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- June 2011
A Question of the Real Utility in Semantics
   June 17th, 2011, 12:28 am

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I have read a few discussions on this website, and I've read a few articles written by "scholarly" philosophers, and perhaps my density of understanding prevents me from grasping the importance of semantics. However, if my perceptions are true, people in general spend far too much time defending the words that they use rather than the idea that they mean to convey. If I have an idea which is clear to me and isn't simply a whim of the imagination, it is very easy for me to find new words to describe it when someone misinterprets me. One word can have a variety of meanings and connotations, and while these connotations should be defined in part by the speaker/writer, the listener/reader should try to understand my meaning as well if she intends to listen/read at all. Does a constant defining of terms really clear up the meaning? If one can only understand something from one's own point of view, and cannot for a minute really hear someone else, really try on their point of view, then there is no purpose for communication. Defining only serves a purpose if a person honestly does not understand or know a word at all. The elementary term "context clues" provides a means to discovering someone else's intention.

The real problem with the analytic realm of philosophy is that it does not understand people. People use language, not machines. While analytic philosophy aims to "clarify" meaning, it's cryptic language is unrecognizable and unintelligible except to the "in" club of people who have taken the time to memorize these terms exactly. Is that really how human beings communicate? The ability to interpret someone's language is scary for those who seek certainty, who want strictly logical knowledge. However, ambiguity and inevitable interpretation of language is part of the intrigue of communicating. Humans who see others as human beings too are more inclined to "figure out" the other person, and are able to empathize or at least relate to the other person. The mechanically minded individuals who would rather analyze than understand are less inclined to see others' subjective points of view. My question is: does the "objective" pov really make a difference to us? If not, why seek it out? If so, how?

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