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The language of chemistry Essay

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    To answer the question whether the language of Chemistry directs or limits our thinking, we have to first understand what the intention of the language is. The language of Chemistry allows us to describe matter, what exactly happens during chemical reactions and the interaction of atoms down to a molecular level in a numerical form, so that we are able to carry out and solve numerical calculations. Without this, the modern world would not have been feasible, without the advancements made in modern chemistry.

    Chemistry is essentials for new discoveries and the way in which it helps us to simplify our perception of matter and our world itself. The language of Chemistry bears an abundant amount of meaning. Chemistry is the language of the molecular level, which has been deduced from experimental science, so how we observe and perceive the world is crucial to understanding the subject. However, while it may help us better understand our world; it may also be constraining our minds and thoughts, as the language may influence the thoughts we think or even determine them by caging our minds in the sense of linguistic determinism.

    Many philosophers have engaged in this question, even though they did not have the language of Chemistry in mind, but rather spoken ones, the theory of linguistic determinism also applies to Chemistry. The language of Chemistry can be seen as a cage for our mindset, limiting us to a uniform model set by the scientific community. Furthermore, we cannot be sure that the language of Chemistry necessarily is telling the truth or whether it is simply an illusion which is interpreted by us, and catalogued as empirical knowledge in this broad science known as Chemistry.

    Every time we measure the temperature of a hot beaker of water, we alter the real value, as the thermometer will cause the temperature to decrease slightly. This observer effect can cause significant problems in the realm of Chemistry, leading the physicist Werner Heisenberg to comment: “What we observe is not nature itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning”. Therefore, since the language of Chemistry has evolved from such experiments and our conceptual deductions from those results, we cannot be certain whether these results are correct or even close to the truth.

    The laws and models in Chemistry which make up its language can limit our thinking, in such a way that contradicts the language and cannot be expressed, which may be the actual real truth, are dismissed as simple errors. We could therefore end up experimenting with a biased view of reality and with the goal of receiving the results and deduce the rules we want to get, not the rules set by reality. This may be why Ludwig Wittenstein, one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century, once said: “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

    ”[1] While he was not specifically commenting on the language of chemistry, this quote fits well with the common problems seen in any language. Our thinking may be narrowed by chemical equations, which may influence or even determine our thoughts, as we’re taught in school from a relatively young age to believe that what we are taught is true. On the other hand, the language of Chemistry allows us to transcend the barriers of culture and language. Chemistry is the universal language of matter and it allows for the scientific community to communicate and understand the workings of matter.

    It can precisely describe the structure of isomers, for example, and the use of oxidation numbers has also allowed us to develop a systematic nomenclature for naming inorganic substances. In addition, we cannot ignore the fact that while we do not know whether the language of Chemistry is correct, it has led to countless technological advancement, and it is undeniable that there must be a reason that it has been working so well so far, that our empirical knowledge deduced from experiments fits perfectly well conceptually.

    While the laws may be limiting our creative thinking, science is an inductive way of thinking. Even though we cannot prove certain theories or laws right, scientists constantly try to disprove them, and only then are they dismissed. So far the fundamental laws of chemistry have yet to be disproved and the indication that they have lasted for many decades or even hundreds of years is a good sign that they will continue this trend. We as human beings therefore have to build upon this knowledge, and expand our horizon by discovering the unknown even further, since we make the assumption of the uniformity of nature.

    This is only possible by seeing the language of Chemistry as a tool, rather than an obstacle in our research for the truth. Another perspective seems to be that languages are capable of expanding and adapting with the evolution of knowledge. The language of Chemistry may limit us from expressing things that are not already verbalised, yet we can simply invent new terms to describe newly discovered elements and so on. How we perceive reality is not influenced by language, however, since we often think in images rather than in words or equations.

    It is our mind when the conceptualises this empirical knowledge received from our senses to form terms in which we can then express them to others, so that they can benefit from the thoughts and findings one reaches. If the language of Chemistry were indeed limiting, new thinking and discoveries would be thus impossible. All the existing new discoveries in the field of Chemistry would not have occurred, had the language of Chemistry been limiting. For example, new elements and names for them are added to the dictionary of Chemistry.

    Chemistry is rather a guide for our minds, as it simplifies the complex nature of matter, allowing us to decipher the secrets of Chemistry. It is not the language of Chemistry which would confine us, but it would be the mind of the observer which limits thinking. We can therefore come to the conclusion that the language of Chemistry does not limit our own personal thoughts, while it may be true that it influences our thinking in such a way that we can conceptualise complex concepts of matter in a simpler manner. It is not the language of Chemistry our thinking, but rather the mindset of the subject and the creativity and reasoning of it.

    The language itself has evolved to its current state, precise and universal, as a result of the discoveries in science. It rather stands out that the limits of the language of Chemistry simply exists for us to expand it Consequently, we should not picture the language of Chemistry as a cage preventing us from letting our mind work freely, but rather as a tool, to aid us in the everlasting search for the ultimate truth by simplifying the complex laws of nature. ________________ [1]

    Wittgenstein, Ludwig [Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy], [Online], Available: http://www. iep. utm. edu/wittgens/ [25 Sept 2012].

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    The language of chemistry Essay. (2017, Dec 05). Retrieved from

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