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TotD: Thomas Szasz on Language

The Untamed TongueReligion and the jargon of the helping/hindering professions are comprised largely of literalized metaphors. That is why they are the perfect tools for legitimizing and illegitimizing ideas, behaviors, and persons.

Ordinary language combines all of these qualities. It can be used literally and precisely, to convey meaning; metaphorically or poetically, to move people; or 'religiously,' to blind and numb people, making them feel elevated or debased.
"In the natural sciences, language (mathematics) is a useful tool: like the microscope or telescope, it enables us to see what is otherwise invisible. In the social sciences, language (literalized metaphor) is an impediment: like a distorting mirror, it prevents us from seeing the obvious.

That is why in the natural sciences, knowledge can be gained only with the mastery of their special languages; whereas in human affairs, knowledge can be gained only by rejecting the pretentious jargons of the social sciences.

Thomas Szasz, The Untamed Tongue: A Dissenting Dictionary