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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby

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Dr. Phineas P. Quimby
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The Use of Language

Language is the invention of man to convey some idea of a natural substance that can be seen or described. It never entered the mind of the author of language to describe another's thoughts; so that to describe to a person his own feelings by language which was never intended for that purpose must confuse the learned. Everyone knows that as man is developed himself, he becomes more sensitive to impressions. This makes him superior to the beasts. If man is ignorant of all the influences that act upon him, he is nothing but a subdued brute; but if his higher intellect is developed, it needs a language to explain it.

Sickness is the result of the animal (or natural man) binding burdens on the higher intelligence (or scientific mind). The burdens are the opinions of the so-called wise, and language is for their benefit. So the groans and griefs of the sick are heard by the well only as a murmur or unknown tongue. Having given my attention to their lamentations, I know that they have a language not known by the learned or well - and this language I have been trying to develop, so that I may bring before the wise the grievances of the sick. So I am forced to use words that will convey the most correct idea of their feelings. This is difficult, as some words convey life and yet do not mean anything.

For instance, take the word “mind.” The ordinary definition of that word covers all the wisdom of the natural man. The word “death” means the annihilation of life. But as man developed himself, he discovered that there was something in him that never had been brought out, and this something gave rise to speculative ideas. When phenomena occurred, the wise were confused. So superstition and reason were introduced to explain the phenomena. They must be explained by the language of the wise, and that made confusion.

This theory explains all these ideas by applying words to sensations that will convey to the sick that I take their feelings. When I tell them how they feel, I tell them it is in their minds. This, of course, they do not believe. So to make myself understood, I am obliged to illustrate by parables.

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