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Verbalism and Idolatry of Words.

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posted on Nov, 22 2013 @ 11:50 AM
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Verbalism and Idolatry of Words.


 


verbalism |ˈvərbəˌlizəm|
noun
concentration on forms of expression rather than content.
• a verbal expression.
• excessive or empty use of language.


 


When we go and get some sleep, we can almost imagine that we acquire something called “sleep” as we lay our heads to pillow. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such something called “sleep” that we acquire. No entity, individual, substance or object can be found or imagined that is called “sleep”; and this is because no such entity exists.

To illustrate further: when we go for a walk, we never actually go for something called a “walk”. There is only ever us walking—what walks is the only thing that exists in this instance—and the image we create in our mind which indicates to the memory that between this time and that time we were walking, we call a “walk”. There is no such thing as a “walk”, but this doesn’t change the fact that we speak about a walk as if it was something we can go for.

The same can be said of many words—too many words. When we lose consciousness, there is no such thing called "consciousness" that we are losing, we are simply no longer conscious. When we lose our sight, we don’t actually lose something called “sight”, we simply stop seeing. When we have a thought, there isn’t something called a “thought” that we can have, we are simply thinking. When we have a dream, there is never any substance or entity called a dream that is there, it is simply us dreaming. Yet we speak about these "things" as if they existed as things.

This all sounds trivial and perhaps a little unnecessary, but the act of turning verbs into nouns and employing them as such in our day to day language is rampant in English, and I think it leads to mistaken ontological conclusions. This may prove, in the end, to be unavoidable, as it is the nature of our language to seek convenience over intelligibility, to abstract what is concrete, but we can at least be aware of our own verbalism in such instances.

For instance, it can be argued, but never observed, that there are such things or substances called sight, perception, mind, awareness, being, redness, thoughts, dreams, etc. and most people will exercise their faith in these words by using them and sometime venerating them. Philosophers have argued over the nature and properties of Thoughts, Wisdom, Justice, Being, Happiness, Consciousness, and so on for thousands of years, when no such nature or properties are available. Plato could not find these ideas with his senses, so he imagined they exist in a realm outside our own. Kant’s greatest work was his “Critique of Pure Reason”, which amounts to a critique of pure nothing but Kant thinking about the word “reason”. Likewise, when philosophers ponder “virtue” or “justice” or “wisdom” or “good and evil”, they can only ever talk about the humans that conduct themselves in such ways. The humans exist, but their ways do not.

This may sound sad to weak ears, but is nonetheless apparent to the common senses—there is never anything called “love”, “happiness”, “awareness”, “consciousness”, “fortune” that exist in the world. No such persons, places or things can be found. Like past and future, they are only available in “hindsight”, in “memory”, in “thought”—or more honestly—in us. There is no concrete entity, individual, substance or object that can bear the label of these nouns; and this is because no such entities or individuals or objects exist. What does exist is the entity, individual, substance or object that performs these tasks—the entity that loves, that is happy, that is aware, that is conscious, that is fortunate. Only that can be our “love”, our “consciousness”, our “happiness”; because only that can perform or exhibit these movements.

When we see two people in love, what exists? those two people, or “love”? When we see a conscious child, what exists? that child, or “consciousness”? Yet people will place “love” or "sacrifice" or "selflessness" as the supreme good, as if these had any value apart from that which performs them. But this is idolatry of words, placing the words “love” and “consciousness” above that which loves and is conscious.

What pains me most is that people will speak ill of or slander that which performs these actions, slander themselves. To find fortune or happiness or success or love, they will crawl over that from which fortune and happiness and success arise. They seek peace or happiness outside of themselves when it is only ever they that performs peace and happiness. Where else but in themselves can it be found? Not out there. Not in other worlds or dimensions or spirit realms. Happiness is found in the same place as sadness; health is found in the same place as illness; peace is found in the same place as strife—all occurrences of only one actual, living and breathing thing—the one who speaks and thinks about such words.

For the philosopher, so much has been discussed in regards to philosophy, but nothing is said of the philosopher. So much has been discussed about things that don't exist, and not enough about that which does.




posted on Nov, 22 2013 @ 12:07 PM
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reply to post by Aphorism
 


Turning verbs into nouns irritates you? There's this thing called "communicative flexibility", which means that you are able to adjust your verbal or written expressions according to the context being related or the audience being addressed. Sometimes, you have to contort the message a little to make it clearer for others.

And sometimes, you're communicating with people who aren't incapable of contextual inferring the intended message. Which means you can take liberties with the message itself, cutting corners and whatnot. So yes, this is a very trivial subject.

