Language as virtual reality.

A thought occurred to me the other day whilst out with my friend Martin AKA Merzer.

I was thinking about how we exist in a 3 dimensional representation of the 2 – dimensional representation that is what we actually see.

Anyway I was thinking about how language acts as a kind of virtual reality.

You have experience and on top – or underneath (I don’t really know what direction best fits) – of that you have language.

Now we don’t have a word for every feature that is or could be.

So even if we had some kind of semantic superman who had at his disposable every word in the English language; even then he wouldn’t be able to communicate every aspect of his experience.

Words are a means of communicating experience from one mind to another but because words cannot cover every facet of reality our communication of our experience is going to be necessarily selective in what it conveys.

The virtual reality created by language exists in the conversations we have with ourselves and others.

It is virtual because it is constructed out of mental images.

Imagine I tell you that “I went to the shop and passed a child stuck in a tree and helped him down”. From this you construct an image in your head that is very likely to be radically different to the one I intended to convey.

But even if the image you constructed exactly corresponds to the verbal information given a lot of the components that made up that experience for me will still not be there. The green of the grass, the size of the child, and the way the tree looked.

I selected certain features I thought relevant to the information I was attempting to convey but left out features I considered irrelevant.

Just as a computer game doesn’t exactly mimic reality so the constructs we create from language in-put approximates reality to an even lesser degree.

The problem is that most academic pursuits are an attempt to render in language that which is experienced. This could well be one of the reasons for the failure philosopher’s have had in created an indisputable over-arching description of reality; coupled with their insistence that reality must be consistent.


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