Sunday, 24 October 2010

Language and Life

As written previously on the nature of language, the meaningfulness of this language if correctly used is inescapable, and to even attempt to question this involves the acceptance that the language used in the questioning is a meaningful act, and so to question language's meaningfulness is a self-contradictory, false and impossible act. This is in the same sense that to involve oneself in mathematics inescapably rests on the intrinsic truthfulness of the language of mathematics.

It would be wrong so imagine that this meaningfulness of language is at any point a subject of debate, a rational truth towards which one reasons, and once if successfully done, the point from which one can then meaningfully proceed with further reasoning. One doesn't need nor ever needed to prove mathematics to be true before engaging in it; instead its meaningfulness is an inescapable given, and it is the same with this language of words. The argument as to its meaningfulness has already proceeded as a matter of course from the imagined conclusion, that is, its meaningfulness.

It might be argued that language is true because it mirrors external life. To look at a case of a farmer with two fields in which are cows. In the first field are 35 cows, in the second 42. If all those from the second are brought into the first, one knows for certain if no cows have been added to or departed from their fields, that there are now 77 cows in that field - as a matter of language, one comes to this conclusion, since 35 added to 42 comes to 77. To stress also that this truth is not a servile but an autonomous one, by which I mean it is not some historical matter of observed truth that 35 and 42 are 77, and we then proceed into future time with this realised. Instead it is purely a matter of language. Language needs no observation of external reality to make such deductions; instead such truths are embedded within language. People might balk at this as mystical, but that would be because they are at odds with the intrinsic meaningfulness of life, have painted themselves into some false corner.

So the internal laws of language reveal this unquestionable truth, and if subsquent to this mental arithmetic the slightly sceptical farmer, to be asbsolutely sure, then counts all the cattle, the pleasing truth that external observation and logical deduction will be seen to correspond perfectly. Language and 'external truth' correspond as a matter of course. In this above instance though things are perhaps a little subtler than superficially appears, as the 'observed truths' of there being 35 and 42 cows are themselves matters of language before any arithmetic occurs. Obviously perception is the first mover of this process but to count to 35 is itself a linguistic matter. Perception is not able to stand alone in the matter of any observed truths. Language is always involved in matters that end in linguistic statements!

As a general and absolute principle, the perfect correspondence or co-existence of properly functioning language and life is not an idea regarding which one has an opinion. It is not up for debate, the same as it is intellectually impermissible to question 2+2=4.  Any engagement in language, such as the attempted cannot but accept itself as a meaningful act within life. As I wrote here "The position of Doubt is a nihilistic intellectual proposition in the true sense, within the framework of which one cannot grant oneself the liberty of believing language to be real and intrinsically meaningful. And so, within this framework of doubt the question of doubt cannot be asked, as to ask the question requires an acceptance of the very reality or meaningfulness of language which Doubt, if true to itself, must doubt. And so, since the question of doubt cannot be formed, then doubt cannot exist, as doubt requires a mind utilising language so as to doubt."

The mathematical scenario with the cows is a very simple and clear example of this correspondence of language and truth, but this correspondence extends without limits, though of course with absolute dependence on the correctness of the language. Again to illustrate using mathematics, this world of numbers 'invented' in and by our minds, at no matter how seemingly abstract and complex the levels, always corresponds to internal truths of the external world. And why? Because life is not self-contradictory but intelligent, and seamlessly so. And this is where the relationship of life and language begins to deepen. This language of words is far subtler than the mathematical one, but if correctly used it will inescapably correspond to some truth of life. Though on the one hand language can be autonomous, self-sufficient as a truth-tool, it does not exist autonomously; that is, language dwells in life and without life naturally there would be no language.

However, a rampant mistake is to talk of life, or reality, and language as distinct.  Reality is all that exists within itself, and in fact there is no within itself - what is 'within reality' is reality. And so language as dwelling within reality is inescapably part of reality, and thus the perfect correspondence of the two, if correctly used - for language is apparently capable of error and so creating illusory 'realities', things that seem to be but are not, even if believed by any numbers of people. Also, pedantic as it might superficially seem, 'reality' or 'life' are themselves words, and one cannot talk of these as though they were not words, nor pretend that the total realities to which such all-inclusive words like 'life' referred even somehow excluded those words as comprising inseparable aspects of those realities. There is no life existing independently of language, the same as there is no life independent of anything that forms part of the whole that is life, including for example the glass near my hand, or my hand or you yourself. To talk of life as though it did exist separately of the words being used to talk of it is meaningless language, where the integral relationship of words and that to which they refer has broken down, and one is merely left with linguistic unreal illusion.

So language and life are not distinct from each other, in fact there is no 'and' about it. Instead language - mathematical and linguisic - are extensions and deepenings of that life, and thus the lack of inner contradiction between them. Language does not dwell in some compartment apart!

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