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Philosophy

Are Strawberries Real?

What can we ever be truly certain of if language
is intransigently tautological?

Are strawberries real?

Well, for a start, they are not even berries and only retain the name by something of an etymological accident, linguistic coincidence or literary convention.

More curiously, though, whenever we step onto the playing field of language we find ourselves asserting definitions, identities and assumptions of inviolable truth just as though there is a concrete anchor of certainty somewhere in language which might allow us to celebrate such truth or completeness in any final manner. The truth is, as usual, far more interesting than the superficial game of tic tac toe we usually play with words and concepts and lies something much further down the complex, multidimensional rabbit hole of self-propagating information systems and human intelligence we all inhabit and that – equally – inhabits us.

As Bertrand Russell once pointed out in his Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, all definitions are circularly defined in terms of other definitions and so on without end. This means that, while we might be quite content to inhabit and fruitfully exploit these ultimately self-inflected and profoundly ambiguous systems of belief that language provides us, it is always at a cost of displacing or offsetting the overall information system discontinuity and incompleteness into some future point in time. We do not merely avoid our linguistic (or for that matter personal and psychological) inconsistencies, we redirect them temporally as future entropy and uncertain problems to negotiate “later on”. It is how human minds work and for this reason is implicit to, and endemic of, language.

Strawberries are facts. Words that reference them are facts, but the global and gestalt system of language and reference upon which the truth of those facts depend is unveiled (by and through itself) as unreliable. So, we can not trust an integrated system of reference and meaning but must trust the nodal points in this distributed network? It seems as though there is an intractable blindspot of uncertainty and entropy here, and a dissimulated certainty of facts in language obscures this enigmatic discontinuity of logic, words and of self.

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