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Metaphysical Semantics and the Paradox of Science

artist rendering of finger pointing to the text in a book ... an original inkwell philosophical analysis

Semanticists and the shortcomings of the English language

(5th edition - April 2008) by A.O. Kime
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Improvements in the English language have been, and will continue to be, an ongoing endeavor. It’s mainly a matter of semantics... trying to improve the English language whereby people can relate to the same words in the same way. It is to strive for a common understanding the meaning of uttered sounds and furthermore, their usage in context. From the distinct sounds of words, semantics, a division of the linguistic sciences, attempts to reconcile any differences and arrive at a single meaning. In many cases, multiple meanings as applicable contextually. Most of the heavy work has already been done however; today academia is more at the stage of fine-tuning the English language. We might only notice differences in habits… 50-60 years ago it was normal to spell ‘today’ as ‘to-day’.

Over the centuries semantics was, and still is, a profoundly complex undertaking, one which demands different traditional meanings also be considered (sociolinguistics). With the different dialects and accents, proper pronunciation can also be a problem. Mispronunciations or misuse of words can cause misunderstandings.

While we take for granted our ability to speak, to convey thoughts and ideas, the nature of this is not only complex but rooted deep in history. It is believed languages have been around for two million years. With all the psychological connections to words, many originating from ancient beliefs and others steeped in superstition and religious concepts, languages should be considered metaphysical in nature. It is remarkable that humans have the ability to convey thoughts by merely uttering sounds, something we don’t often think about. Actually, the English language could be considered a blend of languages, not just because of its adopted foreign words but because of all the different contextual meanings.

Yet, it has been said, spoken words do not actually represent reality, only the speaker’s concept. The reason? Languages are just as apt to create realities as to express them.

While this article was purposed to deal with semantics as would be applicable to metaphysics, a few salient points need to be made first. It is necessary, shall we say, to put things into perspective. As usual, I’ll be referring to the oldest possible sources of information because, quite frankly, the oldest always seem more substantive. It's unfortunate I could not find anything from the 19th century about this however, an extraordinary period of brilliance.

The paradox of science

In Charles I. Glicksberg's 1943 analysis of Alfred Korzybski, the author of Science and Sanity, Glicksberg wrote “At present the normal man, according to this view (Korzybski's), is in reality a dead average, a socially approved mediocrity; hence he is pathological because he has not given expression to the fullness of his potentialities.” (excerpt from Glicksberg's General Semantics and Psychoanalysis)

While there must be a reason for the common failure in reaching one's potential, it seems evident it can be attributed to living under 'contrived' realities which languages propagate. Languages, of course, create perceptions... but often erroneously because of the influence from the very existence of certain terms. As if 'givens', the dictionary is full of misleading psychological and sociological terminology. After all, the logic within these fields only fit within the framework of their contrived models. Metaphysical (life) matters are beyond the scope of science.

While metaphysics isn’t viewed upon as a matter of values but because it is in the greater sense, another 1943 analysis is applicable… “We must consider one final objection to using the methods of science in the world of values. Science, according to a very popular view, deals with a fatalistic world in which men, their wants and ideals, are all parts of a reel which unwinds year by year, minor whirls in a fixed dance of atoms. Values can have no place in such a world, and efforts to attain them by science must fail.” Edward L. Thorndike (excerpt from his Science and Values)

A couple more thoughts before we get into the business of semantics as it would apply to the metaphysical. It has to do with the 'paradox of science'. However, my version of this paradox is not quite as kind to science as was Edward L. Thorndike in his 1935 article "The Paradox of Science". While this subject entails much, I’ll only address it enough whereby you’ll see the connection to metaphysical semantics.

Not only is society overly reliant on science to provide all the answers these days, specifically sociology, psychology and even anthropology, when in fact these sciences have overstepped their capabilities in these fields, which frequently includes perpetuating beliefs based on models, favored opinions, political correctness and even concocted evidence (junk science), but they also have a communication problem. Their esoteric jargon, 'invented' terms which often don't represent the realities, only their models, spreads disinformation. Unproven models, of which their terms represent, have the effect of throwing knowledge off course. Expectant otherwise, it is a paradox that science can be counterproductive.

