Joe Niederberger posted Feb 14, 2014 10:30 PM (http://mathforum.org/kb/message.jspa?messageID=9388706): > > R Hansen says: > >The reason for the babble today is that everything > >is about politics and most political messages today > >would look downright stupid, unconstitutional and in > >some cases, even immoral, if stated plainly > > <Godwin's Law Alert> > Adolph Eichmann was asked, "Was it difficult for you > to send these tens of thousands of people their > death?" Eichmann replied, "To tell you the truth, it > was easy. Our language made it easy." Asked to > explain, Eichmann said, "My fellow officers and I > coined our own name for our language. We called it > amtssprache -- 'office talk.'" In office talk "you > deny responsibility for your actions. So if anybody > says, 'Why did you do it?' you say, 'I had to.' 'Why > did you have to?' 'Superiors' orders. Company policy. > It's the law.'" > </Godwin> > > Cheers, > Joe N > Neat!
Of course, the horrors of the Nazi death camps are surely a far cry from the issues we are discussing here at Math-teach - but the Eichmann instance does give us more than a hint of the power that the 'language' of our daily discourse contains within itself to shape the way we act (and even think) on issues of concern.
Once upon a time, when 'human language was being born', I presume we might have communicated by way of grunts and gestures.
We learned over time to 'substitute' words for grunts and gestures - and 'language' was born as an instrument (a tool) to aid communication. By and large, our 'language' developed (I believe) as a response to situations and circumstances confronted in society - and developments in language have usually 'lagged' somewhat behind the circumstances that led to our clear perception of the unfilled needs in language. (I'd presume that this would be the case in all human languages). Social and commercial interactions (and warlike, i.e. anti-social interactions) between different groups must have led to the (more or less) simultaneous development, in various dimensions of most human languages.
Over the millennia, our various languages (of different human groups in various regions) have developed in appropriate ways to suit the needs of the users of those languages. Early on, I presume there must have been 'prose' and a little later 'poetry' (after the initial grunts and gestures of the beginning).
As science and technology were found to be useful to give us 'control' (of a sort) over our material world, a whole number of 'scientific and technical languages' also developed alongside prose and poetry; most 'technical languages' are expressed largely in 'prose' (along with equations, scientific diagrams, etc). Over approximately the past couple of centuries, English became a 'dominant' language worldwide, largely on account of the commercial and war activities of the British Empire and, more recently, of the 'empire' of the US of A (both of which used English as 'mother tongue').
In general - despite the huge advances in linguistics and associated sciences - we little realize the 'power of language'. It has struck me that even the pioneers in linguistics (Noam Chomsky and others) have little understood that 'power': had they adequately understood, they surely would have gone much further than they have succeeded in doing. I suggest that their major lack is of a deficiency in understanding about 'systems'.
Over the past several decades (or even the past century or so), circumstances have been indicating that we (human beings) are in dire need of some further development of 'language' to enable us to 'handle' the situations we have been encountering. By and large, in the 'prose mode' of communication, the 'inter-relationships' between the factors in complex systems' remain rather ambiguous, leading often to quite significant deficiencies in the way we communicate with each other - and even more grave deficiencies in the way we behave (act) with each other.
For instance, Jesus Christ is said to have articulated (about 2000 years ago) the profound wisdom: "Do thou unto others as thou woulds't have others do unto you" - I believe this must be the basis of all human society. (Buddha, even earlier, is said to have gone even deeper into the 'heart of things'). But remarkably, in recent times it has been an ostensibly 'Christian nation', the US of A, that has been most gravely contravening the 'fundamental law of society'.
BUT, ON THE OTHER HAND:
A US scientist, the late John N. Warfield, in his researches over several decades into complex societal systems (and how we may cope with them), invented the basic tools that could lead to this further needed 'development of language'. He developed simple 'modeling tools' - Interpretive Structural Modeling (ISM) and Field Representation (FR) Method - that enable us to show in our communications the inter-relationships between factors in the complex system within which we live and play and work. More information about Warfield's seminal contributions to systems science is available at http://www.jnwarfield.com and from the "John N. Warfield Collection" held at the library of George Mason University, where Warfield was Professor Emeritus - see http://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaxtf/view?docId=gmu/vifgm00008.xml .
Warfield's insights into systems lead to what I call 'prose + structural graphics' (p+sg), a 'dyad' in which the 'structural graphics serves to clarify many of the inter-relationships between factors within systems (which are generally left ambiguous in the standard 'prose mode', which we're using, for instance, at Math-teach).
Some developments from Warfield's approach to systems (in a tool called the 'One Page Management System' [OPMS]) now enable individuals or groups (high-school upwards) to identify any 'Mission' of current interest and to develop - starting from their own available good ideas about it - an *effective* Action Plan to accomplish the chosen Mission. No background in systems science, modeling or mathematics is required to apply the OPMS approach to any issues of interest. (Attached herewith, "What is modeling?", a very brief note outlining Warfield's approach to modeling - which is a huge advance on the conventional 'modeling' that we see in science. One issue of special interest right here at Math-teach may be "To reduce the psycho-babble and edu-speak that devils our communication on educational issues".
It should be noted that applying (and integrating) our many good ideas to issues of interest must include getting rid of our 'bad ideas' - which are also floating around in plenty.
I would even go so far as to suggest (not necessarily claim as yet) that most of the horrors of the Nazi era (and most of the horrors following that era) may well have been prevented if people at large were a little more aware about 'systems' and how they function. (The basic 'modern ideas' about systems came to light with the researches of Ludwig von Bertalanffy and many others, circa 1930s I believe - well in advance of Hitler and Gang taking control in Germany).