‘The Bewitchment of Our Intelligence’



The limits of my language means the limits of my world‘ observed the reformed Ludwig Wittgenstein and warned: ‘Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by language.’

Language comes alive in the Two-ness Template.

The World is divided into Subject and Object, Noun and Verb, Gender and Tense. Words like ‘of’ and ‘for’, ‘to’ and ‘from’, ‘and’ and ‘or’, create a sanctioned and structured web of associations and divisions.

And we are to be forgiven if we take this synthetic structure as intrinsic to the way the World is, the way the World works.

Language maps the World in it’s own image. It draws the boundaries, shades the colors. And it is a self-sufficient mapped World that is very good at explaining itself to itself.

‘The World outside makes no sense. But come into my parlor and I will serve you a fresh helping of Words that will make everything nice and cozy’.

The language you ‘think-in’ is the unexamined repository of a millennia of influences. What ideas and things did the culture see as worth labeling? What distinctions did the culture see as worth marking?  Eskimos famously have a dozen names for Snow and the modern Investment-Banker a dozen names for Money.

Language creates the convention of legitimate distinctions that allow discourse. It draws the lines in the socio-linguistic matrix. Reality carved in familiar ways is ceaselessly reinforced. A self-created line, repeated, entrenched, is now seen as a self-evident divide. Distinction, as Difference.

You have no idea how much of your World is based on Language until you pay attention to these words in your head. It fits us like a snug set of contact lenses. We view the World through them. And we don’t remember that we have them on until something hits us in the eye.