Why you should read

The limits of my language means the limits of my world.
⏤Ludwig Wittgenstein

We use language to refer to and describe our experience. In addition to allowing us to talk about our experience, it allows us to access more of our senses and perceive aspects of our experience.

The word “blue” allows us to reference the visual sensation blue. If it did not exist, could we talk about blue? African tribesman do not perceive the color blue, for they do not have a need for it. It is invisible to them. You cannot see what you cannot perceive, and words allow us to anchor our senses to perceptions within our experience. You can look at a painting a thousand times and not see a deer nestled in the woods. Only when someone mentions the deer do you perceive it. We perceive what we are primed and looking for, and if we don’t know what we’re looking for, it’s difficult to perceive it in our everyday experience. We are blind to it. In the same way, a person hears only what they understand.

The more expansive our vocabulary, the more expansive our perceived reality. If we lack a word for something, we cannot reference it, so we cannot talk about it. How do we talk about something we don’t have a word for? Each book we read contains language that allows us to access a reality beyond ourself.

Each book and the domain it refers to is unique. Psychology books use a specific language, as do physics, and sociology, and any other specific to a domain.

Language springs from a community of people referencing their shared experience. Language evolves with the experiences of the people, but it is directly limited to the world in which the people act and live. It does not go beyond.

People living in the arctic tundra don’t have a word for a desert. People living in a desert don’t have a word for snow. You cannot talk about what you cannot reference.

Only until you have a word for it can you imagine and entertain the idea of its existence, and even then, if you don’t have the experience, you’re left to use only your imagination. What does it feel like to experience space? To experience the moon’s gravity?

Books provide portals into experiences currently inaccessible to us.

Each book possesses a unique perspective and language to refer to the experience, and this allows us to use our imagination and conceive a reality beyond our self, beyond the limited experiences and language borne out of it.

I believe we should familiarize ourselves with every subject and every domain and every culture and every genre possible. In this way we will develop our vocabulary in a way that allows us to access the understanding of the most people possible, by traversing as many language boundaries as possible.

When people think of language, they typically think simplistically about it, like the English language, and Spanish, Chinese, French, Swahili, Farsi, Ordu, Romanian, Swedish, etc.

But within each of these “tongues” are vocabularies used by specific communities, particular vernaculars and patois.

Coal miners use one vocabulary, computer scientists use another, engineers have their own, biologists have their own, etc. The words they use are unique to the subject they are studying and the people they engage the study with. If you were to sit in on a group of physicist discussing quantum entanglement, you probably wouldn’t understand much. And if you were a farmer, and wanted to engage them, you probably wouldn’t have much to say to one another besides the colloquial pleasantries of every day speak.

Despite sharing the english language, the communities in which you reside, and the language you use to reference the world you engage with are vastly different. However, by reading, you can access these realities and arm yourself with language that allows you to communicate and understand and adapt to every community and environment where those people reside.

This selective attention test illustrates the power of being unable to perceive things even though we clearly can see them.

Information Evolution: Language and Real-life Structures

Random thoughts on language as information evolution. And technology and digital information.

Continue reading “Information Evolution: Language and Real-life Structures”

Socrates: Oral and Written Communication (Or why Socrates never wrote anything down)

The following dialogue (see below) is an except from Plato’s Phaedrus in which Socrates discusses why writing would erode thought by permitting people to forget what they had learned because they’d be able to look things up, that “they wouldn’t feel the need to ‘remember it from the inside, completely on their own.’ ” Worse, writing wouldn’t “allow ideas to flow freely and change in real time, the way they do in the mind during oral exchange.”

(I’d suggest taking time to read the dialog before moving on)

Socrates’ sentiments relate to my thoughts on the institutionalization of texts that become “truth” in time. Likewise, I am immediately reminded of Nietzsche’s essay Truth and Lies in the Nonmoral Sense, in which he asks, “What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are
illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”

In sum— and I will elaborate much more in a proceeding post— I believe that emphasizing the dead written word rather than the living spoken work is the source of all man’s ills. By placing faith in the value of written word, man effectively subjugates the value of his own personal, individuated experience— that is, his individual intuitions, opinions, and feelings; or more precisely, his subjective reflective consciousness. The spoken word is intimately connected to your feelings and experience: 97% of communication is nonverbal. It is impossible to capture the meaning, the affect, the intention, the feeling, of the author’s written words. In spoken word, there is genuine communication, a mutual exchange of feelings and ideas.  The dichotomy between written and spoken word can be loosely represented as the difference between deductive and inductive thought, or rationalism and empiricism, respectively.

Why this is important relates to the creation and preservation of institutions. All institutions have a text or creed or principles that govern the behaviors and dictate the conventions of its constituent agents, whether the text is a religious book, or an academic text, or a constitution, or a charter is all the same. What is important is that the words are blindly given ultimately authority as the subjective perspective, wrought from an individual’s unique experience, is overlooked and pushed aside completely. The result is that people become a means rather than an end, and human activity manifests as instrumentalism: an extension of someone else’s morality, another person’s valuation of the world, a reflection of their will to power. All of these examples reflect an external set of apriori assumptions imposed into a subject’s psyche by another person— and therefore motivate extrinsically. We call these a priori assumptions “culture” or “truth”, as well as other names like: norms, conventions, commonsense, mainstream, popular, customary and the like.

I think about Jesus, who I believe advocated the same message of Socrates, namely that people are blind to themselves. Jesus said he came to abolish the old law, the old traditions, the rituals and customs that blinded people to themselves, that caused people to get caught up in appearances and words rather than understanding their meaning. He said that god was the living word (Hebrews 4:12), and emphasized that the “spirit” or “god” was within the body, rather than the physical “temple”.  Socrates similarly stresses the priority of the “spirit” or the “reflective consciousness” or “reason” as being paramount to the purification of man.

Suspend your biased judgments about the nature of “god” or “spirit for a moment reinterpret “god” in favor of man’s “mind” or the “subjective reflective consciousness” and consider the following verse: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Replacing it with our conception of god as man’s “mind” we get: “So the reflective mind created man in his own image, in the image of the reflective mind he created him; male and female he created them.”

The idea that “god” is actually referencing man’s “mind” or “reflective consciousness”—  that distinguishing feature that demarcates men from lower animals to the degree of its development— mirrors many truisms, aphorisms, and words of wisdom throughout time such as: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Nin) or “You give birth to that on which you fix your mind.” (de Saint-Exupéry)  or “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” (Bergson) or “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” (Epictetus) or “Let the mind be enlarged…to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind.” (Bacon) or “Things which we see are not by themselves what we see … It remains completely unknown to us what the objects may be by themselves and apart from the receptivity of our senses. We know nothing but our manner of perceiving them.” (Kant) or “Perception is a prediction, not a truth.” (Mooney) and the list goes on.

The idea is communicated succinctly by Feuerbach who said:

“Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion is the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” [Feuerbach]

I could write for a long while on this topic, so I’ll stop now and wait to do that later. My main message is that writing is good for personal reflection and meditation and study, but it cannot serve as a replacement for experience and reflective thinking for another man. If you look to the outside world for answers, whether its in books, or things, or authority figures, you are cheating yourself of the opportunity to develop authentically. You must earnestly weigh your experience against the world, and do it with an even keel, remembering that self-deception is our natural tendency, that we want to seek confirmation in what we already believe and think to be real, rather than what is actually real. Think dialectically, think in opposites, and challenge other minds in mutual dialog with YOUR mind, with YOUR experience while exercising genuine curiosity for understanding, and with practice your mind will grow fertile, deep, open, and sharp.

I beg you: with an open mind, read on!

*****************************

Soc. At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Phaedr. Yes, Socrates, you can easily invent tales of Egypt, or of any other country.

Soc. There was a tradition in the temple of Dodona that oaks first gave prophetic utterances. The men of old, unlike in their simplicity to young philosophy, deemed that if they heard the truth even from “oak or rock,” it was enough for them; whereas you seem to consider not whether a thing is or is not true, but who the speaker is and from what country the tale comes.

Phaedr. I acknowledge the justice of your rebuke; and I think that the Theban is right in his view about letters.

Soc. He would be a very simple person, and quite a stranger to the oracles of Thamus or Ammon, who should leave in writing or receive in writing any art under the idea that the written word would be intelligible or certain; or who deemed that writing was at all better than knowledge and recollection of the same matters?

Phaedr. That is most true.

Soc. I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.

Phaedr. That again is most true.

Soc. Is there not another kind of word or speech far better than this, and having far greater power-a son of the same family, but lawfully begotten?

Phaedr. Whom do you mean, and what is his origin?

Soc. I mean an intelligent word graven in the soul of the learner, which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent.

Phaedr. You mean the living word of knowledge which has a soul, and of which written word is properly no more than an image?

Soc. Yes, of course that is what I mean. And now may I be allowed to ask you a question: Would a husbandman, who is a man of sense, take the seeds, which he values and which he wishes to bear fruit, and in sober seriousness plant them during the heat of summer, in some garden of Adonis, that he may rejoice when he sees them in eight days appearing in beauty? at least he would do so, if at all, only for the sake of amusement and pastime. But when he is in earnest he sows in fitting soil, and practises husbandry, and is satisfied if in eight months the seeds which he has sown arrive at perfection?

Phaedr. Yes, Socrates, that will be his way when he is in earnest; he will do the other, as you say, only in play.

Soc. And can we suppose that he who knows the just and good and honourable has less understanding, than the husbandman, about his own seeds?

Phaedr. Certainly not.

