Posts Tagged ‘linguistics’

A popular idolatry

February 8, 2013

Once upon a time, I noticed a huge bulge in the belly of Mary. I eventually realized that soon she was going to deliver a baby.

I was very excited. I decided to give her the royal treatment and put some extra blankets and fresh hay in her little shelter in the back yard.

Early the next morning, I heard Mary making quite a bit of noise and so I presumed that the child was finally being born. When I had some free time, I prepared to go out to the barn to conduct a ritual inspection of the offspring. I put on a fresh clean set of priestly robes and adorned myself with the sacred objects required for the ritual: a magic pen and a very special piece of paper from the local Ministry of Bureaucracy.

When I finally saw the creature, that is when I was really shocked. The baby had almost no hair, could not even walk, and seemed completely unable to read.

That’s when I realized that the child was not only illiterate, but had a severe case of incurable genetic baldness as well as congenital immobility. To top it all off, the newborn seemed extremely self-centered and narcissistic, like seriously constantly drawing attention to itself, right, so I wrote down in my little holy book of life this one final diagnostic label for the poor little bald thing: stage 4 of type B egoitis (an inflammation of self-esteem).

I tried to give the bad news to the mother, but Mary is very stubborn, like most other hairy little asses. So, of course she did not understand my words. Instead, I quietly filled out the prescription forms to order the medications to treat the various diseases of the little runt: chemotherapy to try to kill the baldness, then, to remove the congenital immobility, a minor surgery and a series of physical therapy sessions, and of course a 13-year sentence to public education programs to attempt to cure the illiteracy.

29 years later, I am pleased to report that we were successful in treating the incurable baldness and now Mary’s child is full grown with quite a bit of hair. So I consider it a great triumph of modern science that the creature no longer has baldness, though it still suffers from the following conditions: category 6 illiteracy, a much more moderate form of egoitis, still the full-blown inherited immobility, plus the inability to fly due to type 3 winglessness, as well as recurring paranoid pathogenetic hypochondria.

There is one last thing. The child was also briefly exposed to a herd suffering from contagious scurvy and nearly died after catching that disease. Fortunately, after several exorcism rituals with a licensed psychotherapist, the demonic possession by scurvy went in to remission.”

Now, I should note at this point that not all of the above story is entirely true. However, in the following 219 pages, I will attempt to clarify any slight inaccuracies and all mispresumptions.

I will begin with this question. What do you call a system for the directing of attention, perception, and behavior?

A) school

B) government

C) religion

D) culture

E) language

Whichever one you selected, you are absolutely right. Schools are systems for the directing of attention, perception and behavior. Governments are also systems for the directing of attention, perception, and behavior.

So are all of the rest, including the biological development called “language.” The word “language” is a linguistic label for any neurological program for interpreting sequences of symbolic sound codes.

However, language is not required for the directing of attention, perception, and behavior. Even without human language, all social animals communicate in some way with at least the other members of their species.

When a dog wags it’s tail, that can be a communication for directing attention, perception, and behavior. Same for when an infant smiles or when a bull stomps on the ground before charging.

So, even gestures are directive. However, mere symbolic gestures are not as complicated (or useful) as language can be.


A popular idolatry?

Consider that there are various systems for the directing of attention, perception, and behavior. One of them is modern medicine and it’s system of diagnosis. The conceptual foundation of modern diagnostics tends to be this: “Which disease do you have- which one is possessing that organism?”

That diagnostic model uses language in a certain, specific way (which is rooted in the ancient idea of demonic possession- “which pathogenic catalyst is possessing you?”). It is a valid model. It is very useful and is a huge advance over prior systems of communication (such as by gesture). However, the current patterns of using language that we find in mainstream medicine are also quite limited.

For instance, causes can easily be confused with effects. A mere diagnostic label (such as “scurvy”) can easily be mistaken for a pathogenic demon with the power to cause symptoms.

Consider that first there is a set of symptoms, then there is a linguistic label invented to identify that set of symptoms as distinct from some other set of symptoms, and then someone comes along and says “you have ___ [some diagnostic label], which is causing your symptoms.” That is intrinsically illogical.

Why should the label (which is only invented “after the fact” to name a particular set of pre-existing symptoms) be considered a cause of those symptoms (which preceded the invention of the linguistic label)? That is like saying that the word scurvy is the cause of the natural consequences of a diet deficient in vitamin C or that the word pregnancy can cause fertilization of an egg.

More precisely, that is the pattern of  saying that scurvy is a demon possessing you and causing you to have scurvy. See the logical problem there? That model of diagnostic language is naive and foolish and simply inaccurate, even if very popular and stately quite sincerely. 

So, in the following chapters, I will present a series of explanations as to why I consider mainstream medicine to be the most popular religion in the world today. I will also explain why I have converted from it’s many superstitions (it’s “blindspots” of sincere inaccuracy) to an extraordinary way of using language that is more logically sound, more rigorous, more scientific, and, last but not least, far more effective.

