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"It is what it is"

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logicalpath
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This saying has been bothering me recently and after starting "Philosophy Who Needs It" I began to research several different expressions. At any rate I first began hearing this from coaches and players of sporting teams and slowly but surely it has begun to spread to friends and family members. My initial analysis of "it is what it is" has been that it is almost always used to evade responsibility for one's failure or short-comings. Furthermore, it is something that gives off a sense of hopelessness because seriously what could you do....

This lead to a little research and it would appear that a poetic mystic was the first to use this expression. LINK HERE. His name was Rumi(or Fihi Ma Fihi) and he was a Muslim that apparently believed that all religions were "right" and an individual that believed in relative truth over absolute truth.

Knowing the above I felt even stronger about what that term implies but then I came across something that caused me to pause. In an effort to remain contradiction free I would like to get some of "your" thoughts on this. What caused me to pause was "A is A", which struct me as the same. I contemplated the similarities and came to context, the context is what differentiates these two terms. Is my position on this correct or am I missing something here?

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This saying has been bothering me recently and after starting "Philosophy Who Needs It" I began to research several different expressions. At any rate I first began hearing this from coaches and players of sporting teams and slowly but surely it has begun to spread to friends and family members. My initial analysis of "it is what it is" has been that it is almost always used to evade responsibility for one's failure or short-comings. Furthermore, it is something that gives off a sense of hopelessness because seriously what could you do....

This lead to a little research and it would appear that a poetic mystic was the first to use this expression. LINK HERE. His name was Rumi(or Fihi Ma Fihi) and he was a Muslim that apparently believed that all religions were "right" and an individual that believed in relative truth over absolute truth.

Knowing the above I felt even stronger about what that term implies but then I came across something that caused me to pause. In an effort to remain contradiction free I would like to get some of "your" thoughts on this. What caused me to pause was "A is A", which struct me as the same. I contemplated the similarities and came to context, the context is what differentiates these two terms. Is my position on this correct or am I missing something here?

Your initial analysis of "it is what it is" could also include evading responsibility of identifying 'what is it'. When encountering the expression, an inquiry such as: "Yes, it is what it is, but what is it specifically?" should quickly identify if it is a case of evasion or not.

A is A, is an expression of axiomatic concepts, the onus of identifying 'what is it' comes from existence is identity, consciousness is identification.

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From the ways I heard the expression used, I think the expression states that someone can't do anything about a situation or a fact, that it is unchangeable.

This can be used in an evasive way, such when describing flaws, or it can be used in a true manner, when something is actually an unchangeable fact.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/metaphysical_vs_man-made.html

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From the ways I heard the expression used, I think the expression states that someone can't do anything about a situation or a fact, that it is unchangeable.

This can be used in an evasive way, such when describing flaws, or it can be used in a true manner, when something is actually an unchangeable fact.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/metaphysical_vs_man-made.html

When it is used in relation to the "man-made" it would be improper correct?

Edited by logicalpath
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I first heard the term used in a coin store about the year 2000 or so. I did not understand what was meant and the clerk said that it was a new phrase heard on convention floors. I agree that there was a tone of resignation when I heard it spoken: the coin cannot be made better. You have to understand the context. You can use a standard like The Red Book to grade a coin, sure, but a rarity will bring much more money in even slightly better grade. Beyond Mint State 60 (nominally Uncirculated) there are 10 more grades to Perfect 70. So, there is a lot of incentive to have a coin judged better. (Many famous American rarities have been upgraded over the years.) "It is what it is" means that this one will not be judged any better ... or any worse... Because since then I heard the statement meant that way, as well: as a floor under the downside. Taken together, the two mean that A is A.

But numismatics might be different in nuance than sports.

Edited by Hermes
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From the ways I heard the expression used, I think the expression states that someone can't do anything about a situation or a fact, that it is unchangeable.

This can be used in an evasive way, such when describing flaws, or it can be used in a true manner, when something is actually an unchangeable fact.

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/metaphysical_vs_man-made.html

This is how I've always understood it.

I've used it a few times myself, in the unchangable fact kind of way.

Example:

Customer complains about policies we have that are in place to keep in compliance with the local liquor licensing board.

I explain the part of code that relates to my policy.

Customer says "well that is just ridiculous".

Me: "it is what it is"

One can argue of course that govt policy can change over time but I don't concern myself with things I cannot directly change. As long as the law "is what it is" my policy "is what it is".

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This is how I've always understood it.

I've used it a few times myself, in the unchangable fact kind of way.

Example:

Customer complains about policies we have that are in place to keep in compliance with the local liquor licensing board.

I explain the part of code that relates to my policy.

Customer says "well that is just ridiculous".

Me: "it is what it is"

One can argue of course that govt policy can change over time but I don't concern myself with things I cannot directly change. As long as the law "is what it is" my policy "is what it is".

But if you utilize it regarding the "man-made" then are you not evading that something could be done about "it"?

