No One is Capable of Understanding

            Some time ago I very facetiously wrote a brief “philosophy of philosophy”[1] and, in the presented argument, suggested that doing philosophy meant nothing without God. My younger brother, Nolan, replied to my ‘argument’ and, I must say, he replied very well.[2] He came to the same conclusion, only changing the terminology. Even though he replied as if I had actually given some formal argument in favor of some formal conclusion (which was not my intent), I fear that my brother has missed a very important philosophical principle. That is the principle of understanding. This principle is just as valuable to those who do not wish to pursue philosophy, per se, as it is necessary for anyone to relate to anyone else and, sadly, is a concept that has been lost in our society. For the sake of our public interaction, then (which may or may not be of value to those auditing) I must suggest that both previous articles are read.

After reading both previous articles, it is easy to see that my brother’s main contention founded itself in the use of certain terms, namely the term “independently” of which he stated an “independently operating world does not necessitate an irrelevancy of philosophy”. As a brief defense, the statement is a matter of perspective and, while I was writing from the perspective of the independently operating world[3], my brother chose to respond as if the claims were made from the perspective of the individual mind[4]. It would seem that, in his article, my brother produced a contention out of agreement, and I would caution him not to allow his thirst for argumentation to gain the best of him. This defense, however, does not need to be made. Since we are in the public eye, I hope to offer something of more benefit to those viewers who are following the conversation.

Use of language

First of all, language is a very interesting, and humorous concept. Consider the word “word”. Can we define it? Yes, with other words. Word can be defined as a unit of language established with other units to form sentences. Now, let us define language. Language is a spoken or written method of communication. Now, let us define communication. Communication is an exchange of information. What about information? Information is what is represented or transmitted by things. What, then, are things? A thing is an object that one either cannot or will not give a name to. [5]

Considering these, it seems unthinkable or impossible that mankind might have ever developed words out of abstract concepts or “things”. It is amazing that language exists and amazing that it exists so coherently. While there are so many misunderstandings, it astounds me that anyone is able to understand when I say something like, “I would really like a slice of apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.” In all plausibility, language should not exist because thinking beings would not have been able to communicate with one another in able to form coherent speech patterns. There would only be these abstract things and there would be no other things to describe them.

Yet, it seems, mankind is perfectly capable of using language to transmit information and even to transmit abstract ideas to one another. While it is no surprise that so many people are misunderstood in their choice of language, it is very surprising that we are able to understand each other at all.

Understanding language

            Considering, then, the extreme possibility of one person misunderstanding another simply by the use of language, I must first highlight to my brother that he must, in his argument or in his consideration of an argument, strive to understand the way in which other parties use language. As I have used it in a perspective that was not considered and as others, I am sure, use some words to mean something other than what my brother means by them, it is important for that language to be understood before a lengthy reply is made; else the lengthy reply may bear no significance to the argument overall. Our desire should be to build others up, not rebut for the sake of argument or to prove our own intelligence. For, that intelligence means nothing without wisdom and wisdom, many times, finds itself in our effort simply to understand.

Furthermore, in our own use of language, which tends to be my own downfall, we should consider the understanding of others. “Speaking without thinking” tends to be the trademark of virtually every individual on this planet. Thinking about what we say does not only insinuate that we ought not to say anything that will not build others up, it also challenges us to speak in a manner that others might be able to understand and glean from our language what we intend to be gleaned from it.

Understanding might be a commodity that is more valuable than both time and money and, in many cases, we choose not to work to understand others. What we do instead is find a point of argument and constantly correct and criticize, when in fact, other parties may mean exactly what we think they ought to mean, only using different terms to describe their thoughts.


God as a proof for language

Lastly, I offer a simple argument concerning language.

  1. It seems unthinkable that language should have ever been known by men.[6]
  2. It seems unthinkable that human beings should ever have had the ability to communicate. (since the learning of language requires the ability to first communicate and since communication requires some use of language)
  3. It seems therefore unthinkable that language was developed by human beings. (since it seems unthinkable that language ever existed or that human beings could ever have communicated)
  4. Language, then, has either existed before human beings or does not exist.
  5. Language currently exists (use this argument as proof).
  6. Therefore language has existed before human beings.
  7. Other creatures (terrestrial or extraterrestrial) would have had the same problems concerning language development. It seems unthinkable, then, that language should have ever been known by them.
  8. It seems unthinkable that other creatures should have ever had the ability to communicate.
  9. It seems, therefore unthinkable that language was ever developed by other creatures.
  10. Language, then, has either existed before all other creatures or has never existed.
  11. Language exists.
  12. Therefore language has existed before all other creatures.

This argument suggests that language has always existed and that its origin must be found in something eternal and that suggests a rational mind to be dependent upon. The only rational belief we could have in language, it seems, is also a belief in who we might call God. Without God, there could be no language and there could be no understanding of language.

[3] An independently operating world, in this case, is not subject to the philosophy of certain individuals and therefore renders those philosophies irrelevant from the perspective of the world.

[4] An individual mind can learn from a world that it is subject to and develop philosophies and worldviews that help it to interact with that world. Philosophy would then be relevant for the individual, but irrelevant to the world at large.

[5] All definitions are modified (for interest of space) from definitions found in Webster’s

[6] See Use of language

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