"Men imagine," says Bacon, "that their minds have the command of Language; but it often happens that Language bears rule over the mind."


"… the language of mankind, and the idioms of speech, are so exceeding various that it is hard to reduce them to a few rules; and if we would gain a just and precise idea, of every universal, particular, and indefinite expression, we must not only consider the peculiar idiom of the language, but the time, the place the occasion, the circumstances of the matter spoken of, and thus penetrate as far as possible in the design of the speaker or writer."


Language Wisdom

In building esteem for impartial truth, many allies rush to our aid. Truth respect, as explained in Chapter 13 is fundamental. But there is more. There are the bits and dabs of information, good advise, and moral guidance shaped into a logical form that we pick up in numerous ways as we live and learn. This chapter concentrates on the knowledge we acquire in the routine of learning our language.

Anyone who learns any language acquires a respectable body of knowledge in the process of learning. A person who speaks a language has a vocabulary, has cultivated commonsense to some extent, has acquired a collection of worthwhile information and, in the process, has sharpened his or her intelligence. The plus system refers to this phenomena as language wisdom.

As we learn a language we activate our logical intuition and become inclined to recognize the basic requirements of sound rational thinking. As we learn to speak, we also partake of the wisdom embedded in our language.

Learning to speak a language is an education. Usually, as we learn, we develop an understanding that we have limits to our knowledge as well as possibilities. This in turn encourages respect for the power and value of impartial truth. Following this vein, language wisdom inclines people toward peaceful progress. The development of wisdom inherent in any language naturally works to cultivate commonsense and augment our urge to honesty.

Language wisdom, in conjunction with other rational gifts, makes available tools we need to operate open, fair and free democracies. Whenever people in society are smart enough to take advantage of these honest propensities, life becomes kinder and the roads to improvement become smoother. When language wisdom and cultivated commonsense are in ascendancy, society can absorb an astonishing amount of foolishness in the realm of critical philosophy. Language wisdom is an important concept well worth the time it takes to elaborate.

Language wisdom, as here defined, incorporates several values. The idea 'language wisdom' includes the practical education a person receives as he or she learns and uses a language. As already mention, any one who learns a language develops their intellect to some degree and gains at least a minimum measure of rational skill. The idea "language wisdom" also refers to the intelligence we develop as we acquire vocabulary and learn to communicate with others who speak our language. In a third way, language wisdom means the constructive counsel implied in language aphorisms and metaphor. In addition, language wisdom includes the sound epistemology a language captures and conveys. Through vocabulary and syntax, each language teaches some thinking skill, some knowledge, and something of value about meaning, judgment, logic, fair play and respect for impartial truth. Also, through language wisdom, rationally normal people pick up a measure of truth respect. Every person who can speak a language coherently acquires some esteem for the prerequisites of truth respect whether they are critically aware or not.

Language wisdom, as here defined, is not automatic programming as happens when we install Windows 2000 on our hard drive. Instead, language wisdom is valuable knowledge and sound rational skill each person learns and perfects through their own effort using their own talents. People who learn to speak from living together tend to abstract similar ideas because they share similar influences. But we should remember that each individual abstracts his/her own ideas, makes his/her own judgments, figures his/her own reasons, and draws his/her own conclusions. The language we learn stirs up our thinking, points us toward beaten paths, and prods us to follow suit, but we still do our own learning and our own reasoning. What is more, we each add a unique contribution, whether it is appreciated or not. Some languages are more conducive to encouraging independent thought than others.

Language influences rational style. The influence of a particular language solicits enough philosophical similarities in enough people to be noticeable to an outside observer. Consequently, we can speak of an ideological point of view tacitly implied by a language. The existential and elemental insinuations of language usually incorporate a body of truth that is compromised here and there with errors, especially root errors. Even though mistakes compromise the purity of truth and create problems, the truths inculcated through language wisdom remain true.

In the process of learning a language and applying our language to our experience, all rationally normal people discover a certain amount of propositional truth and develop some truth respect. Applying this principle, we can see that no matter who we meet, if that person is rationally functional and not severely psychopathic, he or she will have some level of language wisdom and will have some desire to know, communicate, and preserve truth.