Soc. Then he will not seriously incline to “write” his thoughts “in water” with pen and ink, sowing words which can neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others?

Phaedr. No, that is not likely.

Soc. No, that is not likely-in the garden of letters he will sow and plant, but only for the sake of recreation and amusement; he will write them down as memorials to be treasured against the forgetfulness of old age, by himself, or by any other old man who is treading the same path. He will rejoice in beholding their tender growth; and while others are refreshing their souls with banqueting and the like, this will be the pastime in which his days are spent.

Phaedr. A pastime, Socrates, as noble as the other is ignoble, the pastime of a man who can be amused by serious talk, and can discourse merrily about justice and the like.

Soc. True, Phaedrus. But nobler far is the serious pursuit of the dialectician, who, finding a congenial soul, by the help of science sows and plants therein words which are able to help themselves and him who planted them, and are not unfruitful, but have in them a seed which others brought up in different soils render immortal, making the possessors of it happy to the utmost extent of human happiness.

Phaedr. Far nobler, certainly.

Soc. And now, Phaedrus, having agreed upon the premises we decide about the conclusion.

Phaedr. About what conclusion?

Soc. About Lysias, whom we censured, and his art of writing, and his discourses, and the rhetorical skill or want of skill which was shown in them-these are the questions which we sought to determine, and they brought us to this point. And I think that we are now pretty well informed about the nature of art and its opposite.

Phaedr. Yes, I think with you; but I wish that you would repeat what was said.

Soc. Until a man knows the truth of the several particulars of which he is writing or speaking, and is able to define them as they are, and having defined them again to divide them until they can be no longer divided, and until in like manner he is able to discern the nature of the soul, and discover the different modes of discourse which are adapted to different natures, and to arrange and dispose them in such a way that the simple form of speech may be addressed to the simpler nature, and the complex and composite to the more complex nature-until he has accomplished all this, he will be unable to handle arguments according to rules of art, as far as their nature allows them to be subjected to art, either for the purpose of teaching or persuading;-such is the view which is implied in the whole preceding argument.

Phaedr. Yes, that was our view, certainly.

Soc. Secondly, as to the censure which was passed on the speaking or writing of discourses, and how they might be rightly or wrongly censured-did not our previous argument show?-

Phaedr. Show what?

Soc. That whether Lysias or any other writer that ever was or will be, whether private man or statesman, proposes laws and so becomes the author of a political treatise, fancying that there is any great certainty and clearness in his performance, the fact of his so writing is only a disgrace to him, whatever men may say. For not to know the nature of justice and injustice, and good and evil, and not to be able to distinguish the dream from the reality, cannot in truth be otherwise than disgraceful to him, even though he have the applause of the whole world.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. But he who thinks that in the written word there is necessarily much which is not serious, and that neither poetry nor prose, spoken or written, is of any great value, if, like the compositions of the rhapsodes, they are only recited in order to be believed, and not with any view to criticism or instruction; and who thinks that even the best of writings are but a reminiscence of what we know, and that only in principles of justice and goodness and nobility taught and communicated orally for the sake of instruction and graven in the soul, which is the true way of writing, is there clearness and perfection and seriousness, and that such principles are a man’s own and his legitimate offspring;-being, in the first place, the word which he finds in his own bosom; secondly, the brethren and descendants and relations of his others;-and who cares for them and no others-this is the right sort of man; and you and I, Phaedrus, would pray that we may become like him.

Phaedr. That is most assuredly my desire and prayer.

Soc. And now the play is played out; and of rhetoric enough. Go and tell Lysias that to the fountain and school of the Nymphs we went down, and were bidden by them to convey a message to him and to other composers of speeches-to Homer and other writers of poems, whether set to music or not; and to Solon and others who have composed writings in the form of political discourses which they would term laws-to all of them we are to say that if their compositions are based on knowledge of the truth, and they can defend or prove them, when they are put to the test, by spoken arguments, which leave their writings poor in comparison of them, then they are to be called, not only poets, orators, legislators, but are worthy of a higher name, befitting the serious pursuit of their life.

Phaedr. What name would you assign to them?

Soc. Wise, I may not call them; for that is a great name which belongs to God alone,-lovers of wisdom or philosophers is their modest and befitting title.

Phaedr. Very suitable.

Soc. And he who cannot rise above his own compilations and compositions, which he has been long patching, and piecing, adding some and taking away some, may be justly called poet or speech-maker or law-maker.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. Now go and tell this to your companion.

Phaedr. But there is also a friend of yours who ought not to be forgotten.

Soc. Who is he?

Phaedr. Isocrates the fair:-What message will you send to him, and how shall we describe him?

Soc.Isocrates is still young, Phaedrus; but I am willing to hazard a prophecy concerning him.

Phaedr. What would you prophesy?

Soc. I think that he has a genius which soars above the orations of Lysias, and that his character is cast in a finer mould. My impression of him is that he will marvelously improve as he grows older, and that all former rhetoricians will be as children in comparison of him. And I believe that he will not be satisfied with rhetoric, but that there is in him a divine inspiration which will lead him to things higher still. For he has an element of philosophy in his nature. This is the message of the gods dwelling in this place, and which I will myself deliver to Isocrates, who is my delight; and do you give the other to Lysias, who is yours.

Phaedr. I will; and now as the heat is abated let us depart.

Soc. Should we not offer up a prayer first of all to the local deities? By all means.

Soc. Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one. May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy, and may I have such a quantity of gold as a temperate man and he only can bear and carry.-Anything more? The prayer, I think, is enough for me.

Phaedr. Ask the same for me, for friends should have all things in common.

Soc. Let us go.

The Debate Between Oral and Written Communication (Or why Socrates never wrote anything down)

The following dialogue (see below) is an except from Plato’s Phaedrus in which Socrates discusses why writing would erode thought by permitting people to forget what they had learned because they’d be able to look things up, that “they wouldn’t feel the need to ‘remember it from the inside, completely on their own.’ ” Worse, writing wouldn’t “allow ideas to flow freely and change in real time, the way they do in the mind during oral exchange.”

(I’d suggest taking time to read the dialog before moving on)

Socrates’ sentiments relate to my thoughts on the institutionalization of texts that become “truth” in time. Likewise, I am immediately reminded of Nietzsche’s essay Truth and Lies in the Nonmoral Sense, in which he asks, “What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and; anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are
illusions- they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”

In sum— and I will elaborate much more in a proceeding post— I believe that emphasizing the dead written word rather than the living spoken work is the source of all man’s ills. By placing faith in the value of written word, man effectively subjugates the value of his own personal, individuated experience— that is, his individual intuitions, opinions, and feelings; or more precisely, his subjective reflective consciousness. The spoken word is intimately connected to your feelings and experience: 97% of communication is nonverbal. It is impossible to capture the meaning, the affect, the intention, the feeling, of the author’s written words. In spoken word, there is genuine communication, a mutual exchange of feelings and ideas.  The dichotomy between written and spoken word can be loosely represented as the difference between deductive and inductive thought, or rationalism and empiricism, respectively.

Why this is important relates to the creation and preservation of institutions. All institutions have a text or creed or principles that govern the behaviors and dictate the conventions of its constituent agents, whether the text is a religious book, or an academic text, or a constitution, or a charter is all the same. What is important is that the words are blindly given ultimately authority as the subjective perspective, wrought from an individual’s unique experience, is overlooked and pushed aside completely. The result is that people become a means rather than an end, and human activity manifests as instrumentalism: an extension of someone else’s morality, another person’s valuation of the world, a reflection of their will to power. All of these examples reflect an external set of apriori assumptions imposed into a subject’s psyche by another person— and therefore motivate extrinsically. We call these a priori assumptions “culture” or “truth”, as well as other names like: norms, conventions, commonsense, mainstream, popular, customary and the like.

I think about Jesus, who I believe advocated the same message of Socrates, namely that people are blind to themselves. Jesus said he came to abolish the old law, the old traditions, the rituals and customs that blinded people to themselves, that caused people to get caught up in appearances and words rather than understanding their meaning. He said that god was the living word (Hebrews 4:12), and emphasized that the “spirit” or “god” was within the body, rather than the physical “temple”.  Socrates similarly stresses the priority of the “spirit” or the “reflective consciousness” or “reason” as being paramount to the purification of man.

Suspend your biased judgments about the nature of “god” or “spirit” for a moment; and reinterpret “god” in favor of man’s “mind” or the “subjective reflective consciousness” and consider the following verse: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27). Replacing it with our conception of god as man’s “mind” we get: “So the reflective mind created man in his own image, in the image of the reflective mind he created him; male and female he created them.”

The idea that “god” is actually referencing man’s “mind” or “reflective consciousness”—  that distinguishing feature that demarcates men from lower animals to the degree of their development— mirrors many truisms, aphorisms, and words of wisdom throughout time such as: “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” (Nin) or “You give birth to that on which you fix your mind.” (de Saint-Exupéry)  or “The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” (Bergson) or “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” (Epictetus) or “Let the mind be enlarged…to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind.” (Bacon) or “Things which we see are not by themselves what we see … It remains completely unknown to us what the objects may be by themselves and apart from the receptivity of our senses. We know nothing but our manner of perceiving them.” (Kant) or “Perception is a prediction, not a truth.” (Mooney) and the list goes on.

