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7 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2011 - 9:46PM #41
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,708

Mar 15, 2011 -- 8:53PM, mountain_man wrote:


Our words describe things and ideas, the concrete and the conceptual. They don't create or confine anything.  





I disagree here. Words by definition confine and delimit. As Lao Tzu said "The Tao which can be named is not the eternal Tao."


Think of how much power words have! I think a perusal of the respective legacies of the Abrahamic 'People of the Books' are testament to what words can lead to.


I marvel at how there's the initial expression from intuited thought into language. Then by the time the listener or reader processes/digests what's been articulated, what was "meant" has already been in effect translated twice and what is taken away can differ greatly from what was proffered.


Thoughts can be like poison or better yet viruses, and their interpretations are mutations. "What fatal flowers of darkness bloom from seeds of light!"

What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2011 - 1:22AM #42
mountain_man
Posts: 44,029

Mar 15, 2011 -- 9:46PM, EyesoftheWorld wrote:

I disagree here. Words by definition confine and delimit. As Lao Tzu said "The Tao which can be named is not the eternal Tao."


Just because he said something does not make it true. In this case, he is wrong. This tao is something made up, a concept, not something that exists outside of the imagination of some humans.


Think of how much power words have! I think a perusal of the respective legacies of the Abrahamic 'People of the Books' are testament to what words can lead to.


The words did nothing. They're just scratches in clay, or just ink on a page or vibrations in the air. People do things, not words.


I marvel at how there's the initial expression from intuited thought into language. Then by the time the listener or reader processes/digests what's been articulated, what was "meant" has already been in effect translated twice and what is taken away can differ greatly from what was proffered.


Thoughts can be like poison or better yet viruses, and their interpretations are mutations. "What fatal flowers of darkness bloom from seeds of light!"


Nice prose, but as such prose goes, it's more words than substance. From all that I can see; nothing made me choose the words I use. I made the choice to use them. These words will have absolutely no effect on anything in this world. Nothing will come of them. After a few years they'll fade away from this website and never be seen again. So be it.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.   Isaac Asimov
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2011 - 7:24PM #43
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,708

Thank you. In a way, I share your sentiments and love to say "words are meaningless", which is inherently absurd. But on the other hand, to deny that words and their use have nearly limitless potential.  


I quoted Lao Tzu more for the notion that words will fall short of conveying exactly what the writer/speaker is trying to express.


But surely you can't deny that words are like magic; every day people's actions are influenced and even determined by the words of others, whether inspirational, deceptive or threatening. People get arrested and get themselves killed because of the words they say. Think of any great/infamous leader in history, and what they accomplished - could any have done it without words?

What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2011 - 1:12AM #44
mountain_man
Posts: 44,029

Mar 16, 2011 -- 7:24PM, EyesoftheWorld wrote:

Thank you. In a way, I share your sentiments and love to say "words are meaningless", which is inherently absurd. But on the other hand, to deny that words and their use have nearly limitless potential.


I never said words were meaningless.


I quoted Lao Tzu more for the notion that words will fall short of conveying exactly what the writer/speaker is trying to express.


They can if you use the correct words. Write in flowery prose or ethereal drivel and of course the meaning will be clouded.


But surely you can't deny that words are like magic; every day people's actions are influenced and even determined by the words of others, whether inspirational, deceptive or threatening. People get arrested and get themselves killed because of the words they say. Think of any great/infamous leader in history, and what they accomplished - could any have done it without words?


Words can do nothing alone. They are not magic. People do things and use words to describe what they are doing or thinking. The words can do nothing. It's the reaction to those words that you choose.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.   Isaac Asimov
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7 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2011 - 7:59PM #45
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,708

Hi! I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. (haha) I think I took your likening them to scratches in clay as equating them to nonsense.


I think I'm talking more about ideas spoken and written down and the consequences (intended or not) which can follow.


I had become excited back there about the Abrahamic religions and the way their respective books have arguable done more to shape world events than any other books.


I likened the potential effect of words to magic in that they can influence behavior.


But from another angle, knowledge, such as science and perhaps most notoriously and sensationally, nuclear science, I think is a pretty decent example: I don't know about the evolution of the theories, but I think it's safe to say centuries of groundwork was laid out by countless people over the centuries who had no conception of a nuclear explosion. Then in the 20th century, I doubt even a simple majority of individuals who worked out the equations and designed and carried out the experiments leading to the development of nuclear weapons were doing so with the intent of putting such power into the hands of those who do and will possess it. Without very smart individuals who were engrossed in the theoretical implications of their work, who were perhaps of the mind that in figuring out fundamental interactions of nature they were revealing "the architect of the Universe's fingerprints", apocalyptic barbarians would not have such hope to kill so many strangers.


I'm reminded of what Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations found to be the most important thing about words, and that is their use: they are a unique kind of tool in that they crystallize ideas.


 

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7 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2011 - 10:45PM #46
mountain_man
Posts: 44,029

Mar 17, 2011 -- 7:59PM, EyesoftheWorld wrote:

Hi! I didn't mean to put words in your mouth. (haha) I think I took your likening them to scratches in clay as equating them to nonsense.


"Scratches in clay" was a reference to the Sumerian clay tablets - the first written language.


I think I'm talking more about ideas spoken and written down and the consequences (intended or not) which can follow.


There are lots of ideas going around. Some have consequences like the light bulb. Others have no consequences like perpetual motion machines.


I had become excited back there about the Abrahamic religions and the way their respective books have arguable done more to shape world events than any other books.


It depends on how you measure things. Some would say that On the Origin of Species has had a greater impact on humanity. At least Origin had a positive impact where the bible is mostly negative.


I likened the potential effect of words to magic in that they can influence behavior.


A person can choose to be influenced by words. I choose not to be effected by the words in the bible since they make no sense. Marx doesn't influence me either.


I'm coming from a cognitive psychology point of view. Your thoughts, your emotions, are your creation, your responsibility, your choice. Words, ideas, and such cannot cause you to do anything. You make a choice about what to do with them.


But from another angle, knowledge, such as science and perhaps most notoriously and sensationally, nuclear science, I think is a pretty decent example: I don't know about the evolution of the theories, but I think it's safe to say centuries of groundwork was laid out by countless people over the centuries who had no conception of a nuclear explosion. Then in the 20th century, I doubt even a simple majority of individuals who worked out the equations and designed and carried out the experiments leading to the development of nuclear weapons were doing so with the intent of putting such power into the hands of those who do and will possess it. Without very smart individuals who were engrossed in the theoretical implications of their work, who were perhaps of the mind that in figuring out fundamental interactions of nature they were revealing "the architect of the Universe's fingerprints", apocalyptic barbarians would not have such hope to kill so many strangers.


That's their choice. Some people, many people, live their whole lives without even hearing about anything nuclear. They couldn't understand it if you told them.


I'm reminded of what Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations found to be the most important thing about words, and that is their use: they are a unique kind of tool in that they crystallize ideas.


They can. But some, especially philosophers and their ilk, use words to sound more important, or smarter, than they actually are. I remember that paper published by some journal that was purposely written as pure gibberish.  There was a whole bunch of people in that field (I forgot what it was) that wrote in agreeing with what the article of gibberish said. In the next issue it was revealed to be a hoax.

Dave - Just a Man in the Mountains.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.   Isaac Asimov
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