Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Imprecise Nature of Words

the imprecise nature of words:

but think, if words were merely tools to manipulate thought, to shape concepts crystallizing in the conscious mind, it would seem they are often but a blunt instrument, lacking the precision to control the hoped for outcome of perfect realization of the truth. not only that, when misused, they can easily lead the thinker astray, into the realm of half truths and falsity, or even madness.

what is conscious thought? what is it to think? now this is a world of objects and feelings and sounds. in that the mind is actually connected to the very fabric of this world, these things are highlighted, so to speak, or thought about, by the conscious mind. i am conscious of, i am thinking about various scraps of images, events that happened in my world, places i have been to, and so on. it is a tangled mess. in real time, certain parts fall away, new parts appear.

now all of these things are labelled by words. what words mean to me may not be the same as what words mean to someone else. inevitably our own life experiences colour and ensure that our individual complexes of words and the personal events and things seen and heard and felt by us, to which they are connected, are unique.

however, let us assume that words can have some universal meaning. even so, words and their connections are wrapped up with the past of the universe. when something totally new happens, it has the effect of altering the language complex, for it is a disturbance. and so it always was. the mind, both conscious and subconscious or unconscious, makes and breaks connections continually. as the words in a sentence are read, each word amplifies whatever it is describing, like a live current passing through space. the very act of thinking alters the mind, and perhaps even what it is thinking about.

we all have various conceptions of what reality is, or may be. all are metaphysicians. it cannot be denied that that affects significantly how we define words for ourselves. if i believe that time is infinite, for instance, and this was the original use of the word, this affects what i think when i think about the word infinite when used generally. my argument is that it cannot be divorced from this original plank of belief. so later i may think about infinite numbers as supposedly a purely mathematical concept, but i am still thinking about time all the while. it is almost impossible to separate later thought from its original basis.

if thinking were like guiding a ball to a target, the truth, then words in a sentence hit the ball this way and that way, each word carrying its own "baggage" from the past. often it is difficult to hit bullseye. how did words come into creation? well, it is not hard to guess that merely they were the words people first thought of when something happened, that they were "in the air" at the time. the language universe has its own inflation. we know new words come into being. what may be disturbing, for as ever the new replaces the old, is that parts of the past are lost, and we have no idea how we got here.


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