A new culture (or subculture) is also in the process of arising. This cultural development presents a new evolutionary stage in the directing of attention, perception, and behavior, especially as it relates to health and well-being. This is the formation of a new organizing of consciousness.

Representation of consciousness from the seven...

Representation of consciousness from the seventeenth century. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As always, the creative source of this new organization of consciousness is the eternal, inclusive, almighty presence of consciousness itself. However, beware of confusing “consciousness itself” (which is what you are) with any label or name for consciousness, such as some sounds or some shapes.

Those who worship only the icon or the symbol or the label or the sound or the shape are idolaters, but that is a totally understandable error and, for those who are humble, is easily corrected. (That’s just like confusing the label “scurvy” for the physiological cause of a physiological condition labeled scurvy.) The mistake of worshiping a symbol (idol) is easily corrected by a direct comprehension of the simplicity of the fact that consciousness itself is the foundation of language, the foundation of all contrasting labels in language (heaven and earth, day and night, light and dark, good and evil, hate and love, probiotic and antibiotic, etc), and the foundation of all other formations of consciousness, including shapes and sounds and icons and temples and religions and cultures and languages.

On the fictitious battle between “everything” and “everything else”

Consider these words: yes, si, oui, ja. Those are 4 distinct series of letters in 4 distinct languages (English, Spanish, French, and German). However, all of those words are symbols for the same concept, right? Yes or no?

So, what if Allah and Adonai and Jehovah and God are not 4 words for 4 things, but 4 words in different languages for precisely the same concept? Now, would it be a sign of intelligence or foolishness if the English and the French fight over which word is better, more accurate, and more sacred: yes or oui? Non or si? Ja oder nein?

Similarly, the idea that there is more than one form of monotheism is logically contradictory from the beginning.  One who actually recognizes (not from the naive, sincere repetition of inherited presumptions, but from direct experience) the eternal presence of a single inclusive divinity would never condemn someone else for using a foreign language to reference the single, complete, whole, holy, prefect, inclusive divinity.

That would be as silly as asking “Which language is more linguistic: English or Hebrew? Which number is more numeric: 666 or 144,000 or 1.618 x .618? Who will win the battle between everything and everything else, between the light of one candle and the power of a thousand darknesses, between the Almighty and the omnipotent adversary of whom the Almighty is so desperately frightened?” 😉


English: Locke's idea of perception

English: Locke’s idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Perception according to the naive realism

English: Perception according to the naive realism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Plato's idea of perception

English: Plato’s idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Kant's idea of perception

English: Kant’s idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Aristotle's idea of perception

English: Aristotle’s idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Descartes idea of perception

English: Descartes idea of perception (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Supremacy of language, heaven, god, and society

April 16, 2012
Animated 3D TCT of Human Breast

Animated 3D TCT of Human Breast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Supremacy of Language

“Language defines realityLanguage organizes reality. Language interprets reality.”

First, language is not really supreme in an absolute way. It is only supreme over certain factors of human attention, perception, and behavior, but that can be quite important.

Language only organizes human activity. However, for humans living in groups (even small groups of hunter-gatherers), the organizing of human cooperation through language can be a topic of tremendous practical value.

Effective communication is essential most modern forms of economic activity, especially in the training and organizing of “human resources.” Consider the frequency of married couples reporting instances of misinterpretation or miscommunication or “communication barriers.”  


Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

However, language does not cause a mustard tree to change in to an apple tree. Language by itself does not splice a branch from one trunk on to another trunk of another tree. Language itself does not literally stop the rotation of the earth on its axis or cause time to suddenly go backwards. However, language can certainly reference such possibilities.

Language is itself an extension of the rest of the universe: astrophysics, ecology, biology, neuro-chemistry and socio-economics. Newborn humans do not have it. Infants start to develop it.


So, within the realm of human society, there are matters over which language is supreme. The supremacy of language is relative, not absolute.


 Writing down special shapes called letters on to a sign and then walking around with it does not stop snow from falling. Language does not start or stop hurricane winds from blowing. Language does not start or stop the exploding of bombs or the burning of a forest fire. 


However, language does allow for the building of bombs, the building of bridges, the building of the transportation devices that go across bridges, and the building of buildings. Without language, there is no such thing as names, nor of marriage, nor of any other contracts, nor of any law or formal government, nor of any of the fields of science.


Rita and John's Marriage Certificate

Rita and John’s Marriage Certificate (Photo credit: mary hodder)

Anything that is named is only named through language. When the first boundary in language is created between “me” and “not me,” that creates inside and outside, as in the internal within and the external beyond.


