September 23, 2012

The "truth" is in your head

Language as a tool for communication. Locke mentions on page 818, "Without ideas, men fill one another's heads with noise and sounds; but convey not thereby their thoughts..." In relation to the notion of truth and finding it, does this mean that every person must have a relative experience of whatever it is that the speaker is talking about in order to know exactly what it is that they are talking about?

Language as a tool for attaining the truth. If language and rhetoric go hand in hand, how can we get the truth from these techniques? I think first we need to have a clear definition or at least an ideal concept of truth. According to Locke, what is the truth that we are trying to discover through rhetoric and is it really the truth? Can we ever fully attain that truth that we seek through rhetoric or language?


John Smith said...

I think what you may have identified is a problem with the duality of Locke's argument. One on hand, the concept of truth can be "situational," similar to that concept of situational "good" in Aristotle's terms. So then, yes, if one were to embrace another's understanding of what they have learned, one would have to have been through a similar experience, or through a different experience come to a similar conclusion.

The other part of truth, that you reference in your second paragraph, stems not from situational, but from universal. Taking this writing into context of its production (but not too far) might glean a better explanation of Locke's frustration with the duality of truth. The enlightenment was a scientific glorification, where "truth" was seemed to be found by the author of "science" rather than ambiguous wisdoms communicated by texts with singular authors. The conflict could lie between the truth that science could find, and how language agrees/combats it.
Or maybe you have highlighted something greater: the fact that while Science on one hand, favors classification, is something that language can very easily manipulate, and to a certain extent, destroy.

Jenny said...

I do believe that the person must have a relative experience to understand what the speaker is talking about. It is important that the speaker clearly identifies their audience and relate-ability with themselves and the topic of conversation. I do also think that the audience will have an idea of what they are trying to express even without prior experience to the topic, but not a full, exact, meaning. It is necessary for a clear and effective communicative strategy for the audience to understand the meaning behind the message as well.

It was difficult for me as well to determine Locke's difference between rhetoric and truth - and well, language. Rhetoric and truth go hand in hand, with the rhetorician. The rhetorician is attempting to convey a certain "truth" to their audience. Whether this truth is considered to true to everyone or not, their truth is true to them and their goal for the audience. There will never be a full truth to be conveyed. I believe that each person has their own definition of truth and that it can absolutely be situational.

-Maddy Cuono

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