Saturday, April 09, 2011
GIANTS IN THE LAND - WORDS AIN'T WHAT THEY USED TO BE
Out of France we can track movements that emphasize that language eliminates the possibility of objective, absolute understanding of truth. The relationship between words and what they describe are so arbitrary and changed by usage that it’s useless to maintain that we can actually arrive, conclusively, at the intended meaning of the source. Meaning becomes objectively impossible and we are left with pure subjectivism. Michel Foucault suggests that the postmodern motive is to sexually and morally set people free from the bondage of oppression so getting rid of meaning and moral “standards” serves this purpose. Deconstructionists also suggest that what is assumed to be the meaning of a body of writing is merely camouflage for some form of manipulation and control since all cultures are inherently oppressive of some factions within the culture. Language always reflects an underlying effort to engage in sexual, gender, economic, religious, political oppression by using, for example, generic words (signifiers) like “he” to oppress women.
The Anglo-American contribution to this shift is largely seen in the “social sciences.” It is thought that “meaning” is defined in cultural groups or, what is known as, interpretive communities. We only believe what we believe because of the group within which one has been raised. Therefore, no group has the right to tell any other group that one is right and one is wrong, we all simply have our interpretation of “reality.”
For the common person, such ideas likely seem quite foolish, however, this type of thought is quite forcefully and directly propagated in universities that train the next generation of teacher, politicians and, yes, pastors. It is packaged in ways that the young and naïve who meander off to university will ingest like the high sodium content of a cafeteria lunch.