Sunday, February 12, 2006

Our conceptual lives.

The wheelbarrow is more than the sum of the parts. My wheelbarrow is made up of a metal tray, two wooden handles and a rubber wheel. Put together in a certain way it becomes a wheelbarrow which allows me to move things around the garden. The same wood, metal and rubber put together in a different way would be something else entirely. So where did the wheel barrow come from? My car is actually only a concept - even though I drive it. It's a concept because the metal, rubber, plastic and glass is put together in a certain way. Assembled differently it might be two motorbikes, part of a plane or a piece of modern art. It's a car because it fits into fairly loose parameters - it has wheels, it's self propelled and driven and carries people and luggage. I was walking through a car park when it struck me how varied the automobile is. Makes, models, colours, styles and personal additions means there is often only one just like that in the entire park. They are all different but all have a common theme. That theme is easily recognised by a human once taught it, often at a young age. It's the concept that's learnt and mostly not the individual vehicles - that may come later. Toyota may bring out an entirely new model never seen before but immediately we recognise it as a car simply because we know the concept of a car in the first place. A kangaroo wouldn't know it as a car - just an object crossing it's path. Everything in our lives is understood conceptually. A tree. If ten people were asked to draw a tree they would all draw a different one - ignoring their individual artistic skills. Language is conceptual. Words and sounds are pointers to something. That's often why so many arguments happen. We have different understandings or emotions attatched to the concepts. A little girl's parents grow roses, it's a happy home, she's given roses to smell and happy memories follow. A second little girl has an unhappy family, she falls into a rose patch, get scratched and get told off for it. They grow up. Their boyfriends come to visit and each give a bunch of roses. One experiences it as a loving gesture, the other is offended and slams the door. Same flowers, different experience/association attached to the concept.

It was an important stage, for me, to understand the conceptual nature of language. It shocked me at first. I'd confused the word with the thing. I thought the truth was the truth, instead it's a sound which reprisents a word that points to a concept but is not the thing.


At 6:30 AM, Anonymous ulrike said...

Hi, Roy , I am delighted that you send me the address of your blog. I will need quite a bit of time and stillness to let in what you write. It certainly let's me remember the magic emptiness inside me during the Silent Retreat with Issac that we shared. will write some more at a later stage. I am off to Hong Kong on Thursday. I am just finishing a 1 year training in Family Constellation work. It seems to me a perfect accompaning journey to Satsang. And who accompanies whom?? and to where. I love these little plays with words. They just remotely touch on the 'real thing'.


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