Language, Logic and Lies

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ashvinp's picture
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Joined: Jan 20 2010
Posts: 412
Language, Logic and Lies

Full piece at TAE -


Our global human society, at this unique point in time, is perhaps the most complex series of inter-connected relationships in the known Universe. It has functioned as an intricate web of economic, social, cultural and political structures that have fed off of each other in locally unpredictable, yet generally stable ways. Everything from our computers and cars to our health care products, homes and groceries pass through each thread of this web and are ultimately churned out by the complex machine.

Considering the fact that human beings have only existed for a very tiny fraction of the time since life first evolved on Earth (<0.00005%), the level of complexity we have generated is truly remarkable. Yet, there is really only one thing that makes any of this complexity possible - the ability to communicate and preserve information and emotions through the use of human language (spoken, written, drawn, signed, etc.). For all we know, other living beings, such as apes and dolphins, have similar levels of cognitive ability (information processing, logical reasoning, emotional sensitivity, etc.) as humans. What would prevent them from creating "societies" with our level of complexity is their inability (unwillingness?) to preserve complicated communications between each other and materially build upon them over time.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are born into the world completely deaf and blind. Your mind would still formulate memories and ideas about those memories and other sensations, most likely at an extremely high level of "clarity", but it would be practically impossible for you to communicate any of these thoughts to other human beings. You would have no attachment to an economic, social or political unit, and from your perspective, these arrangements would not even exist.

At the same time, the underlying reality of the Universe would be simple - a reality that is perhaps most clearly reflected in the famous credo articulated by Rene Descartes:

"I think (cogito), therefore I am (ergo sum)."

summersolstice's picture
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Joined: Mar 18 2011
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For the first paragraph in a nutshell, check out Matt Ridley's TED talk "When Ideas Have Sex" ( - weird title, I know ). It portrays the growing complexity and interdependence of humans when it comes to producing goods.

It is very insightful, but the idea that man can hardly create anything as an individual is also scary.

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