September 23, 2012

Locke & Understanding

Locke's essay on understanding wasn't very well understood. I feel like Locke analyzed too many parts of language and attempted to run too in depth into language as a tool or part of everyday communication. For example, as he comments on "simple ideas." Locke states that "....simple ideas are, of all others, the least liable to mistakes, and that for these reasons: First, Because the ideas they stand for, being each but one single perception, are much easier got, and more clearly retained, than the more complex ones, and therefore are not liable to the uncertainty which usually attends those compounded ones of substances and mixed modes, in which the precise number of simple ideas that make them up are not easily agreed, so readily kept in mind" (823). I think that it is evident to our community today that simple seems to be the key. Simple ideas allow for communication between all walks of life and educational experience easier.

Simple is even concentrated on when studying and attempting to communicate with other languages. The concept of simple is easy and helps with more than just a communication barrier- but also during topics of conversations. As an EWM major, students that are Biology majors, must explain an area they are studying in much simpler terms to myself than another student in their major. I think that we try to simplify most things in our life today as we find that it makes communication easier-whether its holding an educational conversation, social conversation, or even physical gestures. There is a time and place for one to use complex ideas and input expanded material into a conversation. The five canons of rhetoric play into this "simple" tool-especially audience. It is important to remember who your audience is and what your goal as rhetor is in order to communicate successfully and clearly to your specified audience.

-Maddy Cuono

2 comments:

Kathrynn Ward said...

I do agree in the sense that Simple ideas make communication easier, and help to bring humanity of all kinds together. I believe there are common well known simple idea that all walks of humanity can understand and receive. For instance,I want world peace or I love You. Even though, these can be made into complex ideas, if you leave them vague, they can also be very understandable common ideas.

However, I also contradict myself here, because I can not help but think that if ideas are left simple, there is more room for different perceptions and co-construction. If someone is more specific with an idea they are trying to convey then you get a more clear understanding of what that person was trying to say. If someone says "I don't like that" (whatever that may be). they have no explained why they don't like it, and in the end that person may come off to be very judgmental. But In return, that person could have a very good reason to not like whatever they don't like. They could have an experience that makes total sense as to why they feel the way that they do.

I have always been an over explain-er. People have told me that I should simple down my ideas to make them shorter and not talk so much or so long. I realize it when I do it, so i suppose what I am saying is that I agree that possibly more simple ideas are better.

Zach van Dijk said...

I agree with Locke's distinction, that language expressing complex ideas leads to ambiguity. Yet, I don't necessarily agree that simplicity and clarity are synonymous. In this respect I am referring to issues that arise in translation, thoughts/emotions that are too specific to be codified and understood by all. Regardless of the simplicity or complexity of language, all writing is misleading due to the fact that it is built on an uneven system. What is true and clear to me, may not be the same for you. In my opinion, even with simple writing/language clarity can rarely be achieved, "language is inextricably and frequently misused...and imprecise means of conveying knowledge" (Locke, 815).
Yes, it is a noble goal to consider audience as you write, to communicate with as much clarity as possible. Always be aware that ultimate clarity is impossible through words; words are just signs based on thoughts, meaning is not static.

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