Andrew asked if I think it is possible (or beneficial) to achieve a full explanation of the relationship between language and consciousness, which brought me right back to tonight’s seminar and the discussion of Nietzsche’s critique of language as a tool by which we deceive ourselves (On Truth and Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense).
I linked (yesterday) to a comment Andrew posted about Charlotte Mason; thinking perhaps I ought to check her out. From Andrew’s blogroll I just found this (Chapter 11, Vol 2, September 12, 2007):
No Infallible Sense of ‘Ought’&emdash;&emdash;Where does the ought get its awful Majesty? That there is in the human breast an infallible sense of ‘ought’ is an error prolific of much evil.
Since I myself have been guilty of moral righteousness, I have some sympathy for those whose convictions seem so right, so true, or otherwise absolute and nonnegotiable. Speaking for myself, it has been beneficial to have better explanations for the relationship between my consciousness, what I say, and how the language that I use leads to certain kinds of outcomes which have often been counter to what I had hoped. Is it possible for anyone, everyone to do this? Technically, sure – my neurocognitive wiring is not special. Learning to recognize the internal firing patterns and interrupt the patterned, habitual responses of my consciousness as it seeks to assert itself through language, however, is freaking hard work. Painful, even (sometimes).
I wonder if Nietzsche would have felt the need to withdraw from and condemn society if he lived now. Part of his despair was the recognition that his ambitions were based on a knowledge inaccessible to the vast majority of people of his time. I am not sure if the percentage of the population that understands the hopeful, optimistic power Nietzsche articulates is enough (yet, either in magnitude or concentration) to shift social relations in dramatically coordinated ways, but it seems to me the potential realization of such a day draws closer.