Language vs. Reality

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Language is the main tool we have to communicate to others our view of reality. We choose our words carefully to convey our perspective. But that perspective is itself already shaped by the language we use. Language therefore is far from an objective medium that simply reflects the way the world is. We create different worlds using different vocabularies, even though we are still constrained by a language-independent reality. If we assume its main aim is to reveal the truth, that makes language seem deeply flawed. But if we come to understand language as a tool for convincing and persuading other people, we can come to recognize its strengths, argues Nick Enfield.    When primate scientist John Gluck began his research career in the 1960s, he was taking new-born rhesus monkeys from their mothers and raising them alone in bare steel containers, to study the effects of social isolation. In time, he came to question why he was doing this, and would soon deeply regret the harm and sufferin…

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