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Chapter 15



Language and the Mind

 Language is a purely human and non- instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires through the use objects and symbols.

In general there are three ways we communicate.  We can touch someone, we communicate by moving the body (e.g., pointing) and by using audible symbols or visible symbols. 

Most of the miscommunication is in the interpretation of symbols. We might not quite understand the language being used, or miss something while listening or reading.

There are about 600,000 words in the English language used today.  The average adult uses about 2,000 words in daily conversations.  The top 500 frequently used words have over 14,000 dictionary definitions. There about 300 million English speaking people in the world today.  Every person, every second of the day is having a different experiences.

Instead of viewing an individual as a whole, there are advantages is seeing a person as made of different types of parts.  For instance, the self (who we think we are) is not the same as are beliefs as beliefs can be theoretical and change.

 Each part of the mind thinks.  Some parts of the mind (see introduction) think with impressions more than words. 

For example, our emotions and our body send us impressions.  Our soul, purpose and insight have their special thoughts that are of a high nature, and certain words such love, grace and beauty may be heard from these areas of ourselves. The self, tasks, relationships, imagination are talkative using a full range of subjects and understandings.

Based on General Semantics theories, words like maps. A map represents a particular territory. In a similar way, language is used to model certain ideas.  The words are not to be confused with their meaning just as a map should not be confused with the territory.

One of the culprits in making the territory and the map blur is the word "is." The root form of "is" is the verb "to be.  There are eight different forms: be, am, is, are, was, were, being, been.

Each of these sentences equate a person and nastiness: "Bill, to be nasty is so wrong; I am nasty; Bill is nasty; You Bill are nasty; Bill you were nasty; Bill, you are being nasty, Bill you have always been nasty.

Here the map (the word nasty) equated to the territory (the guy named Bill). In reality, Bill can change.  Bill is made up of many things, not all of them are nasty.

 Now Bill can smell nasty, or act nasty.  But taking a simple bath, or being nice to Bill can change Bill.

The verb "to be" seems to make all of Bill permanent a certain way.  Other ways of doing the same thing is to say I have an high IQ. Or someone is ugly, pretty or lazy.

With this in mind it is wrong to throw a net over something by making it equal to a word. 

But in ordinary life it is hard to say things without the word "is."

How would you say this:
“To be or not to be, that is the question.

To exist or not exist ... a question is awkward and hard to understand. But here the verb is used in a good way.

Using magical words such as "abracadabra" also mix the territory and the map. 

Is sin a real thing?  For centuries, Catholics were bound to abstain from meat on Fridays, the day that Christ was crucified and the fifth day of creation when God made the animals. Then, in 1966, the Second Vatican Council relaxed the law to the point where Catholics were virtually freed from the obligation. So the word "sin" seems to be something created through language.  Of course there are things we do and think that are not so good, so best to avoid them, but would an intelligent God punish us for the eating of meat on certain days?

 Is mathematics a language?  Is the physical world?  Nobody has found any numbers under a rock.  But number do exist in our Inner World.  We live in our inner world, so numbers exist there, and this is where languages live.

So when we are using our language we working in our inner world.  The Physical World has no color, music, language and is composed of fields and particles obeying natural law. Nothing personal there.

 When we use language, we are focusing on one thing at a time. We can rapidly switch our thinking from one thing to another, but we cannot think of two things at exactly the same time.

We can experience more than one emotion at the same time.  For example if a mother finds her lost child she might be angry at the child and happy to find her.

We can also use all our senses at the same time, and this is a good thing.  If not...

Once upon a time there were six blind men who explained what a elephant was.  One said it was a wall as he touch the side of the elephant.  The next touched the tusk and thought it was hard and round and came to a point.  The trunk was touched by another man who thought it was like a snake.  The next man touch on of the knees of the elephant and it was very much like a tree.  And another man touched the ear of the elephant and thought it must be like that of a fan.  The sixth man happened to touch the tail of the elephant and thought it was like a rope.  So who was right?

Even when we use our senses in concert, we cannot assume that we are completely accurate in what we sense. We cannot assume that our experience, say seeing a red barn, is the same for others.  Maybe our red experience, would look gray for a colored blind person.  May our experience, might be more intense, or less in brightness, hue?  It has been reported that some people have four instead three types of cones in their retina and see colors more vividly and more hues.  

It is amazing we can communicate as well as we think we do.  We can pretty much describe something to someone else.  Put to describe a person enough to have someone draw a picture takes a long time, and a trained sketch up artist.

Our brain makes many approximations.  It assumes colors are darker in shadows. It assumes that rooms have square corners. It assumes that it is the same person looks when viewed from different positions.

During a conversation, each person sends and receives information.  Mistakes can be made with speaking/writing of information (transmission errors) or the hearing/reading of information (reception errors).  The short cuts appear as illusions.

Communications between computers and people have some error.  We often repeat a message, perhaps expressed differently when something does not sound just right.

Mistakes can be made so often there accepted as true.  Sherlock Holmes is legionary in all the details he picks up at a crime scene.  He collects little details, and, for example, is able identify smells on tobacco on a super human level.  He uses deductive reasoning as he is a detective.

Wrong! Holmes uses inductive reasoning.  He is taking many details, puts it all together and makes an conclusion of who the criminal might be.  Taking many facts and making an theory based on them is inductive reasoning.

Deductive reasoning works the opposite of inductive reasoning. For example, deductive reasoning was used by a marketing team. They used information of a general nature that professional women who are also mothers rarely take more than 10 minutes to perform their makeup. Using this information, advertising is created that their makeup can be applied in less than 3 minutes.  The company realized a increase in sales using this deductive reasoning process.

-Adapted in part from Communications, Kaiser Aluminum News III/65
-Many of the ideas expressed are from the study of General Semantics.


Recommended  books which support many of my ideas.

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