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Language Should be Practical

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  • Mary Jo
    Assumptions can be dangerous, especially in science. They usually start as the most plausible or comfortable interpretation of the available facts. But when
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2004
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      "Assumptions can be dangerous, especially in science. They usually
      start as the most plausible or comfortable interpretation of the
      available facts. But when their truth cannot be immediately tested
      and their flaws are not obvious, assumptions often graduate to
      articles of faith, and new observations are forced to fit them.
      Eventually, if the volume of troublesome information becomes
      unsustainable, the orthodoxy must collapse." - By John S. Mattick,
      Scientific American, Oct. 2004

      This is a very encouraging statement, and I see it as applying
      generally to human endeavor. Recent developments in the fields of
      cosmology (triple stellar bursts), language (deaf Nicaraguan
      children), new functions discovered for RNA, describing the mechanics
      of smell, predicting volcanoes and hurricanes, the continuing
      political debate regarding war, and too many numerous to mention -
      indicate the progressive path of practical application.

      Language seems to have developed in order to keep us alive. It's a
      practical function. We also use language to express ourselves. We use
      language to satisfy curiosity about our immediate environment and our
      larger cosmos. But fundamentally these are ways to sustain and
      perpetuate our lives. Phenomenology is only useful to the extent that
      it meets this requirement. Language has both simplified and
      complicated our lives. In many ways, existential thought is the means
      to help us sort and assimilate the most personally efficacious facts
      and theory. It's very difficult to sort communication from being. All
      human interaction, welcome or otherwise, involves communication and
      perpetuation of life, as determined by the individual. When things
      don't work for us, or events threaten us, we seek explanation. We
      seek solutions. We give up or we persist.

      I appreciate that two of our group's more articulate participants
      (Bill, Trinidad) advocate respectively utilitarian approach and
      terminology.

      Mary
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