Language is a teacher. As we learn to communicate, we acquire an informal education. Parents, siblings, and others initiate our instructions when we are babies. By the time we start formal education, we have already developed a highly structured degree of language wisdom and commonsense. Even if we receive no formal education, informal education proceeds.

In primitive societies, all education is informal. This is the definition of a primitive society. Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin’s held a great respect for American Indians. They recognized that American Indians were primitive, in the sense that they were not suffused with formal education, but they had much knowledge pertinent to their way of life. American Indians before contact with formal education displayed cultivated commonsense and many had astute intelligence. Primitive, as plus defined, does not mean stupid or ignorant. It means lacking a formally structured educational system.

Formal education is the teaching we received from school or from tutors following a written curriculum. Some formal education stretches into a long process with graduation ceremonies celebrating accomplishments and degrees in numerous subjects going as high as doctorate. Formal education builds on language wisdom as well as the informal education already in place. Before children start school they already have a vocabulary and a mind full of ideas beginning to coalesce.

Adding together our native logical intuition plus experience plus the intellectual stimulation of learning a language sets the stage where we develop wisdom through the process of living.

From an understanding of the merits of language wisdom, we learn to appreciate that each language has a unique value. Just as environmentalists work to preserve the land, so, too, linguists work to preserve various languages of the world. Anthropologists struggle with a sensitive problem as they try to discover ways to preserve the language and culture of primitive people without depriving them of the benefits of civilization.

Preserving languages is an important issue, but for the purpose of this writing, it’s a side issue. It’s mentioned because it’s an example of a genuine social problem. People addressing this issue, need to talk openly, honestly, and constructively. We are much more likely to find good solutions if we address the problem candidly and pay attention to the facts than if we mutter insults, spread falsehoods, and treat those who dissent from our opinion with contempt. My concern is with the quality of the discussion. When leaders are well informed and honest, the movers and shakers in society are in a position to help people of good will work together to develop policies to preserve minority languages while at the same time assisting people who speak the languages to make genuine improvements in their quality of life.

Language Illusion

The culture we acquire as we learn our language is obviously not all pure truth. Sometimes we inadvertently acquire errors from our language in the process of learning to speak. This counterpart of language wisdom is language illusion.

Some language illusion develops from metaphor. For example, in learning English we easily acquire an unwarranted aversion to the wolf, because often in English lore the wolf symbolizes evil. To speak English well, a person needs to know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, be familiar with the phrase, "the wolf is at the door", and so on. As another example, English puts approbation on the words ‘stepmother’ and ‘mother-in-law’. There are many words that carry connotations that promote misinformation. If we internalize these misinformed notions as true, we acquire language illusions. Thought conceit often develops from language illusion.

The term language illusion refers to sub-conscious prejudices, superstitions, as well as misinformation we inadvertently incurred from analogy, innuendo, tradition, etc. as we learn our language. If we know how to correctly interpret figures of speech, we don’t pick up the prejudices. However, it is easy to become careless and fail to appreciate language nuances. When this happens we acquire illusions from misuse of language metaphor. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) called these errors "The Idols of the Market Place" or errors from the influence of language.

In comparing language wisdom with language illusion, the former refers to true, sound, and enlightening thoughts we glean out in the process of learning our language and the latter to the false, misleading, and oppressive thoughts we pick up the same way. In philosophy, exploring the distinctions between language wisdom and language illusion opens many psychological doors. To specifically evaluate a language in an attempt to sort implied wisdom from insinuated illusion is a fine tuned, project that should be handled with utmost care. In sorting one from the other, we can anticipate an on going dispute over what actually is wise and what actually is foolish. Affirmative analysis aims to keep an open mind and avoid dogmatic pronouncements.

Linguistics is a vital science that, as it grows in influence, wields an ever increasing power over the direction of education. Mistakes made here inject deep splits in elemental theory that reverberate throughout society and come back to plague us in unexpected places. Many modern educational difficulties in the USA can be traced to root errors embedded in linguistic assumptions adopted in academic circles. This is so in regard to truth. The false notion is sometimes promulgated from our academic community that because knowledge varies and develops, that consequently truth changes from culture to culture, person to person, generation to generation. This attitude, in effect, dampens esteem for impartial truth and augments thought conceit.

