The Expressive Semiotics in Dr. Berg's Presentation on Critical Theory

"In an earlier time, the idea that language is incapable of mapping reality would have been considered nonsense, if not a form of mental illness. In fact, it is a form of mental illness"

- Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century

In retrospect, I was too kind of Dr. Michael Berg in my original critique of his presentation "Critical Theory: The Good ,The Bad, and the Absurd" in the "run" example. Allow me to quote my original critique:

"Berg's thought experiment with the word 'run' is not indicative of a problem with language it is indicative of different people with different experiences. This, to my understanding, is a different problem than Derrida's proposed instability: were Derrida correct, this would be a universal problem extra nos. Berg's example is something different, showing that different brains with different experiences will make different initial associations. In the natural and fair use of language, we guide our hearers by the use of adjectives and adverbs towards an intended meaning."

My take here was too generous. Mea Culpa!

The first realization I had that this take was incorrect came in reading Rev. Dr. Greg Schulz' book Anatomy of an Implosion. And it was reinforced listening to the discussions that Schulz had with Pr. Bryan Wolfmueller in three different discussions ([1]. [2]. [3])

Schulz defines expressive semiotics as the idea that "language is merely a bunch of arbitrary symbols that express an individual's inner thoughts or feelings to a greater or lesser clarity." 

That is exactly what Berg expresses in the "run" example:

"You see, the problem with words is that we don't know that they actually line up with what we're talking about, they just only signify what we're talking about. I'll give you an example. If I utter the word run and you're a long distance runner, what maybe comes to mind is training for a marathon. But if you're a computer programmer, and I say the word run, maybe what comes to mind is running a computer program, and so on, and on, and on. And because these words come with baggage, or rather we come with baggage towards these words, and these words are only descriptors that we've sort of tentatively agree match up with something in reality, these words cannot get us to truth, even if there is a truth."

This concept isn't isolated to Berg within our Wisconsin Synod... more to come, deo volente!