Contents Contact

houses of Parliament in London looking across the Thames.

Language Imperialism

Thought is not possible to any significant degree without language

Philip Wheelwright (1962)

Wheelwright is not alone in making the mistake of eliding language and thought, and allowing himself to be in thrall to the imperialism of language. That imperialism is here symbolised by the British Houses of Parliament, it is myopic (almost endearingly so) in its belief about the benefits it bestows, while blindly refusing to acknowledge the economic and cultural price it exacts. So, too, with language which suppresses objections to its foundationless monuments, Woman behind meat stall with large glasses. The Sad-eyed Lady page has Dylan’s obscure words which may, or may not, be foundationless - how would we know? and is oblivious to the way it subjugates thought, Ba Hai in her beer bar in Tinh Gia. The Thought and Language page suggests that the profoundly deaf offer us a clear distinction between these two concepts.
sapping confidence, and presenting language as a benevolent inspiration in life; so it continues oblivious of the worlds it has failed to grasp and that it has pushed aside. We live perfectly conscious of matters which cannot be said, Loi cutting bones with clever. The Nature's Joints page objects to the misleading classic view that language reflects a world already waiting for us. but which form our lives. Language is certainly a most extraordinary Mist embracing the trees of a forest. The page on Internal Speech suggests that our continual commentary on what we do can delude us into over-egging language.
and valuable tool, and attendant on much we do, but its right place is as a servant Mist embracing the trees of a forest. The 'Thought's Clothes' page has a metaphor which relates language, thought, objects and that which lies behind objects.
of thought, and not as an imperialistic ruler.

In Metaphor and Reality published by Indiana University Press p.128 Wheelwright seems to be taking 'thinking' to mean linguistic aspects of thought so making the statement rather uninteresting. But the idea is seen in many writers, and it is one which makes them less sensitive to so much of the complexities of thought and the conundrum, tackled by Heidegger, of how to bring what is poorly served by language into our ontologies.

The view of the UK’s Houses of Parliament is from across the Thames on an August evening.

Above hovering on blue introduces a link: click to go, move away to stay.


Saturday 12th December 2020

Murphy on duty to this site