Silence In the World Language System

    “That, all I can say, was too good. If I had to be in it for a few moments more it would have rendered me speechless.” This was a statement given by a person regarded as highly intellectual and affluent in the wealth of words and thought. He is renowned for his genius of having an explanation of studied understanding and grave evidence to almost everything in the world he comes across.

    Then what was it to which such a person of knowledge and intuition could all but just say “too good”? What possibly could have driven the man of words to a point of near-speechlessness?

    Ludwig Johann Joseph Wittgenstein (1889 – 1951), Austrian philosopher and father of modern Linguistics, who is regarded as one of the most powerful and original thinkers of modern times has made the most vital contribution to the revolution of mind and to the world of thought and rationality as the “Philosophy of Language.” At the end of his masterpiece ‘Tractus Logico Philosophicus’ Wittgenstein observes that there are indeed things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. That’s what’s mystical. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence. And this mystical statement was coming from the core construction of his world-language system. It would be pertinent to mention that he was a follower and a student of Gottlob Frege, who was German and Bertrand Russell, who was British, both accredited as the world’s two most brilliant minds, mathematicians, logicians and philosophers.

    In contrast, Indian philosophy never or mostly does not subscribe to this view (with the exception of the ‘Naiyayika’ or the ‘Nyaya’ school of thought) that experiences and things mystical cannot be explained or talked about. In the Orient, the materialist doctrine, namely the Charvaka or the Lokayata was the most ancient system of philosophy. This materialistic worldview was refuted by the other idealistic systems, most vividly by the Vedanta and its non-dualistic commentator, Sankara. Nyaya and Nyaya-Vaisesika were also materialistic doctrines with an atomistic worldview. In the occident, the ancient established philosophical system was atomistic propounding a materialistic philosophy.

    Ancient Indian philosophy has a tradition of delving into realms non-perceptible. We try to see the non-seeable, we try to speak of the un-speakable, perceive the non-perceptible, feel and sense beyond the knowledge of the five senses. The Advaita school of thought regards silence as the most eloquent revelation of reality. But for the Nyaya school of thought silence is the mere absence of speech, a total non-entity. In fact, all the Western schools of philosophy follow what we in Orient say in our language the Nyaya way of thinking. It appears very natural on this part to regard silence as the inability to think or argue any further beyond a point, probably very meanly restricted by the limits of speech and language.

    Bharadwaj Mishra
    Bharadwaj Mishra
    Bharadwaj Mishra, 1975 Odisha born, a Delhi University Post Graduate in Social Sciences, with a professional career in banking for around two decades, is engaged in creative writing and with film society. As on date he has two English poetry collections published, “Farewell To Kalpana Saikia” (Author’s Press, New Delhi) and “Bathing Ghat At Kotipalli” (Athena Books, Bhubaneswar). He has published English Essays, Poetry and Short Stories with English language magazine of Kendriya Sahitya Academy, Indian Literature and few others. He also does English subtitling for Odia language films. He is single and lives with his parents in Bhubaneswar.
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