The idea is communicated succinctly by Feuerbach who said:

“Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge, by his God thou knowest the man, and by the man his God; the two are identical. Whatever is God to a man, that is his heart and soul; and conversely, God is the manifested inward nature, the expressed self of a man– religion is the solemn unveiling of a man’s hidden treasures, the revelation of his intimate thoughts, and the open confession of his love-secrets.” [Feuerbach]

I could write for a long while on this topic, so I’ll stop now and wait to do that later. My main message is that writing is good for personal reflection and meditation and study, but it cannot serve as a replacement for experience and reflective thinking for another man. If you look to the outside world for answers, whether its in books, or things, or authority figures, you are cheating yourself of the opportunity to develop authentically. You must earnestly weigh your experience against the world, and do it with an even keel, remembering that self-deception is our natural tendency, that we want to seek confirmation in what we already believe and think to be real, rather than what is actually real. Think dialectically, think in opposites, and challenge other minds in mutual dialog with YOUR mind, with YOUR experience while exercising genuine curiosity for understanding, and with practice your mind will grow fertile, deep, open, and sharp.

I beg you: with an open mind, read on!

*****************************

Soc. At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Phaedr. Yes, Socrates, you can easily invent tales of Egypt, or of any other country.

Soc. There was a tradition in the temple of Dodona that oaks first gave prophetic utterances. The men of old, unlike in their simplicity to young philosophy, deemed that if they heard the truth even from “oak or rock,” it was enough for them; whereas you seem to consider not whether a thing is or is not true, but who the speaker is and from what country the tale comes.

Phaedr. I acknowledge the justice of your rebuke; and I think that the Theban is right in his view about letters.

Soc. He would be a very simple person, and quite a stranger to the oracles of Thamus or Ammon, who should leave in writing or receive in writing any art under the idea that the written word would be intelligible or certain; or who deemed that writing was at all better than knowledge and recollection of the same matters?

Phaedr. That is most true.

Soc. I cannot help feeling, Phaedrus, that writing is unfortunately like painting; for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, and yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence. And the same may be said of speeches. You would imagine that they had intelligence, but if you want to know anything and put a question to one of them, the speaker always gives one unvarying answer. And when they have been once written down they are tumbled about anywhere among those who may or may not understand them, and know not to whom they should reply, to whom not: and, if they are maltreated or abused, they have no parent to protect them; and they cannot protect or defend themselves.

Phaedr. That again is most true.

Soc. Is there not another kind of word or speech far better than this, and having far greater power-a son of the same family, but lawfully begotten?

Phaedr. Whom do you mean, and what is his origin?

Soc. I mean an intelligent word graven in the soul of the learner, which can defend itself, and knows when to speak and when to be silent.

Phaedr. You mean the living word of knowledge which has a soul, and of which written word is properly no more than an image?

Soc. Yes, of course that is what I mean. And now may I be allowed to ask you a question: Would a husbandman, who is a man of sense, take the seeds, which he values and which he wishes to bear fruit, and in sober seriousness plant them during the heat of summer, in some garden of Adonis, that he may rejoice when he sees them in eight days appearing in beauty? at least he would do so, if at all, only for the sake of amusement and pastime. But when he is in earnest he sows in fitting soil, and practises husbandry, and is satisfied if in eight months the seeds which he has sown arrive at perfection?

Phaedr. Yes, Socrates, that will be his way when he is in earnest; he will do the other, as you say, only in play.

Soc. And can we suppose that he who knows the just and good and honourable has less understanding, than the husbandman, about his own seeds?

Phaedr. Certainly not.

Soc. Then he will not seriously incline to “write” his thoughts “in water” with pen and ink, sowing words which can neither speak for themselves nor teach the truth adequately to others?

Phaedr. No, that is not likely.

Soc. No, that is not likely-in the garden of letters he will sow and plant, but only for the sake of recreation and amusement; he will write them down as memorials to be treasured against the forgetfulness of old age, by himself, or by any other old man who is treading the same path. He will rejoice in beholding their tender growth; and while others are refreshing their souls with banqueting and the like, this will be the pastime in which his days are spent.

Phaedr. A pastime, Socrates, as noble as the other is ignoble, the pastime of a man who can be amused by serious talk, and can discourse merrily about justice and the like.

Soc. True, Phaedrus. But nobler far is the serious pursuit of the dialectician, who, finding a congenial soul, by the help of science sows and plants therein words which are able to help themselves and him who planted them, and are not unfruitful, but have in them a seed which others brought up in different soils render immortal, making the possessors of it happy to the utmost extent of human happiness.

Phaedr. Far nobler, certainly.

Soc. And now, Phaedrus, having agreed upon the premises we decide about the conclusion.

Phaedr. About what conclusion?

Soc. About Lysias, whom we censured, and his art of writing, and his discourses, and the rhetorical skill or want of skill which was shown in them-these are the questions which we sought to determine, and they brought us to this point. And I think that we are now pretty well informed about the nature of art and its opposite.

Phaedr. Yes, I think with you; but I wish that you would repeat what was said.

Soc. Until a man knows the truth of the several particulars of which he is writing or speaking, and is able to define them as they are, and having defined them again to divide them until they can be no longer divided, and until in like manner he is able to discern the nature of the soul, and discover the different modes of discourse which are adapted to different natures, and to arrange and dispose them in such a way that the simple form of speech may be addressed to the simpler nature, and the complex and composite to the more complex nature-until he has accomplished all this, he will be unable to handle arguments according to rules of art, as far as their nature allows them to be subjected to art, either for the purpose of teaching or persuading;-such is the view which is implied in the whole preceding argument.

Phaedr. Yes, that was our view, certainly.

Soc. Secondly, as to the censure which was passed on the speaking or writing of discourses, and how they might be rightly or wrongly censured-did not our previous argument show?-

Phaedr. Show what?

Soc. That whether Lysias or any other writer that ever was or will be, whether private man or statesman, proposes laws and so becomes the author of a political treatise, fancying that there is any great certainty and clearness in his performance, the fact of his so writing is only a disgrace to him, whatever men may say. For not to know the nature of justice and injustice, and good and evil, and not to be able to distinguish the dream from the reality, cannot in truth be otherwise than disgraceful to him, even though he have the applause of the whole world.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. But he who thinks that in the written word there is necessarily much which is not serious, and that neither poetry nor prose, spoken or written, is of any great value, if, like the compositions of the rhapsodes, they are only recited in order to be believed, and not with any view to criticism or instruction; and who thinks that even the best of writings are but a reminiscence of what we know, and that only in principles of justice and goodness and nobility taught and communicated orally for the sake of instruction and graven in the soul, which is the true way of writing, is there clearness and perfection and seriousness, and that such principles are a man’s own and his legitimate offspring;-being, in the first place, the word which he finds in his own bosom; secondly, the brethren and descendants and relations of his others;-and who cares for them and no others-this is the right sort of man; and you and I, Phaedrus, would pray that we may become like him.

Phaedr. That is most assuredly my desire and prayer.

Soc. And now the play is played out; and of rhetoric enough. Go and tell Lysias that to the fountain and school of the Nymphs we went down, and were bidden by them to convey a message to him and to other composers of speeches-to Homer and other writers of poems, whether set to music or not; and to Solon and others who have composed writings in the form of political discourses which they would term laws-to all of them we are to say that if their compositions are based on knowledge of the truth, and they can defend or prove them, when they are put to the test, by spoken arguments, which leave their writings poor in comparison of them, then they are to be called, not only poets, orators, legislators, but are worthy of a higher name, befitting the serious pursuit of their life.

Phaedr. What name would you assign to them?

Soc. Wise, I may not call them; for that is a great name which belongs to God alone,-lovers of wisdom or philosophers is their modest and befitting title.

Phaedr. Very suitable.

Soc. And he who cannot rise above his own compilations and compositions, which he has been long patching, and piecing, adding some and taking away some, may be justly called poet or speech-maker or law-maker.

Phaedr. Certainly.

Soc. Now go and tell this to your companion.

Phaedr. But there is also a friend of yours who ought not to be forgotten.

Soc. Who is he?

Phaedr. Isocrates the fair:-What message will you send to him, and how shall we describe him?

Soc.Isocrates is still young, Phaedrus; but I am willing to hazard a prophecy concerning him.

Phaedr. What would you prophesy?

Soc. I think that he has a genius which soars above the orations of Lysias, and that his character is cast in a finer mould. My impression of him is that he will marvelously improve as he grows older, and that all former rhetoricians will be as children in comparison of him. And I believe that he will not be satisfied with rhetoric, but that there is in him a divine inspiration which will lead him to things higher still. For he has an element of philosophy in his nature. This is the message of the gods dwelling in this place, and which I will myself deliver to Isocrates, who is my delight; and do you give the other to Lysias, who is yours.

Phaedr. I will; and now as the heat is abated let us depart.

Soc. Should we not offer up a prayer first of all to the local deities? By all means.

Soc. Beloved Pan, and all ye other gods who haunt this place, give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one. May I reckon the wise to be the wealthy, and may I have such a quantity of gold as a temperate man and he only can bear and carry.-Anything more? The prayer, I think, is enough for me.

Phaedr. Ask the same for me, for friends should have all things in common.

Soc. Let us go.

Random Reflections

Modes of Expression:

Hard/ complete: Georg Cantor- Continuum hypothesis: Embodies rationalist/ modernist/ analytic movement

Soft/ incomplete: Godel- Incompleteness Theorem: Embodies relativist/ postmodern/ creative movement

Synthetic: Hegel/ James- Dialectics/ Pragmatism: Synthesizes these two perspectives for subjective ends according to their utility to solve and achieve dilemma/ inquiry

All modern studies and disciplines, being defined by prescribed rules and expectations, are limited in their ability and scope, and will be inhibited in adequately addressing novel problems.