It is also paradoxical science would hold tight to questionable and/or erroneous conclusions. Perhaps they weren’t purposefully meant to be bogus (at first) except... that likelihood is growing. For self-serving purposes, there is now more 'junk science' being manufactured and relied upon today than ever before. And, once conclusions have become established and professions dependent, the associated cottage industries included, they'll likely stand for decades if not indefinitely. In short, science today is often for sale. As per the customer's specifications, it can be reshaped, remolded and bent to maintain the 'integrity' of professions and to keep them viable. Junk science is also used to fulfill environmental agendas (DDT), pharmaceutical agendas and it's even used to destroy industries (tobacco).

Scientific conclusions of an environmental nature are also prone to political tinkering such as the 'greenhouse effect'. If that wasn't enough, the media only publishes the opinions of their favorites within an institution... often of bias credentials. Of eloquence above substance, it's always the same old 'talking heads' (an apparent profession).

While societies have always been shaped by beliefs and agendas, their leaders famous for holding fast to the status quo, by force usually, maintaining the status quo is often at the expense of truth, integrity and even humanity. All around is pretence and hypocrisy… being the children of this paradox. It is the institutions who perpetuate this unfortunate situation and are responsible for turning science into a prostitute... with the media knowingly (or unknowingly) running the whorehouse.

To combat these ugly circumstances, societies must first embrace the realities. Pretentious (plastic) societies can only spell doom... it's all about embracing naturalness (metaphysics). Of course, we must first understand and then express it.

The dilemma for semanticists

With that said, let’s get down to the business of metaphysical semantics, something we can’t trust to science anymore. Of course, that would include sociological and psychological matters... certainly to be better served under the umbrella of metaphysics. After all, science doesn't know anymore about life (as an existent) today than it did 2,000 years ago... creating and teaching instead various forms of pseudoscience.

As for religions in this, they just keep singing the same old song. While there is a ring of truth to some of their lyrics, the clergy have jobs to keep too and by keeping things mysterious make religions last longer. Today, although surely thought an impossible scenario a century ago when scientists were still scientists, science now has its own gospel choir as well.

As far as metaphysical semantics, trying to describe anything within the spirit world, there aren’t many usable terms available. Of course, science doesn't know yet of any ethereal realities... instead keeping the semanticists busy explaining their scientific terms. With both science and religions stuck in the mud, there are but few definitive terms for metaphysics which resemble the realities of the ethereal. Of these, only the existence of the sixth sense and subconscious mind were discovered outside of religious teachings... but that was long ago. While profoundly good concepts, it's still a matter of deciphering what it all means.

Otherwise, with little improvement in the last two millennia, effectively we only have etherealness, the spirit world, God, angels, heaven, hell, guardian angels, ghosts and the soul to work with. Yet, none have a bridge of understanding leading there. Although the sixth sense and subconscious mind seem to be that bridge, what they represent must first be deciphered and then effectively expressed.

While undoubtedly we all have different views of what the aforementioned actually are, or seem to represent, generally we all understand these concepts roughly in the same way. Interestingly, we learned about these spiritual entities and ethereal places in curious and diverse ways… often by people simply alluding to them (invariably without elaboration). Each person was therefore forced to more-or-less develop their own ideas... but to a large degree built upon borrowed ideas or simply from 'pictures' (artist renditions). In that most folks don't like talking about such things, developing beliefs is a long drawn-out process. As a result, concepts without solid foundations are likely to remain fantasies... as if mythology.

In the last two millennia, it seems it was either religious fanaticism, foolish idealism or cold-blooded egocentricity to choose between. Prior to that, mankind assuredly had a better idea what the spirit world was about but, unfortunately, due to the Spanish Inquisition and other inquisitions throughout Europe, most written accounts of the ancient concepts pertaining to this were purposely destroyed.

