Who needs a perfect language? It’s already perfectly imperfect
Huenemann (Charlie)
Source: Aeon, 30 May, 2017
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Concluding Remarks

  1. To be sure, the danger of foggy thinking was (and is) quite real. But Carnap’s complete mishandling of Heidegger’s philosophy1 helps us to see what goes wrong in any attempt to create a perfect language.
  2. When ‘perfect’ means clear and unambiguous, then constructing a perfect language means clipping its expressive range so severely that nothing new and interesting can be said. What Carnap saw as language’s power to bewitch is also its creative power to present startling new ways of looking at the world.
  3. Anyone seeking to reorient our thinking by challenging our ordinary ways of thinking and talking about experience will have to use language in new ways, ways that might seem nonsensical to the language police. Think of William Shakespeare, James Joyce and Maya Angelou.
  4. The flexibility of language, its Protean twisty-turnyness, its quicksilvery spilloveritude (take that, Carnap!), allows us to reshape our experiences and see the world afresh. Language’s imperfection is its greatest perfection2.


For the full text, see Aeon: Huenemann - Who needs a perfect language?.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Footnote 2:

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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