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A Possible Caution Against Taking Text Recieved after being Passed through a Community as Literal

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Sunstone, Mar 8, 2021.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
    Premium Member

    Jul 2, 2004
    Non-Theistic Mysticism
    I know nothing of Biblical scholarship. But I was thinking of how it would be rather likely that the richness of the ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and even perhaps the commercial Greek of the Letters might not always be well enough adjusted to our fundamental nature as a social animal.

    The basic idea is just a hunch. It came to me a few days ago when I was thinking about how usages might be something that intelligence agencies were using to figure which way some thing is being attacked by a particular propaganda campaign. Those are sometimes targeted to large but distinct groups these days. I know something of how agencies keep teams on the daily traffic, just like keeping an eye on the weather.​

    At any rate, I can't now imagine the vast majority of any 'scholarship' I've studied on usages in their actual communities matches up well with any 'scholarship' that takes less care than a cultural anthropologist would to notice cultural distortions in patterns of usage.

    I've known for decades that has been true, but it seems languages are far and away more dynamic than anything I've imagined before this.

    In practice that would cast a skeptical light on any literalism in Biblical interpretations. Were that literalism to be closed to inquiry, then it would be absurd. There is no core, central meaning that everyone in any sizeable social group has for any word that is not a Casshierian 'sign'.

    Any term in arithmetic will do as an example of that sign, if stripped of semantic variation. A stop sign is as close as it gets to likely correct. And still, the sign must be defined operationally, rather than as common usage.

    Put in reverse, I would expect the metaphors and nuances to be striped away as they expand outward from a central region and across a landscape of social, nestling and overlapping 'in' groups.

    In short, distance denudes metaphors and nuances of their meanings -- I suspect.

    A thing that I've noticed about metaphors. (Poetry in the way I practice metaphors. Scientists practice them as models.) Proverbial sayings seem to cross distances almost immune to these winds. But they get whittled down to taciturn statements. And of course, what variations of that.

    Here's my take on that. I structure my poems by metaphor followed by metaphor intentionally aimed that way at creating the most emotional meaning when the last metaphor is first-take grasped. And my readers tell me I write the 'best last lines'. They are just confirming my own opinion that the closings are the most memorable lines of my poems. I guess that might be something in that of use in gauging something about the preservation of meanings?

    I would anything but assume a proverb began life as words close to what were used at the start. I'd be willing to assume the terms for the core or central theme are most likely only minor rearrangements.

    Six months on and off re-writng a poem is about normal for me. That's a process of stripping down to core metaphor, then building back up to enriched core metaphor. I write for me alone. So I'm picky at getting at what I want to say to the point I don't care if I'm the only one understanding it.

    These dynamic word flows produce proverbs that would take me up to six months sometimes to 'get right'.

    Poetry is always a bit humbling in so many ways, but damn it! I never expected to be beat at it by fast moving small town gossip!

    Fits with my definition of a 'personally useful' activity as 'reality based self-discipline'. But this time it was overkill.​

    I would guess this is just almost idle gossip at the water bottle for an office of folks working at compiling a dictionary. "Be careful when you define that one you don't stray too far from the usage in West Philadelphia, Bob. I think that one might mean more to us than we think. After all, if we 'goof' the definition of 'dictionary', folks might notice it this time around."

    My 2 cents.

    @Jawhawker Soule @Vouthon

    @Orbit, thought your understanding of in/out group communication might interest you in this.

    You too, @Valjean

    • Creative Creative x 1
  2. mikkel_the_dane

    mikkel_the_dane Shadow Wolf's Aspie sibling

    Dec 14, 2018
    The Wrong One
    I really like your take. As an skeptic absurd is my poetry. Not in truth, but where truth breaks down and becomes false and thus in some sense absurd. In effect I truth false more that I trust truth. :)