Aside from religions holding their ground, refusing to allow new terms to creep into their dogmas, purposely keeping their distance from progress, the social sciences have become even further distanced having strayed off on unproductive tangents into the never-never land of lunatic theories. If ever we are to understand metaphysics, we have only the spiritually-minded to defer to... who will ultimately determine what progress is made. There is a dilemma however, without the terminology, how can truths be effectively expressed? Or can those adept in expressions ultimately create the needed terms? Surely a term would develop if an existent was effectively expressed.

Searching for a beginning point in semantics

So, in order to contribute to metaphysical semantics, where does one begin? We can’t extrapolate upon angels or ghosts because that’s still shaky ground. We only have absolute assurance there is a Creator (in one form or another), all else seems subject to debate generally. We do have spiritual experiences to build upon but invariably it boils down to believability.

For example, as to seeing apparitions, which doubters consider figments of the imagination; perhaps humans have the ability to produce apparitions... not just imaginary but effectively real ones. It would be a startling revelation to know these ‘figments’ aren’t just psychological quirks. The possibility our imagination has the ability to 'will' actual phenomenal events should not be summarily discounted. It appears true and verifying that ability would be like finding another Rosetta Stone.

Some terms we are familiar with cannot be verified however; apparently nobody has ever seen God, heaven or hell… reportedly only angels and ghosts (for the most part). Whether guardian angels are different from regular angels, who knows? Speaking of angels, we shouldn’t forget the darling muse (of Greek mythology) because there is something very real about this concept.

In order to get anywhere, we must understand we’re dealing with an alien world, that which is completely different in every respect. Primarily we know it exists because it is not logical that it doesn’t, but also because there has been countless personal experiences testifying to it. However, the only thing a normal (non-spiritual) logical disposition is good for is the ability to deduce the existence of the spirit world. It can't go much further. With people largely incapable of fathoming metaphysics these days (compared to ancient times), with many dispositions fashioned out of plastic it seems, an underdeveloped language also contributes to the problem. It has been, and will continue to be, extremely difficult to establish metaphysical terms everyone can relate to especially since these terms would take a particular frame-of-mind to understand. Except for the 'sixth sense' and 'subconsciousness', there are virtually no common, religious or scientific terms which point to the essence of the spirit world. Except, that is, for life itself.

We might also consider our earthly languages are not structured for the challenge; they are, after all, based on entirely different realities. The principles are different (languages are based on principles). Our languages may be able to express the existence of such an alien world, perhaps with a few words able to make some penetration, but so far they have proven themselves inadequate for the job. Yet, on the other hand, perhaps it’s just because we haven’t yet found any basis (of metaphysics) to rally around.

Also, the ancient mystics once posed this question... "do languages assist or create understanding"? We could be led off on a tangent due to what was commonly agreed upon between semanticists. At any rate, there is a whole lot at stake here… the positions of religion and the entrenched views of scientists. Resistance to new ideas will be inevitable and powerful. Religious influence is still evident even in this day and age. One instance is the definition of 'always', 'forever', 'eternal' and 'eternity' in the Webster's dictionary... the lexicographers were careful how they dealt with 'time' in their definitions. One would assume at least one description would be 'without beginning or end'... but not so. They only went so far as to use 'seemingly endless' but without any reference to 'beginning' at all. It would have religious connotations if they did. In this case, 'seemingly endless' equates to 'knuckled under'. So, why 'seemingly'? It has to do with the biblical 'end-of-the-world', that's why.

Recognizing spiritual realities

First of all we must recognize the existence of some very powerful realities within the metaphysical realm that are often overlooked, albeit obvious. While some people do not subscribe to the existence of the spirit world, believing it is not possible the ethereal can hold any influence or power, being without matter, without substance, of nothingness, consider then the essence of a simple thought. A simple thought is not only invisible; it has no material substance whatsoever. Yet we generate these invisible thoughts, analyze and then act upon them. Even though our entire thinking process consists of that which you cannot see or touch, invisible in all respects, undetectable by any scientific means (except to indicate one is 'thinking'), without any material properties whatsoever, it is that which powers our existence. On this almost everyone should agree.

