Defne Savaş – BLIS
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world”
As what Wittgenstein suggests seems assertive, the philosopher brings new ideas to light about words themselves: Language exists with words, and thoughts may come via the formation of words. One could say that language exists within “the thought”, and the thought ceases to exist without language. Therefore, I argue that through the development of thought, newer concepts are acquired by humanity, and in this way, words develop inseparably from cognition. This development of language, like a cycle, feeds the thought back. As this cycle develops further, the human understanding of concepts and thoughts are brought to a higher perspective.
Through neurobiology, the conceptualization and comprehension of language can be explained. Language is most commonly formed in the left side of the human brain. When these language areas of the cetebral cortex are damaged, there is a loss or a defect in the function of language (Berkow and Fletcher, pp. 1328-1329). Without the function of language, both non-verbal and verbal expression and comprehension become impaired, and the comprehension of reality becomes completely or partially limited. This disability is most commonly known as “aphasia” or “dysphasia”. Different forms of speech disorders can occur depending on the specific location of injury of the brain. In one type of aphasia, known as “Wernicke’s (sensory) aphasia”, the patient can somewhat pronounce some words; however, the words that are spoken are not conceptualized nor comprehended by the patient, and the words have no apparent meaning. Additionally, loss of semantic meaning creates a problem with the comprehension of thought in the patient. Thus, the cognition related to the world is severely impaired through the loss of meaning of words (Berkow and Fletcher, pp 1328-1329).
Anthropologically, as societies started to form and develop, the desire to develop language boosted further. This pressing need formed language as we now know. With language, humans have been able to transfer knowledge that has been accumulated since our earliest ancestors. By transferring this knowledge to the next generation, we have been able to develop to where we are now. The fact that we did not have to start the acquisition of knowledge from the beginning every time a new offspring was born gave us a greater advantage over our competitors (Hançerlioğlu, pp. 319-320). Thus, language became the greatest weapon and art of Homo sapiens. As new ideas started to form, the human language showed great progress along with it. While new concepts were expressed with new words and were transmitted to others, the modern human was able to reach to more abstract and powerful concepts. Therefore, words created a new world, one completely different from the early human understanding. It could also be argued that this new world, caused by the evolution of humans, created new words and concepts. However, this can be all tied back to how language and comprehension work cohesively, develop each other, and in the end, stretch the limits of the perception of our world.
Known and documented history has begun with the invention of written language. With this new tool, humans began to record and thus change history. We started talking of worlds and of people we do not yet know of through epics, lyrics, theatre, novels, and many other forms of written and spoken literature. Scientific breakthroughs, art, philosophy, and simply everything that our current reality is built up around was initiated through the power of thought, which was designed by concepts of language. Our constant progression in so many areas shows how words and concepts determine the next border of our understanding. Even though Wittgenstein’s idea seems to be assertive, it is still reasonable to consider that our language creates the borders of our world. As it can create borders, it can break them as well, and from this we are led through greater breakthroughs – and from there we are guided to newer and grander realities.
Berkow, Robert, and Andrew Fletcher. “The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.” The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Merck & Co., 1987, pp. 1328-1329.
“Dil.” Felsefe Ansiklopedisi Kavramlar Ve Akımlar, by Orhan Hanrçerlioglu, vol. 1-2, Remzi Kitabevi, 1976, pp. 319-320.