Non-Cognitive Language Causes More Problems Than It Solves

The statement in the title is suggesting that non-cognitive language, or non-factual language, is inefficient at attempting to solve the relevant and evident issues with religious language. In this essay I will argue that although there are several innate flaws with non-cognitive language, I, on occasion, actually find it more helpful than cognitive language. This is because when using cognitive language it is often that people find themselves far more concerned with the meaning of the words, rather than the message, which they are trying to convey. This can often result in ‘loaded language’.

But with non-cognitive the sole aim is to convey a meaning in a simple and effective manner, so it is less frequent for this approach to fail to achieve its aim. It achieves the same principle as when a picture ‘ paints a thousand words’. Although this may be the case it is clear that cognitive language is a far more successful approach to religious language. Thus throughout this essay I will argue that non-cognitive language does in fact cause more problems than it solves. Non-Cognitive language is the attempt to convey a strong, usually emotive based, meaning to a crowd with the most effective success.

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Examples of Non-Cognitive language are things such as myth, analogy and symbol. All of which are non cognitive because they convey meanings or truths in an indirect manner, in an attempt to avoid issues such as “loaded language”. Myth is a “symbolic, approximate expression of truth”. An example of a myth that achieves this is the parable of the Good Samaritan, it conveys a man whom is helped by a friendly neighbour after a beating but its real aim is to show that qualities such as kindness and compassion are desirable.

If these qualities were to be conveyed via cognitive language then the agent would be far too transfixed with what ‘kindness’ actually means. But I find that a fundamental flaw with myth can even be found within its definition, myth is supposedly “approximate”, this is bound to cause issues because myth cannot solve problems since it is far too vague. Cognitive language, for the most part, does manage to solve these problems since it goes right to the core of the issue, and analyses every part. So the efficiency of the cognitive approach is extremely helpful.

This is because it is more helpful than non-cognitive since non-cognitive attempts to convey vague and transcendent truth’s that are open to incorrect interpretation. Hence why it is abundantly clear that non-cognitive language causes more problems than it solves because the meanings that are deciphered from myth (which is non cognitive) are prone to produce error and confusion. I also think that the non-cognitive approach ‘analogy’, is also unhelpful in its attempts to solve the ever-present problems of religious language. Equivocal’ language, which means language that can have separate meanings, for example the word ‘sink’ could be used to describe a kitchen utensil or to be submerged within a liquid. This cognitive approach of interpreting religious language is highly unsuccessful because it is far too vague and it leaves far too much room for error. This is because we can easily misinterpret the meaning of scripture and take from it the completely wrong conclusion. For example we could potentially have misinterpreted the Decalogue and God had truly meant to say ‘thou shall murder’.

Analogy also seems to suffer from this issue because there is no given ‘meaning’ within it, it is an agent based approached so we are supposed to work out the ‘truth’ by ourselves. Judging by the degree of human error this is clearly an unconvincing approach because the risk of failed interpretation is too great. Univocal language is far more successful in its attempts to solve problems. This is because it is a lot more specific that analogy and equivocal language, this is because the words can only have one meaning. For example the word ‘ugly’ can only mean that something is unattractive.

This is a lot more helpful because it produces a greater safety margin for the subject, which attempts to use it. It is clearly far more helpful than the problem causing ‘non-cognitive’ language because we are a great deal more likely to take a successful and accurate ‘meaning’ from this language, but with non-cognitive language we can never have true faith in the meaning that we have taken. This is because we have taken it from a far too vague source, so there could be several conflicting meanings that we can take away from.

So, this is why I think that non-cognitive language causes more problems than it solves because we can never prove that the meaning or truth that we have taken is the true one, since we have no choice but to be extremely broad in our interpretation. Thus, in conclusion I do agree that “non cognitive language causes more problems than it solves”, this is because it is attempting to solve the minimal issues of cognitive language, such as ‘loaded language’, but in its attempt to do so t tends to cause a great deal of more substantial issues. For example the vast misinterpretation of things such as the myth of Sodom and Gomorrah, if we got the meaning wrong then we could lead ourselves into believing that we should ‘smite’ homosexuals. This is clearly a substantially controversial ‘truth’ to take away, so I think that although cognitive language is not exactly perfect, there tends to be a great deal more success when trying to solve the problems of religious language when we use it.

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