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Posts Tagged ‘Semantics’

Complete list of all articles by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/04/24 at 12:00 AM

The whole series:

01 Is It Just Semantics? – Love

02 Is God God or Are You God? – Purpose & change

03 Contemporary Mischief – Same-sex “marriage”

04 Correct Answer? – Divinity of Church

05 Abortion, A Realistic Viewpoint – Abortion

06 Moslems/Muslims – Islam

07 What is Truth? – Truth

08 Being Objective About Being Subjective – The difference between the two

09 Catholic Christians? – Are Catholics really Christians?

10 What is in a Name? – True Christians

11 Baal and the Tooth Fairy – False gods

12 Rest in Pieces? – Societal decline

13 Blessed Mary, Ever Virgin – Blessed Virgin Mary

14 “Now Let’s Not Be Judgmental” – What is true judgment

15 Art of Conscience – Correct conscience

16 Is That Fr. Phillis? – Women’s ordination

17 The 800 lb. Gorilla – Secularism

18 Some Truths About False Gods – False gods

19 Is Any Religion True? – Man is religious by nature

20 The Dropouts

21 The Great Deception – Sin

22 The Unpreached Sermon: “a layman thinking like a priest” – Christmas/Easter Catholics

23 Let’s Get Real – Reality examined

24 The Siblings of Christ?

25 What Could Have Been – Christmas

26 Coming Storm – Coming persecution

27 The Mythical God – False ideas about God

28 And The Blind Shall Lead – False ideas

29 Freedom, A Paradox – Free Will

30 A Helluva Place – Hell & Damnation

31 Consequences – World without God

32 Mind Over Matter – Truth

33 Life in a Mirage – Effects of immorality

33 A Trilogy of the Unreal – Separation of Church & State; Taking “offense”; Necessity of Morality

34 Signs For Our Times – Introduction & Part I: Unity of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

34 Signs For Our Times – Part II: Holiness of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

35 Signs For Our Times – Part III: Catholicity of the Church; Part IV: Apostolicity of the Church – Marks of the Catholic Church

37 Semantics of Easter – Easter & Christmas Catholics

38 Another Easter? – Easter Sunday

39 The Bible – A Perspective

40 Abstractions? – Liberal/Conservative

41 The Wanderers – God

42 With All Due Respect – Morality

43 Good Intentions – Moral illusions

44 Ideas and Consequences -Illusions

45 Searching For What Is Not Lost – Lapsed

46 Taking Chances – Mercy

47 Dabbling With Dogma

48 What Did You Expect?

45 Deceptive Labels

50 Forgotten, But Not Gone

 

 

 

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Is It Just Semantics? by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2015/02/13 at 12:00 AM

In the field of language, Latin is classified as a dead language while English is classified as a living language. A dead language is one which is no longer spoken by any recognized group, and, therefore, its grammar and vocabulary will not change. (Latin has been dropped from most schools because “dead” was interpreted as “useless” which it is anything but.)

Since language is arbitrary to begin with, and is designed by those who use it, a living language changes all the time by adding new words, new meanings for old words, words dropped, etc. Words can pick up positive or negative meanings. For example, “pretty” used to mean “sneaky”.  Think of all the new words added to English in the past 30 years.

If you eliminate the English words with Latin or Greek roots, you are left with a very monosyllabic tribal language based on the uneducated Germanic tribes of Anglos and Saxons who settled in England.  Thus, English may be widespread in the world because of American power and wealth (as Latin once was for the same reasons), but it is not a very sophisticated language. For example, the Greek language, much older than English, has about 7-8 words that mean “love” depending on the object of the love. If a Greek uses a form of “agape,” we know he is referring to religious love. If he uses “eros,” we know he means physical love.  If he uses “philos,” he is thinking of friendship.

In English, we use only one word, “love” to cover everything.  Thus we love God; God loves us; we love our spouse, our child, our parents and the country. But we also “love” our team, pizza, ice cream, that movie, a TV program, and we’d love to visit Europe. We even love the dog.

Thus the word love covers so much that it really doesn’t mean much or at least not what it’s supposed to mean.  We have extended the meaning of love to encompass the ideas of like, prefer, hope, desire  etc.

