An Utterly Trivial Terminological Point

The title gets you going, huh?

I’m revising my writing sample, and I’m confronted with the question of how to name the view that “For any xs, the xs compose an object y if and only if the xs are fastened together.” Fn 34 of Brutal Composition reads as follows

See Van Inwagen, Material Beings, p.56. Van Inwagen calls the view “fastening.” But Mark Aronszajin and Fred Feldman have convinced me, in conversation, that this is a misnomer, since ‘fastening’ is a form of the verb that denotes the act of causing some things to be fastened together, rather than a word that denotes the relation being fastened together. And ‘fastenedness’, which does denote that relation, is too hard to pronounce.

Nevertheless, every reader of my paper who was not completely immersed in the composition literature has responded to seeing ‘fastenation’ with complete and utter incomprehension. So I think I’m going to use ‘fastening’ since at least one canonical figure in the literature uses it, and I’d rather not annoy the heck out of non-specialist readers. But I’m really unsure of this decision. Most importantly, this is obviously the best way to be using my time at the moment.


2 responses to “An Utterly Trivial Terminological Point

  1. I think this is a great loss for humankind. I really love the word “fastenation”. It is silly in a way that I think the theory is as well. Even saying it brings a smile to my face, because it sounds like “fascination” but is, instead, about things being stuck together.

  2. Markosian also has a point in using ‘fastenation’ instead of ‘fastening’, since ‘fastening’ is a verb rather than a relation and ‘fastenedness’ is even worse to pronounce.