In the ancient oral tradition of the Hebrew people, which was later written down and translated, that original dividing in language is called the separating of the Heavens from the Earth. Earth is the labeled, the perceived, the realm of the temporary or changing. Heaven is the process of perceiving or the perceiver, the realm of the enduring or changeless. Heaven could also symbolize “a bird’s eye view” or a holistic perspective.

Heaven  (from )

O.E. heofon “home of God,” earlier “sky,” possibly from P.Gmc.*khemina- (cf. Low Ger. heben, O.N. himinn, Goth. himins, O.Fris.himul, Du. hemel, Ger. Himmel “heaven, sky”), from PIE base*kem-/*kam- “to cover” (cf. chemise). Plural use in sense of”sky” is probably from Ptolemaic theory of space composed
of many spheres, but it was also formerly used in the same senseas the singular in Biblical language, as a translation of Heb. pl. shamayim.


Heaven is a symbolic linguistic unit of code representing a conceptual “place where God lives” and God

"Temple of Heaven, Seoul, Korea"

“Temple of Heaven, Seoul, Korea” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

includes the process of naming or labeling in language, which may be familiar as the Greek term Logos which has been translated in to English as the divine “Word.” Heavenly is a term or label for contrasting with earthly. Heaven is enduring or eternal while earth is constantly changing. Heavenly is godly. Earthly is mortal.


The realm of heaven is the kingdom of heaven as in the kingdom of God or domain of God. God rules, but through language. We could even say that language rules (as in measures) or reigns or regulates or organizes. 


The Supremacy of God is through the functional supremacy of language. The Supremacy of Heaven is not an astrological theory, but a symbolic reference in language to the functional importance of language (the heavenly or spiritual or subjective) in organizing human experience (the earthly or tangible or objective).


Of course, humans can recognize the influence of solar activity on the temperature of the earth at various seasons and during the day and night. However, a poetic or symbolic metaphor like “the supremacy of the heavenly” is totally distinct from a basic recognition of astrological influences such as the lunar phase corresponding to tidal fluctuations or the normal periodic duration of the menstrual cycle of fertile females.


Perhaps the mundane denotation of the word “heavenly” would be presumed to refer to the influence of the sun over the predictably fluctuating temperatures of midnight and high noon. Perhaps the original spiritual teachings of the author(s) of the Old Testament took an observable phenomenon from everyday life (the influence of the daily solar cycle sun over the fluctuating temperature on the surface of the earth) and then associated that observable pattern with a conceptual principle: the importance of language is organizing human perception


Language is metaphorically like the sun in regard to language’s influence over perception being similar to the sun’s influence over the earth’s temperature. In other words, just the sun dominates or regulates earthly temperatures, so does language dominate and regulate earthly human experience.


 > text continued below – part 2 of video:

Deutsch: Nahaufnahme der Brüste einer schwange...

Deutsch: Nahaufnahme der Brüste einer schwangeren Frau. English: Closeup of the breasts of a pregnant woman. Français : Plan rapproché des seins d’une femme enceinte. Italiano: Primo piano dei seni di una donna incinta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If we consider the process of the neurological processing of sensory data, it is clear that social conditioning through language has a huge influence on perception. In scientific studies, various groups of people can be directed through language to give attention to particular patterns or issues, then the various groups can all be exposed to the exact same phenomenon, like an audio recording or a theatrical performance.


Through language, people can be trained to focus on different aspects of any event. Their attention is controlled through language. Controlling their attention through language also controls their perception and thus their response (or lack of response).


As an example, imagine that a group of people have been trained through language to experience disgust and shame when exposed to seeing a the spurting of blood (even fake blood) or something like a naked human female‘s breast. They may be traumatized and socially conditioned to respond to the trigger with disgust and physical sickness.

A San (Bushman) who gave us an exhibition of t...

A San (Bushman) who gave us an exhibition of traditional dress and hunting/foraging behavior. Namibia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Then, a group of primitive humans and a similar group of traumatized, socialized people are exposed to a naked female’s breast. One group is aroused in to outrage and threatens to kill the offensive woman for her offensive crime of indecent exposure. The other group is startled not by the naked female breast, but by the remarkably bizarre reaction of the socialized people.


Another experiment could be done in which a photograph of some human skin is shown in a close-up, then the video gradually zooms out to reveal that the skin displayed is in fact some breast tissue from a human female. The skin itself may not produce disgust in the witnesses, at least not until they realize that it is a human female breast.


They may have been trained to conclude that a naked human female breast is shameful and evil and sinful. That linguistic process (which is also a social process) “defines” their experience of that particular visual.


Round breasts that project almost horizontally

Round breasts that project almost horizontally (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adult females could all be considered threats by these people, including if they are females themselves. They may go around avoiding looking at naked breasts and avoiding thinking about naked breasts and so on.



Now, why would a society ever develop such a taboo against the public exposure of adult female breasts? Because adult men may be physiologically and genetically predisposed to recognize adult female human breasts and react with a surge of hormones and so on, therefore it can be distracting for the human men to see adult human female breasts. 


