Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Brief Musing About Language

Language is such a pathetically inadequate way to communicate. Or at minimum an incomplete way.

Modern humans don't seem to be aware of how much they gave up to acquire language. Or how boxed in their mind is because of language.

Or how the language they were raised with shapes their thinking. And limits their thinking. There is a place beyond where language is.
It is where the majority of consciousness lives.

There are innumerable books on the subject of language and its evolution. As well as books on the origin of consciousness and its relationship to language. Alas, they are all written in some language.

Neither is it lost on me that because of my mad rantings on this matter, I have been compared by one writer/editor in the UK to Ludwig Wittgenstein. The comparison is  only partially accurate, given that Mr. Wittgenstein is deceased and I am not yet; and that Mr. Wittgenstein was the foremost philosopher of our time and described by Bertrand Russell as a genius, given that Mr. Russell has not so described me. One slight coincidence: "He was of the opinion...that his ideas were generally misunderstood...(and) doubted he would be better understood in the future." I do note that Mr. Wittgenstein published one slim volume in his lifetime, as have I. The difference is that I hope to publish another this year.
Genius Ludwig Wittgenstein, with two ears, two eyes, a nose and mouth, remarkably similar to Timothy Hurley, author

Some interesting books on the matter.

Thanks for reading. Next time?


  1. That's an awful lot to read about language, Doc. Is there any way you can give me a brief synopsis so I don't actually have to do all that reading, or draw me a picture perhaps?

    1. Yes, Buzz. See the cat in the box photo above. All the books are filled with pictures of cats doing stuff like that.
      Given the weather in Iowa, I would have thought you'd have plenty of reading time. Unless you're busy milking the mules or something.

  2. Here's a good quote from LW "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." I used it once to head an essay I wrote on personal language. True, there is a place beyond language which is conciousness but the point, I suppose, is that language makes that place more accessible. Have you read Cloud Atlas? (The film is good but there is so much more to the book) I think you would find David Mitchell's use of language to depict societal change very interesting.

    1. Thanks for reading, Jane Turley (writer/author, check out her soon to release book). I understand what you're saying. My point is that language may attempt to describe that place, but cannot. It can dance around it, bump it, get close, but it cannot go to that place. Furthermore, language (and I doubt most realize it) is also the box from within which all modern humans must look at the cosmos, and that individual language shapes what we are capable of thinking and how we view reality and the cosmos. The study of languages reveals how differently peoples on the planet think about reality and the cosmos. It is a subject best discussed over Jameson's lest we drift off the planet and into space.