Religions have merely generated concepts of what this all means… they have taken this mysterious reality and, from a handful of enlightened truths, extrapolated their theories. Many sciences are equally guilty (of extrapolating). Yet, non-denominational contributors (such as myself) can't base a semantic scheme on groundless theories either... lest be guilty as well. Does that mean pure science must prevail then? Well, since metaphysics is beyond the scope of our earthly sciences, the standard of proof may have to be adjusted to fit the realities. Solid, irrefutable proof (as we've come to know it) may not be possible, or even applicable... nor can we expand upon what science has been able to ascertain to date, which is virtually nothing. Much of what is touted as scientific (and religious) knowledge today is either superficial or self-serving. Most religious tenets and scientific theories of the metaphysical have not been 'proven' since their institutional beginnings some 2,000 years ago. At least the burden of proof for new theories should be no greater than what was once imposed upon the entrenched beliefs. Of course, entrenched beliefs make-up the status quo and are therefore deemed immutable by the 'establishment'.

While metaphysics is generally considered a 'study' unto itself, a philosophical arena independent of science and religion, it could be considered the third man in the tub... although held in contempt by science for being only a theoretical business (like religions). The bone of contention is over the lack of proof... yet scientists commonly accept the idea of life, a scientifically un-provable aberration. Apparently then, science is a whimsical business. Nonetheless, of these three, the media is only mesmerized by scientific declarations.

Success in unraveling the mysteries of metaphysics requires a profoundly different thought process than the scientific mind however, requiring a logical disposition of a spiritual nature. Yet, only the spiritual-minded would know what this means... but, like the smell of a flower, largely unexplainable.

With all the highly intelligent scholars the Catholic Church has at its disposal, it would be productive if they would contribute... requiring, of course, a little stepping out of bounds (dogma-wise). Perhaps their recent interest in astronomy is an indication of a changing attitude. The Vatican has a vested interest in observatories now and seems willing to take what comes of it, an admirable stance for this religion considering their history. How things change... it is now more-so science, not religions, bent on keeping concepts in vogue.

Undoubtedly there are a number of individuals belonging to other religions who have advanced knowledge beyond church doctrine as well. Although church doctrine always had a ring of truth to it, perhaps close to the truth in some areas, certainly closer than science, but overall the truth has been convoluted to serve the interests of the church, not the congregation. This applies to all religions and has become true with several of the sciences in the last 50-75 years... the greater part of this 'paradox of science'. After all, there was once a stark difference between science and religions... but today, scientists might as well be wearing priestly robes.

In the end, the modus operandi of religions and science are really no different... both battling for control of the mind. It affects our language and thus our state of mind.

Metaphysical concepts

To push forward nonetheless, leaving science and religions behind if need be, we could begin by concentrating on the realities necessary to produce invisible thoughts. It is a grand truth after all… invisible thoughts are proof that nothingness has an essence and it has effect. As in 'cause and effect', the cause is the generated energy of an ethereal force. Yet, amazingly, this type of force is not associated with any material substance. In the physical world that is not possible of course, it contradicts the laws of physics. Even the 'force of gravity' requires material substance... mass. Actually, gravity is the effect, not the cause (force), despite what 'force of gravity' implies. It should be called the 'force of mass' or something to that effect.

Cause and effect are principled differently in the ethereal as evidenced by having no material cause. It is not the same type we are familiar with so we must forget about the laws of physics for this purpose; they don’t apply in the spirit world. And because we must forget these laws, and all other related truths, much of our reasoning power is therefore rendered inert, making it practically worthless for this. However, once we learn how to swim in this dimension, we should be able to adapt. Our logical disposition, all that we have ever known to be true, must be abandoned for this purpose. It is to learn to perceive things in an entirely different way.

