Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Some Thoughts on Clarity

What does it mean to say that something is "stated clearly" in a text?

If I say: "I am hungry," is that clear? Or do I have to explain what all of those words refer to? Do I have to, at least, explain what I am hungry for? In what detail? Do I have to tell you that its food, or will you assume that? Do I have to tell you what specific food and in what amount?

See, some folks like to act as though there is no way to actually ascertain the meaning of my words. They act as though nothing is clear. For instance, if you said that I am hungry for food, then you are right. There was of course the chance that I might be hungering for a good movie or something, but the most likely answer was the right one. But folks who deny that something can be clear basically assume that nothing is a "most likely" meaning. Everything is equally possible (or impossible).

These folks really have nothing to stand on, and they are using a theory of knowledge that Is really self-refuting. See, in making the very attempt to tell us that nothing can be clear, they are assuming that their very words, their meaning, can be recognized in a clear fashion.

Its just one of those ideas which is fine for debating but doesn't actually work in the real world. One cannot simply assert and assume vagaries into language and communication without effectively denying the possibility of communication and the very purpose of language

On the other end of the spectrum are those people who hold that most things are clear, and in fact can only be understood one way. Their way, of course. It is ridiculous, but they set themselves up as being some kind of autocrat of understanding language.

Using my example above, it is like someone saying that I can ONLY be hungering of food. There is no other appropriate use of "hunger," therefore I am hungry for food. I can't be hungry for love, power, or anything else.

This of course is the opposite error of the person who denies clarity. Where the denier of clarity inserts vagaries that are not present in language and communication, the person who insists on only one meaning denies vagaries in language and communication that legitimately do exist.

Both of these are wrong. Both are used by people who seek to undermine faith in God by either denying that He can effectively communicate Himself in the Bible or limiting that communication.

Don't get fooled.

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