Fomenting thought conceit is the last thing an educational program should support. However, by suppressing affirmative logic, thought conceit fills the vacuum and grows in power. The fallacy of thought conceit penetrates deep and feeds an attitude of contempt for impartial truth in many educational circles. Those engaged in the science of linguistics make a mistake, when they teach that because the development of knowledge is a changing process that, therefore, truth is also a changing process. Rather than repressing respect for impartial truth, linguists would make better progress if they recognized impartial truth as their ally.

Modern linguistics is a mixed bag of tricks. Modern linguistics, in its positive research, is vital and lively because it has much to offer. However, root errors often cancel out the values of new discoveries and rob linguists of positive accomplishment they could otherwise enjoy with pride.

One serious problem that is developing as a result of root errors in the linguistic field is a growing tendency to use linguistic artifice to manipulate public opinion. When people study language science for the purpose of thought control so they can inculcate their personal prejudices into the style of society they undertake a dangerous project. Studying linguistics to learn how to modify language to promote a political agenda stands counter to the original purpose of non-partisan science that linguists should be. It stands against the high ideals we in the USA inherit from the founders of our country. Those who deliberately instigate linguistic changes to further a personal agenda should be held to some standard of responsibility.

In building esteem for impartial truth, it is important to keep in mind the wisdom we learn from the language we inherit. Each language has its own value. Being a relatively new language that came into its own during a time when affirmative logic as an academic subject was in ascendancy, English offers its speakers a flexibility and adaptability to science that is superior to many other languages. On the other hand, the more ancient languages often are more poetic, ethereal, rich in metaphor, and filled with history. Everyone benefits from being able to speak several languages.

In the development of language, English holds an interesting position. Because it arrived late on the scene when and where the Trivium (Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric) was considered the undisputed foundation of education and the definition of man as a rational animal was taken for granted, the English language reflects the epistemology on which the Trivium and the rational view of human nature were founded. There are many examples, which will be elaborated in later pages. To mention a few, English has clearly exposed logical operators, eg "if-then"; "either-or"; "and-but"; "more-less", "Consequently"; "Therefore". Also there is a clear difference in English between "Concept & Percept"; "Idea & Image", "Statement & Judgment", etc. This list could go on and on. English language reflects a highly developed stage of epistemological and logical maturity that many other languages lack.

From this point of view, it is sad that some modern linguists work so hard to erase this logical development and reduce the English language to a more shallow state. Language reducers don’t realize what they do. It took thousands of years of development for English to reach the stage it achieved with Shakespeare, Newton, Addison, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, etc. We, ordinary people who speak English, should be alert to the treasure we possess and take appropriate steps to preserve valuable elemental aspects of our heritage.

Not all linguists are in the business of reducing language to low vulgar grunts. Many are working hard to preserve the elegance of English expression. Powerful and potentially useful research accumulates as experts develop new techniques and expand understanding. Studying the history of language development can be enlightening.

Now that computers are readily available, we can expect future breakthroughs that will expose new wonders. We hurt ourselves if we allow the important science of Linguistics to turn into a political tool for ego centric social agendas at the expence of the elegance of our language.

It is safe to assume a few basics. For example, in all likelihood, primitive culture developed first and philosophy came later. Cicero (106-43 BC) elaborated on this idea in his book on the first part of Rhetoric, "De Inventione". He wrote,

"There was a time when men wandered at large in the fields like animals and lived on wild fare; they did nothing by the guidance of reason, - - - - at this juncture a man—great and wise I am sure—became aware of the power latent in man and the wide field offered by his mind for great achievements if one could develop this power and improve it by instruction - - - he introduced them to every useful and honourable occupation, though they cried out against it at first because of its novelty, and then when through reason and eloquence they had listened with greater attention, he transformed them from wild savages into a kind and gentle folk."

Cicero (-106--43)

Granted, this description is naive. However, Cicero wrote this passage 2000 years ago when he was a youth, perhaps only 15. It does indicate, that people in educated circles have been aware of the development of knowledge for a long time. If Cicero was writing these ideas as a teenager, we can guess these ideas were present, in one form or another, in the general discourse of the day. Although language wisdom, as plus defined, is a more elaborate than Cicero’s idea, there is a similarity worth pointing out.

