Letters make words; words make sentences; but do sentences make truths?
In language the sentences we communicate allow us to exchange information; and once we exchange information we can express agreement or disagreement with them. However, agreement says little of reality.
One key issue surrounds the role of meaning in language (thus the study of semantics). For example, can meaningless statements express truth? And is truth being eroded by the evolution of language, which saturates words with multiple meanings and creates ambiguity? Moreover, do sentences’ meanings depend on who expresses them?
Some philosophers believe that the world and its truths cannot exist apart from language. That is, language needs meaning because meaning brings our latent physical environments to life, so to speak.
However, others are more sceptical. Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett wrote novels and plays which challenged our hope of ever finding meaning in language. He believed our concept of truth was doomed, too.
In his work Beckett deployed absurd philosophy, most famously in Waiting for Godot, by tying together the nothingness language fundamentally expresses with the obligation we feel to express ourselves with it anyway.
As a tool, Beckett reckoned linguistic statements to be too difficult to justify as validly true—a logical problem which is compounded by the fact we describe incessantly changing worlds whose meanings and truths mutate along with them.
But while Beckett frequently attempted to devalue language, he continued to use language with intent in his work! Isn’t this contradictory? Furthermore, it could be argued that language has been moulded into an instrument for naming the unnameable, a pursuit which is able to bring one their own truth and meaning through freedom and exhilaration.