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But if you utilize it regarding the "man-made" then are you not evading that something could be done about "it"?

Hahah... you obviously don't have an entity akin to our alcohol licensing agency in your area.

While man-made it has apparently become self aware.

There is no reasoning with, controlling, or altering it. The amount of control they exert within their sphere of influence is outrageous.

So, as long as the liquor regulation is A my rules are B. That fact is inalterable in this moment in time.

There is however one politician in all of the state who is running saying they will work to shut down the agency. They have my vote.

But until he wins and manages somehow to fight all the political powers and unions (all govt employees are unions and will not take kindly to having one of their troughs taken away) to get rid of this entity A is A making me act as B (or choose to not exist at all).

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Hahah... you obviously don't have an entity akin to our alcohol licensing agency in your area.

While man-made it has apparently become self aware.

There is no reasoning with, controlling, or altering it. The amount of control they exert within their sphere of influence is outrageous.

So, as long as the liquor regulation is A my rules are B. That fact is inalterable in this moment in time.

There is however one politician in all of the state who is running saying they will work to shut down the agency. They have my vote.

But until he wins and manages somehow to fight all the political powers and unions (all govt employees are unions and will not take kindly to having one of their troughs taken away) to get rid of this entity A is A making me act as B (or choose to not exist at all).

Actually I own a pharmaceutical distribution company in Florida, so I have a complete understanding of the kinds of regs your describing. While I understand your "pain" I think "it is what it is" is a phrase that lends itself to be described as a sense of helplessness(I can understand why you would want to position it that way to a customer) however even in my situation(where the DOH can approve or not approve my work schedule to the hour) I have options whether directly or indirectly.

Edited by logicalpath
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Actually I own a pharmaceutical distribution company in Florida, so I have a complete understanding of the kinds of regs your describing. While I understand your "pain" I think "it is what it is" is a phrase that lends itself to be described as a sense of helplessness(I can understand why you would want to position it that way to a customer) however even in my situation(where the DOH can approve or not approve my work schedule to the hour) I have options whether directly or indirectly.

Well, as I already stated.. I do have an option seperate from obeying the rules.... not to exist.

You have the option to find another line of work as well.

If a customer wants to bring their 9 month old child into my 21+ establishment and they get upset when I point out that it is 21+ as per regulation and they start having a fit "because it isn't like anyone is going to be sneaking my kid Jack Daniels" (actual quote from actual angry customer) it is hardly passing the buck, evading reality or evading responsibility to say of the situation "yes, it may be silly, but it is what it is".

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Well, as I already stated.. I do have an option seperate from obeying the rules.... not to exist.

You have the option to find another line of work as well.

If a customer wants to bring their 9 month old child into my 21+ establishment and they get upset when I point out that it is 21+ as per regulation and they start having a fit "because it isn't like anyone is going to be sneaking my kid Jack Daniels" (actual quote from actual angry customer) it is hardly passing the buck, evading reality or evading responsibility to say of the situation "yes, it may be silly, but it is what it is".

When I say there are things that "we" can do about it, I meant in the political arena. Several years ago there was a pedigree law that was instituted and a competitor spent some serious time working with the legislator to have modifications made for smaller distributors. Granted that tacked significant effort and time but I was just trying to illustrate that it isn't unchangeable.

The law currently states that I have to work specific hours and when I submitted a new schedule three weeks ago I was told by the State of Florida that I could not work that schedule. I could have thrown my hands up and just said, "it is what it is". It took three weeks and more time than it should take for a private business to change ITS OWN work schedule nut I got them to accept it.

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When I say there are things that "we" can do about it, I meant in the political arena. Several years ago there was a pedigree law that was instituted and a competitor spent some serious time working with the legislator to have modifications made for smaller distributors. Granted that tacked significant effort and time but I was just trying to illustrate that it isn't unchangeable.

The law currently states that I have to work specific hours and when I submitted a new schedule three weeks ago I was told by the State of Florida that I could not work that schedule. I could have thrown my hands up and just said, "it is what it is". It took three weeks and more time than it should take for a private business to change ITS OWN work schedule nut I got them to accept it.

Ok.. you want to change your work schedule.. it is in your rational self interest to do so.

Not necessarily in my rational self interest to have people bringing (presumably non-drinking) toddlers into my bar.

If they want the laws changed they are welcome to do as you did.

However for me, childless and intending to remain so, the law "is what it is".

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Ok.. you want to change your work schedule.. it is in your rational self interest to do so.

Not necessarily in my rational self interest to have people bringing (presumably non-drinking) toddlers into my bar.

If they want the laws changed they are welcome to do as you did.

However for me, childless and intending to remain so, the law "is what it is".

Definetely two different kind of "regs", I comprehend that. My point is not whether you want to change it or not, itnis do you have the ability to alter it(change what it is). Like a few people have said if it's not the metaphysical then it is an evasion. I'm comfortable with that explanation and I'm only pointing out that even in situations like yours and mine there are other options.

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