Language as a way of knowing, not a spoken language, can be determined if we can differentiate between the various areas of knowledge and the ways of knowing. An area of knowledge is the general subject or category that we classify or subdivide information we take in everyday. This includes Mathematics, Social or Human Science, Natural Science, History, Ethics, and Art. A way of knowing is the method where we are able to know and understand a piece of information. It helps us classify our information into one of the six areas of knowledge.
There are 13 ways of knowing which include authority, logic, senses, memory, faith, moral belief, introspection, empathy, conscience, practice, acquaintance, instinct, and consensus. The three functions of language are to be directive, expressive, and informative. Language, to some extent, play roles of equal importance to different areas of knowledge and to some extent does not. When we think of language the first thing that comes to mind is the words that flow from our mouths to iterate the thoughts in our heads. However, in mathematics, that is hardly language; it can be said simply that mathematics is the language of symbols.
We use symbols to describe specific and abstract concepts that may not be so easy to explain in words. Math is essentially the language of logic because logic can be best explained through numbers. What is so great about mathematics as a language is that the symbols used are universal. For example, if I were studying a Geometric proof from a fellow student in Timbuktu, I would hardly have any trouble at all understanding the student’s thought process and work because all the mathematical symbols are the same as those that I use.
The symbol that means two lines are parallel // or something as simple as addition + and subtraction – are universal symbols that anyone in the world can understand. There also exists no prejudice or cultural bias on numbers or their functions, which is an added strength for the language of mathematics. A limitation of this type of language is that much of the self-evident truths that mathematics rely on are weak because they cannot be proven and we have no way of seeing if they are truths or not.
Despite its limitations, the language of mathematics plays a relatively important role in directing, expressing, and informing others of the concepts and ideas that are pertinent in this area of knowledge. The language of Social Science, History, and Ethics can be summed up to say that much of it is based on the perspective of the individual and how he or she perceives the information or knowledge at hand. Social Science is the language of people and their history, sociology, anthropology, economics, etc…
Therefore, the interpretation of such actions and behaviors is left up to the individual to interpret and distinguish in analyzing that area of knowledge. History is the language of events and dates that occur in one’s past. But as the saying goes, “History is written by the victor. ” Therefore, there is a lot of bias present in history because we often do not see or hear the other side of the story. The language of Ethics deals with the perspective of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. ” Sounds easy doesn’t it?
Yet why would there be a separate branch of knowledge for something that sounds so self-evident and explanatory? There must be some dispute or difference in perspective and understandably so simply because there are no guidelines or definitions like how there are in math. The same goes for Social Science and History. There is no index or glossary that ably gives you the “right” interpretation of the information. For example, when discussing the various cultures around the world, no historian, no expert, no college professor may determine which culture is better or worse than the other. That would be cultural chauvinism.
Passing judgment already eliminates the impartiality of the matter and makes the language and knowledge flawed. The only thing we can do is analyze and compare the cultures to each other and embrace the similarities and differences within them. Language is equally important in all of these areas of knowledge simply because without it, there would be no progression in ideas or thought processes. Everyone would be narrow-minded and have one train of thought without being exposed to other perspectives and interpretation on the same issue. Language, then, is equally important in molding the human mind and its outlook on life and all its forms.