Language Influences Thought

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That's so Gay (2008)

Hilary Duff Wants You to Stop Saying 'That's So Gay' Article

"That's So Gay" Commercials Nab Ad Council Award Article

Videos: Hilary Duff Ad, Wanda Sykes Ad

Think Before You Speak Campaign Wikipedia

Douglas Wilson Article (2009)

Control of language - how to speak of something in a derogative way, and defining what bullying means.

Speech Police on Gender, Canada (October 28, 2016)

From Article:

He... noted that the University of Toronto had told him to stop talking about gender because it faced fines and orders from the Ontario Human Rights Code if he did not. “If the hate crime accusation stuck, I could be fired,” he said, regardless of his tenure.  

One of Peterson’s targets has been Bill C-16, still being debated in the House of Commons, which would add “trans people” to those protected against hate crime already in the Criminal Code.

Panelist Kyle Kirkup, a human rights specialist at the University of Ottawa, tried to allay concerns over Bill C-16, arguing it only penalized those promoting genocide against transgenders, and of those committing other crimes against them, such as assault, because they are transgender.

Peterson tried to make clear that transgenderism was not the issue for him. It was the idea of forcing him and all Canadians by law to use certain words against their will. Peterson sees words as essential tools to debate and discover truth without violence.

From a Reddit comment thread with more commentary:

> "The bill would do nothing to restrict people's freedom to their own beliefs or to teach their own children," Garrison told Albrecht during the debate. "What it would do is try to protect the expression of hatred and the kind of discrimination in public that takes place each and every day against transgender Canadians."

Part of the problem is that some advocates and supporters of the use of xie/hir/brrtself tend to classify non-compliance or non-support (read: not using their preferred pronouns) as "violence", or "hatred", thus enabling them to claim human rights violations for people who call a spade a spade, so to speak.

In fact, it's already happened...

Another panellist, Transgender Studies professor Nicholas Matte, flatly denied the existence of biological sex and said Peterson was guilty of “hate speech,” “abuse,” and “violence” against transgender students by refusing to use the pronouns they wanted.

...

Just to underline your point, here's Peterson on what transpired after his appearance alongside Nicholas Matte on TVO:

> "Immediately after the show, he [Nicholas Matte] told the host that he hoped he could get a hold of the transcript of the program so that it could be used in a legal proceeding because Steve Paikin mis-gendered one of the participants." Source

Now, if you think there's something uniquely incorruptible about our institutions that would prevent such egregious use of otherwise well-meaning legislation (as though mere intention were sufficient for doing good in this world), guess again.

> People who apply to be federal judges will for the first time be asked about their race, gender identity, indigenous status, sexual orientation and physical disability, and this information will be published for both applicants and appointees.

> And members of the 17 committees that screen candidates for federally appointed courts and make recommendations to Ottawa will receive training in “unconscious bias” so they do not reject good applicants from minority groups, the Liberal government said on Thursday.

Quarantining Moral Judgments

Buy everyone will notice that no one -- accuser or accused -- can think of any words more severe in description than "inappropriate" to describe behaviors like sexual harassment or sexual assault or even rape. 

Edward Skidelsky wrote in "Words that Think for Us" (Prospect Magazine 18 Nov 2009) that modern society avoids explicit moral language.  Words like "improper and indecent" have been replaced by words like “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.” "An affair between a teacher and a pupil that was once improper is now inappropriate."  

Graph of usage of "indecent" and "inappropriate" over time in books.

But improper and indecent express moral judgements, while inappropriate and unacceptable suggest the breach of some social convention. Such “non-judgemental” forms of speech are tailored to a society wary of explicit moral language.  Skidelsky writes that liberals "seek only adherence to rules of the game, not agreement on fundamentals. What was once an offense against decency must be recast as something akin to a faux pas." 

> "But this new, neutralised language does not spell any increase in freedom. When I call your action indecent, I state a fact that can be controverted. When I call it inappropriate, I invoke an institutional context—one which, by implication, I know better than you. ... This is what makes the new idiom so sinister. Calling your action indecent appeals to you as a human being; calling it inappropriate asserts official power."

