Linguistic Overdetermination and the Two Routes

I agree with this paper. I think it is useful both theoretically and practically.

However, I feel that it is becoming necessary to break up the absolutism that is reflected in certain types of application of theory toward practicality.

In my undergraduate anthropology, the idea that language manifests reality was ingrained into us. The example that I remember the most was a little hypothetical story of when the Spanish ships appeared off the coast of the soon to be Americas, The people native to these continents did not see ships. We’re not sure what they saw, but they did not see Spanish ships simply because they did not have the language to be able to conceptualize what ships could be.

This is the same trope that this author uses in his essay.

When attempting to get to the truth of the matter that we are dealing with, we have to begin to allow Theory to reflect upon itself. Not a kind of hermeneutics, but indeed use the thing that the theory is proposing or relying upon in the context of understanding the proposal itself. We cannot do that if we are relying upon such theoretical troops that tell us that reality is based on linguistic presentation; indeed the theoretical troops are identifying something that is actually occurring, but we must also see that this theoretical trope is involved with the trope that it is presenting as well. For, if that indeed is the case, then we would have no manner to progress in knowledge, simply because if there were anything new that we could not understand, we would be referring it back to our conceptual linguistic base. There is no description about how we would ever get by or beyond or present conceptual linguistic paradigm..

So it is that I say that, in the example that this author gives, it is not that certain African people cannot see blue. It is simply that they are using different words to describe the object that is blue. To say that this particular culture does not see blue is to refer them to A theoretical linguistic paradigmparadigm that is — not native to, or not just not their experience, but indeed human being in general— ultimately not theirs, but someone else’s.

This is the issue of colonization itself. Never is the colonist require to justify why their theoretical constructions must apply across the board to all human beings. Simply by the fact that he is able to conceive of things that explain things which, through his present conceptual linguistic paradigm, appears to explain things that other people are not conceptualizing in thier understanding, the colonist feels ethically obligated to enforce that category upon that human being that they understand as “ignorant”, or in historical context uncivilized or primitive.

The key here is to suspend reductive method. It is not to say that one is wrong and one is right. It is not to say that this person is not an educated or ignorant, or that the colonist is not or should not be imposing their categories and other people. That just gets us back into the colonist mindset. And this requires us to use a different term since what we are doing is ethically on just buy our own standards. (this is how reality functions currently: when a certain conceptualization offends us, we just use different words to ethically mitigate the situation instead of confronting the offense itself).

Yes, in reality we have to deal with these contradictions inherent in the human activity. But it is indeed an actually true human activity that is arising despite our ethical constructs.

In order to understand what is truly happening, what is true of the situation, and not merely real, we need to understand and allow for the fact that this African person who cannot see blue is indeed seeing blue, but that not only their words but our words as well, as well as every other languages words, or floating a top and objective sea of truth, so to speak as a creative way of explaining what is actually happening.





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