People may disagree on many issues relating to knowledge. What knowledge is, how knowledge is gained, how many types of knowledge there are, and so on, but one aspect necessary and a prerequisite to express any of them is natural language. All of what people mean and identify has to be described in spoken or more precisely written Language.
So, is it far-fetched to speculate that language itself might be an impediment to knowledge, in the same way description can never communicate an experience or qualia. It is my belief that, as indispensable as language is to our evolution and the great development and achievements made by humans over our history, it is also a constraint in communicating what appears to be limitless idea’s, feelings, and experiences. It might be the only, and greatest tool we have to work with, however it will do us well to understand its limitations.
One only has to look at agreements in written contracts of the corporate world, to understand their inadequacy. Prior to the substance of a contract every important word is defined at the beginning, and the definitions, in most cases, are longer than the agreement itself. Clauses like the Spirit of The Agreement, Good Faith, Laws Governing the Agreement, as well as the need for Arbitration indicate clearly the distrust of a clear description of intentions in words and the inherent ambiguity of interpretation.
It sometimes amazes me how this very important factor is so easily dismissed when people disagree about something that cannot be explained in simple terms or words. How many wars have been fought and how many have suffered because of misunderstandings, because of lack of patience, the inability to listen carefully, the predisposition to an interpretation or opinion from a subjective point of view, the lack of the right words to use. Every one wants to know everything “in a nutshell”, but not everything, and in fact most things, can’t be explained concisely or absolutely.
The science of natural language better known as Linguistics, has not improved its accuracy, but only identified its complexity. No wonder science has chosen a more rigid communication tool, the language of mathematics. This in essence is nothing more than a further abstraction and an attempt to extract absolutes from a natural system that may not have them.
Here I am trying to communicate something I definitely feel about the limitation of language, yet I can’t communicate it, the way it feels, only as close as I can put it in words. So what exactly am I trying to say here. I don’t think there is such a thing as literal interpretation in a vacuum of shared experience. We can spend all day arguing what is meant by “literal” and what is meant by “interpretation”.