Language

Enjoy a neighbor’s tree as if it were my own.

Language is almost useless for discussing philosophy, but it’s all we have. Language is best for describing objects, a little less adequate for actions, barely competent for properties. And it fails as often as it succeeds for emotions and thought itself.

Language is nevertheless the premiere human tool, and we can (literally) not imagine intelligence without it. Only verbal imagination even lets us try to understand life without intelligence (such as how does a bird think.). Only language allows us to construct a framework of past and future, predict cause and effect, develop tools that control our environment.

Yet language easily founders. A “rock” can be many things and can imply different things to others or even to ourselves as time passes. Some human experience such as emotions, dreams, being itself, cannot be verbalized _ we hope to merely evoke the same response from other beings with whom we assume we share our essence.

Given all that, it is amazing that we do, in fact, endlessly discuss philosophy.  But almost all such discussions work primarily in analogies, metaphors, and similes, which are helpful but surely not conclusive. 

I will, naturally, be forced to use language as I go on. That is merely the most glaring and deepest problem of the many we shall encounter.

But we must always keep in mind that the word is not the concept itself, No amount of words can nail down a “truth”. There is no equivalent to Plato’s ideal forms in the jungle of language nor even a true equivalent to shadows on cave walls.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s