The ability to love is one of those gifts of God that comes with our rational nature.

No other creature can love…not even the dog.  It is like language, law, conversation, fine arts, etc…a peculiarly human gift in that only humans can engage in it.

Love must be rational.  This is why we tend to look askance at infatuation whose root is “silly”.  Love can only apply to rational beings. You simply cannot love ice cream or any other food.  I suggest that these egregious uses of the word “love” may be part of the reason that love doesn’t mean what it used to mean; we have made it a vague and amorphous word.

We need to find a synonym that conveys the idea of love accurately.  We are always hearing that God loves us. Is it a quasi romantic, cutesy, mushy love that cannot even be really imagined, let alone grasped by the mind?  It is because of this false idea of divine love that the error of universal salvation has arisen. “God loves us so much, He would never send anyone to hell.” “God is good that He could never send anyone to hell.”

I suggest we think of love in  terms of “commitment”. Whenever we hear “love”, we think “commitment.” John 3:5 might be more meaningful if we said, “God was so committed to the world that he gave His only-begotten Son…”   “Commitment” suggests a much stronger reality.

All human love should involve commitment to another person. If there is no commitment, the “love” may be based merely on physical attraction (“He’s a hunk.”) or selfish utility  (marrying the boss’s daughter). The highest love involves a dedication/commitment to the spiritual and/or temporal well-being of another person.

There is another aspect of real love that contemporary society has rejected. The best love relationship has a divine component. If you do not have a commitment to God and the things of God, whatever love you offer will be diminished because God is the source of love. A true love song can be used as a prayer, too. Think of “Be My Love”. Then try making a prayer out of modern “love” songs!

When we think of love, think of commitment to someone. That is a strong word…and a bit scary, too. It does give us a sense of what is expected in a love relationship whether it is with God or another person. When we want to have a model of commitment, we need look no further than the Bible and Christ. God didn’t just say he was committed to man, he proved it on at least three major occasions.

The first was Christmas when a divine Being allowed himself to take on human form.

The second was at the Crucifixion when Christ committed Himself to rescue mankind potentially from hell.

The third is a commitment that we don’t usually think of in that way…the Resurrection. This was a commitment to the peace of mind of the faithful who, because of the Resurrection, need never doubt that the Gospels are true history and, therefore, reliable in all that they teach.

As Catholics, rejoice and be glad that our God has shown His commitment to us.

Have we reciprocated that commitment?

Abstractions?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2013/10/10 at 8:29 AM

General Semantics is the study of words and how they are used to manipulate us and affect us in positive and negative ways. For example, the manufacturer of Dove soap has been successful for years. Suppose they had used a synonym, “pigeon,” instead?   A term used in this field is “high level of abstraction”.  This means that a word can mean almost anything because it is so abstract  and exists only in the mind, e.g. religion, education, patriotism, economics, love and the like. Try asking 10 people to tell you the first word that comes to mind when they hear any of these words. There will be at least 7 different words  offered. This is why Socrates said that those who want to debate must first define what they are going to discuss. Suppose persons A and B were always arguing religion. It turned out that when A thought of religion, he thought of salvation, heaven, eternity and peace of mind. B saw religion as money-grubbing, fund-drives, money sermons, etc. No wonder they could not reach any agreement; they were not arguing about the same thing.

There are two words frequently tossed around  freely in political discourse, but actually mean nothing because they mean almost anything to anyone. These words are “liberal/progressive” and “conservative.”  I have heard them all my life, but I would be unable to give a definition to cover what is involved in these terms. In some circles, the words cause knee-jerk reaction. “Liberal is good/bad.”  “Conservative is good/bad.”

While it might be difficult define these terms, it would not be difficult to describe them from the viewpoint of history, how they actually operate in everyday life.

Liberals tend to act on emotion and appeal to emotion to make their points. Their proposals are meant to make themselves feel good about themselves, to feel noble, generous, caring, concerned only with others and wanting  the best for everyone.

Polls have shown they are not particularly religious and when affiliated with some religion, tend to look for the easiest doctrines, or to alter it to suit themselves.

