from “ask a philosopher”


Hello, I want to know whether our reasoning ability can go beyond the limits imposed by our language? Does language puts a Limit on philosophy?


I would love to answer this question but I have no idea what it means.

(from ask a philosopher)

One Response to “from “ask a philosopher””

  1. from a psychologist says:

    This “philosopher’s” response is outrageous and pompous; in other words, it is precisely the sort of response to be expected from a “professional” philosopher, or, as Socrates rightly identified this type, sophist. Because the question was not littered with jargon, it is uninterpretable to this intellectual savage…instead, the philosopher sees his/her role here as the champion of reason and meaning, here to police others’ attempts to phrase their questions in manners that will allow for canned resposes. Such responses, despite their seeming logical rigour and significant depth and the spontaneousness with which they are generated in dialogue, actually originate in the pussilanimous aping of professors which subsequently gets “refined” to a pathetic facade in coffee shops and smoking lounges, and of course, in classrooms.

    As for the question about whether our reasoning ability can extend beyond the limits of our language: there is generally debate about this issue, however the consensus is that yes, indeed our cogitive capacities are not fully constrained by language structure. For instance, much field research has examine whether color perception is constrained by the possession of words corresponding to a given color (i.e., can you perceive green w/o having a word for that color). The short answer is that, yes, people can and do perceive colors and other things above and beyond language. As to reasoning ability in particular, the answer again seems to be yes, we can reason above and beyond language. Classic research with primates has demonstrated “insight learning”, in which these animals solve problems spontaneously, independent of prior learning, and, of course, without language. A broader and perhaps more central point is that nonhumans lack language (most crucially, they lack the naturalistic symbolic capactities/tendencies that underpin the emergence of language in species and in individuals) yet the have incredibly rich mental lives. They have remarkable learning skills, mathematical abilities, capacities for theory of mind (some primates), and astounding problem solving skills that often make humans seem primitive.

    But I get the sense that your question has a broader intention; that you are straining to get a sense if the symbolic shackles of language can be transcended to find some more expansive meaning above and beyond the limits of this socially constructed/imposed medium…. That’s a much tougher question and is perhaps best addessed by a combination of empirical and instrospective analyses. The answer in part lies on one’s own mind, one’s own resolve and the extent of one’s pnchant for creative thought and action above and beyond prescribed norms of thoughts. On the other hand, in one’s mind also resides the heart of the problem…the love of the shackles of language, the need for symbolic distances which isolate and devastate yet which render possible the flights across them, leaps and bounds from which great poetry, science and philosophy can emerge. There is no single way out of this paradox that you are both in love with the chains of language yet inexorably desirous that they be lifted from you. Some would have you believe there is, but they are just egotists trying to profit by way of attaining power, supplementing revolution for reactionism, and by staving off their paranoia about impending apocalypses. I would argue that it’s best to be aware of this problem at some times, but not too often because seeing through to the reality of mental slavery to language can rupture one’s own death-denying ideologies; it is important to remain creatively delusional most of the time, or delusionally creative or however you want to think about it. That’s my take.

Staypressed theme by Themocracy