In addition, Hegel, and Neils Bohr, saw necessity in taking counterfactuals or contradicting ideas, and holding them together in the mind, suspending their rigidity, dissolving boundaries, and creatively synthesizing their properties into a single, third, idea that is able to satisfy the initial counter-facts.

Relativist attitudes: revolution, creation, destabilization, individuality, synthesis, deconstruction.

Will to power- those who master language are the masters. Masters of language- more specifically, masters of delineation, or description- are the creator of causes.

Those who possess language, and the ability to manipulate language- proliferate perspectives and justify actions for everyone else.

To not have language, to not have education, is to be dispossessed, to be dominated. He who develops language, specifically his own language- be it borrowing from others or creating neologisms- can manipulate and dominate. Nietzsche understood this: the jews were masters of language- specializing in the oral and written tradition of the torah- owned and mastered language and eventually used this strength to manipulate the language of their ‘masters’ or the ‘gentiles’ by inverting their values of their language to subversively overpower and dominate them—see the New Testament, or Christ’s message.

The use of existing language can be used to justify by assimilating it into a final vocabulary by removing it from its original context. Decontextualizing is the ability of the pragmatic and creative types: they use existing language (tools), to manipulate and justify a unique (individual) end/ intention (action). Derrida attempts to capture the gestures of decontextualization. He seeks to pervert the internal semantic structure of words and language in order to recontextualize words, or leave them totally suspended in semantic ambiguity.

The reason manipulation can occur is that terms/ facts/ meanings are formed within a ‘present’ context. When the word is borrowed at a later time, it is referring to a previous/ past context, yet its use is always in the present. No two perspectives are alike, for all are subjective and indexed to individual/ unique direct experiences and the prevailing ideology of the context/ culture mutually shared by your social peers.

Language is social. Perspectives, thoughts, are formed to due direct experience, i.e. senses, impressions, experimentation, and ideologies, i.e. the semantic code and historically rooted structure contained in the language maintained by peers.

Perspective takes direct subjective experience and indexes it to the inherently ideological lanugae of yoru social peers. In this way subjective experience (individual consciousness) is censored by language. Likewise, language is compromised by ‘misusing’ semantics (metaphors, metonymies) and ‘decontextualizing’ it from its prevailing paradigmatic ideology.  Rorty alludes to this practice when he refers to the accumulating and building of “final vocabularies”.

The ability to use language is the ability to control the mind. Religion once controlled all language, and priests were the arbiters of its meaning—the interpretation of the bible, gods word, his divine will. This allowed the priests and prophets to govern the thoughts, and therefore actions, of their people.

The world tells us—leads us to believe—that language captures facts and truths. This is a form of ‘natural’ domination. ‘Natural’ in that man lives and persists through the “will to power” which enables them to thrive (dominate) in society by leveraging the minds of other men. This “will to believe” is uniquely distinct from other animals in that animals do not leverage the minds or ‘intentions’ or other animals. Instead they possess a “will to survive” which manifests through killing (predators) or compromise (prey).

Pragmatism recognizes the utility of using language—its conventions, rituals, customs, traditions, and accepted practices semantically assumed it contains – and uses it to justify intentions (ends/ actions). Continue reading “Random Reflections”

Language as Human Activity & Impression Preservation

Regarding the social nature of man, a realistic or productive theory of language cannot be developed that doesn’t include human interaction. Any such theory rests on private language arguments where, even if a code were developed within the mind, it is by nature inaccessible to any other mind and therefore indecipherable.  With regards to memory, the reason language helps aid in recall is because of the iterability of signs. The continual convergence of passing theories gives rise to normative linguistic practices as a result of learned conditioning. The repeatability of a word allows for a reliability of an expected usage to emerge and a convention to persist that provides words with their semantic force during a conversation. The conditioning of language is no different than any other form of conditioning. By performing an action and monitoring a reaction we become conditioned to a predictable sense of the relationship between the two. It doesn’t seem that a private language would necessarily develop as a corollary.

In fact, I’d almost say that memories (the ability to recall past impressions that results from conditioning or habituation) can be just as harmful as they are helpful. If the repeatability of words is the conditioning force that anchors meaning into the memory, and if we think in words, then these words can seriously distort a clear perception of reality. If our operating system, our belief system behind our world view, is inured with meaning constructed from words and thoughts conditioned from the past, then we are left with a clouded perception of the present. We exist within a world representative of the distorted figments of past impressions that do not represent a lucid state of being possessed in the now. Our inner world manifests an illusory outer world through a bundle of habits perpetuating memories of fictional meaning that pull the mind into the oblivious past. The memories constructed from our language possess the pervading ideology that manifests as our identity through every psychological and physiological action.

Does Language Exist?

To say that there is no such thing as language would be to say there is no such thing as a theory of meaning. This equivocation becomes confusing when trying to establish semantic or foundational theories of meaning that rely on the use of propositional attitudes or cultural identities.

Davidson makes very compelling arguments for why the ordinary notion of language- “the ability to converge on a passing theory from time to time”- should be abandoned. While I am apt to agree with his conclusion, he fails to fully account for the role that socialization plays, what Wittgenstein refers to as enculturation and Bourdieu refers to as censoring, in shaping a learners beliefs and reducing indeterminacy to contextually determinate linguistic practices.

While Davidson rejects the building block theory, the seeming core of Wittgenstein’s language game theory, they both agree that human action is the starting point for any linguistic theory discussion. For Davidson, words are meaningless unless they occur within a sentence, just as sentences are meaningless unless they occur within a context of some purpose or aim: the semantic content is rendered radically indeterminate without a context. As a corollary, one sees that sentences are meaningless unless they communicate a set of propositional attitudes that harmonize with the interlocutor’s beliefs about the action or aim, beliefs tightly bound to purpose or aims unique to the community of the interlocutor. The purpose or aims directly reflect the social and environmental demands that the community works to resolve through cooperative human activity, as Wittgenstein illustrates with the enculturation of language games. Each ‘language’ contains the propositional attitudes associated with this human activity. The defining characteristic of a language then is the evolving social and environmental demands manifesting as a shared intentionality which take form as common propositional attitudes or beliefs that become embedded into the language and words.

Language[1] then can be defined as a manner of speech which functions as a device of exchange ‘to make common’. It can be concluded that Davidson’s passing theory, similar to Wittgenstein’s language game theory, is simply the origin of language formation as a result of converging on an aim or purpose through a shared intentionality which gives rise to propositional attitudes. Mastering the art of interpretation requires the ability to converge on a common aim or purpose by successfully cognizing the demands or shared intentions of the interlocutor.

Does language exist? So long as common demands exist among interlocutor, then a convergence of purpose or aims, as facilitated through Davidson’s principle of charity, can be achieved as shared intentionality. The result is a commonality among the interlocutors that provides ground for future cooperative exchanges. The repeatability of practices gives way to customary norms and standard conventions that provides communicative exchanges with a contextual determinacy that aid in facilitating the translation of intentionality and successfully addressing shared purpose or aims.

Many philosophers have presented objections directly against Davidson’s claim against the existence of language. One difference argues a fundamental difference between translation and understanding that stresses the divide between the hearer’s stance and the detached perspective of the observer. Social objections include Putnam’s linguistic division of labor between experts for articulating semantic domains, questions of national and cultural identity that possess certain linguistic struggles and linguistic rights, the social costs emphasized by Bourdieu for departing from linguistic norms, and the reality of unintended meanings occurring within social contexts.

On a linguistic level, language, dialect and idiolect reflect the nuanced conventions of a community specific to the human activity contained in each of their unique purposes and aims. The development of a distinct language is the manifestation of enculturated conventions on a macrocosmic scale according to the social and environmental demands, while a dialect mirrors a more narrow deviation from this enculturation corresponding to more regional variations in demands, and idiolect even narrower still.

To assert the importance of one linguistic level over another would effectively overlook the function of language as a medium for facilitating the cooperation of human activity toward shared purposes and aims. Each level elucidates a degree of enculturation that distinctly comprises the purposes and aims of a family, community, and/or nation. A system of linguistic practices always develops as a result of the convergence of shared intentions between two or more persons addressing a common purpose or aim interactionally. However, as the demands change, so to do the purposes and aims as individuals arrive at new shared intentions. As a result, conversational exchanges become chained together as preexisting linguistic practices are inherited through the traditional conventions and customary norms embedded and passed on through the language as residue of antiquated conventions and outdated practices of the past

The consequence for individuals born into a preexisting language systems are the subtle ideological influences within in the language that contain inconspicuous propositional attitudes that shape an individual’s ideology and identity. While individuals can develop new linguistic practices by identifying demands and form shared intentions, they are constrained, insofar as they have been enculturated by institutional practices and habituated by ideologies inherited from the language. In this way language solidarity is achieved that supports a homogeneity among a populous which affords a more singular consensus and more unified propositional attitudes. The result is an integrated linguistic community that allows for greater ease in communicating purposes among people with demands that would be typically varied within a widespread population. As Bourdieu argues, this integration of a linguistic community is a condition for the establishment of relations of linguistic domination.

However, so long as an individual fails to recognize the inherited practices and ideologies of their language, and fails to embrace their ability to identify personal demands and purposes, they are bound to the conceptual scheme inherent to the language, for better or worse, and blind to see beyond its capacity for addressing possibilities and coining new meaning outside the language.