It’s not a new idea to assume that our long ago ancestors already had philosophical ideas before they began critical evaluation of their own thinking processes. Some of this development shows when we contrast primitive languages still extant with the languages of technical societies.

Languages of the more technically advanced nations have more notions, more abstractions, more world-wide generalities and tend to teach the child learning the language a different view of the world than the language say of the Cayato’s (Menkranoti Tribe) in the Amazon Jungles of Brazil. Compare the following ways of counting.

English Cayato

0. zero

  1. one pudi
  2. two amaikrut
  3. three amaikrutikeke
  4. four amaikrutamaikrut
  5. five amaikrutamaikrutikeke
  6. six amaikrutamaikrutamaikrut
  7. seven amaikrutamaikrutamaikrutikeke
  8. eight amaikrutamaikrutamaikrutamaikrut
  9. nine amaikrutamaikrutamaikrutamaikrutikeke
  10. ten amaikrutamaikrutamaikrutamaitrutamaikrut


The English system is more apt to invite a child to play with numbers than the Cayato system. By the time the Cayato children count to ten they have had enough. Their numbering system discourages the development of mathematics.

On the other hand, the vocabulary of the Cayato language helps children develop perceptions that might elude an English speaking child. The Cayato can see berries, birds, and insects that the visitor misses even when the object is pointed out. The Cayato have a name "no ket" for visitors who have not been raised in the jungle. "No Ket" means ‘no eyes.’ To the Cayato, the strangers who come to their village are like children, almost blind. The Cayato are very protective of strangers, supervising their every movement, so the "blind ones" don’t get hurt. [B289/78]

This quick comparison of the English and Cayato indicates that there is value to be found in both languages. There is no requirement that says we must set up an either-or choice between one or the other. As we become vitally aware of the impartial, universal truth that unifies all people, we also become aware that each language and each culture has its contribution to give to the world. What is more, each rationally functioning person has his/her contribution to improving society if we set up a system that brings out the best in people and preserves the best of each culture.

If it were true that we, the voting public, had to be linguistic and mathematical experts before we could contribute to public debate, then we would have to rethink the structure of our constitutional democratic republic. Very few voting citizens are proficient in advanced linguistics, semantics, and mathematical logic. Most of us rely on what we learned in school, what we discover from experience, and what we master from our particular fields of interest.

Personal Note: When visiting the University library I often read the scholarly journals, including those on linguistics, semantics, and mathematical logic. I’m usually alone at the tables. None of the latest journals in linguistics are dog eared. Instead, almost every one has a new smell and touch. I often feel that I am opening the particular journal in my hand for the first time. Never has anyone stood in line waiting for me to finish. There is no problem about the material I want being checked out. It’s always there, undisturbed on the shelf. This experience suggests that professional linguistics is the province of an elite few.

Reading a few linguistic journals does not make one an expert—far from it. What is more, although I heavily criticize some statements made by some linguists, semanticists, and mathematical logicians, I do not disparage those subjects in general. To the contrary, I applaud the constructive research and insights of philosophers in these areas. Most of what most of them write most of the time is a positive contribution to the world of human knowledge.

However, we, the general public, have a wisdom of our own that gives us a value independent of our expertise in comparative linguistics. We, the public who are affected by linguistic policies, have the intelligence and the right to criticize and reject statements by linguists that offend commonsense judgment, honest reason, and fair play.

In modern jargon, affirmative logic could be referred to as a mega-paradigm. That is to say, affirmative logic refers to semantical and logical fundamentals that hold for all in the midst of discovery. We, expert or not, are justified in incorporating the basics of affirmative logic in general education even while fine points of linguistics are being debated. Language wisdom augments our natural propensity to tune into the logical mega-paradigm which is the core set of commonsense logical guidelines. We can see vestiges of it in every culture if we know how to look.