So, what may be functionally distracting biologically may be specified by social language as taboo, as forbidden, as immoral, as criminal, as punishable by various responses like arrest, fine, corporal punishment (like whipping or incarceration), and even execution.

Should there be no such thing as taboos? That itself would be taboo.



Title: Personal photographs of the Hon. C L A ...

Title: Personal photographs of the Hon. C L A Abbott during his term as Administrator of the Northern Territory – Aborigine Chief of Bathurst Island who died of fright in Darwin when he saw his first motor car Date: 1939 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anthropologists recognize that language exists as well as social conditioning and social norms and taboos. Language is a type of social conditioning, though certainly not the only one. For instance, “criminals” are not just punished with insults and shouting and the revoking of memberships and corresponding privileges of membership, but with being physically attacked (arrested) and otherwise punished (like financially, with courts taking away physical possessions and property rights).


Language is the realm of identification as well as of justification. In particular, there is no such thing as justice except in language. Different cultures may have widely varying (conflicting) norms of justice. So, language plays a huge role in the process of defining what is labeled right (socially acceptable or even rewarded) or wrong (socially discouraged or punished). 


Language is an instrument of social conditioning. Language is the instrument through which various models of defining reality (models of perceiving) are created and distributed.

Language defines reality. Language organizes reality. Language interprets reality.



The Human Resources Manager

The Human Resources Manager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Religious institutions indoctrinate or educate or influence or govern perception and behavior. The same is true of mass media outlets as well as schools.


Propaganda about what forms of influence are right or legitimate or just are of course themselves instances of cultural programming or indoctrination. Because the functional supremacy of language is extremely obvious, one of the most important forms of indoctrination might be concerning “authority.”


The self-evident authority or supremacy of language may be systematically obscured. However, human society itself is what uses language as the instrument of that society, so it is not really inaccurate to use language that emphasizes the authority of social conditioning in general over the specific linguistic form of social conditioning in particular.

why I do not believe in the existence of atheists

March 29, 2012

Below is a dialogue between myself and Mark Newbrook, “resident” Linguist of Skeptical Humanities (as of a few weeks ago):

Major levels of linguistic structure

Major levels of linguistic structure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This dialogue emerged from my recent post linked below, with Mark’s original comment (not interspersed with my reply) posted at this link:

