A key to philosophy is language

Linguistics is "the scientific study of language and its structure, including the study of morphology, syntax, phonetics, and semantics. " - Google

The one thing that gets in the way time and time again of productive discussions in philosophy is misunderstanding and a lot of that misunderstanding I see due to different levels of understanding different word meanings. Language can be very confusing with words meaning different things when people don’t utilize them understanding there are different meanings. So while someone may use a word in a proper sense, they may not necessarily understand that there are different senses of that same word that can have an entirely different meaning, and both be logically correct in the context of the discussion. When that occurs, it is imperative the author differentiate to avoid confusion. On the other hand, there are instances of a word being conveyed that really only has one sense that it must have logically been referred to, otherwise in context the author doesn’t make sense. This burden, rests upon the reader in order to understand. While it can be nice for the author to mention the definition, that can get tedious.

This can lead us to a slippery slope of defining (state or describe exactly the nature, scope, or meaning of.) every (used to refer to all the individual members of a set without exception.
used before an amount to indicate something happening at specified intervals. (used for emphasis) all possible; the utmost.)) word ( a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.) we state.

Philosophy requires in depth thinking and master of language in order to comprehend it due to the nature of philosophy that by nature, attempts to have us arrive to the deepest level of understanding that we can. Those who know the senses of words and have mastered the senses of words will understand that there are rules to play by, rules to communicate effectively and rules to understand information to communicate effectively. I have presented two of those reasons above, I hope the readers take the time to take that to heart so that they do understand. However taking it to heart is not merely enough. Understanding language is a matter of intelligence - in that it can be very difficult if you do not process information quickly. There are over a million words in the English language. Most adults use 20,000 - 35,000 words. Each one of those words typically has multiple senses in of itself. Remember, a word is just a symbol for the larger meaning of it, which definitions only hope to convey the meaning accurately. It can be very difficult to communicate effectively but in Philosophy is extremely important.

Meaning comes from within the conveyors mind, it is a construct of a person’s understanding of not only the concept a word is referring to but also the known definitions that people utilize to communicate. As such, there are problems found in both ways of providing meaning, not necessarily understanding the concept and not understanding the definition. Things can make sense in a person’s mind but don’t to others, usually due to a failure here in these two areas. Aside from that, even if both of these are gotten right, people don’t always think logically. As such, this isn’t a problem of communication if solely this occurs, but a problem of thinking in ones mind.

Yes. Of course. Duh. Without language no philosophy and science.

Why would you bother to only respond to the subject? I mean obviously that doesn’t say much at all and is a duh… but the content in the body isn’t necessarily a “duh”

Actually, a key to philosophy is in exploring the limitations of language. Of logic. Of that which either can or cannot be known for certain.

Pertaining, for example, to the things that most interest me.

That is a good point. I don’t like how you say actually, as if what I say is wrong. It’s not. Mind your tone, sir.

I apologize. That popped out because in my experience so many philosophers do tend to forget that part.

Well, this and the fact that my first instinct is often to react as the polemicist.

But I can swing both ways.

Ah no biggie
Yeah sometimes people get overly contrarian. Maybe not you but we can become so anti everything that we’re anti this and anti that… because people get fed up with the way things are they take a contrarian position by default. Meanwhile, they miss out…

There are more words than the only one you mentioned: “duh”. I agree with the subject. I know the topic very well. So I do not need to say much more about it. Do you understand that? Perhaps you thought that my responese was not meant seriously. But it was meant seriously. :slight_smile:

Well, with regard to the limitations of language [logic] and philosophy, I focus the beam here on those things whereby if you are a contrarian regarding its existence it either can or cannot be demonstrated that [objectively] you are right or wrong.


Jim believes that, contrary to the assertions of most, Donald Trump is not running to be the president of the United States. Now, are there any limitations imposed on language if one sets out to connect the dots between the words “Trump is running to be president” and the world – the fact of it?

But suppose both Joe and Jane agree on the fact of it. But Joe asserts that Trump would make a great president and Jane asserts that Trump would make a terrible president. Now, using the tools of philosophy, is there any way to establish the fact of this? Or are limitations imposed on both Joe and Jane when they set about the task of connecting the dots between what they mean by “Trump” and “great” and “Trump” and “terrible”?

Is there an epistemologically sound way in which to resolve the dispute?