They have a misplaced faith in the almighty Federal Government, and see it as the only source of all society’s needs. Some actually see the Feds as substitutes for religion and parents. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the most overturned appellate court, actually ruled that parental rights stop at the schoolhouse door, which was later overturned.

They have no problem with huge national deficits because life is now. Later on can look out for itself.  Spend now to attain liberal Utopia.

Generally they reject the Judea-Christian element in the history of the U.S.

With this, they reject the traditional moral code of Christianity. All religions are sacred….except Christianity which is always fair game for mockery and cynicism.

The individual who runs afoul of the law is a victim, not a criminal. Society has let him down.

There is no objective truth. Truth is in one’s own mind. We decide for ourselves what is true and what is moral.  We are not to try to impose our beliefs on others. (The exception is liberal policies which are always to be considered above reproach; liberals have no problem trying to impose liberal ideas on others.)

There is a mania for equality at the expense of liberty. This is why they are so fond of whatever schemes promote income distribution. People have no right to be wealthy (except themselves) and to be poor is unfair– the fault of “the rich.”

The U.S. Constitution is “evolving.”  It is not set once and for all; it must be updated to fit new situations. Think of all the activities the Federal government is involved in now that are not in the Constitution. The Feds became dominant after the Civil War and have constantly and consistently added to their power with deafening applause from liberals, e.g  Social Security, Medicare, Obamacare  (the Supreme Court had to be contortionists to declare Obamacare constitutional, but they managed),  most of the cabinet departments, food stamps, etc.

Liberals  (which include most Democrats), for the most part can be described as favoring what in some circles is called sin…abortion (murder disguised as a women’s health issue), same-sex marriage (disguised as a civil rights issue), embryonic stem cell research (disguised as a means of conquering disease; although this has so far resulted in many human deaths and not a single benefit to disease eradication), and euthanasia (disguised as mercy, but is actually cost-cutting).

What have liberals given to the U.S. that we can be grateful for?

Secularism and the almost complete absence of God in the school and in public life.

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, invented by  Congressional staff members and unread by those who voted for it.

$17 TRILLION dollars of debt, much of which is held by enemies.

Political-correctness which is a denial of reality which makes its devotees live a fantasy world .

Affirmative action which is a positive name for reverse discrimination.

The Great Society and the War on Poverty which cost billions and accomplished nothing.

Global warming propagated by the non-intellectual Al Gore and which is a denial of Divine Providence, to say nothing of fraudulent “research” to assure the “correct” answer.

The media which is so intellectually corrupt that they don’t even pretend anymore not to be biased toward liberals.

Public universities and colleges indoctrinating students into the  ideas of liberalism. No contrary views wanted, thank you.

Feminism which has had a deleterious effect on both women and men, distorting the natural roles of both.

The   annual assault on Christmas via the ACLU.  “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

I assume that many of you will not like the list above. True liberals will complain that I am being judgmental….which I am, but I am judging by the long history of liberals in action. Don’t succumb to the usual liberal way to refute an argument against them…call their opponents names. In the recent government shutdown, Harry Reid could not refute or give any reasons why the Republicans were wrong; he merely called them “terrorists,” “anarchists” and “arsonists.”  (Interestingly enough, the Administration will not use “terrorist” to describe anyone…even terrorists.)

The Conservative approach to the political world is to appeal to reason and common sense.  (We can see immediately that it is much easier for liberals to appeal to feelings  than it is for conservatives to appeal to reason.)

He is more interested in the individual  and his freedom to develop his own life and abilities.

He is less interested in equality because he believes that social and economic equality are not realistic given the wide range of talents, opportunities and effort found in human nature.

He wants the smallest government at all levels consistent with maintaining the common good and basic rights.

He believes that individuals have duties, not just rights.

He approves of private property as a basis for personal freedom.

He has great respect for the history and traditions of this country.

There are extremists and diehards in both camps.  Is there a possible solution?  Let me suggest one.  An idea is neither good nor bad because it is liberal or conservative. We must begin to look at the ideas, proposals, etc. in and of themselves, forgetting which group proposed them.  Can the idea work? Is it worth the cost?  Are there any possible unforeseen consequences?  What will it logically lead to?  Is this an old idea in a new suit?  Does the idea really solve a problem or create more problems?  Can there be oversight, not by politicians who propose it, but by experts in the field?

