Friday, January 22, 2010

Language and reality ...

... Is there a language problem with quantum physics? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Bohm pointed out that quantum effects are much more process-based, so to describe them accurately requires a process-based language rich in verbs, and in which nouns play only a secondary role. In the last year of his life, Bohm and some like-minded physicists, including myself, met a number of native American elders of the Blackfoot, Micmac and Ojibwa tribes - all speakers of the Algonquian family of languages. These languages have a wide variety of verb forms, while they lack the notion of dividing the world into categories of objects, such as "fish", "trees" or "birds".

Alan Watts made a similar point many years ago (he also referred to American Indian languages, I believe) - suggesting that we are not so much "people" as "peopling".

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