…It is claimed here that language means nothing and never will mean anything.
It is claimed where? Let’s imagine that someone did claim exactly what you stated. Wouldn’t it be self-evident as nonsense and thus inspire no further comment?
Given my deep appreciation for parody, let’s imagine that I may have said “language does not mean anything.” If I were to say something so obviously absurd, such as “this sentence is not an instance of language,” that might only be for the “philosophical” point of playfully demonstrating the absurdity of the issue.
Of course language has meaning. For instance, one obvious definition would be that language means “symbolic codes for directing the attention and behavior of other humans.”
However, what I may have written (and I also reserve the right to make innocent typographical mistakes), is that no particular symbolic code has any particular meaning. The same word can denote a few very different things or a multitude of not very related things, and that is just denotation- not even connotation.
The mere fact that there is such a thing as connotation (as well as “secret codes”) points to the fundamental reality of language: the meaning is not in the words themselves. The meaning is in the social context in which the words arise- not just in the context of syntax, but of non-linguistic social “cues.”
From sounds, language arises. However, the mere fact that it is possible NOT to be fluent in a particular language is prima facie evidence that the language itself inherently means nothing. Only in a particular social context can language arise, and the social context DEFINES the meaning of the language.
What do these shapes on this screen “mean” to my cat or my infant? Nothing at all.
What do these shapes on this screen “mean” to you? Something very specific!
Language is amazing. In fact, it is so amazing that I titled this video that:
Now, is this supposed to be news to linguists or anyone else? Of course not. It is self-evident. Everyone knows from direct experience that language is amazing and that social contexts define the meaning of language, like “I love you” can be spoken with several different tones that all communicate different WAYS OF RELATING, such as the soothing “oh, sweetie, I love you” and the apologetic “Really, I love you” and the defensive “hey, I love you, alright?” and the longing, manipulative “but, but…. I love you!”
Actually, it is all manipulative. Language is manipulating. That is what it is for- at least in the broad sense of manipulating as influencing or re-organziing.
So, I state the obvious not to inform you of something new, but to establish a particular context or way of relating.  Now, let’s explore from here together, given that what we have been doing all along is self-evidently nothing more than that.
English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  Subject to the major issues regarding how the term nothing is being used here, this viewpoint is, of course, contrary to prevailing opinion both popular and academic (the latter including both linguists and philosophers), and thus needs to be justified at this point. Indeed, it might be suggested that if language ‘means nothing’ it cannot itself be used to say anything useful.  And, while – as is proclaimed here (albeit in somewhat strange wording) – language can be seen as ‘a sequence of codes for the directing of attention’, it is generally taken as obvious that language has other functions and aspects in addition to this.
Such as? I challenge you to name one instance of language that is not directing my attention to whatever alleged instance of language you might name.
You could say that language is the moving of attention or the motion of intelligence or the activity of consciousness, but all that would be a trivial variation on the other statement. You can say that “unconscious linguistic events” do not qualify as “directing attention,” but that is limiting the verb “directing” to its transitive case only, which is not the only possible meaning.
Within language, it is accepted here that different words and letters are distinct.  (The use of the term letters seems to betray a folk-linguistic starting-point; a writer with knowledge of linguistics would instead talk here primarily of phonemes.)
…perhaps unless writing for an audience that may lack a knowledge of the formal lexicon of non-folk linguistics. Whatever, though…. Or are you unplayfully applying the standards of a academic linguistics journal to a non-academic linguistics journal internet blog entry?
  But these words and letters are all seen as variations on ‘nothing’ (this raises the above-mentioned issues regarding this term); and, while they do possess meaning (this apparently contradicts what is said earlier), this supposedly arises only ‘through perception’. Concepts are identified as ‘linguistic formations’ arising ‘out of nothing’, which is ‘the capacity for linguistic formations to simply happen by themselves’.  Like individual words and ‘letters’, each specific language is distinct, being seen as ‘a specific set of distinct, isolated formations’ – and is ‘finite’, in contrast with ‘language itself’ which is ‘infinite’; it is not clear how the terms finite and especially infinite are to be understood here.  And boundaries between languages are, again, seen as different manifestations of ‘nothing’.  I find the conceptualising obscure at this point, and it is difficult to comment helpfully.
What if all concepts are inherently obscure and only so precise? What if the spectrum ranging between precision and obscurity is one which language can never escape?
Further, returning to the issue of language as a utilitarian (or “useful”) phenomenon, what if directing attention does not require any more precision than actually “required?” What if, upon the fulfillment of whatever amount of clarity is deemed subjectively “enough,” the activity of language simply ceases?
I add here brief comments on some specific points in later sections of the material.‘One language evolves into another, with perhaps an entire family of languages being similar to each other’While essentially ‘along the right lines’, this claim apparently mixes diachronic and synchronic points and needs to be clarified.  (The term evolve is also contentious here.)
I admit that in the case in point, I was just synchronicalizing mixtures of diachronology. Okay, I might have just made up those words, but apparently you made up synchronic and diachronic first before I did because, when I see those words, I instantly recognize that they are synonyms for harmeronomic diaxophosphate, by which I mean slightly unfamilair to me.

linguistics (Photo credit: quinn.anya)