I can only conclude then that the idiolect, the variety of language created and instantiated by an individual, is the most important linguistic level of communication. Only at the idiolect level does an individual possess a role in the creation of a language that is relevant and meaningful according to their personal purpose and aims.

Davidson’s analysis of language is conducted on a metaphysical level by investigating the origin of language formation from an idyllic perspective void from any influence of enculturation. His work did a great deal to elucidate how language can arise between individuals, but failed to make a significant contribution to the discussion of how socialization affects the development of language. For Davidson, insofar as language was neither systematic, containing definable properties and rules, nor shared, as an agreed method, language was non-existent. In his essay A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs he argued that any prior theory of language was weak and insufficient describing the interpretation of meaning and that passing theory could not be reduced to methods. He concluded that if language was “the ability to converge on a passing theory from time to time” as a result of wit, luck or wisdom and not because of any regularity, we have simply “erased the boundary between knowing a language and knowing our way around the world generally.” Language is an intersubjective pragmatic process that develops between two individuals.

Bourdieu focused on this intersubjective relationship and delineated the way in which symbols such as language shape ideologies and creates class stratifications within a society.  According to Bourdieu, language possesses a symbolic power that maintains value as linguistic capital which is exchanged within linguistic markets as well as among overlapping linguistic markets that are politically and socially defined by lifestyles. An individual’s language makes him apart of a normative group, whoever or whatever that represents; it is not a communal tool available and equal to all. The consolidation of linguistic communities into official language is a means of domination by reinforcing the authority of it’s authors. This consolidation is achieved through instituting social apparatuses such as formal education and the creation of dictionaries as a means of creating a standard tongue within the nation. These institutions infiltrate the ideological apparatuses and reinforce prescribed ideologies through conditioning the habitus, an embodied way of responding to symbols or language, which dispossesses an individuals of their natural language and facilitates the loss of identity through instructed censorship that eventually develops into internalized self-censorship. This unification creates homogenous economic and cultural values which allows for the greater ease of governing.

Much like Bourdieu, Anzaldua discusses the function of language in identity formation and discusses the dispossession that occurs during censorship. In her books Borderlands, Anzaldua describes living on the fringes between two languages and hybridization that occur between the two languages. Much like Bourdieu’s notion of a linguistic market and their ideology, the Chicana hybrid between overlapping linguistic communities that developed out of necessity for a distinct identity. This identity serves as a reflection of the unique community situated at the borders and obscured by two dominating languages. Davidson would agree that the formation of the Chicana language is a special kind of creativity borne out of the unique shared intentions of the people. Anzaldua argues “I am my language” and that language is inseparable from identity and that to citizen someone for being poor in language is to criticize their value as a human being.

The tensions and struggles between languages is really a struggle for power. As language is born out of the shared intentions of a people, it begs the question of what these intentions seek to accomplish and who they serve. Language is a reflection of a communities identity, a way of life embedded with beliefs and ideologies. A break in language can lead to a devastating divide in the ideology of a people and the destabilization of a nation and government.

When Nietzsche proclaimed “God is Dead,” he essentially prophesized the break from religion that emphasized the supreme authority of a singular text and the ideology it possessed. The break from religions authority on language destabilized the notions of a singular truth and an ultimate meaning which led to the proliferation of existential freedom that challenged antiquated norms and created new perspectives for examining what it means to be.


[1] ‘Language’ is derived from the L. lingua meaning ‘tongue’.‘Communication’ is derived from the L. communicare meaning ‘to share, divide out; impart, inform, joine, unite, participate in” from communis meaning “to make common”.

Thoughts on Language, Meaning, Existence

Lots of random thoughts.
Lately I’ve been having epiphanies regarding meaning and life and other such things.

I’ll write this out more later, but it revolves around language. The philosophy of language totally blew my mind about the way I was conceiving and approaching life’s questions.

“Language is the house of being, which is propriated by being and pervaded by being” -Heidegger

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world” – Wittgenstein

When asking questions and reflecting on life, I try my best not to over intellectualize, but remain in a realm of pragmatism that mediates between an empirical realism and a rationalism. What does this mean? What do I mean?

One will never know. Not even I. At every moment I possess an intention, a disposed state of being, an expression of my consciousness. Every gesture emanating from this state communicates the intention of my being; a direct reflection indicating the disposition of my state of consciousness. A gesture is a declaration of my being. Evidence of my living existence.This intention is lost upon translation. I rely on the standardization of linguistic conventions to communicate the message for me, but the message becomes something that is not my own. Instead it is high jacked by these conventions.

So Language….

Language is a game created to deal with demands. Language occurs on a social level. Without social interaction language would be useless. Why would be need to communicate with ourselves? What immediate purpose in our survival would that serve?

At the core of language is human activity; indeed, language is an activity and the formation of a language occurs as a result of activity. Central to this activity is a purpose or aim. Any activity without a purpose or aim is meaningless or, in other words, crazy. Each person possesses an intention. This intention is characterized by the purpose or aim of the task.

Without language, the very notion of truth and falsity would cease to exist. There would be no word for truth, no question for arriving at truth. There would only be the now which commands no verifiability from ourselves. Indeed, how could we ever conceive of a perspective outside our own?

Truth is a product of language that resulted from agreeing on what is. Language was created as a means for beings to share intentions; a way for converging on agreements regarding a purpose or aims. How do these purposes arise? As a means to satisfy external demands.

Just as any other form of life, people innately possess a necessity for self-preservation. This self-preservation fundamentally requires that a homeostatic equilibrium state is maintained between the inner organism and the outer environment. As the environment changes, so too do the demands on the organism.  Changes in the environment disrupt this equilibrium by shifting the demands placed on the organism. This requires the individual to take corrective action to restabilize the balance.

When demands are place on us, we address these demands. As social creatures, we share many of the same demands with other people. When demands are placed on two people, we bear the same taxing demands. Instead of dealing with the demands individually, we collaborate in order to address the demands mutually. In order to collaborate, there must be a charitable trust with the other. This charity must facilitate a rational accommodation on behalf of the other person so that a maximal agreement can be reached. This agreement, this convergence of intention, is the origin of meaning.

The rise of language is a result of our ability to form a passing theory or mutual agreement of terms.  Theoretically, this passing theory is ad hoc between two individuals. While a passing theory can develop and does develop between individuals all the time, there is most always a context that contains a prior theory of language .  The formation of a passing theory between two individuals is more of less a language game that allows for the convergence of multiple intentions.

A language is formed through a language game where individuals expresses their intention through gestures which are then repeated and performed back and forth until expectations are formed. These expectations are expressions of intention that become imbued with a symbolic power. In other words, the repeatability of our intentions gives a symbolic power to the expression.

What is a symbol? It represents something. What gives a symbol power or force? Its iterability as a function of utility and purpose. The repeatability ossifies into a dependable agreement.

Language comes loaded with a history of past intentions. These intentions reflect the greater web of ideologies and beliefs that characterized the struggles of our ancestors. By its nature it contains the residue of a peoples past purposes and aims.

Is my language my own? No. It is inherited. The more I develop personal and relevant purposes and aims for my life, the sooner I can possess a language that works for me.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

It’s curious to read these passages. Language possesses ideologies and beliefs. Religion solidifies beliefs by offering one language, one text. This creates a cohesiveness that extends beyond borders and time. Simultaneously, the texts rigidity as a sovereign text inhibits the progress and development of new language and new demands. A single text and the single ideology constrains the development of new language and new ideologies that would better suit changing social and environmental demands.

By rejecting the notion of God and religion, one destabilizes the unified perspective regarding the notion of a supreme universal meaning. This fragments the populous into a less cohesive whole. Nietzsche prophetically declared “God is dead.” to signify the end of the sovereign grip that religion maintained on the hearts and minds of men for so long.

With the limits of language no long constrained to the ideologies of a single authoritative text, an entirely new existential freedom is borne. Individuals no longer find ultimate meaning and truth by relying on historical texts and outdated ideologies.  Instead, they create their own meaning and search for truths that resonate with the whims of their will.  Existential freedom offers unlimited possibilities of being.

As you can imagine, the infinite possibility also reveals the arbitrary and trivial nature of being. The result is an existential angst that opens the door of nihilistic thought where nothing is meaningful.

Every language community  is distinctly unique according to the external demands placed on that community. These external demands socially and environmentally rooted according to past social norms as well as the variety of changes occurring in nature and the environment.

It is helpful to think of language existing on three central linguistic levels: language, dialect, and idiolect. A language is a macrocosmic representation of the norms and ideologies of a peoples unique social and environmental demands occurring over a widespread geography.Dialect represents the more regional nuances of these demands. Idiolect representsthe variety of language, norms and ideologies unique to an individual. Language formation occurs top down through the censorship of an individual’s habitus through ideological apparatuses such as family, school, work, and peers. The censorship occurs as these external ideological apparatuses condition the habitus through instruction. This censorship is slowly internalized by the individual and soon becomes self-censorship. Language formation also occurs bottom up through by developing an idiolect that represents the personal idiosyncrasies of an individual.

Any consolidation of language into a formal standardized system of definitions and standards is direct linguistic domination of authority by the authors. This linguistic domination dispossesses people of their language through censorship.

Because language arises from the convergence of passing theories, or the agreement of individuals at a local level, an individuals identity is tightly tied to their language and the language of the community. Demanding the standardization of a language encourages the censorship of humans by dispossesses people of a language that reflects their struggles, purposes, and aims. This robs humans of their identity. An attack on a language is an attack on person.

