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Paucity of Language

2021-09-21 11:26 AM | Thomas
However well equipped our language, it can never be forearmed against all possible cases that may arise and call for description: fact is richer than diction.

  --J.L. Austin, philosopher of language (1911-1960)

(0:0.2-3) It is exceedingly difficult to present enlarged concepts and advanced truth, in our endeavor to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception, when we are restricted to the use of a circumscribed language of the realm. But our mandate admonishes us to make every effort to convey our meanings by using the word symbols of the English tongue. We have been instructed to introduce new terms only when the concept to be portrayed finds no terminology in English which can be employed to convey such a new concept partially or even with more or less distortion of meaning.
     In the hope of facilitating comprehension and of preventing confusion on the part of every mortal who may peruse these papers, we deem it wise to present in this initial statement an outline of the meanings to be attached to numerous English words which are to be employed in designation of Deity and certain associated concepts of the things, meanings, and values of universal reality.

(0:12.13) We are fully cognizant of the difficulties of our assignment; we recognize the impossibility of fully translating the language of the concepts of divinity and eternity into the symbols of the language of the finite concepts of the mortal mind. But we know that there dwells within the human mind a fragment of God, and that there sojourns with the human soul the Spirit of Truth; and we further know that these spirit forces conspire to enable material man to grasp the reality of spiritual values and to comprehend the philosophy of universe meanings. But even more certainly we know that these spirits of the Divine Presence are able to assist man in the spiritual appropriation of all truth contributory to the enhancement of the ever-progressing reality of personal religious experience—God-consciousness.

(1:7.8) I am fully aware that I have at my command no language adequate to make clear to the mortal mind how these universe problems appear to us.

(2:0.3) We are also seriously handicapped in the execution of our assignment by the limitations of language and by the poverty of material which can be utilized for purposes of illustration or comparison in our efforts to portray divine values and to present spiritual meanings to the finite, mortal mind of man.

(6:0.2) We speak of God's "first" thought and allude to an impossible time origin of the Eternal Son for the purpose of gaining access to the thought channels of the human intellect. Such distortions of language represent our best efforts at contact-compromise with the time-bound minds of mortal creatures.

(44:0.20) But I almost despair of being able to convey to the material mind the nature of the work of the celestial artisans. I am under the necessity of constantly perverting thought and distorting language in an effort to unfold to the mortal mind the reality of these morontia transactions and near-spirit phenomena. Your comprehension is incapable of grasping, and your language is inadequate for conveying, the meaning, value, and relationship of these semispirit activities. And I proceed with this effort to enlighten the human mind concerning these realities with the full understanding of the utter impossibility of my being very successful in such an undertaking.

    John Langshaw Austin was a British philosopher of language and leading proponent of ordinary language philosophy, perhaps best known for developing the theory of speech acts.
    Austin pointed out that we use language to do things as well as to assert things, and that the utterance of a statement like "I promise to do so-and-so" is best understood as doing something — making a promise — rather than making an assertion about anything. Hence the name of one of his best-known works How to Do Things with Words. Austin, in providing his theory of speech acts, makes a significant challenge to the philosophy of language, far beyond merely elucidating a class of morphological sentence forms that function to do what they name. Austin's work ultimately suggests that all speech and all utterance is the doing of something with words and signs, challenging a metaphysics of language that would posit denotative, propositional assertion as the essence of language and meaning.

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