A brood comb

….philosophical and other notes….

Eyes and Arms

Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on November 4, 2008

Being able to get informed through language is like having another set of eyes.
Being able to do things through language is like having another set of arms.

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9 Responses to “Eyes and Arms”

  1. Brandon said

    Ramon Llull in the fourteenth century argued that language, which he called ‘affatus’, was our sixth sense.

  2. Hi Brandon,

    Thinking of it, in some ways it goes way beyond other senses, as through it we can inform and be informed of general relations – something that doesn’t seem we can do through the “normal senses”.

  3. theBLAH said

    Something strikes me as odd about this, but I’m not sure what.

    Would you say “Being able to get informed through my eyes is like having another set of language.” ? Or same with the arms one?

    I suppose there’s the idea of abstraction, where you can’t necessarily point to something that represents everything that is received through language, but then again, can’t you? When I point to words, I’m using my eyes; hearing language with ears…

    “Being able to get information is like being able to get information” – are we really saying anything specific about language?

  4. Brandon said

    Llull recognized the point about general relations, too; one of the peculiarities of the ‘affatus’ is that it is closely connected with concepts (concepts made sensible, so to speak).

    On “Being able to get informed through my eyes is like having another set of language” — Berkeley argues it in this direction. (He goes farther, in fact, and argues that being informed through our eyes is another language, and not just like one; it’s a major part of his idealism.)

  5. Hi TheBlah,

    I was mostly thinking in terms of our awareness of the world, when comparing language with eyes. How we can see that something is the case, but also we can become aware that something is the case when other people tell us. That is… If we speak of some kind of accessibility of world truths to us, that language works (in one its aspect) as another kind of sense (to use Llull’s terminology), that it makes the world more open to us.

    I think it is more interesting, how history books (or friend’s telling us about some event for that matter) allow us to become aware of what *was* too, something that we can’t perceive with our eyes. S, I guess I’m little fascinated by this accessibility of world truths that language opens to us.

    And, further, I thought that the analogy might be interesting, because of possible distinction that are left out in that analogy – is the perception by eyes in some sense “more direct” than becoming aware through the language? If so, what is this sense? Given that, does the analogy works at all?

  6. Trey said

    Language is also the source of much illusion….it’s just as deceptive as is it powerful.

  7. Trey said

    or….I would rather say that language can be just as deceptive. You have to look at what is being said…what is intended by the sentence…and its relation (if any) to the world. Nothing can be taken at face value, at least in philosophy.

    I’ve pretty much given up on arguing about what is true – arguing about how the world really is. Although I am still very young, at this point I take it that the process is rather to determine what someone takes to be the determinations for truth in their theory. And for myself, as a metaphysican, my job is to further refine my own notions concerning determinations of truth. For example, it very well may be that when I say ‘I ate eggs for breakfast this morning’ even though I ate eggs for breakfast this morning, my fellow colleague might say that my claim is simply not true. My process would not be to argue that he is wrong…but to find out what it is about his metaphysics that could support his idea. After all…if we are all brains in vats…then I didn’t eat eggs this morning!

    So yeah..just a sort of general comment. Language is very powerful…but can be very deceptive also. And much of philosophy is to discern various uses of language…and to engage in dialouge with our friends in order to further clarify our language in order to further clarify our ‘pictures’ of the world.

  8. Trey, yes, I agree. Given that we don’t have much choice but to speak and discuss the world using language, and in doing that using the forms of language to express ourselves it opens possibility for all kinds of confusions.

  9. Trey said

    Its really interesting to note that there does appear to be some truths, for example modal truths, that are truths about the world but are only accessible through language. The question I guess is that without language, would we still be able to ‘think’ modal truths? Assuming that we take modal truths to be truths about the world in the first place….my intuition is that they are.

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