“Word” in Greek is λόγος (logos), from which we also get “logic” and the various “-ologies”. I use the term in a very broad sense, broader than its usual English meaning.

Nowadays, a popular opinion is that logical, or rational, thinking can, at least in principle, be used to understand the world we live in. A skilled observer can deduce factual statements about the world, which can then be packaged up in words that convey the information to other people. This opinion is fundamentally mistaken.

The claim that a particular statement may be true or false, is false. There are things that are true, but they are not expressible in words. It is not the world that is inside words but words that are inside the world. When we say that we “comprehend” something, we are committing blasphemy; a claim of comprehension is a claim that the infinite reality can, without any loss of beauty, be literally reduced to a finite sequence of words. It is not possible—not even in principle—for a human to have a full and precise understanding of the world (even without the use of words), since in any case the size of the brain will remain finite, and therefore the detail of any thought will always be finite, while the world is infinite.

Those that attempt to use words to understand reality, are accomplishing the very opposite of what they seek: Like all forms of reductionism, the reduction of reality to logical (or linguistic) thinking removes the seeker from their object. For true understanding of reality, the method must involve getting as close as possible to the object, without the mediating effect of language. Such an approach will require radically different tools than those which are nowadays fashionable in the field of philosophy. We must throw out all dogmatism, all preexisting frameworks for understanding, all language, all theories, all claims about truth, and many assumptions about the world that we may not even know that we have. The innermost core of reality itself, as numerous philosophers have remarked over the millenea, is ineffable. True understanding is a particular kind of experience, and an experience cannot be transmitted in words. I’m searching for the kinds of tools that will make it possible to see through the world and into reality.

If we think we have understood something, this is itself evidence that we do not understand it, since it is impossible to truly understanding anything.

I don’t want to have the terrible limitation of those who live merely from what can make sense.1

See also 

  1. Água Viva p. 15