Thursday, December 27, 2012

Axioms: XVII. Law of Labeling


“The Magician’s Companion: A Practical & Encyclopedic Guide to Magical & Religious
Symbolism”

Bill Whitcomb, 1997
Llyewellyn Publications

XVII. Law of Labeling


When you label something, you exclude information about it. This is because the
thing becomes obscured by other information stored under the label for the thing.
If I were to say “I study magic,” this would immediately bring up all the
associations and stored data under the label “magic.” Some people would believe I
am a stage magician; some people think I am a satanist, while still others would
decide that I study magic as a historian. Yet none of these things actually has
anything to do with what I would mean by the word “magic.”
When you symbolize something, you impose the deep structure of the symbol
system used on the way you perceive the thing symbolized. There is a Japanese
proverb which relates that to confusing the Moon with the finger pointing at the
Moon.
People tend to believe that they understand something when they have a name for
it. This is called nominalization. It enables people to take very ill-defined concepts
and continuing processes and talk about them as if they were concrete things. The
problem is that frequently even the users of these terms (names) do not know what
they mean.

Nominalization is an important tool. However, we must realize when we are using it.

We find this law to be true in everyday events. We label ourselves, we label others, all we did is limit any broader possibilities when we do this. One of the things I find interesting about this is that most people refuse to accept that their 'label' for something is now the 'label' others see. This limits the definition even further. We are human so we cannot help but label things to a degree. What we need to strive for is allowing our 'labels' to expand and grow so they become more encompassing.
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