Is Language Always Applied To Science?


by Phineas Parkhurst Quimby


Part 1


December 1862


Is Language Always Applied To Science? Everyone must answer, No; then it must sometimes be applied to error. Language when applied to science is true if it represents the thing it means, but when applied to error, it contains no real meaning but is merely words used to represent what the author thinks is true, which he does not pretend to prove but only states as opinion. This is knowledge; it contains no wisdom but is matter that can be changed; therefore when a man tries to explain what he knows as a science, he is not understood by a man of knowledge. Wisdom is eternal truth, and the language that can explain that cannot be changed, although other words may be used to explain the same truth. Knowledge is seen represented by language which contains no wisdom, and as Paul said, words with no meaning.

Take two persons, one with wisdom or science, the other with knowledge. When the former undertakes to talk with the man of knowledge, he is not understood but is misrepresented by the latter whose wisdom being in his words contains opinions only and not science. Such men are always referring to some celebrated author. For instance, if their knowledge of the Bible is disputed and the absurdity of their opinions shown, they will fall back on the authority of someone who, not understanding, gave an opinion to agree with what he happened to think was right. That will not be admitted by the scientific man who proceeds to give another explanation of the Bible. Then comes the contradiction on language. He is accused of ignorantly perverting the meaning of words and flying into obscurity when the man of knowledge cannot follow him. This last may be true, for he contains no wisdom and to talk science to such a person is like casting pearls before swine. If the man of science will labor with the man of knowledge till he makes him understand his meaning, then the language is without fault.

I have seen this in my own case. The world has no idea of what I wish to communicate; so in his ignorance, each one thinks the obscurity lies in my want of knowledge. While if I excite their muddy brains and create my idea in their mind, then they can see and understand it and my language is correct. This was the case with Jesus. The priests and scribes found fault with his education, for after he had been telling them of this great truth, which they could not understand, the Jews marvelled saying, How knoweth this man letters having never learned? Jesus answered, My doctrine is not mine, but from him who sent me. Here he was accused of being ignorant and he would be now by the same class were he on earth. Jesus taught not opinions but a truth based on eternal science that he could practice which was the science of health and happiness. He called this truth his father, and when it spoke it was not Jesus; therefore he makes a difference between himself as a natural man and himself as this truth or science. He says, If any man will do his will (this truth), he shall know of the doctrines, whether they be of God or whether of man. Again, He that speaketh of himself speaketh his own glory, but he that speaketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

Here Jesus shows that his doctrine or wisdom was not of man but from a higher power which he acknowledged superior to himself. This the people could not understand for it did not come within their senses, and they said he had a devil; others said he was ignorant, and others said he made himself equal with God. In the same spirit when I say that the wisdom that I speak to the sick is superior to my natural senses and yet I understand if, some say it is all myself. And if I undertake to explain it and they cannot understand it, some say it is from want of education on my part and others say that I make myself equal with Christ. While talking with a Christian, if I contend for my own explanation of the scriptures which differs from their own, this is to make myself equal with Christ. It is the same with the medical faculty. They are the truth or Christ, and if I contradict them and show the absurdity of their theory, then I make myself equal with Christ. Christ is their standard, and if I refuse their explanation which I know is false, then I am accused of making myself equal with them or Christ. Jesus warned the public against false Christs and told the people to test them by their works. The Christ that he taught healed all manner of diseases, while they who profess to be followers of Christ in these days cannot do one thing that Jesus did. Still they assume to be leaders of the true religion which really contains not a shadow of truth. It is made up of forms and ceremonies and sacrifices and can never take away sin or disease that man is suffering from. This is the kingdom I am making war with.

 P. P. Quimby


Part 2


December 1862


Does language contain any substance? Language is to convey some idea to an individual. The idea is mind combined into a form which holds the substance of the image. For instance, the idea horse is in the mind. This is like a nut or casket. When a person speaks the word horse, it does not follow that he forms the idea because a child may be taught to speak the word and to him the idea is merely a shadow so dim that to his senses it contains no substance. Now if he speaks the word to another child, it contains an empty sound or casket, but if it is spoken to a person who can understand, he will create the idea of himself for the word horse will produce a sensation, for sound is something that can act on the mind and the person becomes accordingly affected. Sound is sensation but not an idea; therefore it must be attached to something to give it an idea that contains a substance. To one person certain ideas may be filled with truth or error, for if they are not attached to a true sound, it is an error and here is where the trouble lies. We all suppose that when we speak anything the thing is conveyed to the person spoken to but this is not always the case, for to speak the truth is a science and every idea contains wisdom, but to speak error is to repeat words without applying them to the idea that brought out the word.

For example, I say Mr. ________has the rheumatism. The idea I wish to convey is a perfect image of the rheumatism. Suppose that a dozen persons hear me speak. Each is affected just according to the impression I produce in his mind, and as the word embraces many ideas or forms, I convey as many ideas as there are persons. One has attached the word to a person drawn up and in a state in which he cannot move his limbs and another to a pain in the shoulder and so on, but everyone is affected. Suppose the word rheumatism contained one single idea. Then all will be affected alike so far as the word goes, but now each person is left to create just such an idea as he thinks proper, and if he tells the story, he conveys the word accompanied with his own idea. The world is full of these bogus ideas and they contain a substance that we spiritually eat and by which we are affected. They are as plenty as the locusts of Egypt.

