LANGUAGE, REALITY AND TRUTH: THE AFRICAN POINT OF VIEW

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Abstract

In the traditional African view, words and sentences are not viewed as being liable to objective reflective truth/falsehood-judgments. It is not a person-word-reality-view, but a person-word-person-view: the sender’s words are units of orally produced energy that have the power to improve or degenerate the receiver’s vitality. Words received can make you more powerful by increasing your confidence and your control over your environment. But they can equally well harm (parts of) you, by discouraging you in certain endeavors. From the traditional African point of view, words are not logical, but physical phenomena: words are forces affecting power.