Monday, October 28, 2013

John Locke on Words

"The very nature of words makes it almost unavoidable for many of them to be doubtful and uncertain in their signification."
- An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke

Isn't it ironic that the very medium we use to communicate turns out to be inherently ridden with obstacles to communication?  Is human history anything more than a series of miscommunications?  Even at our best - all parties listening and speaking fairly - all we can hope for is that the significance of a word in my mind is close enough to the significance of the same word in your mind that we understand each other. 

It makes me wonder, why speak (or write) at all...?

But here I am, anyway.  I keep writing, speaking, thinking.  Continuing to use words to explore my own thoughts, and mystically transfer them to others in some form, is the best way I know of getting to the bottom of the issue. 

Literary optimists are lucky.  They get to believe we get closer and closer to true understanding the more we try.  Whether this makes me avant-garde or a fool, I don't know, but I throw my lot in with theirs.
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