When we see something, we construct a conceptualization of what that thing is, which is compared and contrasted automatically to things like that thing, that we already know of. When we see a human, we conceptualize the human as perhaps, a man or a woman, depending on the traits that we are focusing on. Sometimes, depending on what we see, that may not be the first thing we can conceptualize and it remains in more of a status that isn’t necessarily what we can consider to be a good conceptualization, or a good probability that the person is a man or a woman. Of course this day and age, we can’t really know if anyone is a man or a woman, but that can be a different subject. When we see a face, we note the things that we have already attributed to being that of a face, is there eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, the face, those are perceived rather easily. It is rather striking, when one of these things are missing, because that is not the norm. However, missing an eye, missing a nose, doesn’t disqualify us from considering that face to be human. But what if this person is missing both their eyes, their mouth and their nose? Then what? Of course, we would probably have never seen anybody quite like this before. We may think they aren’t a human, perhaps they are an alien. Perhaps, they are a mannequin with no face. Do we consider this to be the same for a person who is missing a nose and an eye? Perhaps not, accidents and birth defects do happen. But I’m not sure if a person is able to live long without a face. That type of birth defect may not be acceptable or conducive to life, if there is one. I’m not sure if there is one like that, of course this is a hypothetical. I would think some of you may be googling that right now, already have, or will be.
It seems that there may be unknown qualifications that we require to consider our perception to be the same as a concept that we already are aware of.
A tree, is a tree, based on certain qualifications that we know of as a tree. Interestingly, a pine tree is very different from a maple tree. However, there still are striking similarities. Yet of course, these words and classification of this pine tree and a maple tree does have has some legitimate ontological basis for both to be considered a tree. But how about bamboo? This is very different from other trees. It is considered a type of grass in wikipedia, but it is also very different from other types of grass as well. So there is some debate on whether bamboo is a tree or a grass. But really, it doesn’t matter to much as to what it is. Neither does a pine tree being labeled a tree matter to what it is. It does only make it easier to communicate such things. Look at that tree! Well, if its a pine tree, we will know what they are referring to. But what if we never saw a pine tree? We can deduce the other person is probably referring to that tree looking thing with these large weird needles all over it, instead of leaves. That’s a tree, we might think? This process of identifying things and concepts is very much tied into our language. Our language is very much a social construct and can even be considered a social contract, if you will. Language ties in to how we perceive and conceptualize things, because through language, we form concepts that are attached to these symbols that we know as words. These symbols are attributed to real word concepts, both physical and abstract things. But these concepts and real world things, don’t always mesh. Sometimes they do, but often, there is a disconnect to the reality of the physical or abstract thing.
Without knowing how language and words, definitions can get it wrong, we will get our philosophy wrong as well. To question the definitions of words is to philosophize. Our language, being a social construct, is also a language that has formed, and informed our minds. “Think for yourself, question authority – Throughout human history, as our species has faced the frightening, terrorizing fact that we do not know who we are, or where we are going in this ocean of chaos, it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness. (A) chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.”
When one thinks for our self and questions the authority of words and languages, its usages, its common ways that people express meaning, we can possibly see how that meaning isn’t necessarily cogent to the ontology of the identity of a concept. Just what is an abstraction, what really exists, what is physical, what isn’t? What is a product of our mind and what is actually there?
What is a product of our culture and language and what is actually there?
Language has essentially forced upon us a conceptualization through linguistical standards that can cause something to come about such as a concept that doesn’t actually have any basis in reality, yet we use it as if it might. For example, a religious definition of “Free will”
I would say, people “know better” by now. By know better, I use colloquial rhetoric here. But know, and belief, are often of some sort of problematic nature in colloquial rhetoric, which I have attempted to note more thoroughly here: https://ruminationfactory.wordpress.com/…/knowing-is-not-b…/
Through questioning the ontological implications of language, we can go deeper philosophically and possibly overcome limitations from those that preceded us. Through perceptual conceptualization that is aware of the aforementioned pitfalls of language, one can perceive things in a new clearer light that may be untainted by the norms of our culture, our language, our authorities, and break free from all that may be wrong about how people think. Of course, not everything is wrong, but then again, not everything is right either. There are problems unsolved everywhere in philosophy, there are problems unsolved in science, in math, in perception, in cognition. Did Kant get everything right on synthetic and non synthetic a priori? We should not assume so much. I would argue against Kant and his description of math, as I already have elsewhere in the “think for yourself question authority thread”. To ascribe to the greats and utilize them in comparing what we actually think, as if they are weighted, might very well be considered bias. If we can think from a mind that attempts to gain independence as much as possible from the environment that we are born in, then perhaps we can perceive things in a new light, and maybe even a better light. Humanity has often herded, gone with what works. Sure things work, sure contextualization and words work, but we are not a perfect species. We have not perfected philosophy. We have not perfected our ontology. We are far from understanding the complexities of the mind, our perception processes and conceptualization process. Yes we have dug deeply into these fields, but there is always room for improvement.
Now, with conceptualization and perception being linked very much so with this social construct of language – how can we overcome the norms of our culture and go beyond? Shouldn’t we go beyond? If not a failed attempt, isn’t it worth it to try?