“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
“It is not what you meant to say, but it is what your saying meant.”
Walter M. Miller Jr.
Faith is a continuum, and we each fall on that line where we may. By attempting to rigidly classify ethereal concepts like faith, we end up debating semantics to the point where we entirely miss the obvious – that is, that we are all trying to decipher life’s big mysteries, and we’re each following our own paths of enlightenment.
Initially I studied Philosophy, because it claimed to give you answers to the meaning of existence, but it didn’t, it was basically a semantics game.
A major gap between many people to agree, stems from how to define some of the most basic terms, such is the importance of Semantics, and meaning.
The structure of concepts
Cognitive semantics has sought to challenge traditional theories in two ways: first, by providing an account of the meaning of sentences by going beyond truth-conditional accounts; and second, by attempting to go beyond accounts of word meaning that appeal to necessary and sufficient conditions. It accomplishes both by examining the structure of concepts.
I will not go too much in depth to the current state of the study of Semantics, since it will be too long, and I am afraid boring to many of the readers, but I will encapsulate some basic concepts, forewarning the reader that Semantics it’s a big field, with many having something to say that is important, but it’s not possible for this post to mention everything.
Frame semantics, developed by Charles J. Fillmore, attempts to explain meaning in terms of their relation to general understanding, not just in the terms laid out by truth-conditional semantics. Fillmore explains meaning in general (including the meaning of lexemes) in terms of “frames”. By “frame” is meant any concept that can only be understood if a larger system of concepts is also understood.
First, it has been noted that word meaning is an extension of our bodily and cultural experiences. For example, the notion of restaurant is associated with a series of concepts, like food, service, waiters, tables, and eating. These rich-but-contingent associations cannot be captured by an analysis in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions, yet they still seem to be intimately related to our understanding of “restaurant”.
Cognitive linguistics (CL) an interdisciplinary branch of linguistics, combining knowledge and research from both psychology and linguistics. It describes how language interacts with cognition, how language forms our thoughts, and the evolution of language parallel with the change in the common mindset across time.
What words mean?
Semantics is the study of meaning in language. When one is disagreeing with another person it can sometimes be the case that it is just a matter of semantics.
This means the people disagreeing may have a disagreement only because they ascribe different meaning to a particular word(s). Once a common definition of the word is agreed the disagreement may then be resolved.
A common one between USA and UK citizens is the word socialism. I have often heard USA citizens describe the UK as a socialist country because they have universal healthcare. Meanwhile the UK citizens don’t consider it a socialist country as we have a capitalist economy and universal healthcare is considered every citizen’s right. To argue it is a socialist country would be a matter of semantics.
Misunderstanding as a fact of language.
With all these, by now I figure you are getting the point, language, as in words have a meaning, and it’s variable as to the frame of mind of a particular individual, in relations, to those words, that may hold different values to the other person in an argument.
Rather than blame it on the other person, blame it on the nature of Language!
And on our own frame of reference, in order to organize concepts, and meaning, that by force of a particular frame (our own) will be necessarily different to other people frames, therefore a matter of disagreement, before I used to get frustrated, when someone stubbornly stick to his frame, now day realize my own stubbornness to try to stick to mine!
Recently when I pointed to a fellow blogger, it was useless, to elucidate the issue a mile long of responses, in the post, where arguing with words and concepts, since the topic is basically inexhaustible, and in my opinion useless to take one approach, or another one, and why wiser individuals, rather remain silent, or call it a Mystery.
And that in itself language wasn’t a reliable tool to capture Truth, and he used as a reply to my point that everything could be explained with a fancy theological word, that I would omit, since it’s no relevant to the point I want to make. So I mentioned: ‘The word you are using, it’s just that, a word with meanings, and concepts attached to it, that in itself is no proof of it’s validity, although personally, sympathize with what you say.’
Without even thinking he replied instantly with different words, with a more mundane frame, believing it will make me change my mind, about my skepticism on the value of words, to capture Truth!
I didn’t reply, reasoning he never got the message I was trying to communicate, that basically Truth it’s not an experience we can elaborate with words, where actually Silence, and Contemplation it’s more meaningful..!
