Language and Certainty

If language mirrors reality, then reality is a messy, messy thing. It also means there’s a lot less certainty to be had – but is this a bad thing?

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5 thoughts on “Language and Certainty

  1. mackman April 16, 2012 / 2:36 pm

    But that assumes that Language, as language, is inherently messy and uncertain. It seems more likely, however, that the language of God is inherently certain and solid. When God said, “Let there be light,” there was not even the merest possibility of it being misunderstood. And when we hear that God himself is the Word, is spoken into the world, then we know that the Word is constant and firm.

    The language of earth is messy: The language of God is reality itself. And while reality can be misunderstood, it is not the fault of reality, but of the hearers.

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      • mackman April 16, 2012 / 4:33 pm

        I agree with you that language as we primarily interact with it is very messy and imprecise. But I don’t believe that language as God used it to create the world is either messy or imprecise.

        Scripture is full of the assumption that reality has something to say, that reality means something. Psalm 19 in particular: “The heavens declare the glory of God,” meaning that the existence and beauty of the heavens declare the glory of their creator in no uncertain terms. The heavens have a distinct, firm meaning, and if that meaning is missed, it is no fault of the heavens.

        Paul also assumes this in Romans 1:19-20: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

        There is an assumption of inherent meaning in the universe: Meaning which cannot be argued with, but can be misinterpreted: But the misinterpretation is clearly the fault of the observer.

        In all honesty, though, much of linguistic theory goes right over my head. Only when it interacts with theology do I feel I can grasp some of it.

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  2. whitefrozen April 16, 2012 / 4:48 pm

    I wouldn’t argue with your second and third paragraphs – being the moderate realist that I am, I believe that reality exists apart from anyone’s interpretation. 100% agreement there. I think you have to be an idiot to think anything else honestly. If that’s what it sounded like I was advocating, then I just was poor in my articulation.

    I’ll recommend the link I posted in my first reply – it’s technical but that site will give you a good overview of philosophy of language in relation theology.

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  3. John April 17, 2012 / 10:33 pm

    Mind is artificial intelligence. Mind is the first robot that human beings ever made. In the usual discussions of such matters, artificial intelligence is presumed to to be something generated by computers. In actuality, however, LANGUAGE is the first form of artificial intelligence created by human beings.

    There is no mind. Mind is a myth. There is language, which is programmed by brains, and which, in turn, program brains. However, there is no tangible existence to “mind” itself – absolutely none. Nevertheless, human beings identify with the “mind” AS “self”, and thereby invent a destiny for themselves, and even project that self-imagined destiny into an idea of time and space beyond the present lifetime (thus pretending that they will be “saved” by Jesus for instance).

    Mind is an interior projection of a language-program that, in its imaginative elaboration of itself, conceives of purposes and ideas, in the realm of illusion, for which there are no corresponding physical data. Human beings are all “living” in a “virtual world” of mind. Human beings are, characteristically , self-identified with a “robot” , an artificial intelligence (which in the case of Christians, they pretend is going to be “saved”)

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