Language and Communication

John Eisenberg’s take on the relationship between technology and human thought is a complex analysis that explores whether there is any way in which man can express his own thought without remaining attached to the technology of his time. As Eisenberg notes, communication technology shapes thinking; therefore, we are often confined to the boundaries of our own technology every time we try to express our thoughts or attempt to understand cultures “whose conventions for communicating are unfamiliar to us.” In a sense, Eisenberg seems to imply that our grasp of the world around is limited by the communicative techniques we use. We are comfortable with methods of communication that already exist and do little to find other means of expression. David Abram delves in the matter even further and discusses how language has been treated as a living experience. Tribes, for instance, have often celebrated language as a universal means of communication that can connect humans with animals. Language, Abram notes, is dependent on perception, which in turn is reliant on our interaction with “the flesh of the world.” Yet, there have been questions regarding how that perception allows a person to shift from a nonparticipatory world to a participatory one. It appears that we have become exclusive amongst ourselves in terms of whom and what we interact with; as a result, we have come to limit our perception of nature and the environment around us.

In truth, language is a technic that will always develop. The common concern is that this sort of development will always limit our perception of the world and our interaction with others. Because thought can only be expressed through communication, we are limited by the communicative methods we’ve learned over time. Clearly, as Eisenberg and Abrams seem to suggest, the questions over whether or not we can break free of this tradition remain unsolved. Language is more than just a “living experience” as Abram calls it; rather, it is a sort of conformity that we adhere to on a daily basis. No matter how much we try to express ourselves in other ways, we often find ourselves turning to language as the most effective tool of interaction.

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