And note, too: "As liberal pluralists, we seek only adherence to rules of the game, not agreement on fundamentals."  Note how this rejects the Western idea of conscience (synderesis) and hearkens back to the old non-Western definition of good behavior as adherence to statutes promulgated by the Father-figure in the palace. 

- Quoted from The TOF Spot

The article that TOF quotes from above is included here below:

No words are more typical of our moral culture than “inappropriate” and “unacceptable.” They seem bland, gentle even, yet they carry the full force of official power. When you hear them, you feel that you are being tied up with little pieces of soft string.

Inappropriate and unacceptable began their modern careers in the 1980s as part of the jargon of political correctness. They have more or less replaced a number of older, more exact terms: coarse, tactless, vulgar, lewd. They encompass most of what would formerly have been called “improper” or “indecent.” An affair between a teacher and a pupil that was once improper is now inappropriate; a once indecent joke is now unacceptable.

This linguistic shift is revealing. Improper and indecent express moral judgements, whereas inappropriate and unacceptable suggest breaches of some purely social or professional convention. Such “non-judgemental” forms of speech are tailored to a society wary of explicit moral language. As liberal pluralists, we seek only adherence to rules of the game, not agreement on fundamentals. What was once an offence against decency must be recast as something akin to a faux pas.

But this new, neutralised language does not spell any increase in freedom. When I call your action indecent, I state a fact that can be controverted. When I call it inappropriate, I invoke an institutional context—one which, by implication, I know better than you. Who can gainsay the Lord Chamberlain when he pronounces it “inappropriate” to wear jeans to the Queen’s garden party? This is what makes the new idiom so sinister. Calling your action indecent appeals to you as a human being; calling it inappropriate asserts official power.

The point can be generalised. As a society, we strive to eradicate moral language, hoping to eliminate the intolerance that often accompanies it. But intolerance has not been eliminated, merely thrust underground. “Inappropriate” and “unacceptable” are the catchwords of a moralism that dare not speak its name. They hide all measure of righteous fury behind the mask of bureaucratic neutrality. For the sake of our own humanity, we should strike them from our vocabulary.

- Quoted from Words that think for us

Worship of Mary

From a letter to a friend:

To change topics a bit, did you see the movie Arrival last year? It was based off the novella Story of Your Life.

The story is based on the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, which essentially states "linguistic categories and usage influence thought and decisions".

To put it in my favorite author's terms, think of C.S. Lewis' book, The Four Loves. Lewis talks about how moderns tend to confuse the loves, in part due to our lack of having different words to speak of the different types. We use the same word for "I love tacos" that we do for "I love my wife".

Lewis talks about four greek words for love:

  • Storge (affection, such as among family members)
  • Philia (brotherly love, close friendship)
  • Eros (between lovers)
  • Agape (unconditional love)

He talks about especially how society has nearly lost the concept of Philia (brotherly love), to the point of completely conflating it with Eros. This is shown in how the friendship of Sam and Frodo is often the butt of homosexual jokes, and likewise David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. There are many reasons for this, but one (according to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis) is simply that our society lacks words to make distinctions among these loves, and that influences us as a society to conflate them.

I bring this up, because it's related to one topic you brought up - the worship of Mary by Catholics.

Just as the word 'love' in English can be broken down into multiple concepts in Greek, so too can the word 'worship' be broken down into multiple concepts in Latin.

The Catholic church recognizes three concepts here:

  • Latria: Adoration / Reverence given to the Triune God of Scripture along.The highest form of worship.
  • Dulia: Veneration or Homage to a human lord, or honoring a human. Given to saints and champions of the faith, such as those pointed out in Hebrews 11.
  • Hyperdulia: A special veneration given to Mary for her unique role as the mother of God. Of the same form as Dulia, just extra honor. Is not adoration/latria, which is reserved for God alone.

As noted here, these distinctions have been around for a long while, and are noted by Augustine and Jerome around 400 AD, and again in detail by Aquinas around 1250 AD.


Also worth noting, the conflation of the words Prayer and Worship among Protestants, prayer to saints != worship to saints.

But Protestant meaning of word Prayer has changed over time, old english and Catholic usage is as a supplication (I prithee), modern Protestant usage is often synonymous with Worship (since they only pray to God, easy to conflate).