Mathematics holds analogous examples. Mathematicians always have and always will debate the specialties of their subject. New ideas continue to require readjustment of old theories. In the meantime, we the public, in a technical society, still have to add, subtract and balance our check books. Even though we have calculators and computers, it’s still important to teach children to do basic arithmetic and to understand what they do. In our society, every one should comprehend how to figure interest, how to understand decimals, and how to measure the angles of a triangle. When we, as a society, can assume others know the basics, it helps us in sharing fundamentals of sound rational thinking. More than merely learning to perform the operations of math, we need to learn a respect for the process. It helps develop sound rational thinking to grasp the fundamentals of mathematics, to have practiced skills, and to get a glimpse of the majesty of the subject. These things hold true and belong to us all, no matter what Bertrand Russell has to say about Zeno’s paradoxes.

Analogous to this line of thinking, the basics of affirmative logic refer to simple logical operations that are equivalent to calculating interest and balancing a check book. Just because mathematicians are still working out ways to accurately express nuances of non-Euclidian geometry, does not mean schools should quit teaching introductory math to youngsters. When educators begin to say, or even to imply, that there is no need to teach children to multiply, figure interest, or understand the diameter of a circle, then we, the public, have a right to object.

In the realm of logic, linguistics, and semantics, the same is also true. We—ordinary people—have a right to insist that our schools incorporate the basics of sound rational thinking, respect for impartial truth, and appreciation of valid syllogistic form in schools across the land. Just because some fine points are being debated does not means we should cease teaching young people fundamentals of right reason.

When schools cease to inculcate respect for impartial truth and no longer project esteem for sound rational thinking, then we, the public, should protest. If we are to carry on civilized conversation in a democratic republic, we need to share with one another adequate commitment to affirmative logic and know how to avoid blatant fallacies.

A strong case can be made that our present educational system does not sufficiently incorporate the basics of sound rational thinking into general curriculum. Due to this neglect, critical appreciation of the requirements of affirmative logic are being slowly dismissed from our rational style. As a result, our ability to communicate constructively is breaking down faster than it is building up. More and more people are learning to rely on divisive tactics, such as insult, misinformation, infamy, intimidation, and violence, to get what they want. As contempt for sound rational thinking grows and respect for impartial truth diminishes, our society becomes less in stature, not more.

There is much evidence that: the basics of sound rational thinking are not being sufficiently promulgated in our rational style through our educational media (including adult education) and this is occurring because our philosophical experts, especially linguists, semanticists, mathematicians are throwing cold water over the matter. One of the objectives of plus root theory is to help correct this problem.

This chapter on language wisdom jumps ahead to later arguments. However, some advanced warning, will explain why the following chapters on definitions and propositions are important.

It is not necessary in formal education to teach all students the intricacies of affirmative logic as long as implied teaching is adequately accurate. Many of the old English grammar text books, despite their faults, imparted correct elemental presuppositions that were very helpful to students in developing logical insight.

Kirkham's Grammar, which was the text Abraham Lincoln used to teach himself to speak and write well, is honeycombed with comments that support affirmative rational presuppositions. He says in his introduction,

You are aware, my young friend, that you live in an age of light and knowledge; -- an age in which science and the arts are marching onward with gigantic strides. You live too, in a land of liberty; -- a land on which the smiles of Heaven beam with uncommon refulgence. … the mighty struggle for independence is over; and you live to enjoy the rich boon of freedom and prosperity which was purchased with the blood of our fathers. These considerations forbid that you should ever be so unmindful of your duty to your country, to your Creator, to yourself, and to succeeding generations, as to be content to grovel in ignorance. Remember that "knowledge is power;" that an enlighten and virtuous people can never be enslaved; and that, on the intelligence of our youth, rest the future liberty, the prosperity, the happiness, the grandeur, and the glory of our beloved country.

Kirkham (1829)

Modern texts avoid the above advice as if it were a branding iron.

In trying to repair the faults of the old grammar texts, much of the new teaching has, unfortunately, dropped vast amounts of sound rational understanding that developed from the old way of teaching. An affirmative approach favors up-grading old English grammar text books to add discoveries, correct mistakes and stimulate interest. However, change should be done in a way that the new texts are better than the old—not worse! When we replace respect for impartial truth with views of reality that invite thought conceit, we go downhill, not uphill.

