Language is a Tool

  • Feedback

    Why Do We Even Have Language?

    Communication is all about the sharing of information. Let’s assume that the more true information an organism has, the better that it can make beneficial decisions for itself. As a lone organism in the universe, the only information I would have is the information I’ve gained for myself. But what if there was another organism, and that organism had its own knowledge base. If both organisms were to exchange their information with each other, they would greatly expand their knowledge bases, and each be able to make better decisions for survival. Survival then becomes dependent upon one’s ability to communicate with others.

    Lying and Misinformation

    Language is based around the transfer of information; unfortunately, it can be used just as effectively to convey information that is not true. An organism may spread misinformation in two circumstances: there is personal gain in doing so; or the organism's knowledge base leads them to believe that it's the truth.

    Believing misinformation can be detrimental to an organism because it may take a different course of action based on this information, which is why we've developed sceptisisms to scrutinize the information that we receive. An interesting, funny movie that uses this concept is The Invention of Lying in which all characters cannot lie, and therefore have never developed the ability to scrutinize misinformation, except for one man.

    Even allowing another organism to continue believing information that you know to not be true is a form of perpetuating misinformation. Though, if trying to "correct" someone else's knowledge, one must be careful, because as we discussed above one's own knowledge base may contain misinformation. Therefore, it's vital to ensure that the information in one's knowledge base is correct before attempting to change someone else's knowledge base. Organisms are often resistent to changing what they know, and often will stick with their current beliefs while scrutinizing new information. The back and forth of convicing and scrutinizing is the act of debating.

    We Use What We Can

    As humans, we have developed certain abilities (senses) that allow us to receive and send messages (information). We use our mouths to send vibrations through the air, and ears to receive those vibrations. We have movement from our muscles, and eyes to interpret that movement. We can smell, which allows us to detect food, other animals, etc.

    These senses developed to help gain us information about our environments so that we can make better decisions for survival. By interpreting other organisms' signals, and creating signals of our own, we start the process of communication. Certain animals use other abilities such as light, heat, or electric fields for communication. We don’t use some of these methods of communication because we don’t have the organs required to send or receive them. This hasn’t stopped us from using technology to enhance our abilities.

    Interestingly, you’re perceiving my fingers smashing these keys sometime in the future using your sight. This is because we’ve created technologies that interpret abilities we do have (movement), into abilities that we don’t (electricity), and then reinterpreted them at the other end back into a medium that we can sense (sight). We’ve done this using technology for many other inhuman senses.

    If you found this interesting, be sure to communicate it to your friends so that they have this knowledge as well. They may find it useful.

Log in to reply