. . . and the “Philology” Part
by Levi Crews
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” In this statement, an excerpt from the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein captures his idea of lingusitic determinism: There can be no conception outside the bounds of available language, for words are the instruments of thought. He theorized—in a much more astute manner than in which I am about to express it—that only the ideas, perceptions, events with which we can attach lexical and syntactical units will become expressable and, more essentially, noticeable within our own minds.
In more recent times, this idea has propagated linguistic relativity, which argues that we perceive the world within the framework of our habitual language. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher aptly captures this relativity of perception. In discussing the geographic language of the Guugu Yimithirr or the latent sexuality of Romance nouns, Deutscher is able to communicate that Jack’s worldview may differ from Jill’s simply by chance variation in their native tongues.
Of course, the purpose of this post was not to elucidate the connections between language and cognition; it was to explain the latter half of this blog’s name. Philology, by its most basic definition, is the love of learning and of literature. By its most technical definition, it is the study of literary texts, the establishment of their authenticity, and the determination of their meaning. Moleskine’s Philology will humbly attempt to marry these denotations.
In doing so, it is hoped that throught reading, analyzing, and commenting on the most treasured texts a wider and more accurate view of the world may be achieved. By experiencing the profundities of philosophy, history, and literature, we may grow to appreciate the language through which it is communicated, and then with that language better perceive our world and express our love and disappointment for it. If we wish to understand—even see—a greater universe than that which upholds our feet, we must do so through language, and a deep reverence for it.