Appreciating nuances of language wisdom helps us understand ‘definitions’, ‘images’, ‘ideas’, ‘percepts’, ‘concepts’, etc. Our English language provides a more enlightened elemental theory than our philosophers. When philosophers use inappropriate definitions of core terms, they squander our language inheritance.

Through language wisdom, learners pick up the rudiments of sound logic even though the rudiments are not formally taught. By reading English literature, students acquire a feel for valid syllogistic form whether or not they know how to consciously distribute their middle terms. (See Part C)

The underlying driving force in learning is a predilection for commonsense and our urge to honesty. No matter who the philosopher or when the time, their affirmative insight gravitates them toward the development of knowledge. Every rationally functioning person tunes in to this ambition to some degree. The deep affirmative aspiration to comprehend, as best we can, the gist of reality gives an inner unity to all people and all philosophy. This unity is always there whether it is articulated or not. It is reflected in language wisdom to some degree.

To bring the hidden unity of intellectual striving into our consciousness so we can more honestly appreciate one another is a major goal of plus root theory. Although each language has something special and unique to offer, over an above this, holding all together, is a logical mega-paradigm that lends congruence to all human discourse. Because we are limited, we cannot express this unity with absolute perfection, but we can say and learn enough to appreciate and use mega-paradigms to an impressive degree. We, citizens of a free democratic republic in the USA already have developed commonsense skills to communicate, to negotiate, and to solve problems to a significant degree so we can all live together in a fair society. This is true for other countries as well. A feel for affirmative logic circles the globe. As these skills become habits they become part of our way of doing things and part of our language wisdom.

Philosophers, and the rest of us, make mistakes. Mistakes cause trouble. Failure begets pain. Conceit settles in. Excuses mount. People limit the cultivation of their commonsense. Their urge to honesty becomes tarnished. The lure of illusion tempts. The human story turns another page and on we go trying to live intelligent lives as we struggle against mendacity, mediocrity, fallacy, and illusion.

But in the midst of our blunders, commonsense is resilient and comes back no matter how it is suppressed. Language wisdom promotes commonsense and commonsense promotes language wisdom. We always have it and we can always tap it. Occasionally individual people become so hard of heart, that they are beyond reach, but the majority have a hold on high values, keep in touch with right reason, and pass on respect for truth to their children. This is the development of language wisdom at work. We can assume it will continue.

In critical philosophy we are justified in appealing to language wisdom to support a point of view as long as we recognize the existence of language illusion and keep open the possibility that what we consider to be language wisdom might be the opposite. What is more, we have to appeal to language wisdom and commonsense in justifying critical philosophy because this, of necessity, is our starting point and our measuring rod. We never, in critical philosophy, start from scratch or completely transcend commonsense.

In discussing modern elemental theory from an nonpartisan point of view, commonsense and language wisdom are our best hope. When we turn to linguistic experts to understand the requirements of sound rational thinking, more often than not we wind up in a melancholy mess. At the present, vast numbers of strange, prolix and irrational root errors lace through theories that fill library shelves. No matter how sensible the philosopher is in ordinary affairs, when that person touches on the subject of epistemology he more often than not goes berserk. Even Thomas Jefferson fell from grace when he wandered into the subjects of epistemology and linguistics. But his meanderings are mild compared to others. At least Jefferson knew he was in an unfamiliar fields and restricted his epistemological publication to a few sparse comments.

Confusion in elemental theory is not a modern phenomena. Ancient Greeks, ancient Romans and the controversies that follow are filled with mysterious and prolix epistemological conundrums. Medieval disputations between realism and nominalism ramble through a waste land of weird and hollow terms.

With such strange theories about, how is it that humans continue to communicate satisfactorily and our knowledge continues to develop? One major reason is that those strange epistemological theories on the shelves of libraries stay on the shelves. Very few people read them and most who do look them over don’t absorb them into their way of viewing life. In elemental theory it is better to be silent than to perpetuate grave errors.

A major part of civil development occurs through language wisdom. Just by learning a language we pick up knowledge. Language wisdom, commonsense, our urge to honesty and resilient good will are there for the tapping. The more we use it, the more it flows.