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"Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think." Evaluate the extent to which the characteristics Sartre claims for words affect - negatively and positively - different Areas of Knowledge

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Jan Timmermans

"Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think." Evaluate the extent to which the characteristics Sartre claims for words affect - negatively and positively - different Areas of Knowledge

        Words are part of language. They are a main part of how we communicate in the world today, and therefore are probably the most important things in society today. Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think according to Sartre, but how are we affected by this?

        Words are powerful in many ways. Words, when used to communicate between people, can build immense civilisations, because words used as a part of language can create a “shared truth” or a universally accepted truth. One individual may have as many brilliant ideas as he wants, but without others knowing there is no use in this anyway. This is why words are so important. We can say that without words there is no communication.

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        Don Miguel Ruiz's view strongly contradicts the saying that actions speak louder than words. This implies that actions are more powerful than words. But are not actions based on words as well? If an action "speaks" louder, this means that it has a definite meaning just like a sentence. For actions that do not have a definite meaning (do not involve speaking) we need to make a rational assumption of what the action means. This assumption will be made by looking at past experiences, through ways of knowing, and looking at areas of knowledge. An example which might show that actions are more important than words is when you are first meeting some one. Some one who you meet for the first time will judge you by your actions. Some actions that they could interpret are handshakes, your posture, eye contact, and gestures you make with your hands.[3] Many of these actions can be interpreted to tell what kind of a person you are.

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Every concept originates through our equating what is unequal. No leaf ever wholly equals another, and the concept ‘leaf’ is formed through an arbitrary abstraction from they individual differences, through forgetting the distinctions.[5]

        If we take this further, it is saying that it is easy for someone to be tricked into believing that there is a shared truth. To use a simples example: Mr. Glynn is unhappy and so is Arpit. Therefore they both have the same feeling and share the same truth. According to Nietzsche this is wrong. In this case, both people who are unhappy will be experiencing unhappiness in a unique way. Nietzsche uses the example of a leaf, because not two leaves are the same.

        Language is filled with possible misunderstandings and misleading. Because words are such a powerful tool in society today, it is also a great danger. If there is only a small misleading, the outcome of this can be disasterous.

Word Count: 1,121


[2]1 Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

[3] http:// interview .monsterindia .com/r eview/ic 251001_014/

[4]http://www. zak.c o.il /deaf- info/old/ humor _ misunderstanding .html

[5]The Portable Nietzsche, p.46

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