Language of Life

I want to write about this Quanta Magazine article: What Is Life? Its Vast Diversity Defies Easy Definition. but I’ve not got enough spare time. Too many irons in the fire or plates spinning or which ever metaphor you favour.

My interest in the insufficiency of language is what attracted me to the article, and is probably how it ended up in my feed. To highlight some aspects, in 2011, Russian geneticist Edward Trifonov reviewed 123 definitions of life and found as many definitions as authors. Although he discovered some core shared features. His version distilled to self‐reproduction with variations.

The article mentions Wittgenstein’s language games—and rightfully so. But it underscores the point that language is an approximation of reality. My working position was that naming objects is simple—in fact trivial—, but naming abstract concepts presents challenges. Now, I find that the challenge sets in earlier than even I expected. Language is truly insufficient.

The first step to recovery is to admit there’s a problem.

2 thoughts on “Language of Life

  1. Lacan says, not that language fails us, but language is in its very nature a marker of failure.

    I go a step further and say that modern consciousness itself is a retreat from the universe. A denial. Or as Zizek/Lacan fir its apparent positivity: a fantasy.


  2. I wish I happened about Lacan in the ’90s in my ‘trying to figure out psychology’ phase. I know I’ve mentioned that I read most of Jung in that period. I also read James Hillman, James Hall, Edward Edinger, James Hollism Erich Neumann,
    And a little bit of Freud and Bettelheim. Joseph Campbell and Marie-Louise Von Franz as well as Clarissa Pinkola Estés, too.

    But this is also when phycology fell into my disfavour, so the prospects of Lacan are not promising. And I’ve got so many more people of interest on queue, though I do appreciate that he’s less metaphysical and esoteric in his approach.

    I just purchased two books by Graham Harman. His OOO: a new theory of everything as well as Heidegger Explained, as it feels he’s distilled some form him. Plus I am still reading Latour.


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