Language is a Physical Construct

Capturing a short tweet threat for posterity, because it will just disappear in Twitter

Language is a physical construct; it exists in the world, not the mind. We contribute to language through physical actions, like speaking and writing, not telepathy.

There are no rules to language, no 'facts' about language over and above the physical manifestation; anyone can contribute however they wish. But we can recognize patterns and protocols in language, so we can each build parts that work with other parts.

Meaning is not inherent in language; words and sentences are not 'signs' that stand for things independent of our experience of them. Each of us interprets language in our own way, as each object we encounter triggers a complex wave of association with sounds, shapes, and emotions.

Viewed in this way, any social construct can be a language, and all social constructs - including disciplines, domains of knowledge, factions, cultures - can be understood as a language, and expertise in the domain as akin to learning the language.

And so learning anything can be understood as like learning a language. What matters are not some hypothetical facts or rules over and above the physical, but rather how we become first literate and then fluent in recognizing, manipulating and creating new patterns and protocols.

To master a discipline is to transcend the discipline, to have internalized a 'way of seeing' the world so that it becomes background, a text in which we can experience and express our own mental life.


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