Thoughts on Language and Woo

So I went to a meetup tonight. Another Celtic meetup.

It was hosted by a guy who is learning to speak Welsh. There was a woman there from Scotland who is learning Gaelic.

They talked about the myths and what historical knowledge was preserved in them. They also talked about how languages contain ways of thinking within them. In Gaelic, you are not hungry, nor do you have feelings. They are upon you. You are not simply from somewhere. You are of somewhere. The place is not a part of you. You are a part of the place.

In some languages. many words sound like other words. These homophones give clues to worldviews. I think they mentioned that many words, including the words for “knowledge” in Gaelic and Welsh, sound very close to the word for tree. For centuries trees was where communities gathered to make important decisions, and many druids, bards and keepers of knowledge lived near trees. Sometimes a line of poetry can have many layers of meaning.

When a land is conquered, the conquerors ban the language to remove people’s identity. Many times the place names remain, but people forget what they mean. It is a dark pool of knowledge. But I do not live in the land of my ancestors. I do not even live where I was born. All I can do is speak of these things clearly and plainly.

He also seemed to believe in reincarnation. And homeopathy. There seemed to be some woo.

But I realized that in a way a lot of the New Age stuff can be somewhat compatible with skepticism. The myths contain the views of people from previous times. Sometimes the words and stories are all that is left of entire worldviews. Perhaps the people preserving some of this knowledge are misinterpreting it, or taking viewpoints literally that have been superceded by scientific knowledge. But I do think there is knowledge there. And it is historical knowledge that should be preserved.

Perhaps if you don’t have a non-mechanistic worldview it can be hard to study some of this stuff. I don’t know how to resolve that contradiction.


Image from Wikimedia


Post created on 2013-03-27_23:39:08, last modified on 2018-02-09_0:09:01

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