Without Restriction In Stanley Fish's No Such Thing, Too

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Academic arguments cannot exist without a level of shared understanding. The entire ecosystem of authors writing, responding, arguing and developing new ideas depends on the idea that writers can apply their own interpretation to a build upon the understanding of a different writer. In Stanley Fish’s There’s No Such Thing as Free Speech and It’s a Good Thing, Too, Stanley Fish attempts to present his own interpretation of free speech. Throughout the essay, Fish tries to convince the reader that expression only ever exists within the confines of a restricted community and that the principles of free speech “are inherently nothing” (Fish 10). According to Fish, speech only has meaning within the restrictions of a society because a society’s restrictions…show more content…
Fish uses limitations and constraints in particular as a proxy for this idea. A great example is when Fish describes meaningful expression as “a product of limitations and constraints” (Fish 6). This idea is nearly identical to a sentence earlier in the essay that says, “without restriction, … there would be no restriction and no reason for asserting it” (Fish 2). In these two quotes, the words “limitation”, “restriction” and “constraints” could be swapped randomly without any damage to the idea being presented. Both of the quotes address the Fish’s first restriction idea that restrictions are internal forces that drive meaningful expression within a society or community. In a similar way to how he uses “regulation”, Fish uses these terms to further develop the component of “restriction” to which it refers. When communities are introduced as a source of limitations, Fish says that limitations for determining a “deeply assumed purpose are inseparable from community membership” (Fish 6). He says that to be a member of any community, you must act within the limitation of the community. He goes on to say that all the thoughts you have are influenced by the communities you are a part of because they determine the “background context within which [your] thought takes its shape” (Fish 6). Since few people like the idea that their thoughts are being manipulated by others, once again Fish is using a proxy word to develop an uncomfortable aspect of
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