Also, idolatry? Where's the idolatry in this?
edit on 22-11-2013 by AfterInfinity because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 22 2013 @ 04:20 PM
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reply to post by AfterInfinity
 


I never said turning verbs into nouns irritates me. I said that I believe they lead to ontological difficulties, and the faith in things that don't exist. As I also said, it is inescapable, and therefor necessary to communicate properly. But I think when philosophical thinking goes off track and explores just these words, and not what they're applied to, the philosopher ends up pondering literally nothing but that word. I believe this leads to veneration or idolatry of these words—or at the very least the words are made out to be more than what they actually are.

Take the word "God". The word "God", and the subsequent personification of this word into art and literature, is the only thing present to the senses and the mind that we can examine in regards to what God actually is. It is a word—one I think is used far to often for fruitless ends—and beyond that there is nothing there, there is nothing to which that label can apply. It is literally talking about, writing about, and expressing nothing but a word. This isn't practical or necessary to live a good life, but it nonetheless occurs.

The same goes for such vague concepts as love, justice, country, consciousness, awareness, or whatever is being sold as principles these days. Beyond the word, there is nothing that these labels can be applied to, yet these words are touted as valuable, and sometimes they are even valued higher than actual existing things. This is idolatry.

I personally could never stop speaking or writing without this manipulation of words and syntax. It is of course built in to how we speak, but I think it helps to understand these limitations of the words and concepts we apply to how we live our lives, and in doing so, take power over them rather than give them power over us.


edit on 22-11-2013 by Aphorism because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 23 2013 @ 01:27 AM
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Thank you sir this is valuable philosophical insight. I agree that verbalism does mislead people both in everyday life and in philosophical inquiry. For example the nature of thought... "a thought" does not seem to be a noun, or an object, but instead "a thought" is really an ongoing mental process, similar to your "walk" example.

With that said I would argue that many things you claim do not exist actually do exist, just in a different capacity. For example we don't have an objective proof for "fortune," but I think we all have a subjective understanding of the concept. I don't think just because something can only be understood subjectively you can claim that it doesn't exist.



posted on Nov, 25 2013 @ 04:05 PM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 





With that said I would argue that many things you claim do not exist actually do exist, just in a different capacity. For example we don't have an objective proof for "fortune," but I think we all have a subjective understanding of the concept. I don't think just because something can only be understood subjectively you can claim that it doesn't exist.


You make a great point. I only wished to demonstrate that "things" such as fortune and the like don't exist as how we usually imagine they exist. At the very least (or most), they exist as a subject to talk about.



posted on Nov, 25 2013 @ 04:24 PM
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Very interesting and worth a flag! As a Buddhist I meditate on these concepts as often as I can, this has given me a new element that I have not yet pondered on and I look forward to my next session. Perhaps a distinction of separation between these things and treating them as a solid object almost may help me reach new levels of understanding.



posted on Nov, 25 2013 @ 10:20 PM
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I actually just had an argument with someone over this very concept today. We were arguing about how to define reason because defining reason... my counterpart defined reason as both our ability to form judgements and the totality of our beliefs. I argued that defining reason as a set of beliefs is misguided because reason is an example of verbalism as you have described. I said reason is only the process by which we form our beliefs, but it does not include our beliefs.

This distinction is important because starting with the wrong conception of reason leads to flawed epistemological conclusions even if your logical reasoning is sound.

The context of our argument was about the relationship between faith and reason. My counterpart argued that since belief is a part of reason, faith is also a necessary component of reason. I would argue that reason and faith should be kept separate because no logical or scientific reasoning can justify religion or belief in God's existence; only religious experiences such as miracles, visions, and spiritual experiences, or trusting in the word of those who have experienced these can serve as justification for belief in God.

But anyways this debate about God is not the fact I am trying to debate here, I'm just trying to show the significance of the errors that people commit through verbalism.



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 01:57 AM
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reply to post by Wang Tang
 





I actually just had an argument with someone over this very concept today. We were arguing about how to define reason because defining reason... my counterpart defined reason as both our ability to form judgements and the totality of our beliefs. I argued that defining reason as a set of beliefs is misguided because reason is an example of verbalism as you have described. I said reason is only the process by which we form our beliefs, but it does not include our beliefs.

This distinction is important because starting with the wrong conception of reason leads to flawed epistemological conclusions even if your logical reasoning is sound.


I think you're right. It seems the premise of "reason" cannot be concluded upon, because there is nothing of "reason" to be found, and therefor nothing can be deduced from it. No premise equals no argument.

