There is no Soup

Jasyn Jones has a post up where he denies the existence of hard SF. I encourage you all to read it.

Now, I have great respect for Jasyn. I agree with him more often than not. But I think he’s wrong here.

I put my counterarguments in the thread. I encourage you to read the discussion. This post is less to make my case or more to combat a particular attitude I see in the comments section towards those who disagree with Jasyn.

Let’s imagine I write a post called “Soup DOES NOT EXIST”. In the post, I argue against “soup” as a concept; it is merely broth, except that various ingredients are put inside of it instead of outside. This, I argue, is really no different than using sauce on food.

(This isn’t meant to be a good argument, nor is it a fair characterization of Jasyn’s argument. This is just for the purposes of explaining what I think are wrong-headed responses.)

In the comments, several people point out that soup as a concept clearly exists; in fact, they use it often as a shorthand for a particular type of food they enjoy, and think it’s quite useful.

But in response to this, it is said “Don’t be pedantic! Obviously he doesn’t mean that there’s no such thing as soup, or no varying degrees of soupiness; he’s merely making the point that soup represents a harmful concept.”

“But,” you say, “Hasn’t that been an argument for awhile? It seesms as if what is different about this argument is the claim that soup is imaginary and can’t exist at all, when that appears to me to be clearly false.”

And then they just call you pedantic again.

And that is my problem with some of the responses. What makes the point interesting at all is the claim that hard sci-fi does not exist. If we take that out, it’s just a restatement of arguments that have been made in the past – intelligent arguments, but there’s nothing new.

To argue against the most interesting point, repeated throughout the post, is not pedantry but merely attention to the subject at hand.