Language

Today in TOK, we learnt about the way of knowing of languages. How it can benefit and hinder our production of knowledge. We especially talked about how language can manipulate your views based on the context. One example that we talked about was how in war, we would use euphemisms such as liberators, freedom fighters, allies etc. to allow civilians or military personal to believe that they are fighting for the “right” side. Another example is “neutralising” comparing to murdering or killing. As by providing a euphemism, it numbs the effects and people can continue to root for the cause that their government is fighting for as it gives motivation and patriotism.

So for today’s task we were asked to apply this statement “The vagueness and ambiguity of language always limits the production of knowledge” and ask any questions that come in to mind and apply this statement into two Area’s of Knowledge. One question that stood out was how do we define vagueness and ambiguity of a language. Can we even quantify vagueness and ambiguity? Who is it to decide whether a language is vague or ambiguous.  Afterwards I asked about are all examples of vague and ambiguous language hinder production of knowledge? Can there be instances where vague language actually can help the production of knowledge? 

Which brought me to think about examples of how vagueness can help the production of knowledge in an area of knowledge. One example I thought of was Natural Sciences, as theories can be quite complicated and when language can be used to construct metaphors and to simplify complicated theories or abstract ideas, metaphors can help boils down into more simplified or familiar comparisons. Another example I was thinking about how art could benefit from vague languages. Especially when artists are trying to explain their ideas or motivations when explaining the choices that they make, by simplifying terms and ideas could help broader audiences understand the artists perspective which leads to interpretation.

I would think that language or like any other concept that we study in TOK is a double edged knife where it can benefit and hinder your production of learning. However from this lesson, it has taught me to be more skeptical, especially about news regarding politics, war, or anything subjective on a broader scale.

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