We can only begin with what logic we currently have which might work. At this stage, our logic can only evaluate a good beginning point. From what is learned, as inroads are made, we can adjust it accordingly. There are only a few comparisons on earth which might help us understand what to expect. One comparison, although feeble and lacking, might be to recall how startled we were to be underwater for the first time. Breathing of course, is taken for granted on land but we quickly discovered that's not the case underwater. It was an eye-opening experience wasn’t it? To understand metaphysics however, is to allow for vastly greater differences.

For the time being, the concepts of heaven, hell, angels and ghosts must be set aside. They seem more the result than the cause anyway... therefore they don’t represent a good starting point. Apparitions offer clues however. We really only know two things that are evidentially certain, a Creator exists for obvious reasons and so too does the spirit world by virtue of the power of thought (as just one instance of proof).

Since we can’t begin with the Creator, incomprehensible anyway at this point, and possibly forever, we can only begin looking for other starting points. It should be within our ability; after all, we experience thoughts everyday, every second a thought emerges is evidence of this juxtapositional reality. Concentration on this could yield results... in fact we could even try concentrating on concentration itself, an integral part of 'awareness'. But isn't it beyond our natural ability? Yes, but help comes from the Divine Intellect (divine intelligence). Although much said herein should be self-evident, it seems odd it is seldom taken into account on a daily basis. While someone might say it’s only because we are distracted by the physical realities that surround us, being more evident... that is only partly true. It’s a matter of what we pay attention to.

The phenomena of senses, highly misunderstood, plays a huge role in the spirit world, the essence of which is also without material substance. If ever to ponder the phenomenal nature of any of our five (or six) senses, realizing they would be completely unfathomable if we didn’t already have them, might give someone an idea the type of reality we’re dealing with. If we lacked any one of the five senses, not in 50,000 years could they be imagined. However, because the senses reflect the essence of the spirit world, effectively expressing them would open some doors.

Putting the English language to the test

Since to structure an entirely new language to fit the realities of the spirit world is probably unrealistic, we may be stuck trying to make the English language work. Although, at this point, even the ability to tackle ‘awareness’ and ‘invisible thoughts’ is missing. While the significance of the ‘invisible thoughts’ is great, it seems obvious they are the product of awareness. Awareness of course is the product of being ‘alive’, which is an even greater question, but like creation, what life is all about is too big a question to begin with. For this purpose, first is the (1) Creator, followed in order by (2) life, (3) awareness and then, at the bottom of this particular scheme, are (4) thoughts. The senses would be situated as either part of life or awareness.

While everyone knows what awareness means, it seems necessary to expand on what it really entails. Granted, a tall order, and I don’t think there will be much we can adopt. Still, despite the mysterious nature of it, awareness must be expressed in ways that closely jive with its reality… words that can have meaning to the general public.

For the intellectual basis of our metaphysical articles - being neither scientifically derived (maybe a tad) or
containing an ounce of religious dogma (maybe an iota) - see Spiritual Metaphysics … the overlord of realities

While it may be possible to incorporate metaphysical semantics into the English language, that’s been largely unsuccessful so far. There could be a simple reason for this however and not necessarily a matter of inherent limitations languages may have. It could be a matter of merely lacking the knowledge as I stated earlier. After all, if we’d never seen an ocean, or knew of water, we wouldn’t have anything about that in our vocabulary. Yet these shortcomings are still apparent, we cannot yet convey the smell of a flower, a baking cake, the sound of a saxophone or adequately express love. We are forced to use comparisons. In short, the English language seems almost incapable of defining sensory experiences. The reason? The senses belong to the spirit world.

A.O. Kime

"With what simplicity I should have demonstrated that man is by nature good, and that only his institutions have made him bad."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Matrix of Mnemosyne... the place of smoke signals from the spirit world

Last modified: 03/05/16