May 15, 2009

Language and lists

How can language carry feeling? How can scattered sounds mean something, how can lines on a computer screen affect my mood?

How? Connections and neurons and chemicals in my brain. Well, of course. Nor is the why hard to answer, really: we need some way to communicate, and God gave us words (among other things).

For some reason, I think I can understand how words convey ideas, that ideas are somewhat grasped and defined by language. But...is feeling an idea? How can emotion be communicated save by mood? I think my sub-conscious impression is that ideas are defined by language, because I think things out in my head using the English language. But I don't feel in English. And yet, essays, stories, poems, carry not just words and ideas, but tones, moods, attitudes. It fascinates me.

And unrelated: I wonder why I feel the need to make lists of favorite artists, quotes, names for kids, whatever. Do I do it just to keep a record? Do I feel some kind of innate desire to rank things and make judgments on things? What would happen if I wrote nothing down? Would my mind still organize facts similarly?

4 comments:

Hayley said...

Hey twin, I compulsively make lists, too! I have notebooks and notebooks filled with lists, even if they're just lists of what I ate that day or whatever. And now that you've mentioned it, I don't know why I do.

Language is a tool, just like sounds, facial expressions, body language. Tools for conveying information about the beetle in our box. And how strange to think that those tools are not the ideas, feelings, and thoughts in themselves, just ways of expressing them. [And depressing that those tools ultimately fall short.]

Micah E. said...

Weird, I can't think of a time when I've ever made such a list without being asked. I'm sure if I wanted to, I could rank my favorite bands, foods, baby-names and such, but I've never done it compulsively.

To quote Michael here: "If you are anxious, you'll get an ulcer, if you get an ulcer, you'll get anxious... it's a vicious cycle!"

Which, yeah, feelings are every bit a part of the physical world as well as reason, so I don't see why we can't express them in the same way as we express reason.

Michael said...

*Compulsive list maker, it's fun*

Micah...I don't even remember saying that, I'm sure I did though.

In Godel, Escher, Bach right now he's been making a point of the fact of how we assign meaning to things by association, or by comparison. The word "circle" means nothing if we have never seen a circle. (That's why Circle should be spelled cOrle, to fit an O in there). Just...throwin' that out there.

Logic exists outside of language, as does Truth (one more way how truth is obstructed from our view, faulty languages)...so, we interpret logic through language, and we interpret emotion through language. Though, I'd say that it seem emotion is harder to portray in language than logic/reason/average thought. One think that strikes me as really interesting is that I feel (lol) like feelings seem more physical than thinking, or ideas.

Art said...

Hayley, I like being your (conjoined? :P) twin.

"feelings are every bit a part of the physical world as well as reason, so I don't see why we can't express them in the same way as we express reason." I think that I reason in language in my head, but I don't feel in language. Do you, Micah?

"Logic exists outside of language" Oh! Maybe that's why logicians use their own language of symbols...hm.

"feelings seem more physical than thinking, or ideas." What do you mean by physical? As in, can be sensed? And then you have still have to distinguish between Sensor sensing and Intuitive sensing (which sounds like a contradiction).

I still can't seem to divorce reason from language. I suppose that if I was raised among sheep without any human speech, I would sill reason...I just wouldn't express it. I don't know if I'd be able to even be aware of my thought processes.