C-178. Word Power; Word Strength

How functional are words? Does their functionality lie in power or strength? If words, as our focus of attention, are what is said about (WISA) re what is talked about (WITA), how and how well do they work with respect to what is called for (WICF) – i.e., to our behavior and/or lack of it?

We have the advantage of some leverage here, of our viewing consequentiality per se as a general persisting condition of the Nature of Things (aka Everything [III]; the Expansion [C-163]) … this in addition to consequentiality as instanced by particular consequents.

On this view, there is a kinship among consequentiality, functionality (WICF) and materiality (C-78) that bears on concepts of meaning (e.g., “what words mean”), but not just on what words mean … what anything, what any focus of attention, means.
Any focal condition such as a word is both IN and OF consequence in the Expansion. Questions of power and/or strength can and should be raised with respect to both the IN and OF “sides” of the minded focal condition.

Consider then….

Peirce’s pragmatic view of “meaning” says that one’s behavior consequent on a word, idea and/or event constitutes its meaning. This behavior, we have seen, pertains to what is called for (WICF), and is in consequence of this particular behavioral entity focusing attention on this particular word, idea or event. This behavior, of course, may not be (and often is not) in consequence of a good Read of what is talked about (WITA) – the focus of attention. (Not to mention what there is to be talked about [WTITBTA] but isn’t a focus of attention, such as the Nature of Things’ [aka the Expansion’s] persisting generalities and the behavioral necessity in consequence of them. (See III; C-55,169.)

Interestingly, via the interdependence of WICF with WITA and what is said about (WISA), the WICF (re WITA) may help shape the WISA form – as in cases of onomatopoeia. More generally the word can take on new meanings through new usages (WICF re WITA), as in the case of capability development (V).

Word combinations complicate word matters (C-171). A point ABOUT via words can be used to make a point AT. But with points ABOUT now WICF re WITA gets into the whole problem of needed functionality (C-175), from its generality (C-144) to its particulars (C-115). Hence the urgency of linguistic reform and innovation, based on the R-transform (C-111). We cannot settle for words that can only give expression to particular functionalities after the fact (C-55).

Note in this last sentence the (uncomfortable) rendering of “word” as a behavioral entity. “Wording” might sound better. But let’s go all the way. “Word” should be seen as an R-word, as much verb as noun (App. XX). WITA says “word” is capability in need of, and susceptible to, development and exercise … to Realization beyond the piecemeal efforts of multiple ad hoc language coinage. Note the multiple ways in which R-words (C-107), re behavior(s) -- i.e., the interdependence of body and step, of functionality and needed functionality, and the development of functionality, have been weakly represented linguistically (as with globby-unit conceptual terms, using a variety of suffixes [e.g., “-ion,” “-ment,” ”-ence”]).


Word power or word strength? “Word power” seems apt in considering how unfamiliarity with a word can shut the door to what is being talked about (WITA). Or a word can summon focal attention. But in considering how revealing a word could and ought to be, “word strength” seems more apt.

Given the (WISA) < = > (WICF) < = > (WITA) interdependence and given the R-word view of “word,” we need to look more closely at the double concept of “word power” (C-85,124). Does WISA merely direct WICF – as “word power” might suggest? (As in the functionally vague “stimulus-response” conception.) How helpful is “word” in this regard? How strong is it?

Word strength is to be had. See what R-words’ Involve of two nouns and two verbs does for our Grasp of WICF re needed functionality. See what R-words could do for WTITBTA but isn’t. (See absent N-1 and V-1 entries, as noted in message theory [App. XX].) Alloying the R-transform with the L-transform can yield stronger L-protocols. The R-word Involve strengthens our Grasp which, in turn, will strengthen our Involve … and so on forward, developmentally.

Consider the impact of our having, instead, alloyed the B-transform with the L-transform, of objectifying anything via focus of attention, such that our attention is drawn to a thing-thing relationship in which word is one of those two things, as in the ahistorical (C-108) models in which their relationship is mediated by a thingk (C-27): an idea (Ogden and Richards) or an interpretant (Peirce), the thingk glossing over and collapsing the behavior involved ... and reading a happening (i.e., Expansion segment) as a situation.

The Expansion’s historical perspective would, at a minimum, suggest a consequential string (C-172-3) starting with WTITBTA, with WICF and/or WITA and/or WISA to follow in various sequences.

Consequentiality says there is much more to “meaning” than the matters of the word-thing relationship and the word definition problem (0:Ps). Any particular behavior or behavioral fragment can hardly exhaust the consequentiality of WTITBTA. Hence the need in Becoming (C-176) to “give meaning,” whether via WISA, WITA or WICF … or otherwise.

(c) 2017 R. F. Carter