter, one has to assume you mean option 2, and that can make you sound sort of ignorant.

Are you sure there aren’t troubling implications to your invocation of the idea of something having a point?1

what’s the point of mastodon if it has moderation


  1. For example: As a person with a uterus and lots of other fun variously female body parts, I find it grating to hear that the “point” of something to do with my body is reproduction, because it has very strong moral overtones about my choice to not then have it perform its “function”. If you feel any kneejerk defensiveness of this (“well it’s accurate”) then you are assigned this as further reading, no skimming allowed this time.