The Language You Use Determines What You Can Think

Introduction to ODODU


Ododu is a constructed language that has been evolving for the last 45 years.  It started as an attempt to create a tool that could help me resolve what I perceived as an inconsistency between my personal experiences and the scientific paradigm I was encountering in my beginning career as a biologist.  It has since morphed into a guide that has proven to be very useful and fascinating to me ever since.

It turns out that Ododu can trace many of its historical roots to the work of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.  These relate to a variety of his ideas, but especially to his concepts of;

·      A Characteristica Universalis as an alphabet of human thought, a universal symbolic language or universal calculus,

·      The monad as the elemental particle of the universe. Any monad is a reflection of the universe as a whole. Each human consciousness is a monad.

Additional ideas and inspiration have come from the work that Charles Sanders Peirce did on semiotics, scientific pragmatism, and existential graphs; the Laws of Form of George Spencer Brown; the quaternion formulation of general relativity theory as presented by Mendel Sachs; and the Relational Systems Theory of Jon Ray Hamann.  From the constructed language arena there are similarities to; aUI, a language developed by John Weilgart, that incorporates letter symbols that are also fundamental “atomistic” units of meaning; Blissymbolics, invented by Charles K. Bliss, that presents a ideographic language with a writing system that is understandable primarily in terms of a common an easily learnable interpretation of its constituent graphemes; and Ygyde, an oligosynthetic language invented by Andrew Nowicki, that is structurally, if not procedurally or conceptually, very similar to Ododu. The role that these ideas play in Ododu will be discussed in more detail in later sections.

Ododu is built in accordance with a Principle of General Relativity that contends that the structure of a universal language should model both the structure of our own consciousness as well as that of the universe itself. This includes the more specific principle of linguistic relativity, which holds that the structure of a specific language influences the ways that people who use that language think.  Thus it utilizes a strong version of the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, which is interpreted in this site by the phrase, "The Language You Use Determines What You Can Think".

An extension of this concept applies to the possibility that a better language could result in a more efficient and sophisticated ability to use the minds and brains that we have. The human brain is vastly more sophisticated than the most powerful computer currently in existence, or even imaginable given current and projected computer technology.  However, even in the computer arena we do not utilize the full potential of the machines that we have. The problem is not so much the hardware but the programming languages that we have to use to run the hardware.

This problem is magnified many times over in the case of our own minds and brains. A better understanding of how we think, and a language that is designed to help us think, could provide substantial advantages in how we live and understand ourselves and our environment. This is not to suggest that we could possibly “program” the human brain but we certainly could use it much more efficiently and powerfully than we do today. A new language that is patterned after our best available understanding of the universe and ourselves might be just the answer.

Ododu is a pragmatic evolving language.  Its structural elements, and the meaning of its words, are based on the functionality and utility of the language as it exists and changes in time and use.  As experience with the language builds, various structural elements and the meanings of some words may be found to be less effective or useful than alternative elements or meanings.  When this occurs the prior elements are replaced with those found to be more useful, and the language itself is then reconfigured to ensure internal consistency.  In this way the language evolves as its practioners gain experience and knowledge of both themselves and their environments.  This is an application of the Darwinian principle of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, applied to our creation and use of language.  It is also the basic way that pragmatism and the scientific method function in the evolution of our scientific theories.

But Ododu is also based on a cosmology that presumes that the fundamental essence of the universe is consciousness.  Thus it is assumed that the universe is fundamentally comprised of conscious entities, like you and I, which communicate and interact with each other.  If this is the case then an understanding of the universe should begin with an understanding of how we as conscious entities communicate and interact with each other.  This is the thinking that led to the choice of creating a new language as a tool to approach the resolution of the contradictions between my personal experiences and the science that I have studied and used throughout my career.

At present human communications utilize many different natural languages, and, in principle at least, each of these can be partially translated into any other natural language that is currently in use.  This suggests that all natural languages are incomplete reflections of a hypothetical universal language, and that such a universal language, if it were to exist, would be a model for the universe itself. 

Because it is designed to optimally approach such a hypothetical universal language Ododu has very specific construction requirements.  These include an inclusion of number and mathematics as integral parts of the language.  This occurs naturally since the ododu alphabet has a structure that is directly relatable to the concept of a quaternion as it is used in mathematics. From this perspective the existence and nature of quaternions are derived directly from the nature of the universe and the natural languages we use to approach the hypothetical universal language.  This provides, as a natural part of language, a structure that is compatible with, and indicative of, the actual space time nature of the universe as we currently understand it to be.  It is this aspect of Ododu that has the potential to resolve the current inconsistencies between general relativity and quantum electrodynamics.  This will also be discussed in detail in later sections.

Because Ododu includes consciousness as the defining characteristic of the universal language cosmology, it may even offer a resolution of the current schism between science and religion.  If the fundamental particles that comprise the universe are conscious entities that interrelate with each other via language, then it is reasonable to consider the existence of a universal consciousness that consists of all the individual conscious entities that make up the universe itself.  In the sense that organizations of conscious entities such as families, companies, communities, governments, societies, ecosystems, etc., can be viewed as being themselves conscious entities, then a concept of universal consciousness is consistent within the cosmology.  This may be defined as God, or it may be compatible with other definitions of God as put forward by any of a variety of religions.

The goal then is to generate a predictive formal paradigm constructed from the presumptions of consciousness and language that can provide a model that subsumes the experimentally confirmed and validated aspects of existing science.  Ododu is an evolving constructed language that could approach such a model. If it is successful it might also resolve a number of our other major concerns and problems. 

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