Reply To: RN/language for Social Change

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JD Stillwater

    Tony, I agree with everything you posted here. The kind of social change I was referring to has to do not with morality directly, but with our descriptions of reality that might inform it. For example, Religious Naturalism, through the lens of evolution, offers concepts related to deep interconnection and interdependence that do not yet have language in English. “Interbeing” is the closest approximation I’ve heard, and that term comes from Thích Nhất Hạnh. “Emergence” is another. It’s a single term that expresses libraries worth of understanding about how the cosmos got this way, understandings that are only a few decades old.

    You and I have spoken about humility before. I think humility (as I understand it) is essential to any kind of growth or learning. I don’t equate humility with humiliation. Humility’s antonyms include arrogance and pretentiousness. So when you see me use “humility,” please read it as the opposite of arrogance, or as a willingness to learn from one’s mistakes rather than doubling down on them, a willingness to deeply listen to different views, rather than dismissing them unheard. It’s nothing like self-abasement or groveling. It’s a form of courage.

    When I read the quoted NYT article, I did not get the sense that the author was taking any political stance. I thought she was making the point that new concepts, with language to express them, open up new space in relationships for people to relate to their partners’  different experiences. You made a similar point: language limits what we can think. New language that expresses new concepts makes space for new thinking. I doubt the author would disagree with anything you wrote here.