Categories
Philosophy

Words Fail

There is more than one logic, more than one language, but what is the actual language or logic of thought itself?

I find that words are too slow, too clumsy and for all their intrinsic and adaptive plasticity as flexible tokens of an indefinitely extensible logical system of extended cognition in language, they are quite unable to obtain sophistication sufficient to actually capture or accurately reflect the quicksilver of thought. There are concepts, mental images and intuitions that dart and arc or twist and shift like electrical storms across awareness as subtleties of nuance and comprehension which are quite poorly interpreted and translated through the grammatical and algorithmic mechanisms of human language. When we say we have been thinking about a thing we really mean that, beyond whatever complexities might be innate to the object of our study, we are attempting to filter our thought and shared or conventional conceptual vocabularies on a topic through the constraints of one symbolic language or another.

Language certainly provides some degrees of freedom and, indeed, this is its power and intermittent beauty but we rarely if ever notice that we are all quite literal slaves to the patterned idioms and grammatical constraints through which we communicate. As the primary tool of communication, language cultivates us just as much as we ever nurture or recreate it. Everything we do, in fact, is little more than recursively recombinatory replication of the cognitive and behavioural grammars by and through which languages and logical patterns of information reproduce themselves as abstractions which pass across, through and as the transmission medium that we and all of our choices represent. Language provides us freedom to move but ultimately only within the prescribed rules of a game that we might individually require to survive but which does not require individuals at all beyond the threshold level of useful entropy and metamorphosis they inject into the integrated communications systems we inhabit.

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