”Can language describe reality” revisited … and a bit repentive
januari 27, 2012 § Lämna en kommentar
After sample listening to the modern prophet Leonard Cohen’s new album ”Old Ideas” at The Guardian’s Cohen interview page (by invitation from Leonard Cohen’s home page) I stopped eating my breakfast when I heard his second song ”Amen”, in which he sang ”amen” first sort of ironically, but slowly turned dead serious. Don’t know if you get the association with the recent discussion between me and Emanuel-Hai about language and truth, but hearing the modern prophet Leonard say ”amen” made me stop munching on my peanut-butter spread crisp bread (uh-oh, revealed my lazy breakfast habit :-S).
Why? Well, I did touch briefly on the fact (in the aforementioned discussion) that, if my hypothesis was true that one cannot be sure that language is capable of describing the ultimate (ontological) truth, then holding to the tenants of faith is really actually a leap in faith. Well, after hearing my idol Leonard sing ”amen”, first ironically (which catched my attention) and then seriously (which stopped my munching), made me seriously consider the possibility of the ultimate truth being something other than the ”ontological” truth, which until now I have naturally taken as the ultimate truth. What if the ultimate truth is a sphere naturally described by language?
So I figured: What is language really good at? Answer: story-telling. Also lyrics, like I’m listening to now, or can read in Nobel Prize winner Tomas Tranströmer’s collection of poems. From my courses in anthropology, I recall how history (the grand story), in tribes, is told and retold, by mouth, from generation to generation. So language is perfect in telling about our course in life (stories) and place in life (lyrics and poems). On the other hand, language is probably not very good in logics or physics.
So what if the ultimate reality is (or includes at least) our course through history, and our experience of our existence in this world. Of course, that’s pretty anthropocentric; but what if that was the ultimate reality? That would mean that language would and could naturally express truths that also would be of utmost important to us.
This would, of course, imply that the physical world would exist for realizing this history and existence of ours. That sounds baffling. But it does rhyme with the sort of experience I have at times when I’m wrapped up in ecstasy over anything astonishing beautiful (a film, or a woman, whatever): I get the feeling that the whole cosmos has been and is configured for the reason of leading me (us?) to this very moment and this particular revelation! Have you ever experienced that? What if that is really the case?
 ”repentive”: huh, doesn’t seem to be in the ”dictionary”; but that doesn’t bother language, I guess …
 ”amen” אמן is related to ”emet” אצת truth
- Old Ideas – Leonard Cohen (johnm55.wordpress.com)