This is true of every word that goes to represent disease. Consumption has as many ideas as there are persons who have heard the word and it is the same with all sorts of fevers and everything which man is liable to embrace. The sick have associated their senses to these ideas each of which, as I have said before, is a nut or casket that contains the wisdom or food of the idea. It is a storehouse to contain the food for the senses. Man lives on this food till it consumes his substance or gets all the life out of the body to feed the mind, so that the body is destroyed by its own friends or ideas. My theory is to analyze these ideas that man lives on which make him sick and show him their contents making him see that they are merely errors started by man without the slightest foundation in truth. And man has fostered and cultivated them into living ideas and given them names that they may go forth and prey upon the children of men. My practice is to apply this great truth to correct the errors of the sick. Therefore when with them, I take the ideas that affect them, analyze them, showing that they are the effect of superstition, and being matter, we make in the body the very image of our idea. This is the child of our own belief, and though it be ever so much deformed and cause us pain and misery, we foster and feed it with the crumbs of superstition to keep it alive.

Let man know that disease is his own make, as much as a mother knows her child is her own, and although the child is deformed, she cannot part with it, (and he will cease from making such children). The child is an idea of the father and mother; it is a child of circumstance, liable to all the evils of its parents. Correct the world of these evils called disease and you introduce a generation of children composed of elements as much superior to the generation of these times as man is superior to the brute. How does man show his intellectual superiority to the brutes? All will admit that brutes have a sort of language by which they communicate and so has man. Then wherein is man superior? So far as language goes, it is not there. A bird sings, each according to his race, but a bird is a bird and is like the first one; he shows that he is not one whit advanced beyond the birds of ages ago. This proves that his language is not to convey any new idea not before known; he lives and dies a bird. So with a monkey. He can talk, but his language is confined to himself and he lives and dies a monkey. His language is never applied to any improvement in science. Take a class of beings dressed like men and women. See what language has done for them, the same as for the?brute to show off. Such language has never been applied to one single idea above the level of the brute. Then is language good for nothing? No, when applied to some error or some discovery by which man can advance beyond the world, then language is of some value.

P. P. Quimby


Part 3


December 1862


Was it the intention of the authors of language to enslave man or to elevate and instruct him? If those who first reduced words to a language intended to enslave man, then the end was equal to the means. But if it was their design to elevate man and make him superior to the savage, then they have failed to accomplish their object. All man's misery may be attributed to language, for if there had been no language, man would have been but little above the brute. Thus language has developed sciences and at the same time enslaved mankind. Language when used to instruct man in arts and sciences is in its proper province, but when used to deceive and mislead man, it is abused and perverted. All will admit that language is to express one's thoughts and feelings, for if a man had not these to be expressed, language would be of no use.

The beasts have a language for their wants which are selfish and within themselves, but man has feelings which he wishes to express and this desire makes him an inventor of language to communicate his ideas to another. Now language is like all other commodities got up by speculators of very little benefit to the masses. The speculators use it for their advantage to keep control of the market while the masses take it second-hand from the wise, as Lazarus fed from the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Such is the food of the masses.

Language that is used by the inventive classes is very simple and constructive, but when it is applied to an invisible world, it is all confined to the intellect of a wisdom that can be seen only by its effects. Look at the amount of language about some invisible something whose existence sprang from the brain of persons who, by their language, have brought into the world invisible evils in the form of diseases and have counterfeited everything that is for the benefit of man, and who have deceived the people into invisible errors from which they are suffering. Meanwhile, their language is to enslave the masses till they have made an invisible world corresponding to this with an army as large and formidable as that of the Potomac, which is marshalled and led forth to attack all scientific improvements in freedom from slavery and from disease. This all comes from the misuse of language. I use language to express the feelings produced on me while sitting by the sick and I find that all the evils that I encounter are from some belief in some invisible thing invented by a superstitious mind and described as true. The people hear the story and eat it, and it comes forth in a belief and their misery is the proof that the story is true. This kind of deception keeps this invisible world in ignorance of its existence in the minds of men.

To rid the world of this kind of imposition is to show man that when a person talks about what is in the dark, he is either deceived himself or is trying to deceive others. It is true that I am talking about things that the patient cannot see, but he can feel them; therefore my language is not confined to what I do not know but to what I do know by my own feelings. This is what I know: that language has been counterfeited. It is only words used to explain our ideas and if a person is made to believe a lie, he uses this medium to convey it to another. This is what makes disease of all kinds. The priests use language to make people believe in their ideas; the doctors and politicians do the same. All their beliefs are without the slightest foundation in wisdom. They are the inventions of error and represented as truth, requiring a language to explain them in order that the people can swallow them. This keeps the people in ignorance of disease and all their lives subject to the power of these wise men whose wisdom is of man and, as Job says, will die with them. These crafty persons use language as a weapon to subjugate the masses, for their proofs come after their predictions; this makes an appearance of knowledge greater than the masses. But if man knew himself he would know that to believe a lie is to create it, and the misery following is our own.

P. P. Quimby

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