Monday, October 22, 2007

A Problem of Language?

Our ancestors tended to personify objects. At least this is my impression of our ancestors. Ships were referred to as women. St. Francis would be a prime example. He made poems about brother sun and sister moon. He preached to birds and admonished wolves. Our current culture seems to go the other extreme. It views things as mere objects or machines. Even other people are viewed in the context of what can it do for me. Here is a quote that I think is insightful:
...but the same problem applies to most of the technological changes we embrace and many of the material and spatial ones. The gains are simple and we know the adjectives: convenient, efficient, safe, fast, predictable, productive. All good things for a machine, but lost in the list is the language to argue that we are not machines and our lives include all sorts of subtleties—epiphanies, alliances, associations, meanings, purposes, pleasures—that engineers cannot design, factories cannot build, computers cannot measure, and marketers will not sell. What we cannot describe vanishes into the ether, and so what begins as a problem of language ends as one of the broadest tragedies of our lives. (by Rebecca Solnit)
So the question that comes to my mind is, why didn't our ancestor's have this problem of language? Or could it be because the concepts of sacred, soul, sin, and sacrifice were not then viewed as outmoded?

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