The value of Parables, Metaphors and Symbols
The word parable comes from the Greek παραβολή (parabolē), meaning “comparison, illustration, analogy.” It was the name given by Greek rhetoricians to an illustration in the form of a brief fictional narrative.
Parables are often used to explore ethical concepts in spiritual texts. The Bible contains numerous parables in the Gospels section of the New Testament (Jesus’ parables). These are believed by some scholars (such as John P. Meier) to have been inspired by mashalim, a form of Hebrew comparison. Parables also appear in Islam. In Sufi tradition, parables are used for imparting lessons and values. And in General, they are common to Sacred texts to diverse Religions, some today named as Mythologies, however possessing pedagogic qualities to explain meaning, or moral as a noun, through a story.
A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another for rhetorical effect. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two ideas. Antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy and simile are all types of metaphor.
Aristotle said in his work the Rhetoric that metaphors make learning pleasant; “To learn easily is naturally pleasant to all people, and words signify something, so whatever words create knowledge in us are the pleasantest.
Sonja Foss characterizes metaphors as being “non-literal comparisons in which a word or phrase from one domain of experience is applied to another domain”.[ She argues that since reality is mediated by the language we use to describe it, the metaphors we use shape the world and our interactions to it.
Jung distinguished between a symbol and a sign. Insignia on uniforms, for instance, are not symbols but signs that identify the wearer. In dealing with unconscious material (dreams, fantasies, etc.) the images can be interpreted semiotically, as symptomatic signs pointing to known or knowable facts, or symbolically, as expressing something essentially unknown.
The interpretation of the cross as a symbol of divine love is semiotic, because “divine love” describes the fact to be expressed better and more aptly than a cross, which can have many other meanings. On the other hand, an interpretation of the cross is symbolic when it puts the cross beyond all conceivable explanations, regarding it as expressing an as yet unknown and incomprehensible fact of a mystical or transcendent, i.e., psychological, nature, which simply finds itself most appropriately represented in the cross. [Ibid., par. 815.]
Whether something is interpreted as a symbol or a sign depends mainly on the attitude of the observer. Jung linked the semiotic and symbolic approaches, respectively, to the causal and final points of view. He acknowledged the importance of both.
Psychic development cannot be accomplished by intention, and will alone; it needs the attraction of the symbol, whose value quantum exceeds that of the cause. But the formation of a symbol cannot take place until the mind has dwelt long enough on the elementary facts, that is to say until the inner, or outer necessities of the life-process, have brought about a transformation of energy. [“On Psychic Energy,” CW 8, par. 47.]
The symbolic attitude is at bottom constructive, in that it gives priority to understanding the meaning, or purpose of psychological phenomena, rather than seeking a reductive explanation.
Direct Transmission of Wisdom
Śākyamuni Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) transmits direct prajña (wisdom) to the disciple Mahākāśyapa. In the original Chinese, the story is Niān huá wéi xiào (拈華微笑, literally “Pick up flower, subtle smile”)
In the story, Śākyamuni gives a wordless sermon to his disciples (sangha) by holding up a flower. No one in the audience understands the Flower Sermon except Mahākāśyapa, who smiles. Within Zen, the Flower Sermon communicates the ineffable nature of tathātā (suchness) and Mahākāśyapa’s smile signifies the direct transmission of wisdom without words. Śākyamuni affirmed this by saying:
I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvelous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle [D]harma [G]ate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures. This I entrust to Mahākāśyapa.
Carl Jung and Kerényi demonstrate a possible in intent between the Flower Sermon and the Eleusinian Mysteries:
One day the Buddha silently held up a flower before the assembled throng of his disciples. This was the famous “Flower Sermon.” Formally speaking, much the same thing happened in Eleusis when a mown ear of grain was silently shown. Even if our interpretation of this symbol is erroneous, the fact remains that a mown ear was shown in the course of the mysteries and that this kind of “wordless sermon” was the sole form of instruction in Eleusis which we may assume with certainty.