Friday, August 17, 2012

Scriptural Linguistic Constructivism?

John Chapter 1:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made

I see this in a linguistic constructivist sense, meaning that all we "know" - in the sense of sharable experiences- is only sharable by the "word" or through language.   Think about it.  We know "facts", and what are "facts"?  They are words-sentences- we regard as "true".  So all that can be confirmed by science, or all that we can share knowledge about is essentially about giving names or defining what we experience.

Science and poetry are in the same boat.  They are both linguistic models of some part of human experience.  Poetry expresses feelings and emotions probably as nearly as it is possible to express them, where science expresses a linguistic model of what we all share by verifiable experiences.   That is what science is- models of reality which change from time to time as they are refined, but those models are expressed in language- either mathematics, or natural languages like English or German, or most usually, both mathematics and a natural language.   But science uses models we all can verify and experience together, while poetry models emotions we all have felt.   Music is likewise a universal language which expresses emotion across all linguistic boundaries.

Let's look at Abraham 4- in the LDS Scriptures, found the in the Pearl of Great Price. Imagine that you are looking at chaotic matter- perhaps "snow" on a TV screen, and suddenly you start seeing regularities.  As a mini-god, it is your responsibility to try to define those regularities.  I believe this was similar to what the Gods are doing in the scriptural metaphor expressed in Abraham 4- linguistically defining what we know and speak of as the world around us.   Not oddly at all, it is also what science does.

In short, I think this is the way the Word organized all that was organized.   The Word after all, is the Messenger, the carrier of language, from God to man, the Organizer of the world, the great Jehovah.

I have added quote marks in certain places, and made some comments:

1 And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.....
5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night. And it came to pass that from the evening until morning they called night; and from the morning until the evening they called day; and this was the first, or the beginning, of that which they called day and night.
6 And the Gods also said: Let there be an "expanse"
(defined-mfb) in the midst of the waters, and it shall "divide" the waters from the waters.
7 And the Gods ordered the expanse, so that it divided the waters which were "under" the expanse from the waters which were "above" the expanse; and it was so, even as they ordered.
8 And the Gods called the expanse, Heaven. And it came to pass that it was from evening until morning that they called night; and it came to pass that it was from morning until evening that they called day; and this was the "second"
(thereby defining numbers-mfb) time that they called night and day.
9 And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be "gathered" together unto "one place", and let the earth come up "dry"; and it was so as they ordered;
10 And the Gods pronounced the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, "Great Waters"; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.

I interpret this account as a religious description of what I see as a linguistic constructivist way of seeing the world and how Man/God organizes matter unorganized through language.

So now we jump out of philosophical parlance and move into poetry and what is generally called "metaphysics".

I think the sentence "I am the Truth" uttered by Jesus, can be taken many ways.   First of all, Jehovah, the premortal Christ, is the great "I Am"- the self-existent one who defines all existence, for without the Organizer there would only be Chaos.  Nothing would be ordered or defined.

Secondly he is the Word- the messenger of God who gives Adam language.  It is language which enables men to become like God to organize our worlds from matter unorganized in the way God himself does, but only in a very very limited way.

Thirdly, he is the Truth in the sense of being the True path which "works" for all who find it and all who order their lives according to the rules (commandments) and ordinances he has devised for us.  His way is the Way of Life (See the Didache) the ethical system which maximizes all that has been defined as good for mankind.   His truth is the truth which works best for mankind to make us all happy.

In fact, we call that plan the Plan of Happiness in our church - and that is exactly what it is.

Anyway that is the way I understand it!

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