‘Languages mix and influence each other.  Languages may be called distinct, but the boundaries between them shift’Although the reference to shifting boundaries is obscurely expressed and perhaps mis-conceptualised, these general points are, of course, very familiar to linguists. 
This reminds me again of my clearly stated disclaimer at the beginning of the article: “this is written exclusively to professional full-time linguists, both of them.”
‘If the boundaries shift, then the boundaries are arbitrary. In fact, the alleged boundaries between various languages are alive, existing only through the declaration of language’This appears obscure.  There may be a good (if familiar) point in the former of these two sentences, though it needs to be much more clearly expressed; but the second sentence, as expressed, is very strange (what do alive and declaration mean here?).
Alive means changing or evolving. And that was a great question: what do these words actually MEAN?
My analogy is this: how many colors are there. Are there exactly 6 colors, as any 2 year old can tell you? Or, are there actually 24 different colors, as anyone 4 year old with the big yellow box can tell you? Or, are there any number of colors depending on however many distinct labels one chooses to categorize?
Language is categorizing. How many languages are there? 214? 32,915? That is a trivial question. Fundamentally, there is one language which is language itself.
The most famous poets of human history, such as Lao Tzu and Buddha and Abraham, have referenced the singularity of that universal meta-language by such labels as Logos, Tao, and even The Heavenly Father, through which “the world of subjective experience” is “created” by what method: speech!
Name one word that is not fundamentally just a word. Yahweh? YHWH? Jehovah?
No, those are all words, too- though those “words” are all references to something “subtler than all other concepts.” Linguists who do not comprehend “metaphysics” may be liars, insofar as metaphysics and linguistics could be two labels for the same- but wait, that simply could not be possible to have two labels or appellations or names or titles for the exact same pattern, right?
What if when ignorant translators translate some ancient Sanskrit phrase in to the English words “name and form” and then call it “Buddhist mystical metaphysics,” that is an ENTIRELY ARBITRARY way of relating to those Sanskrit terms, though of course an entirely valid way of interpreting them or labeling them or translating them or relating to them? Was the Buddha a linguist or not? Well, if the English word “linguist” had not been invented by the time of his life, then how could he have been a linguist? Maybe he is finally now a linguist, but only became a linguist within the last few sentences- not that I care, by the way- but that brings me back to the earlier question raised by our academic correspondent of what is meant by declaration: by declaration, I mean all instances of language, as in all instances of the directing of attention, including gestures or then again possibly not… 😉
Anyway, there was no such thing as a linguist until someone created the term “linguist” and then declared self-authoritatively themselves to be the apt target of such a label. “Linguist” is a totally arbitrary label like all labels of symbolic code, but many “academic” linguists may or may not pretend otherwise, even though they do not deny the self-evidence of any of it.
Before there was a linguist, there was language. Linguist is just an instance of language, as is “The Buddha” and “metaphysics” and “spiritual poetry” and “incurable diaxyphosphatitis.”
I am the author of language. Why? Because I said so.
Is it even true, though? Well, declarations in language are never exactly TRUE. They are just more or less USEFUL. Precision (aka “TRUTH”) is a spectrum invented in language and language never can get all the way to the end of a spectrum that only exists as a linguistic concept.
In other words, precision is just a relative term. In fact, because precision is just a relative term, all terms are just relative terms. Truth is just a relative term. Language is just a relative term. “Absolute” is, ironically, just a relative term.
In the ancient Hindu tradition of Advaita (“non-dualism”), the fundamental relativity of all terms of linguistic relating is relatively recognized as just one way of relating to the absolute relativity of all language, except of course for the word “joke,” which is actually not a word at all. 😉
‘Is Creole [= a particular creole language? (MN)] a language? Clearly it is entirely composed of other languages.  [Not necessarily the case. (MN)]  However, it is also not a dialect of any particular language. What is it? It is whatever it is called!’It is not clear that there is a genuine issue here regarding creoles as such.  There are relevant definitional-cum-philosophical issues at a more general level concerning the individuation of languages, the ‘language’-‘dialect’ distinction, etc.; but these are not rehearsed here.
Labelification is individuation. That was my point.
The fact is that “languages” is just a label and so is “dialects.” You can’t get away from the fact that all words are just symbolic categorical linguistic conceptualizations of individuation or division or duality. Beyond language is the non-duality called “nothing” by certain Buddhists, about which there is really not a lot that can be said, but then again, all language is an expression of that nothing and a labeling of that nothing and a directing of that nothing.
While quite contradictory, language is inherently contradictory. Or then again, maybe not. However, there either are or are not any instances of contra-diction except only in language. If language is not inherently contradictory, fine, then I take it back and contradict myself as if to demonstrate the point: language gives rise to the possibility of contradiction, not that it is at all important to point this out.
It may simply be a lot of fun. But that could be important, too, right?

‘Is there such a thing as “I” (“me”)? In many languages there is such a thing as “I” or similar concepts to the concept of “I.” However, “I” is fundamentally a concept, a construct of language, merely a thing. “I” is not itself fundamental (which is the ancient teaching called anatma).’

There, of course, are words meaning ‘I’ in all languages.  But it is not clear how significant linguistic facts of this kind might be for philosophical issues regarding the reality or otherwise of persons; as I have argued elsewhere, it is probably dangerous in a philosophical context to focus too heavily upon the ways in which ideas are expressed in specific languages – although this approach is common enough in mainstream ‘analytical’ philosophy.

What do you mean by the “reality or otherwise?” What are you talking about in reference to something besides reality?
“Person” is a real WORD. Isn’t that enough? Is it so dangerous for me to just come out and say what is self-evident? Next thing you know you are going to launch in to some obscure poetry about “nothing.” That would be very diaxyphoshate of you, sir!
 ‘Language is more fundamental than “I,” and nothing is more fundamental than language.’It is not clear what fundamental means here, or what this claim amounts to.


The same source presents  This material again deals with some linguistic issues, this time in the context of an essentially religious discussion involving claims regarding souls, sin, etc.  Linguistics, as an empirical discipline, cannot be grounded in specific theological viewpoints; and as an atheist I would prefer not to engage in this context in discussion which assumes a religious stance that I do not share.

“Religion” is just a category of language. If you deny the existence of that particular category of language, that is entirely alright with me.
As a worshiper of Santa Claus, I would just like to state for the record, your honor, that there is no such thing as mythology or poetry or humor. Also, I do not believe in atheists. There is simply no such thing, by which I mean no such word.
 However: it is undoubtedly true, as is claimed here, that it is a conceptual error to mistake a piece of language, such as a word, for the item in the non-linguistic world to which it refers.  Like the well-known picture of a pipe by Magritte, the word pipe is not itself a pipe.  Some such conceptual errors are potentially damaging.  But the further claim that ‘belief in words is the root of all malice or ill will’ is not adequately defended and appears vastly overstated.
I completely agree. I furthermore assert that the hypocritical idiot who made such a ridiculously dramatic accusation was entirely precise in an “absolute truth” kind of way. Forthwith, the diachronic subjective experiential pattern of “malice” is completely unrelated to words, which are just ways of relating, and therefore do not exist, at least not in the absolute sense of the word. I arrest my case.
More credentials of Mark:

Language can form anything (the new “realm of possibility” or “kingdom of heaven”)

March 17, 2012

Language can form anything

The sequence of how this proceeds simply flows from nothing. There is no “getting to nothing” first. There is no clearing other things away and only then beginning. There is simply nothing.