"Reason" can only be us reasoning. The actual thing we are discussing when we discuss reason is either the word reason, or ourselves. If we deduced from ourselves rather than the word "reason", or what we think it means, we might actually come to some better conclusions.


The context of our argument was about the relationship between faith and reason. My counterpart argued that since belief is a part of reason, faith is also a necessary component of reason. I would argue that reason and faith should be kept separate because no logical or scientific reasoning can justify religion or belief in God's existence; only religious experiences such as miracles, visions, and spiritual experiences, or trusting in the word of those who have experienced these can serve as justification for belief in God.

But anyways this debate about God is not the fact I am trying to debate here, I'm just trying to show the significance of the errors that people commit through verbalism.


I completely agree about the significance. It is obviously quite prevalent in modern language. I don't think anyone can help but do it—we are metaphorical creatures—but I do think it leads to epistemological and ontological errors, and leads one to deduce from faulty premises.

I think God is a good example. Even God could be considered a verb before a noun, insofar as nothing is actually still, and everything is acting in a manner of movement at all times. God, or the universe, reality, or whatever we want to call it, is likely not a person place or thing at all, but an "action", or put more simply, things moving—"chaos".



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 03:47 AM
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Well, an excellent example of “verbalism”!


I don’t find many people having any confusion about these concepts except for the purposeful attempts by philosophical thinkers to confuse the content through the use of language.

These words are referring to experiences- which we sometimes will refer to with a noun when we reference a sort of experience that the other recognizes as something they also have experienced. All of this is experience- even objects are experiences, as far as we can tell. We only know a ball exists because others also see, and feel it.
Then we will tend to consider it “objective”- if more than one person acknowledges it.

If no one else recognizes the experience, it remains “subjective” – which suggests that the exterior reality is not a factor in that experience. It is completely and utterly an experience of the individual internal psyche.

If it can be experienced by more than one person, then the possibility arises that exterior factors (objects, environment, context…) influence the rise of that experience.

Thus, one can consider the influence of money, in the experience of “wealth”, the influence of a partner in the experience in “love”, the influence of a roof in the experience of “warmth”, food for the experience of “peace” .

This is not completely unreasonable logic- the claim that inner peace can be experienced while being a tortured prisoner, is a far reach. It might be possible for an adept with lots of experience in sensory deprivation, but for the common human, (the majority) this would be impossible. It is reasonable to consider that the choice to experience peace and comfort would suggest necessity to change the situation and seek “security”.
-Not a thing, but most understand- that signifies an experience of lack of threat, danger, pain.

Only a spiritual seeker or a philosopher (if there can be said to be a difference!) would confuse these concepts, and that is why some people dislike philosophy or woo-woo spirituality. It all depends upon if a person is seeking to distract their mind from their physical senses and the material world, or not.
Seek and you shall find!



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 09:40 AM
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Aphorism




To illustrate further: when we go for a walk, we never actually go for something called a “walk”. There is only ever us walking—what walks is the only thing that exists in this instance—and the image we create in our mind which indicates to the memory that between this time and that time we were walking,

There is just 'walking' yet there is an idea that 'something' walks.


So much has been discussed about things that don't exist, and not enough about that which does.

There are words but what 'things' are there?












edit on 26-11-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 09:47 AM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 




There is just 'walking' yet there is an idea that 'something' walks. A thing is an object, insofar as it can be seen and touched and is external to the subject.


In order for there to be walking, the must be something walking. There is a thing that walks, insofar as we understand that things are things.



There are words but what 'things' are there?


Words can be placed on concrete objects. For instance we can call a rock, a "rock".



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 10:02 AM
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Aphorism
I said that I believe they lead to ontological difficulties, and the faith in things that don't exist.

Individuals believe in things because they think they are a thing.

There are no things - there is absolutely nothing.

There is only ever what is actually happening - it is never a thing.
edit on 26-11-2013 by Itisnowagain because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 26 2013 @ 01:17 PM
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reply to post by Itisnowagain
 





Individuals believe in things because they think they are a thing.

There are no things - there is absolutely nothing.

There is only ever what is actually happening - it is never a thing.


Yes I don't think your "happening" is a thing. But I would argue it contains things, insofar as they are available to our senses, and outside the subject. So yes your happening is a nothing, and really nothing to be overly concerned with.

However, differentiating one object from another has its uses. Calling everything nothing doesn't. For instance if the wife asks me to pick up some eggs, I can differentiate eggs from bacon, one "thing" from another. If she asked me to pick up some nothing, I would be at a loss.



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