September 24, 2012

Get These Words on a Locke Down

John Locke had ideas that bordered Plato’s ideas of the nominal world and that most people were indeed blind to this “real” world. There were some minute differences in the ideas, such as believing in scientific experimentation to come to the truths of the world where as Plato believed a person could get there by simply talking to somebody who knew the truths. In this way I think that Locke was able to surpass the Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle’s thought processes by including the practices of actual sciences, which makes a lot of sense when a person is trying to find and teach facts to people. The three philosophical realms of thought mentioned in the prior sentenced were all focused on coming to truth and understanding and helping people understand the world around them. They came to these truths, however, by simply speaking about the subjects using their oratory skills. Locke believed that method of teaching was basically garbage and by using Bacon’s scientific method, he learned things from experimentation and helped others learn said things by showing them his methods.

Locke jumps back and forth with his feelings about language. He believes it, as it is, to be a body of lies, a use of syllogism in order to achieve a means, but one with no real truth behind it. (Locke, 815) He makes this assertion, then directly afterwards states that ideas are a path to truth, through having ideas and practicing scientific experimentation you are able to find truths. He furthers this idea by stating that words are symbols of ideas, if this is true, then how can syllogism be useless? If one must use the symbols of ideas to express the ideas so the individual will be able to experiment and thus come to the realizations of truth, then must words and the way one uses them be just as important as the ideas? The experiments? The truths perhaps? He brushes over the idea that words can be misused, but I truly believe that to be the strongest part of his argument. There is a quote that of course I cannot find and will have to paraphrase by George Carlin that, as an English major, has always tickled me, “Words in their roots are lies, when the first cave man to speak picked up a rock and looked at his friend and said Hey this is a rock. He was lying. That is not a rock, that is a hard object in which to beat somebody over the head with.” When he called it a rock he made up a word to attempt to express the idea of a rock. In this same way Locke states that words can be grossly misunderstood by people. 

2 comments:

What is Rhetagaming? said...

"If one must use the symbols of ideas to express the ideas so the individual will be able to experiment and thus come to the realizations of truth, then must words and the way one uses them be just as important as the ideas?"

That is a great question to evoke that kind of word-in-symbol relationship. I'm currently taking a class called What Is A Text? and it explores this idea that texts are symbols. I think they're both really important, but it's hard to put them exactly in the same boat, because they use different thinking processes. Put it this way, when we talk in everyday life verbally, that's one brain process. When we read/write the words on paper (which makes them symbols) that's a different brain process, one that supposedly uses a more complex one. I don't have the scientific facts, but it's what I've heard and I think it's worth exploring.

Also, great quote on George Carlin. Isn't fantastic when pop culture meets high ideas?

Jessica Weaver said...

“Words in their roots are lies, when the first cave man to speak picked up a rock and looked at his friend and said Hey this is a rock. He was lying. That is not a rock, that is a hard object in which to beat somebody over the head with. In this same way Locke states that words can be grossly misunderstood by people"

I found the above qutoes powerful in the ideas that you are trying to convey and I completely agree. Understanding language is a true science and the deeper you delve the more questions you find. Locke's use of the scientific method allowed for me to understand where he was finding stable ground for his assumptions and assertations about words. As hard as Locke attempts to describe to his reader about the use of words, it was difficult to understand until he mentioned how he came to believe what he believed. When he mentions how words can be misused, I thought of how other people in the class are going to understand certain aspects of the essay that I would not and vice versa. I keep thinking the more words allowed on a page, the more confused someone can become simply because often times, people misunderstand the underlying meaning of the words- I know I do!

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