The First Wisdom

Elis AisyahWisdom Number one: Be Conscious of Your Statement!


Eneng Elis Aisah

This chapter begins with thought –provoking compound proportion from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”. I directly have questions for him. Why did most Europe philosophers believe that God does not exist? Is His existence impossible or improbable in this world? Is it impossible or improbable if God has a child? Are Doyle’s or even Descartes’ proportions true, meaningful, logic and empiric? What did Philosophers mean by empiric and logic? Is proportion of God does not exist empiric and logic? Why?

After reading this chapter, more than ten questions are present in my head. Some I can express through language others are hardly to utter. Why it is so? Language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbol used for human communication (Wardaugh 1977: 3). Let’s underline a system. In my opinion, a system means a set, in which is arranged by our selves, human. Logically, as human varies the arrangement and rules that they organize will be varying and different each other. Again, I remember the proportion there is no general truth. However, something that is true is proportion that we utter have to be logic, truth and meaningful in order to communicating. Can we say lions are yellow (Alwasilah 2008:27)?

Kaelan said special method of explaining, analyzing and evaluating philosophical statements are called philosophy of language analytic (As quoted by Alwasilah 2008:23). As mention in first chapter, Alwasilah said three methods of interpreting problems: analysis, evaluating and synthesis (2008:10). Analyzing and evaluating proportions are philosophy of language analytic concerns. There are three divisions of language analytic. Majorly, they are logic atomism of Russell and Moore, logic positivism of Ayer and ordinary language philosophy of Wittgenstein.

In this chapter, Alwasilah does not mention explicitly any correlation between them. However, I think they can be regarded as steps to analyze and evaluate proportions. Atomic logic of Russell is the first step of analysis. From the name, we can analyze and get comprehension of how they analyze proportion. The word atom refers to the smallest part of thing (at that time, now the smallest are neutron and proton). And the word logic means having sensible rational thought and relation of events, situation and objects (Encarta Dictionary 2009). Russell and Moore parted proportion into small parts. Furthermore they have different perception of how to analyze atomic proportion. Russell analyzes the truth of atomic proportion through language based- logic formulation rather Moore analyzes through commonsense.

However, second, positivism Ayer does not concern to the truth as Logic Atomism does. Its’ main concern is the meaning of propositions. To decide whether proportion meaningful or not, he develops principles called verification. Alwasilah elaborates some principles of verification (2008:29):

  1. Verification is based on empirical experience
  2. A proportion is called  meaningful, if it can be verified
  3. Verification does not result a statement that is true rather that is meaningful
  4. Verification proves meaning

The last is Ordinary language philosophy. It is as Wittgenstein critique to Russell and Ayer. Both of them just analyzed philosophical statement. They forget that ordinary language is frequently used in reality (Alwasilah 1998:28). Moreover Wittgenstein criticized philosophers that merely analyze statement instead other speech acts such as question, exclamatory and directive. He said ordinary language also should be analyzed its truth and meaning (Alwasilah 2008:30). The question is can we communicate with our friends using illogic and meaningless statement? Will they understand what we say? I agree with Wittgenstein that ordinary language also needs to be form in logical and meaningful proportion.

I remember Indonesian sayings said lidah tak bertulang. It means we should be careful with our sentences. It also can express that sentences we utter should be understood by recipient and do not make recipient feel bad. Furthermore Hadits said salamatul insan bihifdil al-lisan. It warns us to preserve our tongue if we want to be safe. Remember you are what you say!


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