From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Just getting started. I've been an avid reader for a while and have made a handful of pre-account edits but would now like to get stuck in properly.

Any hints and tips for a newbie would be very welcome. The area I intend to focus on to start with is the Israel/Palestinian conflict as the subject is fascinating and I want an excuse to learn more. I'll probably also wend my way over to ancient Greek and Roman philosophy as I have a bit of experience on that subject and may be able to contribute some useful sources.

(I would delete and replace the preceding comments but they have proved of such great interest to user:Jiujitsuguy that I can't bring myself to remove the fuel for his conspiracy theories.)

Working Notes on Atheism

Relevant stuff culled from WP:LEAD

The first paragraph should define the topic with a neutral point of view, but without being overly specific. … The article should begin with a declarative sentence telling the nonspecialist reader what (or who) the subject is.  If possible, the page title should be the subject of the first sentence.[2]  When the page title is used as the subject of the first sentence, it may appear in a slightly different form, and it may include variations, including synonyms.[3]  If its subject is definable, then the first sentence should give a concise definition: where possible, one that puts the article in context for the nonspecialist.  Redundancy must be kept to a minimum in the first sentence. Use the first sentence of the article to provide relevant information which is not already given by the title of the article. Remember that the title of the article need not appear verbatim in the lead.[6]

Relevant stuff from NOTDICT

Wikipedia articles are about a person, or a people, a concept, a place, an event, a thing etc. that their title can denote. Good Definitions Encyclopedia articles should begin with a good definition and description of one topic (or a few largely or completely synonymous or otherwise highly related topics[3]), but the article should provide other types of information about that topic as well. An encyclopedic definition is more concerned with encyclopedic knowledge (facts) rather than linguistic concerns.[4]

"A definition aims to describe or delimit the meaning of some term (a word or a phrase) by giving a statement of essential properties or distinguishing characteristics of the concept, entity, or kind of entity, denoted by that term." —Definition

Now, let’s call “atheism as the subject or topic of the title” ‘ATHEISM’. From the discussions on the talk page I take it that everyone agrees that none of the concepts of atheism described in the first three sentences are individually identical to the subject or topic ATHEISM. Question 1 – Is this correct? If this is right, and if it is also accepted that none of the three are identical with any other (Question 2 – Is this accepted?), then we can say that these are three distinct, but overlapping, “concepts of atheism” (let’s call them ‘Atheism A’, ‘Atheism B’ and ‘Atheism C’). The three concepts of atheism and the topic of ATHEISM are also each distinct from the term ’atheism’ (henceforth ‘the word “atheism”’).

What we ideally want, then, is an opening sentence that concisely defines the topic ATHEISM “by giving a statement of essential properties or distinguishing characteristics of the [topic] denoted by that term”. We should do that “If [the topic] is definable”. If the topic is not definable then we should not do so.

The first major question, then, is “Is the topic ATHEISM definable?” (Question 3). A definition of the topic will need to give a statement of its ‘essential properties or distinguishing characteristics’. Assuming that we take the topic as being primarily delineated by the contents of the different atheistic positions discussed (rather than history, etymology etc) then the definition should be able to apply equally to at least our three concepts of atheism (A, B, and C). However, it need not be identical with any of them since the delineation of the topic is something different, just as a definition of religion would not need to be identical with any given religion or theory of (religion).

Now, personally I think the current first sentence, stripped of the comparative language, serves as a pretty decent definition of the topic: “Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.” I think it is important to drop ‘in a broad sense’ because a) ‘in a broad sense’ defines the scope of application of a word and the subject of this sentence is not ‘the word atheism’ and its various meanings but the topic ATHEISM. The topic ATHEISM is also something different from any of the particular concepts of atheism, even though it happens to share a description with one of them, so it should not be linked to the descriptions of the concepts that will follow by the use of a common language of broadness/narrowness/inclusiveness. It does not describe a theory of atheism but, rather, gives a definition that covers all the theories.

It is, then, I think, important to distinguish the topic ATHEISM from the concept ‘Atheism A’ which shares the same description. The distinction is important because despite the commonality they are completely different types of object that behave differently. The definition of the topic must embrace mutually conflicting but overlapping concepts of atheism but it is not itself a theory and so does not stand in a relationship to any of the other theories I the context of theoretical content. Whilst the definition of Atheism A might be the same as that for ATHEISM, it defines a different thing: a particular theory that will stand in some theoretical relation to the others and may not be consistent with them and so should be understood as having a different content than the definition of the topic ATHEISM.

Once this distinction has been made the rest should fall into place quite easily, giving us a structure for the first sentences of: 1) Definition of ATHEISM, 2) Definition of Atheism A, B, and C. We are then in a position to move on in the rest of the paragraph to contrast or connect either the individual concepts of atheism or the topic itself with other notions, such as agnosticism, theism and, of course, each other.

Remaining issues:

Choice of language to differentiate topic from concepts. Comparative language re: the different concepts? Others