vocabulary and jargon



I would like address the notion of “jargon”.  
Mostly people use the word “jargon” as an aspersion that is based on inappropriate use of a specialized terminology.  This brings you to see the words as refuse, rather like the vegetable peelings in my kitchen sink (though these are actually quite a pretty pattern...)

When the use of the word becomes a barrier to communication, or is used to claim expertise as a form of power, “jargon” is a problem.

words, words, words!

You may find that there are words that are new to you throughout this website.  Perhaps you will think you should have known them.  Why should you if you haven’t encountered them before?  Perhaps you will want to look them up in the dictionary, or wikipedia.  Good, but do remember that definitions are not the same as a generative understanding. If you want to understand a new word, you will need to see the meaning first, then add the name to it. To see the meaning, you have to think along the path that forms the word.  That is why in general I don’t define words here, I try to give the grounds for them instead.

names for ideas

Just because jargon can be a problem, it does not mean that activity, or profession, should avoid any concepts or ideas that are not already part of daily life.  Such concepts can of course be developed so that any normal human being can understand them, but development of understanding can take time. One should not expect people to already “know” a concept they haven’t taken the time to learn any more than you expect them to speak a language they haven’t yet learned.

I am not interested in getting people to learn terminology and definitions.   I am interested in evoking an understanding of the concepts being referred to. I do not intended vocabulary as something to memorize, but rather as the names of ideas that I think are integral to to a deeper dynamic understanding of the world we live in – in a manner that enhances our vision with respect to how we live the various alternatives we encounter or generate.

Thus, a concept is fundamentally an understanding. 
A word that represents that understanding,  a word that can be referred to as “jargon” is useful so that someone can refer to the a concept.  Using the word will bring the concept into use for someone that has gone through the thinking that underlies.  This is why any field of studies develops its own terminology.  It’s only jargon if you don’t understand it ... yet!

“finding our way”  photo by Iain Young

Another issue concerning vocabulary you may encounter on this website is that perfectly ordinary words like “love” are introduced to have a rather different meaning than what we usually learn as premises in our culture.  This may momentarily be disorienting, but I encourage you to follow the conceptual grounds for how I (in most cases based on Maturana’s work) use the words.  I know from my own experience, and that of hundreds of students, that this will offer you many insights.

Lewis Carroll wrote “'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”  This may sound frivolous until you consider how words came to be in the first place.  The meaning precedes the word.  Thereafter, the use of the word determines what it means.  Dictionaries are created from a survey of how people use the words, and they are updated regularly as uses migrate and new words arise. 

That does not mean that I am inventing new meanings, nor is Maturana.  He listens carefully to what is common, what is consistent, under each use of a word such as “love”, and then abstracts that underlying meaning and makes it visible to us.