Benjamin Lee Whorf

Writes: “[…] for science, poetry, and love are alike in being “flights” above and away from the slave-world of literal reference and humdrum prosaic details, attempts to widen the petty narrowness of the personal self’s outlook, liftings toward Arūpa, toward that world of infinite harmony, sympathy and order, of unchanging truths and eternal things.

Care Bears

And while all words are pitiful enough in their mere “letter that killeth,” it is certain that scientific terms like ‘force, average, sex, allergic, biological’ are not less pitiful, and in their own way no more certain in reference than ‘sweet, gorgeous, rapture, enchantment, heart and soul, star dust.”

Thank You, World!

What does the principle, which Whorf points out, mean when it comes to images? Are scientific, fictional and erotic images similarly pitiful and uncertain in their reference as the words “force,” “sex” and “gorgeous”? Do they need a context to fill them with meaning, since without a context they practically refer to nothing, and equally, to anything? It depends on how we define “context,” but to do so we need a context.


Whorf, Benjamin Lee. “Language, Mind and Reality.” Language, Thought and Reality. Ed. John B. Carroll. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1956. 260.
Image source Care Bears:
Image source Thank You, World!:
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