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The meaning behind words and such

  1. Jan 27, 2008 #1
    I was just thinking about all these things humans have come up with and created norms for over the centuries, and one thing that came to mind was the concept of set emotions and the words we use to describe those emotions.
    I never really gave much thought to any of this, but it seems odd to me that we have words such as 'happy' 'sad' 'angry' and so forth.
    While it seems trivial to begin with, these are words that humans have applied to what they believe to be emotions.
    In reality there is no such thing as "happy", or at least it's not something which is written in stone I believe.

    Now considering the complexity of the human mind, and the brain, and the way children are raised to actively categorize their emotions and express it through these pre defined words, is there a possibility that this is prohibiting us in some ways from really going in depth about how we may really feel?
    There was no incentive in nature to fundamentally characterize emotions in such a rigid manner, and emotions are pretty deep rooted in every person.
    I'm toying around with the idea of not categorizing them in such a manner, because the brain may in some ways override the emotion and automatically drive us down a path to further categorize it.

    I mean the same can be said about anything.. Like thoughts, we make a clear distinction between thoughts and emotion many times, and this distinction I believe can further complicate the issue of getting an understanding of them.
    Language helps us make sense of everything though, but I'm not certain about how much we should rigidly follow it and use it for everything.

    This is just an idea so don't shoot me, I'm open to any comments. :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2008 #2


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    Well, we cannot do without characterizations, designations and distinguishing criteria, unless we wish to revert to the state of merely murmuring "ugh..ugh" all the time, and an equally undifferentiated state of perception.

    However, this doesn't mean that all categorizations are equally intelligent, and some might be actively misleading (I think your examples are very good, BTW).

    We should think of concepts as "bags of stuff", and it might well be that the stuff we call "happinesses" in the "happiness" bag are so different from each other that we ought to make further sub-divisions, or even pull a few out and put them in another bag.

    This is, as I see it, what is so dastardly difficult with the humanities in general, that whatever "ground concepts" we choose to use, they will almost always involve some type of distortions, over-simplifications etc.
    We do not have a firm ground to stand upon, in contrast to the natural sciences.

    Anyway, that's some of my thoughts on the matter..
  4. Jan 27, 2008 #3
    Notice difference between statements "responsibility to the author", "responsibility of the author" and "author responsibility". Clear differences make individual definiton unique to each statement. Specific relationship between "author" and "responsibility" give different meaning.

    The author is not responsible to assign subject matter adjectives prescribing state of writen material quality; the author instead is responsible to be clear and concise when giving relationship between any two ideas, persons or things.

    English is an awsome language, a mut language, German grammar, Latin prose and words from both of which all three seem easily to be interchangeable.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2008
  5. Feb 1, 2008 #4
    A question along these lines would be to ask if knowledge exists without words?

    A pain in my leg is wordless just as are emotions mentioned in the original question.

    Intuition is wordless isn't it?

    I often feel that I stifle my intuition because I have to restrict it to meaning that is commutable via words that already exist. Yet if I give my intuition a new word not formally known, it will be meaningless to anybody but myself because I cannot pass my intuition on without words. Or can I?

    Are words just methods of communication and due to the fact that they have to reach a broad spectrum of 'ear' types. Are they of neccesity generalisations?

    If they are generalisations then they will undoubtedly restrict our functions in some way. My happy will not be the same as your happy. I would say though that words are only likely to restrict us if we treat them as more than they are, which is methods of communication. Perhaps the real danger is over identification with words.

    Perhaps we have to keep a subjective freedom and accept that our communication will not be absolute but only general.
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