Sunday, October 02, 2005

CC, Ayn Rand and Pinker vs. the ChaliceDad, Orwell and the State of South Dakota

I was reading this morning about how the state of South Dakota is considering a bill that would legally require abortion providers to tell pregant women seeking abortion that the abortion would kill a "living human being." It made me think of previous discussions I've had with people against legal abortions who made big fusses abotu how if only we would call the fetuses "babies" it would change our national perspecrtive on the issue.

The ChaliceDad and I used to argue about the premises beneath this discussion frequently. He really does believe that language can create thought. He once grandly pronounced "De Maupassant could never have been born a German." That Orwell is on his side would come up all the time in these debates and while I like Orwell well enough and find that a good rereading of The Road to Wigan Pier fixes me right up when I start getting a little TOO libertarian, I do think Orwell is wrong on this issue.

His whole argument is based on the now basically disproved Sapir-Worf hypothosis.

I have always taken the opposite view, that language can influence thought, but thought basically creates language. I don't think there's a person in America who would seriously question the premise that the "Department of Defense" is anything but the old "Department of War" but with a different name. I agree with Stephen Pinker (who admittedly has a lesser mind than Orwell's I'm pretty sure, but one doesn't get to pick one's friends in intellectual arguments.) That using euphemnistic language is only really harmful to discourse when it consists of straight up lying. Ayn Rand's Anthem is on my side, featuring a collectivist state where individualism quietly goes on despite the state's banning of the word "I." (Again, can't pick one's friends in an intellectual argument.)


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