Josef Pieper: Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power

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We finished this one last week.  Pieper gives an excellent discussion of the critical importance of language in our world, using Plato’s dialogues with the Sophists.  He says that communicated words imply two things: 1) Some connection to reality, and 2) A relationship between two people.  If your words are not grounded in truth, then you are abusing your relationship in order to manipulate.  We discussed implications of this in advertising, politics, and especially the church.

The second essay is called “Knowledge and Freedom”, and as I took it, discusses the value of knowledge and how manipulation of science (in the broadest sense of the word) leads to a destruction of freedom.  To put it another way, the knowledge you gain by doing science is not valuable because it is useful, but rather because it is true.  Furthermore, people must be free to seek knowledge regardless of its “benefits”.  This has implications from the global warming “debate” to the whole funding circus we researchers are constantly going through.

Two excellent essays.  Both quick reads, and in my opinion, should be required reading for anyone who is or is about to be associated with an institution of “higher learning”.

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