Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

The interplay of language and memory

JeroenJeroen Luminous beings are we, not this crude matterNetherlands Veteran
edited July 16 in Arts & Writings

Language doesn’t carry reality. As we know, the name ‘glass of water’ cannot be raised to one’s lips and drunk, and neither does the label ‘red’ convey the actual colour. Instead, these things call on us to bring out of memory a representation of what the label stands for. In effect language is just a model for what we encounter in the world, and the words are just labels for concepts in memory, which are themselves a limited abstraction of reality.

Therefore to read a book is to string together a series of impressions formed by our knowledge of language, our memory and our imagination. The words ‘fiery volcano’ may call to mind an image close to what we saw on TV when we were watching a documentary. We can construct images of things that we’ve never seen, like the ‘gigantic wall of ice’ which guards the Northern Kingdoms in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy book series A Song of Fire and Ice. Such a poetic description evokes an image in the mind’s eye constructed through our cinematic and dramatic sensibilities, calling on many different memories to fill in the blanks.

But these things are merely complex illusions, our mind’s eye taking flight powered by memories of the real world. If we are interested in truth and reality, we need to be aware of this capacity of the mind.

Shoshin1

Comments

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    If we are interested in truth and reality, we need to be aware of this capacity of the mind.

    … in truth and reality, you are aware. Now what?

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran
    edited July 17

    I find the Two Truths doctrine a useful lens to look at this sort of thing through. Ultimately language is an abstraction, an interdependent construct and thus empty. At the same time that doesn't negate the conventional aspect of language, that the word red points to something in the world that we all generally agree upon.

    I think its how the physics of Einstein's General Relativity doesn't really negate Newtonion physics at our day to day level. GR is important to keep in mind because it does affect things like GPS satellites, but to be effective in the world using Newton is mainly where its at.

    Davidlobster
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @person said:
    … that the word red points to something in the world that we all generally agree upon.

    I try to agree with everything, Whether it is true or not.
    Being Agreeable
    More important than knot.

    Yours in and out of the dharma
    https://www.thebuddhistsociety.org/page/advice-to-the-kalamas

    Jeroen
Sign In or Register to comment.