Strawcat (strawcat) wrote,
Strawcat
strawcat

English, Language of Rationalizing

"In the first place, very little thinking was ever done in English; it is not a language suitable to logical thought. Instead, it's an emotive lingo beautifully adapted to concealing fallacies. A rationalizing language, not a rational one."

- Lazurus Long, Time Enough For Love

Language is normally thought to be a tool by which we communicate, not just to others but to ourselves, what we know but it has become increasingly clear to me that our language conceals just as much as it reveals. I don't mean simply that there is a certain richness to the world that no language, however intricate, can fully integrate. (Who ever first said "a picture is worth a thousand words" was either making an understatement or severely short-changed pictures even if they capable of representing only a sliver of reality.) We think that in order to sucessfully present something to be the case or give an explanation of how it is or why it ought to be, we are to be primarily concerned with the excercise of giving reasons that support our argument or refute competing arguments. If we become quite skilled in this excercise we might fashion ourselves as philosophers, comitting much time and effort to the building of towering linguistic structures and then proceed to play philosophical Janga with others of that propensity. But if we suppose that in doing this we are contributing to the gradual evolution of truth, we are mistaken. There is no Platonic realm where reasons reside and need only be discovered and picked out, but rather, they are built, often from scratch, from the whatever precipitates from the transitory mental weather in our minds.

It is tempting to imagine a snowball fight where there is certainly no shortage of snow, but a nearly limitless amount, each flake indistinguishable from all the rest unless of course you were to pass each one through the lens of magnifying glass where you would notice that none are exactly alike. Since we are in the mood for a fight, however, we do not inspect each of them carefully, but immediately lump snow together and start tossing snowballs...by this time it is too late to inspect the snowflakes of which they are composed. It doesn't seem to matter which flakes are used since by the time they become snowballs they all have the same impact anyway. Seldom so severe an impact that people are often hurt and must stop and concede, but enough to instigate the continual tossing of counter-snowballs from the other participants. In much the same way, our minds are filled with fleeting fragments of thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires, convictions and fears that we may not be conscious of at the time but potentially are, no single fragment being sufficient to produce reasons, much less come up with good ones, but we must first stick them together in such a way that they may at least be presented as reasons. We are told that only the bare facts should come together to form a valid reason, but somehow the few "bare facts" we possess in our minds do not stick well together to form much of anything until they are interpreted to suit our needs; they are just tid bits of information that drift along the endless stream of mental content with a whole bunch of other stuff that is not immediately distinguishable from the other types of bits.

Certainly, we often feel that we have an 'investment' in whatever it is that we are arguing for perhaps because we fear for our grip on reality - our worldview - if it is not so, and there are certain principles that can neither be proved true or false and values have no relation at all to matters of truth or falseness that must also enter into the equations, and most likely, heaven forbid, our other feelings or passions play a part as well, though we are the first to deny the blasphemous ingredients and origins of our reasons. We easily forget about this anyway once the reason has been presented, since it may be taken to be valid regardless of what proportion of its components are of a merely "subjective" sort and no one else is in as good a position to discern this other than ourselve. What can be thought of only counting against us might as well be erased from memory. It ultimately seems that there is no such thing as a 'pure reason', but that all reasons are actually rationalizations to varying extents, and that this is not transparent to us is thanks to the complicity of our language which purports to rectify precisely what it conceals. The subjective/objective distinction is always breeched in each case, though we bolster our own reasons with claims to objectity while attacking the validity of opposing reasons with accusations of subjectivity and also point out that these reasons are not very good or compelling because they do not accurately square with the the world we know, but this of course is our world, the world as seen through the lens of our particular worldview.
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