Master-Slave Relationship between Language and Human Perception

Hi everyone! Wow! :O I can’t believe we’ve already reached the end of the year! It’s a miracle we survived! And sorry that this is late! I felt that it would be better that I do it now rather than regretting that I never did later.

In my perspective, I found the story to be delivering a master-slave relationship between the human will and language in its prelapsarian state. I thought that language in that state was in a slave-like position: was submissive to human perception of what the person sees. Through Stillman’s Humpty Dumpty analogy and his insight of before the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the story examines how the interchangeability evoked by a word fully embodying an object’s nature and appearance within the compliance language has upon the human will can restore language back to its prelapsarian state. When Stillman noted Humpty Dumpty’s statement “[w]hen I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said… it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less” the statement evokes a sense that words can be submissive to human will. By indicating himself to be responsible for the meaning of words, it suggests an idea that if we were to “become masters of the words we speak” we then have the power to create and alter words into our liking; in other words, we have the capability of forming words that would correspond to our perception of an object’s appearance or function. By suggesting that we are able to form words in accordance to our preference(s), the scene evokes a notion that this power we hold over language can restore language back to its prelapsarian state. In order to further support this notion of our mastery over language, let’s investigate Stillman’s insight of before the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. In his analysis, Stillman examines Adam’s task of inventing language in the Garden. In his state of innocence, the words Adam used to describe what he saw wholly embodies the nature of the things before his eyes: his words “had revealed their essences, had literally brought them to life”. By being able to draw out the nature of the things he saw, the language that Adam uses seems convey a sense of subservience to his own perspective. Through this statement, we can infer that the words he uses before the fall directly associates with the way how he views the functions and appearances of the things he names. By initially inventing words in correlation to his own perceptions, we can conclude that Adam’s words before the fall represents language in its prelapsarian state. Subsequently, this association suggests to us that we have absolute power over words we speak: that we are capable of inventing words and changing them to suit our perceptions of what we see. By being able to invent a name that correlates to our perspective of an object’s appearance or function, we are able to force an object and its name to appear compatible, hence invoking a sense of unity. Through this connotation re-stimulated by the interchangeability between an object and its name, the story then suggests that we are able to, in our own power, restore language back to its original state before the fall of mankind.

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