Would this work? I think it might, but it will never be tried because politics is not about reason; it’s about politics.

Is It Just Semantics?

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2011/04/02 at 7:53 PM

In the field of language, Latin is classified as a dead language while English is classified as a living language. A dead language is one which is no longer spoken by any recognized group, and, therefore, its grammar and vocabulary will not change. (Latin has been dropped from most schools because “dead” was interpreted as “useless” which it is anything but.)

Since language is arbitrary to begin with, and is designed by those who use it, a living language changes all the time by adding new words, new meanings for old words, words dropped, etc. Words can pick up positive or negative meanings. Ex “pretty” used to mean “sneaky”.  Think of all the new words added to English in the past 30 years.

If you eliminate the English words with Latin or Greek roots, you are left with a very monosyllabic tribal language based on the uneducated Germanic tribes of Angles and Saxons who settled in England.  Thus, English may be widespread in the world because of American power and wealth (as Latin once was for the same reasons), but it is not a very sophisticated language. For example, the Greek language, much older than English, has about 7-8 words that mean “love” depending on the object of the love. If a Greek uses a form of “agape,” we know he is referring to religious love. If he uses “eros,” we know he means physical love.  If he uses “philos,” he is thinking of friendship.

In English, we use only one word, “love” to cover everything.  Thus we love God; God loves us; we love our spouse, our child, our parents and the country. But we also “love” our team, pizza, ice cream, that movie, a TV program, and we’d love to visit Europe. We even love the dog.

Thus the word love covers so much that it really doesn’t mean much or at least not what it’s supposed to mean.  We have extended the meaning of love to encompass the ideas of like, prefer, hope, desire  etc.

The ability to love is one of those gifts of God that comes with our rational nature.

No other creature can love….not even the dog.  It is like language, law, conversation, fine arts etc…a peculiarly human gift in that only humans can engage in them.

Love must be rational.  This is why we tend to look askance at infatuation whose root is “silly”.  Love can only apply to rational beings. You simply cannot love ice cream or any other food.  I suggest that these egregious uses of the “love” may be part of the reason that love doesn’t mean what it used to mean; we have made it a vague and amorphous word.

We need to find a synonym that conveys the idea of love accurately.  We are always hearing that God loves us. Is it a quasi romantic, cutesy, mushy love that cannot even be really imagined, let alone grasped by the mind?  It is because of this false idea of divine love that the error of universal salvation has arisen. “God loves us so much, He would never send anyone to hell.” “God is good that He could never sent anyone to hell.”

I suggest we think of love in  terms of “commitment”. Whenever we hear “love”, we think “commitment.” John 3:5 might be more meaningful if we said, “God was so committed to the world that he gave His only-begotten Son…”   “Commitment” suggests a much stronger reality.

All human love should involve commitment to another person. If there is no commitment, the “love” may be based merely on physical attraction (“He’s a hunk.”) or selfish utility  (marrying the boss’s daughter). The highest love involves a dedication/commitment to the spiritual and/or temporal well-being of another person.

There is another aspect of real love that contemporary society has rejected. The best love relationship has a divine component. If you do not have a commitment to God and the things of God, whatever love you offer will be diminished because God is the source of love. A true love song can be used as a prayer, too. Think of “Be My Love”. Try making a prayer out of modern “love” songs!

When we think of love, think of commitment to someone. That is a strong word….and a bit scary, too. It does give us sense of what is expected in a love relationship whether it is with God or another person. When we want to have a model of commitment, we need look no further than the Bible and Christ. God didn’t just say he was committed to man, he proved it on at least three major occasions.

The first was Christmas when a divine Being allowed himself to take on human form.

The second was at the Crucifixion when Christ committed Himself to rescue mankind potentially from hell.

The third is a commitment that we don’t usually think of in that way…the Resurrection. This was a commitment to the peace of mind of the faithful who, because of the Resurrection, need never doubt that the Gospels are true history and, therefore, reliable in all that they teach.

As Catholics, rejoice and be glad that our God has shown His commitment to us.

Have we reciprocated that commitment?