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"New York Philosophy" Message Board › Do words get in the way of real understanding?

Do words get in the way of real understanding?

PiWi
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 117
Some times after meditating, it feels like any word i would use to explain the "reality" i experienced is inadequate.

Trying to write down my dreams often feels really frustrating as well, as the "reality" of the dream cannot be captured adequately with words.

On the other hand, when thinking hard about something, I often have to say my thoughts out loud otherwise the thinking process seems to fizzle out and abort. Here the words seem to anchor the thoughts and make the understanding more solid.

What's your take?
A former member
Post #: 2
Linguistics are a human construct. The meaning of words only have the meaning that one gives them. I guess the words haven't been created yet to suit your experiences or for descriptions.

That being said, if you want to 'adequately' capture your dreams with words, either read the dictionary or create your own words and meanings lol
A former member
Post #: 1
That is why we have poetry & art in so many explosively creative ways. forexample, movies which is an extremely ceative art form helps to visually have audiencesexperience something that word simply cannot.

now as far as experiencing something, and being able to put it to words, that would be much more and much more difficult when the experience is something that is not experienced by the average person.

So yes words do fail to express, but words were never intended to be an exact replica of what we expeirence, but a close as possible description. Yo umust admit that many things are expressed quite wonderfully with words.
PiWi
user 3398759
Virginia Water, GB
Post #: 119
That is why we have poetry & art in so many explosively creative ways. forexample, movies which is an extremely ceative art form helps to visually have audiencesexperience something that word simply cannot.

now as far as experiencing something, and being able to put it to words, that would be much more and much more difficult when the experience is something that is not experienced by the average person.

So yes words do fail to express, but words were never intended to be an exact replica of what we expeirence, but a close as possible description. Yo umust admit that many things are expressed quite wonderfully with words.

Sure words are magical and powerful.

But i think it's easy to think - erroneously - that language always faithfully enables the expression of our mind. The reason is that our language is the very vehicle we use day in day out to express ourselves, and we are typically unaware of the ways in which the availability or unavailability of specific words in our language frame/limit our thoughts (a little bit like if you wear tinted goggles that clearly distort natural color, after a while you will hardly be aware that there is any color distortion)

One way to become aware of it is when you speak several languages and you realize that a specific thing you express perfectly in one language is impossible to express - or express easily - in another. "schadenfraude" in german. "saudade" in brazilian portuguese. the distinction between "tu/vous" for "you" in French. "yoko meshi" in japanese (which wins my prize for the best untranslatable word, since it itself means something like the awkwardness of speaking in a foreign language).

To take the tu/vous example, when i lived in France, it used to be almost completely automatic for me (like for any french person) to think and use "tu" (less formal) or "vous" (more formal) depending on the status of the person i'm talking to. But having now lived in the US for many years, this automatic dichotomy has basically withered away and now when i go back to France, it often takes me a few seconds of consciously thinking about, and choosing between "tu" and "vous" in particular in socially intermediate situations. I think the concept "you", but then when it gets to the point where my intent/thought gets translated into words, it gets stuck somehow by the availability of the 2 words, and the unavailability of one general word that covers both "tu" and "vous". In other words, because i no longer use the words tu and vous, I've now partially lost the ability to automatically think the concepts of "informal you" and "formal you".

Words are imperfect, and in many ways that we may not be conscious of. But i guess they're the best thing we have...until somebody figures out how to translate "mentalese" directly. Actually now that i think of it, it would be interesting to see of we will develop ways to reproduce (however imperfectly since 2 people's brain architecture are not exactly the same) a particular state of mind/thought/emotion that cannot be easily put into words "directly" by mapping that mindset in a person's brain, and projecting it onto someone else through brain stimulation. But i'm getting way ahead of myself here.
A former member
Post #: 1
Words are definitely obstructions at times. That's how I got into photography. To try and express myself in that way... although even that doesn't always work. In general, I believe that's how so many forms of expression came to exist, the many forms of art, drawing, painting, writing, dancing, even how people dress and style themselves or speak.

Actions speak louder than words, no?
Edward H.
user 11983034
New York, NY
Post #: 1
-snip-
Words are imperfect, and in many ways that we may not be conscious of. But i guess they're the best thing we have...until somebody figures out how to translate "mentalese" directly. Actually now that i think of it, it would be interesting to see of we will develop ways to reproduce (however imperfectly since 2 people's brain architecture are not exactly the same) a particular state of mind/thought/emotion that cannot be easily put into words "directly" by mapping that mindset in a person's brain, and projecting it onto someone else through brain stimulation. But i'm getting way ahead of myself here.

It would definitely be an interesting endeavor...but who's to say that a direct mind-meld would be any less cryptic? I believe an individuals consciousness, thoughts, and words, are made up of the sum total of that person’s life experiences and future aspirations. These distinct facets of the human condition are probably so unique that, at best, it would be like looking through your Polaroid with a permanent red filter and at worst, require some kind of protective gear. :)
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