The Language Niche: understanding the nature and limits of language

  1. The Language Niche exist separate from real things, concepts, and ideas.

  2. We need a system of non-verbal justification in learning and transferring truth.

To better understand language within the context of the big niche, we need a new method of viewing language.

For that purpose we can use the concept of The Language Niche.

First we must recognize that…

1. The Language Niche exists separately from real things and concepts.

Language is a tool for practical purposes. We can view the language niche as existing separately from the big niche. It is an imperfect representation of the possibilities in the big niche.

Physical Matter & Laws of Universe –> The Big Niche –> The Language Niche

Language can not be thought of as math, or as directly representing things. It must be thought of as imperfect and practical labeling.

People use language to transmit practical information and for social communication and signaling. There are limits to the level of complexity that language is able to communicate, and the social motivations of language can conflict with accurate information sharing. For example, a crowd might perceive a confident but inaccurate speaker as being more correct than an unconfident but accurate speaker.

The language niche further illuminates that…

2. We need a system of non-verbal justification in learning and transferring truth.

Debate is using language in a competition to have a perceived win in an argument. It works by selecting certain facts, appealing to certain values, and trying to set the goalposts in which you can win. It includes speaking in non-possibilities and vague notions but with confidence and surety in your ideas. To a certain extent, complex language allows more nonsensical ideas and narratives to be created that exist purely in the language niche and not as a reality.

We’ve maxed out the effectiveness of verbal debate in problem solving. A thousand years of talking heads will not solve the problems we are faced with. We need a method to determine the effectiveness of configurations of complex systems.

This applies to the future of scientific studies. Instead of attempting to isolate single variables and make broad claims of consequences, we need to do studies based on complex realities with many variables at play and with the ability to judge consequences.

To solve complex debates (eg ideal economic policy), we need a method to understand realities directly, apart from the language niche. We must understand the totality of a niche—hundreds or thousands of factors—and be able to know the exact consequences of changes. We need a clear picture of what all potential benefits and trade-offs of policies would be.

We can begin to work towards this goal, but it requires developing an absolute grasp of the niche in question at a level of complexity that humanity has not sought to attempt yet (in general).

 

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