Question: “The vagueness and ambiguity of language always limits the production of knowledge”.

Language is a method of communication between humans that is either written or spoken, and consists of the use of words in a generally accepted structure and convention. Humans constantly uses language to express themselves and their ideas to others, and thus spread their knowledge throughout the global/local community. However there are some drawbacks when one must be careful of when trying to transmit knowledge through language, because not only are some concepts hard to express in language, but the interpretation of language very fluid at times. What this means is that because of people’s different life experiences and what they already know, different people’s interpretation of language can differ from person to person making it hard to find a common base in language to communicate your specific and intended message clearly.

Religion is an Area of Knowledge (AOK) that shows how the ambiguity and vagueness of language can sometimes lead to people having different religious ideals. This can be seen through how christians, muslims and others treat people and situations differently. For example, a verse in the Bible states that “Vengeance is Mine”. Many people interpret this verse as saying that if someone wrongs you, than you have the right to exact vengeance upon the wrongdoer. However what this verse really means is that if someone does you wrong, god will be the one who will provide justice, kind of like karma. As a result many devote Christians may misinterpret this verse and use it as an excuse to exact revenge upon someone, and not allow god to pass judgement upon the individual himself. Therefore, the vagueness of this Bible verse may impede the progress of knowledge by creating individuals who do not think about why they were rejected or wronged, and simply think they are right and deserve vengeance on those who rejected/wronged them without thinking about the circumstances from an outside point of view. In addition, the vast majority of muslims believe that the word jihad symbolises their internal struggles to live a life that abides by the moral codes of the Koran. However some muslims believe that jihad represents an external struggle against those who would threaten the faith or the faithful, sometimes by using arms. As a result of the vagueness of the term jihad, some people have taken it up as an excuse to wage a global war of terror against western society. Therefore the misinterpretation of jihad impedes the religious knowledge of many muslims, because nowadays people relate jihad to islamic terrorists and not it’s true meaning of spiritual struggle.

However the ambiguity and vagueness of language does not always impede the production of knowledge, and this can be seen in the arts. In fact, I believe that the fact that the ambiguity and vagueness of language in the arts is what allows this AOK to be so diverse, impactful and eye-opening. For example, scripts done by playwrights may contain language that is really vague. However this allows for many different interpretations of certain scenes, which allows different directors to convey different meanings to the audience. Thus allowing the audience to gain more insight into different situations, and thus increase their understanding of the different scenarios and reasons for these scenarios. Therefore I believe that vagueness and ambiguity does not always limit the production of knowledge.

Further Questions: (The ones crossed out are answered in above)

  • Do vagueness and ambiguity always limit the production of knowledge
  • Does any kind of knowledge benefit from vagueness and ambiguity of language
  • Is all language vague and ambiguous
  • What is language
  • What limits language
  • What is role of language in producing knowledge
  • Does knowledge require language to be made?