When there is already nothing, then there is nothing to fix or change. There is no standard for how to judge or evaluate success or failure. There is simply a sequence of proceedings, with no particular boundary between one proceeding and the next.

However, there is clearly language happening. If there were not already language happening, then there might actually be nothing to do, and, without language already being here, there would certainly be nothing to say about the fact that only nothing is already here (along with language, obviously).

So, here is nothing and part of that nothing is language. By the way, language means nothing. Language is not going to eventually mean something. Language is just a sequence of codes for the directing of attention. By the way, attention is also nothing. Attention is simply a context in which for the perception of something to arise. Language, of course, is simply one form of something, and all forms of something are still essentially nothing.

Nothing simply means “no thing in particular.” Nothing, in this case, does not mean the absence of something. That is mere somethinglessness. Nothing is actually beyond the realm of anything- of any something- and yet nothing includes not only every single something of perception, but the possibility of perception itself and even the possibility of anything.

Any something is only nothing, too. Different words are distinct, just as are different letters. However, even though other words can be used to describe words- like sound and shape- those are all variations on nothing at all.

A word, like “shape,” only means something in particular through perception. Perception, however, is a concept. Concepts are linguistic formations. From out of nothing, linguistic formations are happening.

Nothing itself is the capacity for linguistic formations to simply happen by themselves. Linguistic formations just proceed in a sequence of expressions of nothing. Language is the expression of nothing.

From out of nothing, nothing expresses itself through language. The language is still the nothing, however any language is also a specific set of distinct, isolated formations. By the way, language itself is infinite, though any particular language might distinguish itself from other finite languages.

Distribution of language families and isolates...

Image via Wikipedia

Of course, the particular boundaries between languages are actually nothing. One language evolves into another, with perhaps an entire family of languages being similar to each other.

Languages mix and influence each other. Languages may be called distinct, but the boundaries between them shift. If the boundaries shift, then the boundaries are arbitrary. In fact, the alleged boundaries between various languages are alive, existing only through the declaration of language.

Language can divide itself into dialects. Different dialects can be subdivided further. All of them are variations of nothing at all.

Is Creole a language? Clearly it is entirely composed of other languages. However, it is also not a dialect of any particular language. What is it? It is whatever it is called!

Many words in one language have roots or ancestors that pass through a set of other languages. One ancient word can have a huge number of descendants in a variety of languages that formed subsequently as variations and expansions of the single ancient language.

Language is the mechanism by which the various expressions of nothing can be distinguished. Without language, everything is the exact same nothing- that is- there is only nothing and not a single other thing (a concept of an isolated something). That nothing is somethinglessness, but to even use a term like somethinglessness- or to use language at all- is no longer “only nothing.”

With language, while there is still nothing of course, there is also anything and everything- any number of particular somethings. Those particular somethings are all expressions of nothing.

These somethings do not eliminate nothing. They are in fact nothing itself, but with distinct forms recognizable in language.

English: Repartition map of the languages over...

Image via Wikipedia

For instance, is there such a thing as “I” (“me”)? In many languages there is such a thing as “I” or similar concepts to the concept of “I.”

However, “I” is fundamentally a concept, a construct of language, merely a thing. “I” is not itself fundamental (which is the ancient teaching called anatma). Only nothing itself is fundamental.

“I” is just a particular pattern of perception, that is, a structure or habit of language. “I” is a subcategory within language. Language is more fundamental than “I,” and nothing is more fundamental than language.

<December 4, 2009>

My related articles

Who would I trust?

February 4, 2012
English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Image via Wikipedia (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

To have access to the whole series of videos, open this video in a separate window (click the bottom right of the video): Who would I trust? well, it depends on trusting them for what exactly… 1) only for basic, simple testimonies that they know through direct observation: I can trust the innocent/unsophisticated/naive. 2) only for doing things that they would expect to benefit by doing (AND suffer for not doing): I can trust those dependent on me (especially when I overtly use mutliple sources re info, bids, proposals). 3) for things that no one else would risk telling me or that others might not even notice, but that I can directly verify independently: I would trust those whose self-interests are conspicuous.  Now, let’s consider the mainstream media. I would not trust them for any of the above, perhaps other than basic, simple information, by which I mean things that involve little or no interpretation, like the current temperature or the scheduled times of upcoming movies. As for governments, there are times when I would put certain government agencies in the last category, such as emergency information about a volcano or a fire currently in progress- or for basic, simple information, like road closures due to snow or construction projects, that would be directly under the jurisdiction of that government. Governments are uniquely notorious for keeping secrets and for spreading disinformation propaganda.Trust

