Paradigm Limit I

As human beings, we are born into a pre-existing world. Being born into a culture we inherit-words and language-we assume that words and languages describe this preexisting world. Because we think of language as something in response to the world or existing in order to deal with the world, language becomes a means to an end. It is a means to make sense of the world and to make sense of ‘why and how’ of things around us.

This paradigm allows us only one way of thinking and doing things. The world is separate from us that we exploit for our benefit. Things that are useless are treated as waste or dirt or pollution to be discarded. It only allows us for fixing and changing things to our advantage, things that are not working or not working as well as we would like them to.This form of thinking has logic of its own. Cities like Delhi come into existence as a result of this logic. Agglomeration and consolidation of production of goods and services allow for trade and commerce so that more can be produced with least bit of energy and increased efficiency. It results in production of waste and pollution. It also results in crowding-settlements where human beings are living in close proximity and high densities.

Therefore waste generated by industry and commerce, air water land pollution needs to be treated in order to keep human labour healthy, so that they can be productive and efficient. Close and high density settlements need to be kept clean and safe so that human beings will be willing to stay with each other. Clean and safe drinking water, cleaning of the streets or keeping the garbage off the streets is in order to maintain good health of the population so that they can survive and produce efficiently. Even the immunization programs and the nutrition programs are in order to ensure that there is a future generation of skilled and semi-skilled human beings servicing the economies of growth.  This is essential in order to keep the entire giant economy of the city and the nation operating smoothly and growing at 6% or 10% GDP.

This is the implication of language as coming into existance in order to deal with the world. It follows that how we use language will be limited to what this paradigm allows us to do– to fix and manipulate the world in order to control and dominate it. Is there an option?


Environmental anthropologist by training, been in the field for over 20 years, Gialome (pseudonym) is mainly concerned with the impacts of infrastructure and technology projects on local communities.

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