November 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Have you ever wondered about the sheer power of naming something?
I’ll draw an analogy. Imagine you have a totally blank slate… let’s say you’re out in the middle of the desert. Then you pound in a stick of rebar, basically putting a stake in the ground. Consider this the first point. From here on out, you can define all future stakes and other objects by their relation to this initial stake. By distance from, color of (darker than, lighter than…), bigger, smaller, the comparisons abound.
So what happens when you name something? First, think about what happens without a name. You have to use other characteristics to identify it, often creating that same comparison. When you coin the name, it creates a symbol by which that entire group of characteristics can be identified. And often, from then on, anything which has a similar set of properties might remind you of the initial name.
If this is all true, then it follows that not only does naming something often cast a set of perceived properties, but it also grants a great deal of power to the entity which crafts the name. Think of two events from Genesis here: Adam naming the animals, using the power of language to name them, thus getting that element of control over them; and the Tower of Babel, where languages are scattered and nobody can communicate with anyone else, leaving God as the sole arbitrer of names.
I would argue this same idea applies to things like value systems. If you are a shopkeeper, you can name the price of an item, and thus control who can afford it (and whether it is sellable). You can also use names to judge things, comparing one writer to another, for example, either damning or praising. After all, what is language without comparison, and what is comparison without judgement?
If I can shine a white light through a prism and break it into the spectrum, I wonder if one could shine a metaphorical white light into your senses and break the noumena into elements of logic. Could it be, the a priori to a posteriori, as emotion to logic, as unConscious to Concious, as id to ego, as meaning to symbol?