So I was thinking of journaling and writing. Journaling allows the human to develop their individual voice. Writing beckons the spirit of the inner will. It allows a person to exercise a language personal to them without the censorship of others.

Even in conversation our ability to speak and use language limited according to the understandings of our interlocutors. We mediate our words and language according to the interlocutor’s willingness to reach an agreement, that is, the willingness to exercise the principle of charity, or rational accommodation, and converge on an agreement of meaning. If they are not open, we must accommodate to them, which censors our ability to voice our intention and capture the meaning that arises.

Any creative and novel activity will develop the ability to declare your true being. Any subscription to customs, traditions, norms, conventions, or authoritative systems will constrain potential possibilities to be, for better or worse.

I am not against ideologies. What needs to be constantly considered is the limitations of that ideology. Does the ideology permit the possibility of a solution? The best solution? It may turn out that the ideology forces us into a type of thinking where there is no solution or answer. For example, when seeking escape from an unlocked room, forever toying with the various possibilities of pushing the door open, but never considering pulling as an option.

Anyway… I have a 10 page paper to write. I’ve been losing my mind a bit lately. Falling back into that existential angst that constantly smothers me nauseas with life’s arbitrary incentives.

Sagacity

Contemplation. What good is aimless thought? Does it sharpen? Does it build? What purpose or function does it serve? How do I know what I think if I can’t see what I say? Why wait for the day of judgment to see what I really think about matters? Most people keep it in. They are unknown to themselves. What do people think about in their free time? I think about too much. Far too much. Everything and anything. Mostly the abstract. I often find myself wrestling to reconcile certain paradoxes, or trying to merge dissimilar ideas into an attractive whole.

I am usually not present. I try, I try desperately to be present. I recognize that being present is happiness. Being present with the moment is being eternal. Eternity isn’t bound by feeble notions concerning infinite temporal duration. Eternity is beyond time, open to ultimate possibility, residing in some place of timelessness. Those who seek eternal life must look no farther than the present. The present is our eternal life.

The present. What is the present? This moment. Now. It is a phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that is all encompassing. Nothing escapes the now. In all of time and space, no matter how respective one point from another, there is an eternal inescapable now. We cannot escape its grip. Physically, we cannot escape the now. Nothing can. What about psychologically? Can we mentally escape the now? How would this be possible?

The now is defined by sensations- sense data and impressions- registered from the external environment. Can we escape these sensations? Can we recreate sensations and alter our consciousness so that we find ourselves attending to sensations that are not present? Surely. Any recall provides this mental escape. Memories allow us to revisit mental states. They recreate the sensations within us and allow us to inspect and judge their perceived nature according to what the present confirms.

When we imagine, or reflect, or think, I believe this is what we do.  Perhaps reason is as much of a vice as it is a gift? In that, it removes us from present demands and causes us to become preoccupied with demands that are distant and far removed from the now.

Perhaps this is why faith plays such an instrumental role in theology and religion? Living in the present requires a blind attendance to the now. It requires that we hold off judgement, criticism, analysis, and react to an intuition that embodies belief.

Belief forms the sum of man’s experience. It is the core of his being, a amalgam that wholly embodies actuality.

I was recently thinking about my life and what I want out of it. What is it that I want from life? Everything really. I wouldn’t mind money, fame, solitude, poverty, adventure- whatever. I could take it all, be it all, do it all.  I suppose I could be happy with anything really. I say that because it’s all too often that I find myself happy with nothing; the absurdity of life, the trivial nature of existence.  Life has no meaning as soon as one loses the illusion of being eternal. But how does one lose that illusion? Straying too far from the present, perhaps?

I spoke with my father and voiced my concern about continuing along with economics as a major. While the discipline fascinates me to no end, it doesn’t provide my curiosities enough stimulation. I would like to follow my passions on conviction alone. I don’t want desires transplanted from outside me as dictated from the world. I am my own master. My conclusions are my own.

So I was thinking of finishing up all my major requirements in Philosophy next semester and pursuing courses more liberally. I’d like to take some classes in English and writing, math and physics, possibly chemistry, history, anthropology, sociology and, why not, some more classes in economics. Sure I can take more philosophy classes, but as a philosopher, why stop with philosophy? Philosophy is concerned with truths, with facts and the paradigms where they reside. It is concerned with existence, meaning, and life. Any discipline of study will afford me the material to think more critically about life. Studying new disciplines will only add to my language, build my vocabulary, and allow me to think beyond my current capacity for thought.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Pursuing unfamiliar domains of thought and experience provides the unique opportunity for new acquaintances and carries me to a proximity in which I can more closely engage life in general.  Repeated exposure with any unknown soon renders a familiarity that becomes known to us. We learn the idiosyncrasies, coin meaning and expectations. New language expands my world, my conception of life, my understanding of existence.

Introspection. More introspection. What is introspection? A self-examination? Personal reflection? A mediation?  –spect comes from L. spectrum “appearance, vision, apparition.Intro- comes from L. intro “on the inside, within, to the inside.”

Introspection: 1670s, from L. introspectionem, from introspectus, pp. of introspicere “to look into, look at,” from intro- “inward” + specere “to look at” (see scope (1)).

The relative nature of our world fascinates me, particularly words. We treat them as these definite building blocks and act as if they maintain a univocity. The reality is that all language, all words that comprise language, has been past down and inherited by each successive generation throughout the ages.

We rely on a semantic content that is fixed, previously agreed upon and assigned. If it were not, communication would be near impossible. The fixed semantic content we attribute to words is not inherent, rather it is borne out of normative conventions that allow for a smooth exchange of understanding.

When I write it becomes much more evident of the relative nature of words. If I understand the content of a word in which someone else lacks there will be a gap in communication. Metaphors fill this gap. Metaphors. That’s another interesting phonomenon I’d like to study in more depth. Metaphors. Hot is red. Cold is blue. Why do these seem so intuitive? We describe certain people as being ‘radiant’. Of course they don’t shine or glow, but we associate nongermane concepts to things such as personality that illustrate the particular semantics of our expressive language. Is it true or false that a person is radiant? Or that someone is blue? Nietzsche captured the relative nature of language and the misguided assumptions of their truth and falsity in this passage with beautiful simplicity:

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, in On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

As per usual, I have been giving quite a bit of thought to relativity. The relativity of life, meaning, purpose, language and the like.  Freedom as well.

If we wish to go beyond, to expand our minds and our worlds, we need to reexamine not just what language we use, but how we use it. Just as we cannot apply the same tool for every task, we cannot apply the same language for every problem. As Abraham Maslow said, “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”

We must actively question which language tools we are apply to certain matters and situations. The unknown and unfamiliar, or anything that leaves us feeling disoriented or ‘wrong’, should never deter us from exploring the limits of our current conceptions. Learning and growth is a result of continual revision and adoption.

So long as man feigns the familiar, he will be forever trapped. If it does not occur to us to pull rather than push, we will be endlessly imprisoned in unlocked rooms that open inward. Life is open for all; seek the way with astute self reliance and courageous humility.

Anyway… need to continue writing that novel.

Sagacity

Contemplation. What good is aimless thought? Does it sharpen? Does it build? What purpose or function does it serve? How do I know what I think if I can’t see what I say? Why wait for the day of judgment to see what I really think about matters? Most people keep it in. They are unknown to themselves. What do people think about in their free time? I think about too much. Far too much. Everything and anything. Mostly the abstract. I often find myself wrestling to reconcile certain paradoxes, or trying to merge dissimilar ideas into an attractive whole.

I am usually not present. I try, I try desperately to be present. I recognize that being present is happiness. Being present with the moment is being eternal. Eternity isn’t bound by feeble notions concerning infinite temporal duration. Eternity is beyond time, open to ultimate possibility, residing in some place of timelessness. Those who seek eternal life must look no farther than the present. The present is our eternal life.

The present. What is the present? This moment. Now. It is a phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that is all encompassing. Nothing escapes the now. In all of time and space, no matter how respective one point from another, there is an eternal inescapable now. We cannot escape its grip. Physically, we cannot escape the now. Nothing can. What about psychologically? Can we mentally escape the now? How would this be possible?

The now is defined by sensations- sense data and impressions- registered from the external environment. Can we escape these sensations? Can we recreate sensations and alter our consciousness so that we find ourselves attending to sensations that are not present? Surely. Any recall provides this mental escape. Memories allow us to revisit mental states. They recreate the sensations within us and allow us to inspect and judge their perceived nature according to what the present confirms.

When we imagine, or reflect, or think, I believe this is what we do.  Perhaps reason is as much of a vice as it is a gift? In that, it removes us from present demands and causes us to become preoccupied with demands that are distant and far removed from the now.

Perhaps this is why faith plays such an instrumental role in theology and religion? Living in the present requires a blind attendance to the now. It requires that we hold off judgement, criticism, analysis, and react to an intuition that embodies belief.

Belief forms the sum of man’s experience. It is the core of his being, a amalgam that wholly embodies actuality.

I was recently thinking about my life and what I want out of it. What is it that I want from life? Everything really. I wouldn’t mind money, fame, solitude, poverty, adventure- whatever. I could take it all, be it all, do it all.  I suppose I could be happy with anything really. I say that because it’s all too often that I find myself happy with nothing; the absurdity of life, the trivial nature of existence.  Life has no meaning as soon as one loses the illusion of being eternal. But how does one lose that illusion? Straying too far from the present, perhaps?

I spoke with my father and voiced my concern about continuing along with economics as a major. While the discipline fascinates me to no end, it doesn’t provide my curiosities enough stimulation. I would like to follow my passions on conviction alone. I don’t want desires transplanted from outside me as dictated from the world. I am my own master. My conclusions are my own.

