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
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
Language is primarily used for
one person to others.
Obviously, language consists of
words which have
meaning through their
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
languages have such a history and
Surely, all of this association involves
And, from an even larger perspective, there is
philosophy of language,
philology, and etymology!
involving such considerations as
syntax and grammar.
knowledge may be
stated as a proposition,
also known as a
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
Sentence structure includes a
noun and a
Nouns are names of
objects that may be
real, whether in
Objects are composed of various associations of
universals in a
in their metaphysical
sense are substance
As such, they may or may not have some sort of
And, they may be
living or inorganic.
Understanding of language forms of communication necessarily
the science of
interpretation of the written word.
Interpretation necessarily involves the
knowledge that was
to be communicated.
take place from one language to another, as well as taking into
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
Then, there are the considerations whether communication
involves propositions that involve
analogy or are
In spite of attention to all this detail in
error and even
When ideas have
consequences, the results can be a major advance in
of lives and
And, to this point we have not even discussed
that every individual
has his own subjective
disposition that is
unique on planet
Curiously, having a
properly basic belief in the Bible, we know that language
did not evolve, as
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
which is simply God’s system of
English is now the
but Spanish and
Arabic threaten this
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
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
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
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,