The first line of the Gospel of John says: “From the first he was the Word…” This is of course the translation of the Greek original. One could argue that the Greek notion “logos” has about two dozens of different meanings; for example “logic” or “reason”. This article is neither a critique of the translation of the bible nor a course in philology but it deals with the power of words. According to Goethe’s “Faust” not words but actions are the beginning of it all. No matter what comes first, it seems as if words and actions are the two sides of the same coin. Facing such consequences it might be wise to treat our language with care.
Philosophers started thinking about the use of language thousands of years ago. Plato for example was pondering on the question if notions have a “natural” meaning or if they only receive it by convention. Alice met Humpty Dumpty in Wonderland. The egg-shaped man stated that the words he uses had exactly the meaning he wants them to have. I seriously doubt this. As we know words change their meanings in the course of time. Moreover, some notions have several meanings; some even in contradiction to each other.
Speak and Think
What really troubles me is that some language analysts claim that we only can produce thoughts by means of language. They use this as the reason why animals cannot think. I wonder about the consequence of this theory. Does this mean that people who were born deaf with no adequate education cannot think? This is as if we would say they are no humans, isn’t it?
To me this is revolting, especially because history has shown us the result of such believe. Therefore my thesis is that language is the form of expression of thoughts and only parrots think that words are there origin.
On the other hand language is probably apt to express our thoughts more comprehensible than pictures, music or dance. For the latter the layman needs interpretation. So let’s stick with the words. After all a blog has not much more to offer and the entire social media industry, public relation, teaching and management depend on them.
Even mathematics uses a language which is condensed in formulas and the information technology is dealing with 0 and 1.
Interested? Please read more within the next weeks.