What’s all this about language?

There are two views of language.

The first, the more popular, is that language is a mostly-transparent screen through which meaning flows, largely without issue. Meaning is overwhelmingly more important than the screen in this view, although we can investigate the screen in order to appreciate it and adapt it so that meaning flows more freely.

The second view places much more emphasis on language, often to the detriment of meaning. The screen is much more opaque and complicated; at times it is a labyrinth. Meaning has much more difficulty flowing through this screen and indeed can be lost for all time, as the screen continually contorts itself in new directions. This is the view of many Postmodernist philosophers.

Which view is more ‘correct’?

Neither view can be said to be completely correct, but the first is more pragmatic and ‘commonsense’.

But Postmodernists reject ‘commonsense’ in their language of language. Is their incredulous perspective worth listening to? Absolutely, they offer an interesting perspective with important ethical implications. (I would argue that the ethics can be separated from the conceptual framework and that the former is far more important). But theirs is only a perspective and a contrived one at that. One can easily become suspicious and think they are only out to glorify themselves through being ‘innovators’*, and Sophist-like argumentation that makes them look more clever than others. Certainly, we see this dimension in zealous, post-graduate deconstructionists. However, the more serious criticism is they tend to downplay and obfuscate meaning for the mere sake of argument, which I believe is downright unethical.

*this innovation may be motivated by Oepidal factors


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