Nothing but Words

words1

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

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.

Power

power

Power is quite a newsworthy subject with a bad reputation. This seems very unfair to me as I believe that power is something extremely positive. The word “power” translated to French becomes “pouvoir” which in this language means as well “to be able to”.To be enabled to do something is positive to begin with. The contrary would be disabled which in most cases poses a problem or at least a challenge.

So what is the problem with the power? From my point of view it is because most people think about power along with its misuse. Looking at the news this is hardly a surprise. In Bangladesh more than 1000 sewers died in their factory when it caught fire simply for the fact that their boss forced them to work, despite the terrible condition of the building. Some vultures bring about the downfall of former successful companies while political leaders have to face court trials due to obscure love affairs. Around here Ruby and the former Italian president make a good example. Of course the trail seems to fit the idea of justice but it takes forever to get there.

Misuse of power seems to be linked to greed and an overly strong need for admiration. This raises the question if power normally goes to the wrong people.

I guess not. Much more I suspect that it is like it always is. The black sheep are the most visible ones and make the best headlines. For this reason most of us do not know a «decent potentate».

Moreover, power requires a lot of responsibility. The latter is something of which people can and should only accept a limited amount. I think the responsible ones do not strive for more power than they can carry while the other ones keep the tabloids busy.

Since responsibility has a good reputation we are coming back to the positive aspects of power. At least in some parts of the world we are not only responsible for our actions but hold as well the power of ourselves.