Reflections on Biblical and
Christian Philosophy

Home

Search

Table of Contents: What Is Here!      (Site Map)

Glossary: A Concise Christian and Biblical Philosophy

How Is This Site Different?

Inescapable Truths

Quick Hitters: Penseés

Bible Texts and Philosophy

Important Bible Words

Musings of the Author

About the Author

Biblical Worldview21

Contact the Editor or Webmaster


A Study of Language Is a Study of Philosophy!

 

I began a study of language.  My pursuit led to much more.  In fact, it led virtually to the whole enterprise of philosophy.  Then, after all that travelling, the whole of language and philosophy is consummated outside of itself.

 

*The first appearance of a concept of philosophy or area of study is bolded.

 

Language is primarily used for communication from one person to others.  Obviously, language consists of words which have meaning through their definitions.  Now, words have a bias according to ones’ culture, as is evident in translation from not only from one language to another, but from one period of history to another.  A person in the modern world who speaks English cannot read Beowulf, yet it was written by another Englishman (of a different time).  English includes a dozen or more languages, including Latin, French, Greek, Anglo-Saxon, German, Spanish, and many others.  All languages have such a history and amalgamation.  Surely, all of this association involves linguistics, also.  And, from an even larger perspective, there is philosophy of language, analytical philosophy, philology, and etymology!

 

Communication involves sentence structure, involving such considerations as syntax and grammar.  Truth and knowledge may be stated as a proposition, also known as a declarative sentence.  Truths are also derived by a series of propositions called a syllogism, which is a form of rationalism known as deduction in the system of logic.  Sentence structure includes a noun and a verb.  Nouns are names of objects that may be real, whether in materialism or idealism.  Objects are composed of various associations of universals in a unity.  Objects in their metaphysical sense are substance or essence.  As such, they may or may not have some sort of existence.  And, they may be living or inorganic.

 

Understanding of language forms of communication necessarily includes hermeneutics, the science of interpretation of the written word.  Interpretation necessarily involves the knowledge that was to be communicated.  Translation must take place from one language to another, as well as taking into consideration colloquial and denotative definitions.

 

One principle to consider is whether the sender and the receiver are in a normal or an abnormal state of being.  That is, is each functioning properly?  Then, there are the considerations whether communication involves propositions that involve analogy or are univocal or equivocal.  In spite of attention to all this detail in process, serious error and even heresy occur.  When ideas have consequences, the results can be a major advance in civilization or calamitous destruction of lives and property. 

 

And, to this point we have not even discussed that every individual has his own subjective disposition that is unique on planet earth.  Curiously, having a properly basic belief in the Bible, we know that language did not evolve, as the Trinity communicated with each other and with Adam and Eve who were created in the image of God.  But, and also curiously, language does evolve, as we saw with English above.  Fallen man now “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness,” which is simply God’s system of ethics.  English is now the universal language, but Spanish and Arabic threaten this universalism. 

 

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One.”  The Second Person of the Trinity is the λόγος which includes virtually all that has been said above and more, if one consults the fullness of the word in a Greek lexicon.  He is also “the true light that gives light to every man” (John 1:9).  Language in human history began with Genesis 1:1 and re-entered a fallen world in John 1:1.  Philosophy in all its branches, including philosophy of language that is not based in Special Revelation is just foolishness (Psalm 14:1).  After Christ, another dimension of foolishness to the “Greeks” has been added, the Cross of Christ (I Corinthians 1:23).  This “foolishness,” however, made fools of all philosophies, principalities, and powers (Colossians 2:15).  Thus, He is “all the treasures (thesaurus) of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

 

All the universals, objects, and propositions that can ever be imagined or stated by language in words or the mind of man have already existed in the λόγος.  Amen.

 

Language must assume God's presence.  "Any coherent understanding of what language is and how language performs, that any coherent account of the capacity of human speech to communicate meaning and feeling is, in the final analysis, underwritten by the assumption of God's presence.... the experience of aesthetic meaning, that of literature, of the arts, of musical form, infers the necessary possibility of this 'real presence' .... The wager on the meaning of meaning, on the potential of insight and response when one human voice addresses another, when we come face to face with the text and work of art or music, which is to say when we encounter the other in its condition of freedom, is a wager on transcendence."

 

"This wager – it is that of Descartes, of Kant and of every poet, artist, composer of whom we have explicit record – predicates the presence of a realness, of a 'substantiation' (the theological reach of this word is obvious) within language and form.  It supposes a passage, beyond the fictive or the purely pragmatic, from meaning to meaningfulness.  The conjecture is that 'God' is, not because our grammar is outworn; but that grammar lives and generates worlds because there is a wager on God."  (George Steiner, Real Presences, pages 3-4)

 

The almost infinite complexity of the mind in everyday tasks.  "What should impress us about the mind is not its rare extraordinary feats, like the accomplishments of Mozart or Shakespeare or Einstein, but the everyday feats we take for granted. Seeing in color. Recognizing your mother's face. Lifting a milk carton and gripping it just tight enough that it doesn't drop but not so tight that you crush it, while rocking it back and forth to gauge how much milk is in the bottom just from the tugs on your fingertips. Reasoning about the world what will and won't happen when you open the refrigerator door. All of these things sound mundane and boring, but they shouldn't be. We can't, for example, program a robot to do any of them! I would pay a lot for a robot that would put away the dishes or run simple errands, but I can't, because all of the little problems that you'd need to solve to build a robot to do that, like recognizing objects, reasoning about the world, and controlling hands and feet, are unsolved engineering problems. They're much harder than putting a man on the moon or sequencing the human genome. But a four-year-old solves them every time she runs across the room to carry out an instruction from her mother."  Interview with Steven Pinker

 

Language and Descartes--he did not doubt it!  Descartes wrote the Meditations and found that he was writing. What Descartes failed to put into doubt when he put everything in doubt was language. His title aimed, mystic-like, at a denuded self, a pre-linguistic and naked self, but "everything he said, every last word of it, was deeply embedded in the words he used that he had inherited from the Jesuits, and from the scholastic philosophers before them, and from his mother and father, and from the books he read in school, and so on." Our words "come equipped with ingrained grooves that will carry you down pre-established routes like a canoe." Wittgenstein argues there are no private languages, so that as soon as Descartes begins writing, he is "in the middle of a public language. There is no such thing as a pure, private, pre-linguistic sphere. http://www.leithart.com/archives/003301.php

 

 

 

 

Copyright ©2008 Covenant Enterprises
Site Design 2008 Adaptive Web Solutions