This comes down to values again. Values are subjective. I just went over values in another tread. Great and terrible are value judgments, opinions. They aren’t logical necessities.

They kind of are logical though. I mean the English language kind of associates the two words. Stupid decisions=illogical decisions. Intelligence is associated with value judgements. For instance, if I don’t have intelligence, I might not make value judgements, and think it is a good idea to put my foot in lava one day, and argue that it doesn’t matter that I am in pain and have nerve damage, because “this too shall pass” and life is meaningless, value judgements are meaningless, and the fact that I am in constant pain for the rest of my life doesn’t really matter, etc.

Someone else, perhaps one of those dumb aliens on spaceships, or dumb vulcans or humans, might call me illogical for putting my foot in lava for no reason, and I might say to them, what fools they are. Don’t they know I am a victim of dasein, and nothing really matters? What fools they are.

Even if values are subjective, it doesn’t mean you can’t make logical arguments about them.

If A Then B


Is a logical argument whether the variables stand for objective things like “Three pounds” or subjective things like “Courage”.

Correct. You can. Based on your other values.

Excellent point.

I agree. It’s just that there are many, many folks here who, one way or another, don’t agree with that at all.

Most of them however have “foed” me. :wink:

And yet over and again I will ask folks who believe that logical arguments can be made regarding value judgments that come into conflict [precipitating conflicting behaviors] to demonstrate how the conclusion they draw from this [pertaining to their own values/ideals] is not just reflected in a political prejudice but instead in a point of view that, it is suggested, all rational men and women are obligated to share.

And this is where I focus the beam relating to the limitations of philosophical language.

After all, someone may display courage as Nazi or as a Communist or as a Christian or as a Moslem. We all agree their behavior embodies courage. But how do we come to agree regarding that which their courage is in defense of?

Language is important, but philosophy I think has to move beyond pure description. The problem perhaps isn’t with language but people who do know language, but choose to abuse it. Or at least its the lack of intelligent responses which kills most debates imho.

Words don’t mean things, people do

“Meaning” - as defined by Merriam Webster
what is intended to be, or actually is, expressed or indicated; signification; import:
the three meanings of a word.
the end, purpose, or significance of something:
What is the meaning of life? What is the meaning of this intrusion?
the nonlinguistic cultural correlate, reference, or denotation of a linguistic form; expression.

Now sense #1 is used colloquially when referring to “the meaning of words” or “what does that word mean?” But when I state, “Words don’t mean things, people do” I am referring to sense #3. Now this is somewhat ironic in how meaning of words and meaning of people and language can get very confusing and or muddled; words and communication are dynamic, in that there are many ways words can be used metaphorically, aside from all the different senses of a words. I would contest in certain words, it is nothing short of brilliant in able to utilize these certain words “in every sense of the word” and to mean every sense of the word. By stating “words don’t mean things, people do” as in people mean things - I am in a way, can be seen as being ambiguous or dubious in my communication. The receiver of the communication could easily not understand what I am stating - it could be that they don’t know about sense #3, which is often the case when I bring this statement up to say, Joe Schmoe. They might response, “words mean things, I can look up the meaning of words in the dictionary!”. But that would be Joe Schmoe using sense #1 strictly - in a sense that “meaning” is synonymous with having a definition. I don’t like the definition of sense #1 myself, it can create problems for our frame of reference on understanding what meaning I would say, should be. It is more meaningful to utilize meaning in sense #3, I would contend.

There are reasons why that is, a stating “words have definitions” is very straight forward as opposed to “words have meanings”. What does it really mean that “words have meanings”. It’s a rabbit hole in so much as it can mean quite a bit, and quite a bit more than one should be inundated with during communication. There are problems in language, because language is only a means to an end. That mean is conveying symbols (spoken or written) in a manner that hope to express the meaning of the communicator. I will leave it there to let some minds run wild, hopefully.

There is much to be said about this, much more than what I have said about this. I will possibly revisit this subject here at another time.

This ties into this beautiful quote here: " Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities – the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing – forming in our minds – their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself."

It ties in that language, definitions, are constructed through and form a supposed ontology of how the world is, but this is done through other humans, popular usage so to speak. But that doesn’t mean it is right even, nor does it mean a words implications are actually real.


Philosophy is a language, just as languages are ways of philosophizing.