As for public education systems, including any institution regulated by the government such as colleges, I consider them no more reliable than the mass media: only for basic, simple principles, as in mathematics, spelling, and technical information like how to mix colors to make new colors. Any curriculum that involves interpretations or opinions, I may presume to be grossly biased by the commercial interests of government regulators, in particular the history of political systems but also even basic science like nutrition.  As for churches, I consider most of them to be the most extreme concentrations of bias as well as manipulation. However, because churches are open about their use of manipulation, such as the deceptive mythology of Santa Claus clearly used as bribery to attract the obedience of children, churches may be the most trustworthy in regard to their teachings about deception and manipulation. While many church leaders may have no direct experience or relevant authority in the matters they reference most, there can be notable exceptions.NYC - NYPL - Astor Library, Lenox Library, Til...

First, let us beware of those who worship symbolic language and then argue over literal interpretations, evidencing their proud ignorance of the meaning of symbolic language. They confuse the actuality of reality with mere words, especially the word “truth.” Dispute amongst the fanatical adherents of various religious beliefs is the key indicator of one more interested in words than in the actuality of what they reference using labels like spirituality, divinity, or God. They worship language, which is the perfect focus of attention for those who do not understand language yet. They may use the word faith frequently, but they are the enemies of faith and worshippers not of God, but of mere belief. They are fanatical idolaters, proud of their conflicts with other fanatical idolaters who happen to disagree with them. In regard to trusting such religious fanatics, all of those who worship conceptual ideologies of belief that are rooted in interpretations of the language of other people may as well be no more than politicians. Let them argue desperately, exhausting themselves, even tormenting themselves to earn their way in to a heaven that they may claim is eternal but cannot be accessed yet, and thus admit to have never visited personally.  If you are already firm in these distinctions of what works to trust, then you can trust yourself, right? If not, then you might partner with others who are perceptive enough to recognize these issues and to be selective in regard to trusting or not trusting any particular source of influence.

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language is amazing

January 21, 2012
An Amazing Life

“If I actually dig a hole somewhere, that hole is not just in language, but is actually wherever I dug it. No one can fill up that hole only by using language.”
Somehow, we develop the capacity for language, then we develop language and soon we encounter variations in language and even inconsistencies of language. We encounter inconsistencies between different ways of identifying the same thing, between different patterns of relating, and between our own direct observations of actuality and our own direct observations of language, such as the following statement: these are not words.
Words are the origin of nonsense, of pretense, and of irony. Words are also the origins of labels and claims and interpretations and opinions.
Words and language are distinct from all the rest of reality. In the rest of reality, there is no such thing as a contradiction. Language is the realm of contradictions (and paradoxes).
Words and language are certainly part of our real experience, for words and language also influence attention, perception, and behavior. For instance, when two people (or two groups such as nations) both claim to own or control the same region of land, the contradiction in language is irresolvable within the realm of language. The resolution must be through some other aspect of reality.
The control or linguistic “ownership” of a certain region of land does not originate in language. The label of ownership exists in language but that label is meaningless and irrelevant unless there is practical control or influence or dominance. Posting a sign or notice that says “this is now mine” does not change the locks on a building or remove the inhabitants- whether they are termites or rats or humans.
Control is independent of language, though language can also be a tool for exerting “control” at least in relation to humans. In other words, if I actually dig a hole somewhere, that hole is not just in language, but is actually wherever I dug it. No one can fill up that hole only by using language.
Language is for influencing the attention, perception, and behavior of other people. Language by itself does not lift a shovel or move dirt or fill holes. Language is just a form of human behavior, among many others.
At a certain stage in social development, an individual may think of language as more powerful than it may actually be.
Beyond that stage, one may recognize the precise utility and influence of language, as well as the precise utility and influence of any other form of behavior, including human behavior, but also things like the “behavior” of clouds and solar flares and all other developments.
Language does not change night in to day. Language does not change a hole in to a hill. Language does influence the attention, perception, and behavior of other people. In fact, everything influences the attention, perception, and behavior of other people, including this image below:
Pulling the strings

Image via Wikipedia

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the language of creating

November 20, 2011

(See also my blog post “an introduction to language” which was two prior to this one.)

keywords: zen, advaita, transformation, language, nlp, jnana, mooji, jnana yoga,dhyana, dhyana yoga, meditative inquiry, toni packer, jiddu krishnamurti, lawrence platt, werner erhard, redemption, ACIM, disappearance of the universe, moral paralysis, analysis paralysis

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