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The Problems of Language

language reality maps truth

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5 replies to this topic

#1
Iggy

Iggy

  • 10 posts

Hi All, I'm new here so Hello!

 

Now I'm not sure if this has addressed before but here goes...

 

I'm interested (like everyone here I presume) in the power and use of language and its ability to shape our world. It appears to me that language is a bit of a slippery eal almost impossible to grasp firmly. Now if language is a useful tool which helps us to do stuff, it also has the potential to do harm, to fashion illusions which appear to be real but which are odds to reality and an individuals self interest. Language is a map but not necessarily accurate, nor necessarily reflect anything in reality.

 

From the absurd:

My cat and I had dinner with Elvis on the moon last night. [Assuming the cat/owner do not have access to space travel and Elvis is alive!]

 

To the manipulative

If you loved me you'd buy me the car/watch/ring.

 

To the simply false (but carrying apparent substance)

The result of climate change is that 1/4 of the earths population will be displaced. [I'm not arguing facts here just principles]

 

So while language can enable us to build ipads and a decent meal, we can also use it to describe the nature of heaven, judge other peoples intentions, and promote a government that destroys the people who vote for it.

 

I recognise that one should simply look at what is observable and to correlate words and events/behaviour/phenomenon/objects in the world to determin the true from the false, but I am curious as to your thoughts on why people get lost through language (that is ideas and concepts), and why people are so easily misled. How come we as a people are so out of touch with reality, and are dominated by false ideas. Also, what are your simple rules for testing the validity of what people say, and whether they are lying to themselves or (attempting) to manipulate you.

 

Well that's my first post, replies welcome.

Cheers!


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Anyone living in Birmingham, England message me for a chat an possible meet up. Cheers!

#2
Pepin

Pepin

  • 542 posts

People do not have philosophy, they do not understand what the words describe, nor the logical framework that supports the concepts. I would put forward that many people tend to live in a world of words because it is a major mechanism for inflicting propaganda, and because most teachers do not understand what they are teaching.

 

I've had this experience quite a lot in school, more in math and science classes, where it becomes apparent that the teacher does not understanding what they are teaching. They might be able to teach you a trigonometric identity, but they have no idea what it means, where it comes from, and why it must be true. They would lose all understanding of the subject without words. Many students take the teachers level of understanding to be a form of understanding. Going into University with teachers that actually understand what they are talking about made me extremely happy.


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#3
TheRobin

TheRobin

  • 823 posts

I think this is rather simple: Because when we grew up we were attacked in one way or antother for questioning the truth of whatever irrational culture was inflicted upon us. And since falsehood doesn't have proof, but our teachers and parents didn't want to admit to having core beliefs that are incorrect, we pretty much had to adapt to accepting their mere words as being as good as actual factual reality in order to escape an attack from them.

Few people ever stumble upon a methodology for critical thinking and even fewer ever work through their traumas, so I guess that those two factors kind of sum up why there are so many people who just rather cling on to words than reality. 

As for your question about how to detect whether people are lying or not: Can you give me some more context? I'd say it's mostly depending on the situation and/or what is being talked about and I don't quite see how one could answer that in a general way. (Or maybe I'm missing something and someone with a better idea and/or methodlogy can help you there).

Anyway, Cheers and welcome to the board :)
 


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#4
Iggy

Iggy

  • 10 posts

Thanks for the responses guys.

 

To Pepin, This is my concern about language - that it comes to dominate our experience over the direct reality of experience. Let me explain...

 

To Robin I think what I'm asking is how do we remain conscious in the world. Do we raise our level of thinking (philosophy?) to the point where we have trained ourselves to think truefully, to spot illusions, logical fallicies, internal consistentices/self-detonating arguments, correlation not being cause, is not being ought, and all the other little rules that define the philosophically educated Mind?

 

Or is there another way is a sensory way where we see there are only trees and not a forest, where we do not label the world and its objects and hence fall into the illusory nature of judgements that is positive and negative value? Think Khrishnamurti: The enlightened mind is the mind which no longer judges that which it sees. So I suppose I am asking is Zen (for the sake of a lable) ie. living in matterial reality where enlightenment has been defined as the minimisation of thought to the point where one lives in a state of no-thought, a better or worse alternative than the development of the philosophical Mind. And does the development of the philosophical Mind develop a constant churning of thoughts (vision of Terminator robot identifying and labelling everythign in its field of view) which ultimately separates us from our direct experience.

 

As Magrite the artist said of his painting of a pipe, "This is Not a Pipe"

 

Thoughts and responses please. Thank you.


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Anyone living in Birmingham, England message me for a chat an possible meet up. Cheers!

#5
TheRobin

TheRobin

  • 823 posts

I think the training is more practice then theory. From personal experience, once I've been exposed to the theory and principles of critical thought I couldn't help but apply it more and more. Mostly because (and I think this is true for everyone do one degree or another) my gut already has an in-built bullshit detector and the theory just helped me to understand the emotional reaction a lot better and with more accuracy. 
But (without wanting to claim to be some sort of master of critical thought or anything) in the meantime it seems to become mostly like a second language, where I just intuitively and instantly get the errors if there are any (or at least get the gut reaction to make me look at what is being said a bit morr closely). At least most of the time (and certainly a whole lot mroe than a few years back) 

As for the second part: I might come back to that later. There are a quite a lot of unsaid assumptions and premsises in that relatively small paragraph and it seems quite a bit of work trying to untangle that all (and I haven't slept much and am currently a bit tired). But of course if you want to go ahead and untangle that for me, I wouldn't mind :)


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#6
Iggy

Iggy

  • 10 posts

Yes I agree Robin there is a lot in the second paragraph although I'm not sure what assumptions you've identified. My observation is that Stefan, who I admire greatly, has repeatedly said in his podcasts that his mind is constantly on the go with new ideas. Now if Stefan, the worlds most popular philosopher has so many ideas how much is he, let alone lesser minds, directly experiencing and aware of. If one is in the mind, the future and the past, and the otherwhere what of the here and now? What of direct experience? And what of one's relationship to truth versus conceptual reality?

 

I hope this helps as way of clarification. Thanks.

 

PS. I do agree that having learnt the principles of philosophy BS is generally pretty apparent in peoples talk. :)


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Anyone living in Birmingham, England message me for a chat an possible meet up. Cheers!





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