Here’s a gift of insight for all things personal and political:
“The power of words over reality cannot be unlimited since, fortunately, reality imposes its own unalterable conditions. The rulers of totalitarian countries wish, of course, to be truthfully informed, but time and again they fall prey, inevitably, to their own lies and suffer unexpected defeats. Entangled in a trap of their own making, they attempt awkward compromises between their own need for truthful information and the quasiautomatic operations of a system that produces lies for everyone, including the producers.”
— Leszek Kolakowski, “Totalitarianism and the Virtue of the Lie” (1983)
Also see: “Auden Explains Poetry, Propaganda, and Reporting” and “Christianity as propaganda; Christianity versus propaganda”
Posted in Christian Humanism, language, propaganda, words
Tagged essays, Is God Happy?, language, Leszek Kolakowski, lies, personal, politics, propaganda, psychology, totalitarianism, words
“No word has the exact value of any other in the same or in another language.” — George Santayana, in The Sense of Beauty
Posted in Christian Humanism, Humanities, language, quotations, words
Tagged connotation, George Santayana, language, philosophers, quotations, words, writing
In The Doubter’s Companion: A Dictionary of Aggressive Common Sense, John Ralston Saul offers this opening to his entry, “Babel, Tower Of” —
“Multilingualism remains the source of movement and growth in a civilization. The ability to fill the house of reality, intellect, and imagination with different furniture is a great pleasure and a great strength.”
“We are symbols and inhabit symbols; workmen, work, and tools, words and things, birth and death, all are emblems; but we sympathize with the symbols, and being infatuated with the economical use of things, we do not know that they are thoughts.” — Emerson, in “The Poet”
To clarify a little bit, a symbol is fully itself, and it stands for something else.
Thanks to Randy Ferebee for sharing Ben Irwin’s series on his departure from Calvinism.
In Part 9 of the series, Irwin says something that deals with part of the backdrop for my post about the John Piper-Charles Spurgeon perspective on predestination and predetermination.
That backdrop deals with how language is used, and whether language can be used, to discuss an inspired text with any sense of clarity.
On a related note, Irwin writes:
“In linguistics, there’s a fallacy known as illegitimate totality transfer. It’s when you take one possible meaning of a word and read it into every occurrence without regard for context. (For example, ‘green’ can be an idiom for money. But that doesn’t mean ‘green’ always means money.)
“We run a similar risk when we read the accounts of people like Abraham and Moses. We see they were chosen by God in some way, so we assume everyone who comes to know God was predestined in exactly the same way. But on what basis?” — from The day the tulip died, part 9, by Ben Irwin
“Illegitimate totality transfer” sounds a lot like a particularly philosophical use of “equivocation” and “equivocal” meanings.
As I noted in my post, John Piper seems to think along the following lines: if God predetermined certain things, like Jesus’s betrayer, then God must have predetermined everything.
He goes on to say some people have driven themselves mad by trying to figure out how God can predetermine (not merely predestine) everything, even the position of a dust speck in a sunbeam, thus nullifying all human choosing (while still holding humans responsible).
Maybe that’s because pondering madness begets madness.
Posted in Christian, fundamentalism, God, language
Tagged Ben Irwin, Bible, equivocation, fallacies, fundamentalism, John Piper, predestination, predetermination