Magic of Language


Language, through the discrete nature of linguistic names and strictly determined grammatical rules, creates absolute, “quantized”, sharply separated “facts” within the external world that is continuous, “fuzzy” and relational in its essence. Therefore, it is similar, in some important sense, to magic, which attributes causal and creative power to magical words and formulas. On the one hand, language increases greatly the effectiveness of the processes of thinking and interpersonal communication, yet, on the other hand, it determines and distorts to a large extent the picture of the world created within the mind. The relatively smallest (but still significant) magical admixture is present in science, because of its relatively reliable methodology, while the largest is found in religion and a large part of philosophy. The magical nature of language also manifests itself in logic and mathematics that refer to ill determined, fuzzy objects, sets and relations in the real world. The meaning of linguistic names is based on the conceptual network—an epiphenomenon (continuous in its essence) of the neural network—where interactions between particular concepts are based on the relation of connotation. The names and formulas of language correspond to these concepts which are best separated and determined. A direct relation of denotation between the elements of language and “facts” of the world is an illusion. While we cannot dispense with language because of its immense usefulness, we must remember about its “fact-creating” nature and influence on our thought and cognitive processes. The picture of the reality created as the result of them is to a large extent formed and deformed by the nature of language, and not by the “immanent” properties of the world in itself.

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Korzeniewski, B. (2013) Magic of Language. Open Journal of Philosophy, 3, 455-465. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2013.34067.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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