So I was thinking of finishing up all my major requirements in Philosophy next semester and pursuing courses more liberally. I’d like to take some classes in English and writing, math and physics, possibly chemistry, history, anthropology, sociology and, why not, some more classes in economics. Sure I can take more philosophy classes, but as a philosopher, why stop with philosophy? Philosophy is concerned with truths, with facts and the paradigms where they reside. It is concerned with existence, meaning, and life. Any discipline of study will afford me the material to think more critically about life. Studying new disciplines will only add to my language, build my vocabulary, and allow me to think beyond my current capacity for thought.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein

Pursuing unfamiliar domains of thought and experience provides the unique opportunity for new acquaintances and carries me to a proximity in which I can more closely engage life in general.  Repeated exposure with any unknown soon renders a familiarity that becomes known to us. We learn the idiosyncrasies, coin meaning and expectations. New language expands my world, my conception of life, my understanding of existence.

Introspection. More introspection. What is introspection? A self-examination? Personal reflection? A mediation?  –spect comes from L. spectrum “appearance, vision, apparition.Intro- comes from L. intro “on the inside, within, to the inside.”

Introspection: 1670s, from L. introspectionem, from introspectus, pp. of introspicere “to look into, look at,” from intro- “inward” + specere “to look at” (see scope (1)).

The relative nature of our world fascinates me, particularly words. We treat them as these definite building blocks and act as if they maintain a univocity. The reality is that all language, all words that comprise language, has been past down and inherited by each successive generation throughout the ages.

We rely on a semantic content that is fixed, previously agreed upon and assigned. If it were not, communication would be near impossible. The fixed semantic content we attribute to words is not inherent, rather it is borne out of normative conventions that allow for a smooth exchange of understanding.

When I write it becomes much more evident of the relative nature of words. If I understand the content of a word in which someone else lacks there will be a gap in communication. Metaphors fill this gap. Metaphors. That’s another interesting phonomenon I’d like to study in more depth. Metaphors. Hot is red. Cold is blue. Why do these seem so intuitive? We describe certain people as being ‘radiant’. Of course they don’t shine or glow, but we associate nongermane concepts to things such as personality that illustrate the particular semantics of our expressive language. Is it true or false that a person is radiant? Or that someone is blue? Nietzsche captured the relative nature of language and the misguided assumptions of their truth and falsity in this passage with beautiful simplicity:

What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding. Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.

-Friedrich Nietzsche, in On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

As per usual, I have been giving quite a bit of thought to relativity. The relativity of life, meaning, purpose, language and the like.  Freedom as well.

If we wish to go beyond, to expand our minds and our worlds, we need to reexamine not just what language we use, but how we use it. Just as we cannot apply the same tool for every task, we cannot apply the same language for every problem. As Abraham Maslow said, “To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”

We must actively question which language tools we are apply to certain matters and situations. The unknown and unfamiliar, or anything that leaves us feeling disoriented or ‘wrong’, should never deter us from exploring the limits of our current conceptions. Learning and growth is a result of continual revision and adoption.

So long as man feigns the familiar, he will be forever trapped. If it does not occur to us to pull rather than push, we will be endlessly imprisoned in unlocked rooms that open inward. Life is open for all; seek the way with astute self reliance and courageous humility.

Anyway… need to continue writing that novel.

Social Mobility: Language, Influence, Power

You said it, my good knight! There ought to be laws to
protect the body of acquired knowledge.
Take one of our good pupils, for example: modest
and diligent, from his earliest grammar classes he’s
kept a little notebook full of phrases.
After hanging on the lips of his teachers for twenty
years, he’s managed to build up an intellectual stock in
trade; doesn’t it belong to him as if it were a house, or
money?
Paul Claudel, Le soulier de satin, Day III, Scene ii

Communication. I can’t stop thinking about communication. It’s everywhere. You can’t help it. You are conditioned to adopt certain norms and customs. The interpellation that causes identity formation through subjectification/ submission to authority.

Pierre Bourdieu described the habitus of language. Habits form our character- our ideological world view, our identity as a subject. Using language makes you apart of a normative group- whoever and whatever that represents.

We are creatures of habits. The habituation of ideologies shape the way we view the world. We embody habituated ways of using symbols through the environmental influences we were born or conditioned into. These habits elucidate the societal structures we find ourselves. Each societal structure contains distinct linguistic capital that defines a linguistic market or social group.  The linguistic capital we use has symbolic power or symbolic imposition. The greater linguistic capital a person possesses, the more mobile that person is within and between different linguistic markets. These habits that accrete linguistic capital are instrumental for the formation of identity.

The language and gestures that forms a person’s linguistic capital contains explicit or implicit symbolic power that are used to define the world.  The symbolic power of language takes the form of subliminal and non-verbal insinuations. Posture, eye contact, intonation, definitions, conventional phrases, and mannerisms all play a role in the insinuation of symbolic power.

The formation of a person’s identity arises from censorship. Ideological influences in society- family, religion, school- all facilitate this censorship. Eventually the external influences of censorship become internalized and act as self-censorship.

When we were young our parents molded our ideology by pruning our habits through assent or dissent. The process that habituates the internalization of censorship and forms the ideology that becomes our identity looks something like this:

As a child we may use the word ‘fat’ to describe someone who’s overweight, or ‘bitch’ to describe someone who’s mean. To show their disapproval of the ideology our parents initially rebuke us with a reproachful look and say “Michael, do not use that language.” In this was they are actively censoring the language that doesn’t fit into their conceptions of accepted ideology.  The next time we use that word our parents may need only say “Michael, language.” The next time only “Michael.” The next time only the reproachful look. The next time only their presence is needed to censor our language. Soon enough, as we become habituated and internalize this censorship as self-censorship,  nothing is needed to prompt our censorship.  A persons subjectivity is shaped first through language which gives rise to a subject or self.

This process habituates a complicit reaction to the symbolic domination taking place. The force of our language, the symbolic power within linguistic capital, imposes itself onto the world and others. It forms a persons identity through their subjectification. This subjectification is a result of the symbolic imposition characterizing the symbolic power of a linguistic capital.

The linguistic capital that composes a linguistic market is deemed a legitimate language. The formation of the legitimate language characterizing a linguistic market involves the consolidation of a language. This consolidation is the accumulation of distinct linguistic markers or signs that compromise the markets linguistic capital. The coalescing or consolidation of language into linguistic capital gives rise to a community. This community formation is the linguistic market in which the symbolic power and force of the linguistic capital is exchanged. In this way the community contributes to the process of forming particular individuals. This is the perpetuation of tradition, customs, trends, as a result of the communities ideological influence on the individual through censorship.

Censorship, in another name, is none other than the idea of ‘instruction’ or ‘discipline’. This occurs anytime an ideology is being imposed on an individual, be it a child, student, employee, citizen, and the like.

 

It is interesting to look at the implication of this paradigm.

When someone uses a language, or employs linguistic capital, falls outside our ideology or linguistic market, there is a misunderstanding or miscommunication, a conflict of ideologies.

The notion of ‘control’ characterizes our ‘identity’.  Our identity defines us, and we control our identity by endorsing ideologies that manifest through symbols (gestures, language, accessories that fill our life: clothes, house, and other tokens or bibelots). When someone interacts with us through a explicit, direct, conscious interpellation that conflicts with the ideology that forms our identity, there is a loss of control. This lack of control leaves one vulnerable.  These vulnerabilities are felt according to the past histories of an individual subject.

All this being said, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding this paradigm. It is life. You are shaped by your environment: family, society, education, peers. There is no way around it. You are born into a world with a space waiting for you. The moment there is knowledge that you wil be born you parents begin creating this space filled with expectations for the kind of person they wish you to be: boy or girl, smart, hardworking, handsome, polite. The extent that their ideology allows them to  understand exactly what these words or expectations mean is dictated by the linguistic capital within the linguistic market they are apart. Or, simply stated, the language they use is determined by the societal structure they willfully or unwillfully find themselves in. They censor you, discipline and instruct, according to the parameters of the symbolic force within the ideology of their language.

This emphasizes the subject-object relationship within ideologies. Louis Althusser describes interpellation as a psychological mechanism that causes a subject to react within a certain way despite their self recognized personal identity. The Ideological State Apparatus (ISA) is the willingness of subjects to conform to engagement. Althusser States in Ideology and the State:

The ideology of the ruling class does not become the ruling ideology, by the grace of God, nor even by virtue of the seizure of State power alone. It is by the installation of the ISAs in which ideology is realized and realizes itself that it becomes the ruling ideology.”

 

Leverage language. Leverage the symbolic power of linguistic capital, the semantic force of language. Leverage your identity in this way. Leverage your social mobility by being much more understanding of different ideologies and learning to adopt contrary or conflicting world views.

Do not let others impose their ideology on you. Seek to create an awareness of the influencing ideologies that shaped your current conception of self. Consider its limitations, its failures. Form a pure conception of self. While it is near impossible to escape the influences totally, you can be aware of an ideologies symbolic power and force that imposes itself on the world.

Do not be concerned with the ‘Things’ of the world. Be concerned with the ‘beliefs’ or ‘methods of interpellation’ that categorize and define the world. If you are concerned with the ‘things’ or the markers and symbols within the linguistic capital comprising your ideology, and not the underlying interpellation or beliefs, you run the risk of operating outside your ideology. This jeopardizes your control over identity and leaves you vulnerable. This lack of control, or vulnerability, leaves one resistant to agree or engage.

