All of the Ways of Knowing are Controlled by Language
Humans are the only species that have evolved an advanced system of communication between individuals. Language is not a true instinct, it has to be learned, however, no language has been deliberately invented; it has been slowly and unconsciously developed. 1 The statement that “All of the Ways of Knowing are controlled by language” is based upon bias, and thus not everyone will agree with it because there isn’t enough evidence to support this statement.
However, there is a certain relationship between perception, emotion, reason and language, which is crucial to our survival, and helps us through these Ways of Knowing to achieve our best potential. First of all, we must examine the relationship between the Ways of Knowing. It seems clear that language and perception have something to do with each other. Perception is the basic component in the formation of a concept. We know that we can describe what we perceive using words and can also imagine what is described to us in words.
However, we believe language and perception are deeply interrelated in ways that go beyond these connections. Obviously what is perceived influences the choice of words used to describe it, but our perceptual experience could also directly influence our language. The way in which the world is constructed may have an impact on how language is learned. For instance, when a child hears a word it is generalized according to whatever is perceived in that moment. When we hear a description, we form images in our minds. Different descriptions of the same scene may evoke quite different images.
The way a scene is described may also alter our memory of it. For instance, people who see a green car and then have it described as ‘blue’ are more likely to recognize a more bluish car as the one they saw before than people who didn’t hear it labeled. Another example is that from the day we were born our parents taught us almost everything they know in one way or another. They taught us what is right and what is wrong, and they have a great influence on us and our lives. So, while passing their knowledge they’ve passed their bias opinions as well.
In a way, I can say that right now I perceive the world through the eyes of my parents because no matter what I’ve been taught I strongly believe that’s the way it really is. There are many limitations of knowledge because of the fact that people view world form various points of view, mostly from the point, which works the best for them; however, others may reject things that they believe in. A deeper relationship between language and thought emerges when we examine the influence of the specific language on how the world is perceived. Different languages ‘slice up’ the world in different ways.
People with different cultural or linguistic background live, in some sense, in different worlds. First of all, culture and language have a huge influence on people and their beliefs. Second, many people like to be in a group of people, who have similar cultural background. Language separates us a lot because it is impossible to communicate unless we use the same language. So, how can knowers agree on what is perceived when they have so many differences? I think that it is great that everyone has their own beliefs, in this way people share their knowledge rather than just agreeing with some one, who may be deeply wrong.
However, people agree on many things very well no matter what. Language and perception influence emotion and reason, however, emotion and reason in turn influence both language and perception. Hundreds of philosophers and researchers have tried to create an exact definition of emotion. Unfortunately, they all agreed on one thing that emotion is hard to define. In the third century BC, Aristotle considered emotion an experiencing and evaluating stimuli that weights experiences taking into account the potential for gain or pleasure.
This definition represents the first signs of dualism, the belief that mind and body are two completely different entities. 2 Unfortunately, the consequence of this belief suggested by Aristotle is that mind and body were studied like two isolated separate subjects. Today, emotion is considered to be any strong feeling. For much of history, emotions and reason have been viewed as somehow separate. Reason is an explanation of the cause of some phenomenon. There is no longer any doubt that reason operates not in spite of emotional processing, but because of it.
In a way, something that appears rational to us may appear rational because it fills the proper emotional role for a solution, not because they are really the best solution. We need to be properly wary of our own conclusions, recognizing that we may be sure that we are right for the wrong reasons. This should hardly be news because we all know that many solutions to many pressing are adopted for short-term reasons rather than because they make the most rational sense in the long run. So, in a way human beings are not actually very rational creatures.
We may mispredict our emotions, in part because we do not recognize how easily we can change them. Language allows knowledge to be shared among people in a community. Whoever has access to information has power and wealth. Language is both a tool for communication and a silent medium of thought. We can recognize the power of special texts or special gifts with language. Situations where language, especially particular texts, such as poems, psalms, songs, national anthems, seem to have the power to evoke strong emotions on the part of members of the specific culture.
Situations where particular individuals are seen to have a special gift with language, and are understood to be able to ‘move’ others with their use of words. Typical in many cultures there is the association of powerful words with music, especially song, and this can be either a song to inspire or move people emotionally, or to inspire emotion. Often feelings about the specialness of certain languages are so strong that the culture has a belief that the language was a special gift from a divinity.
Special texts Christians may find the words of the 23rd Psalm, the Lord’s Prayer, or other texts and verses of the Christian Bible to be particularly powerful. It is useful to note that for some, only particular versions of these texts have this power: the text must read ‘The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters; he restoreth my soul… ‘ 3 and not `The goddess is my shepherdess, she meets all my needs; she refreshes the core of my being… ‘ or some other versions.
Muslims will of course find power in the words of the Quran, Hindus in the Bhagavad-Gita, etc. The words must be in the language in which they were first learned. Patriotic anthems may also have this power on some people. Japanese linguistic culture, Arabic linguistic, and many others possess mythological beliefs about the divine origin of their language, or some form of it. There are no bones of language. Language is not like math or reading skills, which must be formally taught and practiced over a period of time. However, language is merely a tool, and does not affect, in the literal form, ones thoughts.
In the example we received in class, two people using similar language are likely not to believe in the same things, or share common feeling. For instance, twins, who look identical on outside, however, they tend to have different opinions, feelings, and insights inside. It’s hard to understand others, if they ‘don’t think just like you’. But human beings try to manage through various symbols, which indicate special things. However, a cause, which may affect ones perception, is ones surroundings. Quality and use of language is associated with surrounding.
In my opinion, maintaining social relationships is the principal function of human language. Expectation, assumptions and especially beliefs greatly affect perceptions because perception is a recognition of things using senses, and as I mentioned before everyone has various beliefs and uses different senses. There are a lot of bias points of view, and it is extremely hard to deal with them because sometimes we just can’t recognize what is right and what is wrong. I think that knowers indeed need to carefully examine their own perceptual filter, their beliefs, and make sure that they can prove indeed their discoveries.
If someone states that “All of the other Ways of Knowing are controlled by language” they need to have enough evidence to support their claim because most people need evidence in order to believe in something. For example, many scientists performed various experiments either to prove or disapprove their theory. In my opinion, all the Ways of Knowing are equal in their importance and it rather absurd to state that language controls others because this statement lacks evidence to support itself.