Language Bewitchment and Philosophy

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.”

“The philosopher is not a citizen of any community of ideas.  That is what makes him into a philosopher.”


~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on November 10, 2008.

4 Responses to “Language Bewitchment and Philosophy”

  1. I have a question about perception. It seems strange to me that our perceptions almost always create a world or a thing larger than how we perceive ourselves to be? Should we all become gods? or should that shared magnitude of perception be communalistic? I’m not trying to persuade the conversation towards the infinite regressive, but i want to point out that a line is always drawn somewhere. Afterall a shared experience is either shared by everyone or shared by no one. if it is shared by everyone, there is no nuance, only boredom, there is no value to it. if it is shared by no one, it can not be explained to someone else and is completely unique.

  2. What excludes a nuanced, valuable experience shared by some but not all? I would also argue that the unique [or shall we say, transcendent] experience may be unexplainable in language, but nonetheless sharable.

  3. I would argue that if anyone can say, “I know what you mean,” then that is an experience shared by all because it can be codified in language to anyone captured by language. What I mean by shared though is not that the experience can’t be had by more than one person; rather, i mean it tobe that it can’t be adequately codified in language for disemination to anyone else – language in that way does not recreate. Two people who see the same sunset will have “experienced” the same thing, but might have vastly different ways to describe or codify it. I think it’s where we get the term speechless or where we have those experiences where nothing is said by either perceiver. The sun doesn’t talk because what it does says all it needs to. Nuance then is that desire to share or try to share an experience with someone, a striving to share, if you will. That’s the importance and difficulty with nuance, and why often it is easier shown than told.

  4. I see what you are saying m.j. A la Pessoa:
    “What could anyone confess that would be worth anything or serve any useful purpose? What has happened to us has either happened to everyone or to us alone; if the former it has no novelty value and if the latter it will be incomprehensible.”

    Nuance is a striving from incomprehension to a novelty value without falling into boredom. Can it be done? I feel I’ve read things that accomplish this sharing/striving, Pessoa being one author, despite his avowal that “What I confess is of no importance because nothing is of any importance.”

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