The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by wegs, Apr 27, 2022.

  1. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Philosophy-wise, it seems to jibe in a rough manner with Wilfred Sellars' argument (further down). Having a term (word-label) and its underlying concept for an often neglected feeling or experience would facilitate cognitive discrimination of it with respect to future encounters. Or, if it's not a wholly "new or exotic" item, then enables apprehension of finer connections and "details" subsumed by a known, existing category.

    From the video:

    "... the right word can help you capture the moment, so you can keep your memories alive, and string them together into a story. And when you find yourself struggling to connect, the right word can transcend the distances between us, and remind us of our common humanity hiding in plain sight. It makes you wonder what else is possible. Because if a single word could do all that, just imagine all the words we might be missing. That’s why I started this channel. And that’s why I wrote this book. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of new words for emotions. that we all feel but don’t have the language to express."​

    The above thinly echoes Wilfred Sellars' idea (below) that we require a concept (summed up or mediated a by a word, term or phrase) to often identify or become of aware of an _X_. Or at least to be able to manipulate, explore, understand, and be affected by _X_ more than what we normally would. (As I consider it a bit extreme to assert that one could never notice _X_ in even a disinterested way without a refined concept for it and its linguistic label; but possessing the latter can definitely lead to all the rest.)

    Wilfred Sellars' Philosophy of Mind: "The thesis of Psychological Nominalism claims that to be aware of something, x, one must have a concept for x. But there is a flip side to this. If one has a concept of x, one can be aware of x’s. With the concept of x in hand, that is, you can notice all sorts of things you didn’t notice before you had that concept. For instance, a physicist looks at a puff of smoke in a cloud chamber and sees an electron discharged. She comes to have non-inferential knowledge of something we might not, as she has certain concepts we don’t as laypeople, as well as an ability to apply them directly to her experience. In other words, perception is concept-laden, and depending on what concepts you have, you can perceive different things. (Sellars wasn’t the first to articulate this connection, but his development of it made for a revolutionary understanding of thinking and perception)."

    Kant was actually the first to graze it, in a somewhat different context: "Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind."

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    Last edited: Apr 30, 2022
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  3. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Unfortunately, true. lol I think he should have been more mindful of that but in one of his interviews he commented that “if you love a word or the idea behind it, then use it.” He feels that dictionaries are “abstractions,” in other words, a word isn’t “more real” just because it’s listed in a dictionary.
     
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  5. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I see your points - it’s funny you bring up Kant as in my opinion, he seemed to push the idea that we simply can’t know everything and some things are “unknowable,” in a way. But we are our feelings, intuitions, perceptions. If we lived isolated, alone on a deserted island, would words even matter? We could still process our own experiences however way we chose, but words make us relatable to one another.

    I haven’t given all this much thought but running across this book has helped me see why we need words, and why we may not. Life doesn’t become more meaningful through words, but they become a way to convey our experiences to others. Even through fictional tales, we see ourselves. That’s what words can do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2022
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  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Words/language also speeds up the passing of knowledge/information so that we don't have to constantly reinvent the wheel much in the same way that libraries do that (and now the internet).
     
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  8. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I've experienced this. I wonder if there's any science to it - like are we ''hardwired'' for seeking validation for our beliefs and opinions? Maybe it's not that deep, or is it?
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2023
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  9. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

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    That's two book recommendations I absoutely have to check out, this and The Starless Sea. Words are free, use them.
     
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  10. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I think you’ll enjoy both. The Starless Sea takes a little time to realize that all of the meandering has a purpose. It’s a book about books — a story about stories. Well worth the ride that it takes you on and warms your heart, in the end.
     
  11. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

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    The description reminds me of Lev Grossman's The Magicians.
     
  12. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, it totally does. Definite similarities, filled with magic, nostalgia and metaphors.

    I would also highly recommend The House in the Cerulean Sea. Know as little as possible going into that book, and prepare to be blown away by the message.
     
  13. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

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    Also in that genre, Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest by Matt Haig was great.
     
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    The book looks interesting to me. I love learning new, mostly useless words, especially ones with really specialised meanings, like this one seems to have.

    I cringe whenever I see some man expounding on what he thinks "most guys" would like or want, or how he thinks "most guys" typically behave. Mansplaining that stuff ups the ante another notch. To me, this suggests a guy who only ever mixes with other guys who he thinks are just like him.
     
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  15. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Agree! It’s also cringey when I see men explaining how “all women” feel and what attracts us (example - “all women are hypergamous” which isn’t true) based on the interactions they’ve had with a few women. I’d say that this behavior is more prevalent online than in my personal/ offline life though. I’m not a fan of generalizations, in general. lol

    I’m wondering if this “dictionary” has an obscure definition for mansplaining.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2023
  16. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

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    Gee Wegs, everyone knows book learnin's just for girls and sissies.
     
  17. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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  18. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    The desire probably rubs shoulders with confirmation bias, and there's the empirical phenomenon of people joining parties, organizations, and fellowships of individuals with similar thought orientations. (The latter is a persisting existential fact, regardless of how it is explained or conceptualized and expounded upon by a knowledge discipline).

    The reaction of seeking out or bonding with like-minded interests, goals, and beliefs (instead of settling for such disillusionment) probably becomes more driven by the bias of practical concerns as one ages. Due to acquiring more social/job responsibilities and obligations, more property to hang onto, and insuring the welfare of immediate family, dependents, and descendants. It's easier to be impartial and idealistic (including with novel and less vetted proposals) during youth, when there may be little to lose and only one's own life and well-being at risk.
     
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  19. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    That’s likely true. I’m wondering too if it serves as an altruistic benefit to become “hive minded.” Following the herd can be a good way for a species to survive, as opposed to going against the grain.
     
  20. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    Yah, crudely akin to GAN (Generative Adversarial Network), there may be two antagonistic flavors at play in how evolution molds complex life and its behaviors, to ensure the latter's coherence and persistance. One addressing the particular entity's survival and needs, and the other those pertaining to the group. Human individualist and collectivist ideologies just coincidentally mirror them.

    _
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2023
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