It is said that words are not good errand boys, for more often than not they either understate or exaggerate. Thus they often wither the meaning of what they had set out to communicate. Unfortunately words have become our only voice and that leaves us no choice than to use them always.
It is ostensibly clear therefore that we cannot do away with words, though definitely there would always be a point between our heart and our tongue, the much we can do is to ensure clarity and precision as much as possible in our use of words so as to communicate effectively and truthfully.
The above succinctly defines the mission of the analytic philosophers. They considered language as a clog in the wheel of progress of philosophy; this led them to place much emphasis on language analysis in both the philosophical and scientific fields in view of solving problems in communication. Prominent among the analytic philosophers are G.E Moore, Bertrand Russel, Wittgenstein, etc. But our major focus is G.E Moore and his language analysis.
G.E Moore and The Problem Of Language
G.E Moore was of the opinion that analytic philosophy is not out to discover facts and make assertions about the world, rather to define and clarify concepts and analytic statements. In his view, every logical and meaningful statement contains what he called the “analysand” and “Analysis”, Analysandum means the concept to be analyzed and analysis means the verifiable logically equivalent concepts, that is the empirical object which can be substituted for it.
For G.E Moore, a statement is better clarified and understood when it has such analysand and analysans. For example ”Ekene is in room A” , this is analysand while the analsysans is the verifiable empirical, factual realities or truths that verify or confirms the analysand. That is to say that in the above statement Ekene is in room A is true or has meaning if and only if we go to room A and see Ekene in that same room else the statement is meaningless. Going by this, it becomes clearly evident and pertinent to note that the criterion for meaningfulness of a statement is the analysans which confirms the analysanda.
Moralists would threaten fire and brimstone and might even crucify Moore, for where he hinged the criteria of meaningfulness of a statement actually watered down moral edicts, owing to the fact that most moral postulations fall short of Moore’s criteria of meaning. This notwithstanding, Moore ought to be appreciated for one, that his emphasis on the clarity of expression and meaning, in other words, he posits meaning what you say and saying what you mean.
The Relevance Of G.E Moore Analysis Of Language To The Modern World
If there had ever been a time in history where they have been so much confusion in the use of language, one wouldn’t border so much rummaging the streets of the history of yesteryears, one have but to look at these present generation to have a panoramic view of a sizzling hodgepodge called language.
Our world is bedeviled by the error in communication, whereby one thing is said and another is meant. Take for instance the word “love” its meaning has been increasingly splintered among different people, such that when one says to the other -I love you- there is a greater tendency the individuals are apparently talking about different things.
Thus in line with G.E Moore a love devoid of action is no love, a love that doesn’t walk the streets or stretches out to hold those sitting in the boulevard of misery, a love that doesn’t see others as having intrinsic value, cannot be love going by the dictates of Moore’s philosophy. Relativists may counter this claim on the grounds that there is no unanimous definition of love, but that is the case for another day. But if there is explication of entities, thus that we come up to say that love is this or that, there wouldn’t have been so much confusion, such that when one says – I love you-(analsanda) the action that follows (analsans) confirms it.
Thus G.E Moore concepts are quite apt, for it takes us back to the drawing board so as to redefine certain things.
In our country Nigeria people fall short to a great extent on G.E Moore criteria of meaning. This is evident in our grandiloquent adoration of grandiloquent word. A situation whence meaning is sacrificed on the altar of highfalutin words; where grandiloquence is easily misinterpreted as intelligence.
This error is also equally evident in our academic field, where aesthetic certificates suffices for good education, with this one needs not go further in searching for the high rate of examination malpractice in our country, it simply spells out that what we value is not the knowledge but the certificates. In our government, we see how the minds of the citizenry are played ducks and drakes with, for one the leaders say one thing they do another. Nowadays it is easier to tell the colour of a chameleon than that of some of our leaders, whose political speeches more often than not have no referential content.
Religion is actually not left out, when Christians, for instance, have Christ in their mouths but the world in their hearts, nothing in their actions reflect that they are Christ followers, little wonder Mahatma Ghandi once said, “I love your Christ but I hate you Christians because you Christians are unlike your Christ.” This points how much the analysanda is most divorced from the analysans.
The tower of Babel reminds us about the danger that erupts when there is error in communication. This, of course, is already evident in the society we live in where we trade lies and deceit. When there is error in communication we let loose the floodgates of disorder and confusion. When there is disorder and confusion, there cannot be peace, and when there is no peace people live in fear and act in fear. When this happens, the embers of mutual hatred are fanned into flame and things begin to fall apart.
To prevent this, it is necessary to anchor on Moore’s position, its deficiencies notwithstanding, such that our analysanda (statements or language) would not be devoid of analysans (meaning), for their divorce does more harm than good. Moore’s position is therefore a call to revisit our language and words and redefine what they should actually mean for us, such that there wouldn’t be any multiplication of entities or confusion, thus everything would be kept simple and direct to the point.