Words and Labels

From Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth:

“Words reduce reality to something the human mind can understand, which isn’t very much.  Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords.  They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u.  The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g, and so forth.  Do you believe some combination of such sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?”

Tolle is, of course, correct.  Words, which are effectively socially agreed upon labels we choose to associate with things, are inherently inadequate.  “Red,” in and of itself, does nothing to tell me the color of something, not does “sad” convey much with that arrangement of three letters.  Those words, all words, are labels that help my mind quickly page through the thick dictionary it has created to make a connection.  The flaw in all this, of course (and let’s skip over the obvious, that my definitions may be incorrect) is that my labels and definitions are not your labels and definitions.  Deep thoughts for a Sunday morning.  Still, he’s on to something here.

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