Starting next week, I will be posting a three part Monday series on the tie between language and metaphysics, mathematics, and magic. I think that words as signs and symbols are powerful – they can represent individual things, categories, relationships, ideas, and so much more. Words can take us far beyond the particular things we can see and touch in the present moment, and in some ways can let us transcend our own personal experience. Words let us understand and consider not only things we have not seen (and that others have), but also things we will never be able to see, either because they do not have a physical form, or because their form is too small or too fluid for our senses to register.
Words can even represent other words – that is, other representations – until they create a complex network of interrelated signifiers that go far beyond phonemes and drawn out letters. If words are magic, then language must be doubly so. Language give us measurement and meaning, and attempts to bridge the gaps between perception and reality, between our inner lives and the world outside, between our intentions and our actions, between our own internal thoughts, and between people.
Math is a language, and so is logic – these are languages meant to help us understand that which cannot be observed empirically and which may be only possible. Myth and magic are functions of language too, giving us imagination and understanding of that which we take at present to be impossible. They share more in common, however, than one might guess. Come back on Mondays through the duration of January to find out what.
- No really, what is metaphysics? (3quarksdaily.com)