Inquiry by LJ Frank
Language and speaking what is true is related to our will, perhaps beyond reason itself or on a more profound level, a call to conscience as the political philosopher Hannah Arendt suggests in her two volumes titled Thinking (Vol I) and Willing (Vol. II).
The idea of the will is a remarkable concept and I suppose may easily help explain things in the smaller venues in life, like selecting and describing the flavor of ice cream that appeals to our taste. On the other hand, the more probing, longer-term effect of will and the perception of choice is a different matter. The pursuit of that which satisfies us on a provocative philosophical level beyond taste, may require a deeper thinking and reasoning capability. The question becomes what makes us do what we do if not a matter of will? How much does our environment modify our will?
The will, shape shifts when tackling behavior expressed in the discontents of language. That is, the will is different than desire as Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century American theologian and philosopher, pointed out in his Freedom of the Will. Our inner and exterior language affects our emotions, e.g., liberty, patriotism, and freedom. They extend beyond desire but eventually may be usurped and “coded” to mean certain things to certain peoples, other than originally intended. It’s as if those modern usurpers believed they had special access to the truth. But their truth turns out to be a lie when examined with facts and evidence for after all, their objective in creating alternative truths is about gaining power. One thinks of Arendt’s description of the Adolf Eichmann trial and the banality of evil, and the lie becomes the truth and the truth a lie.
The lie is rooted in fear, insecurity and will to power at whatever cost. The language of fear is exploited in all societies. People have always struggled for a place at the table of equality. Human language attests to that struggle. Clarity of thought based on facts requires an interweave of language and will.
If you were a property owner in 18th century colonial America you were fortunate to have been invited to the table of people who debated and approved the US Constitution. That process where property ownership decided participation and what was best for the rest was not unusual throughout history in the majority of world cultures. Language can serve the interests of the power brokers and those wishing to control the conversation while projecting an equality embedded in their language.
Chance has an everyday leveling effect for the worse or the better. My physical liberty is mostly linked to the amount of money I possess. My mental liberty is another matter but affected by my physical liberty. Language and situation are woven for the sake of accepting, adapting, and or resisting.
The “will” is a malleable concept. In a world of global warming and food insecurity, war, under and unemployment, lack of a living wage, human strife, increasing immigrations as masses of people seek safety – the brutality of another’s will over another person’s life comes into full view. Human suffering causes a theological, social, political, and philosophical question concerning that suffering and the existence people’s God. For God is a word invented by the inspired imagination of men and women though no one has ever seen the “Invisible”. Language matters. It shapes our thinking, reasoning, and is interlaced with will.
The will as gathered, is a fascinating word invented by humans affecting the constructs we design about ourselves and relationships. For example, if you are At Will, a spurious legal employment concept – it means as an employee you only exist at the will and control of an employer (Master/Servant concept). In effect it nullifies will. There are other problems that crop up – like the will of the people when that will is, a tool of political manipulation – to undermine the truth or that which is based on the facts. Lies are cultivated by those wishing to gain, and retain power, especially through the language of fear. Divide and conquer is a form of manipulating the crowd (see George Rudé’s The Crowd).
To counteract big lies, require more than inching forward with compromises on a linguistic and rhetorical field already weaponized by extremism geared towards authoritarianism over democracy. The traditional language of liberty becomes disingenuous when coded. Alternative truths enhances the lie…that lie is like comparing the constructs of colonial age gunpowder and musket to the modern bullet and military grade weapon to formulate a modern construct on a dated ideal.
Lies perpetuate secondary roles for all except those in power. Pro-life is different than pro-birth or the wish to control a woman’s body and thinking. Pro-life suggests pro health, against capital punishment, anti-war, health services for all and so forth. In reality, the prolife agenda is about controlling women. And control arrives in diverse clothing. Religion being one cloth. In its disruptive form it’s used to effectuate ecclesiastical, legal, and political power. Belief is a powerful word and tool of a theocracy. However, laws are created and are most meaningful when applied equally across the board to all members of a society. Historically that seldom has happened. Democracies tend to serve as a move toward transcending patriarchal attitudes.
The language of the lie in a high technology and artificial intelligence era, is highly sophisticated. We are profiled, labeled, and placed into categories. Liberty, and will are viewed as forms of amusement. Our thought processes are manipulated. (See Christopher Wyle’s Mindf***Cambridge Analytica and the Plot to Break America.)
Men and women invented language. That structure helps build societies as well as destroying individuals and, a people and their ideas about themselves and others. Language is most successful when built on truth and beyond mere perception. When lies are seen as truth, cultish behavior develops and generations may pass before language corrects the lies.
The “will” to free one’s language and thoughts of falsehoods is not an easy task…it requires tapping into the courage of the human heart. It requires awareness that begins deep within each of us.