When engaging with people, look at their beliefs and talk, not in terms of the right or wrongness of their language and terms and definitions, but in terms of the ideology that has formed their conceptions of that language. Look at why they use the language they use and where the symbolic force of their language lies. Adopt their language and talk as if you operated from their ideology.

It is not about being right or wrong, it is about understanding. Leaders leverage a diverse array and large quantity of linguistic capital. This allows for incredible adaptivity, influence, and social mobility within social structures and groups- linguistic markets. They are the weak ties that bind solitary communities together.

Language is capital. It is as good as gold. Actually, it is much more valuable than gold. If you possess the right language, you can do and be anything.

Social Mobility: Language, Influence, Power

You said it, my good knight! There ought to be laws to
protect the body of acquired knowledge.
Take one of our good pupils, for example: modest
and diligent, from his earliest grammar classes he’s
kept a little notebook full of phrases.
After hanging on the lips of his teachers for twenty
years, he’s managed to build up an intellectual stock in
trade; doesn’t it belong to him as if it were a house, or
money?
Paul Claudel, Le soulier de satin, Day III, Scene ii

 

Communication. I can’t stop thinking about communication. It’s everywhere. You can’t help it. You are conditioned to adopt certain norms and customs. The interpellation that causes identity formation through subjectification and submission to authority. Bear with me while I get this all out. It might get a little cerebral.

Pierre Bourdieu described the habitus of language. Habits form our character, our ideological world view, our identity as a subject. Using language makes you apart of a normative group whoever and whatever that might represent.

We are creatures of habits. The habituation of ideologies shapes our view of the world. Through habituation we come to embody certain symbols that mark out our ideology as a result of the environmental influences we were born and conditioned into. These habits elucidate the societal structures we find ourselves belonging to. Each societal structure contains distinct linguistic capital that defines a linguistic market or social group.  The linguistic capital we use has symbolic power or symbolic imposition. The greater linguistic capital a person possesses, the more mobile that person is within and between different linguistic markets. The accretion of habits that form linguistic capital are instrumental for the formation of identity.

The language and gestures that forms a person’s linguistic capital contains explicit or implicit symbolic power that are used to define the world.  The symbolic power of language takes the form of subliminal and non-verbal insinuations. Posture, eye contact, intonation, definitions, conventional phrases, and mannerisms all play a role in the insinuation of symbolic power.

The formation of a person’s identity arises from censorship. Ideological influences in society- family, religion, school- all facilitate this censorship. Eventually the external influences of censorship become internalized and act as self-censorship.

When we were young our parents molded our ideology by pruning our habits through assent or dissent. The process that habituates the internalization of censorship and forms the ideology that becomes our identity looks something like this:

As a child we may use the word ‘fat’ to describe someone who’s overweight, or ‘bitch’ to describe someone who’s mean. To show their disapproval of the ideology our parents initially rebuke us with a reproachful look and say “Michael, do not use that language.” In this was they are actively censoring the language that doesn’t fit into their conceptions of accepted ideology.  The next time we use that word our parents may need only say “Michael, language.” The next time only “Michael.” The next time only the reproachful look. The next time only their presence is needed to censor our language. Soon enough, as we become habituated and internalize this censorship as self-censorship,  nothing is needed to prompt our censorship.  A persons subjectivity is shaped first through language which gives rise to a subject or self.

This process habituates a complicit reaction to the symbolic domination taking place. The force of our language, the symbolic power within linguistic capital, imposes itself onto the world and others. It forms a persons identity through their subjectification. This subjectification is a result of the symbolic imposition characterizing the symbolic power of a linguistic capital.

The linguistic capital that composes a linguistic market is deemed a legitimate language. The formation of the legitimate language characterizing a linguistic market involves the consolidation of a language. This consolidation is the accumulation of distinct linguistic markers or signs that compromise the markets linguistic capital. The coalescing or consolidation of language into linguistic capital gives rise to a community. This community formation is the linguistic market in which the symbolic power and force of the linguistic capital is exchanged. In this way the community contributes to the process of forming particular individuals. This is the perpetuation of tradition, customs, trends, as a result of the communities ideological influence on the individual through censorship.

Censorship, in another name, is none other than the idea of ‘instruction’ or ‘discipline’. This occurs anytime an ideology is being imposed on an individual, be it a child, student, employee, citizen, and the like.

This emphasizes the subject-object relationship within ideologies.

It is interesting to look at the implication of this paradigm.

When someone uses a language, or employs linguistic capital, that falls outside our ideology or linguistic market, there is a misunderstanding or miscommunication, a conflict of ideologies.

The notion of ‘control’ characterizes the stability of our ‘identity’.  Our identity defines us, and we control our identity by endorsing ideologies that manifest through symbols (gestures, language, accessories that fill our life: clothes, house, and other tokens or bibelots). When someone interacts with us through a explicit, direct, conscious interpellation that conflicts with the ideology that forms our identity, there is a loss of control. This lack of control leaves one vulnerable.  These vulnerabilities are felt according to the past histories of an individual subject.

All this being said, I want to emphasize the importance of understanding this paradigm. It is life. You are shaped by your environment: family, society, education, peers. There is no way around it. You are born into a world with a space waiting for you. The moment there is knowledge that you wil be born you parents begin creating this space filled with expectations for the kind of person they wish you to be: boy or girl, smart, hardworking, handsome, polite. The extent that their ideology allows them to  understand exactly what these words or expectations mean is dictated by the linguistic capital within the linguistic market they are apart. Or, simply stated, the language they use is determined by the societal structure they willfully or unwillfully find themselves in. They censor you, discipline and instruct, according to the parameters of the symbolic force within the ideology of their language.

Leverage language. Leverage the symbolic power of linguistic capital, the semantic force of language. Leverage your identity in this way. Leverage your social mobility by being much more understanding of different ideologies and learning to adopt contrary or conflicting world views.

Do not let others impose their ideology on you. Seek to create an awareness of the influencing ideologies that shaped your current conception of self. Consider its limitations, its failures. Form a pure conception of self. While it is near impossible to escape the influences totally, you can be aware of an ideologies symbolic power and force that imposes itself on the world.

Do not be concerned with the ‘Things’ of the world. Be concerned with the ‘beliefs’ or ‘methods of interpellation’ that categorize and define the world. If you are concerned with the ‘things’ or the markers and symbols within the linguistic capital comprising your ideology, and not the underlying interpellation or beliefs, you run the risk of operating outside your ideology. This jeopardizes the control over your identity and leaves you vulnerable. This lack of control, or vulnerability, leaves one resistant to agree or engage.

When engaging with people, look at their beliefs and talk, not in terms of the right or wrongness of their language and terms and definitions, but in terms of the ideology that has formed their conceptions of that language. Look at why they use the language they use and where the symbolic force of their language lies. Adopt their language and talk as if you operated from their ideology.

It is not about being right or wrong, it is about understanding. Leaders leverage a diverse array and large quantity of linguistic capital. This allows for incredible adaptivity, influence, and social mobility within social structures and groups- linguistic markets. They are the weak ties that bind solitary communities together.

Language is capital. It is as good as gold. Actually, it is much more valuable than gold. If you possess the right language, you can do and be anything.

Language and Influence

I’ve found that affinity is the ruling thumb for relations. If one has an affinity for something, or someone, he is much more apt to practice the principle of charity, or the principle of rational accommodation. These principles, simply stated, constrain us towards maximal agreement of the truth or rationality of our interlocutors sayings. When we have an affinity towards our interlocutor, we extend them the same ratiocination we attribute to ourselves. Many times, depending on the content and context, we are willing to extend complete maximal agreement and suspend our rationality altogether in favor of the interlocuters reasoning. While we do not lose our ability to reason altogether, we allow our past experiences to lose the legitimate foothold they once had on our reasoning. This exchange of reasoning leads one to substitute a quasi-faith, backed by new justifications, as the topical foundation of thought.

This affinity hinges on a number of personal and societal attributions, specifically: perceived authority, perceived utility, and reciprocal value.

When we behold the words of a perceived authority figure, their words have much greater weight, and the principle of charity is extended far more maximally towards their truth and rationality. Some examples of spoken titles that confer this authority in the mind include: Professor, Mister, Doctor, Sir, Father (Priest), Mother (Nun), President, His Majesty, etc. Similarly, written titles serve in the same capacity: Phd, MD, JD, MHS, CEO, Pres, etc.  Notice that each title specifies, directly or indirectly, their area of authority. Some being more narrow, while others more encompassing. Their area of authority prompts our willingness to extend the principle of charity, and accept their reasoning as rational and true.

In many situations societal conventions fail to provide recognizable markers that identify and designate widespread belief in this authority. In these cases reputations do the work to legitimize a person’s authority.

The utility of adopting an others reasoning, or propositional attitudes, is borne out of the necessity for self preservation. One assimilates conventions, standards, and semantics according to the utility they serve one’s ends or aims. Unless these aims and ends create wholly new demands for others, they are usually left dictated by the community

The perceived reciprocal value relates to utility, but in a much more internal capacity. Human relations serve not only to aid in the maintenance of an extrinsic state, but a person’s intrinsic state. This internal state regulates all other activity in our life and deals with matters of self-esteem and emotional well being. Reciprocal value is a shared mutuality that supplements the core of relations, such as good will and trustworthiness. Reciprocity’s facilitation of trust acts as a principle support for the formation of community. This community is necessary for the feeling of place.