Taxonomy is the study of the art and science of naming things. It's one of the essential elements of communication, since we have to agree on the names for things in order to know what each other is talking about. It doesn't do much good for me to tell you that I'm going to be working with the backhoe today, if you don't know what a backhoe is.
The greater a person's taxonomic skill, the more precise their capacity to communicate. For example, a cow, a heifer, a steer, an ox, a calf, a free-marten and a bull are all types of cattle, and each word describes some clearly defined and relevant difference. For example, if a cow has twin calves, one male and one female, the female is called a free-martin, the relevance being that they're presumed to be infertile.
Lincoln once asked a reporter a question. He asked, "If you called a tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have?" The reporter answered, "Five." to which Lincoln replied, "No, the dog would still have four legs. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one."
The art and science of calling things by their true names is important. It's also important to remember that this is a one way street. The map is not the same thing as the territory it represents, and any real thing is more than the sum of its names.
I might describe someone as being a woman, and that word would call up a number of images in your mind. Some would be relevant, and other might not apply to this particular person. If I added that this person was a senior, you'd further define your image visualizing either someone over the age of 65 or who was in their last year of either high school or college. Sometimes names can be informative, and sometimes misleading, and effective communication is often a matter of attention to semantic detail.
A parataxic distortion comes about when we try to use terms, not in an effort to describe reality, but rather in an attempt to delineate it. When people name a thing, they call forth an array of assumptions, only a portion of which may be accurate. The act of naming enhances the perception of one set of characteristics, and lessens the perception of others. This editing of reality is a parataxic distortion, and it can greatly impair the process of getting to know others and yourself.
Each of us has a gender, a racial background, an age, etc., and while these are authentic components of who we are, each of us is much more than the sum of these labels. Each of us plays various roles in society, but our essential essence is more than the sum of the roles we play.
It's all too easy to use labels as substitutes for getting to truly know each other. It's all too easy to allow the parataxic distortions to mask over the authentic human being that exists underneath all those labels and roles.
It takes time and effort to work your way past the labels and masks, and to really get to know people - who they really are and why they do what they do - but it's worth it. There's a deep hunger in the human soul to be known and valued for who and what you are, and the only way we can meet that need is by doing it together.
One advantage of the cooperative lifestyle is that there's time to do this. One disadvantage is that much of the process is automatic, and even if you wanted to, you wouldn't be able to avoid getting to know people, including yourself, as complex individuals instead of prescribed roles. The result isn't all neat and tidy, but it is authentic and rich.