Most people believe we live in a world where everyone understands what words mean. But that assumption is flawed. The unreliability of language, despite our best efforts for precision in communication, sees humans facing ultimately indefinite, shifting concepts on a daily basis. While it may not be devastating on a day-to-day basis, this issue can have far reaching implications, impacting discussion on issues with global consequences.
At the University of Malta, Dr Stefano Gualeni (from The Institute of Digital Games, University of Malta) has developed a philosophical game to demonstrate and highlight how precisely defining words may be an impossible task.
When trying to follow philosophical reasoning and arguments, thought experiments can only go so far by relying on the imagination alone. One way around this limitation is to use digital games as instruments to craft and communicate philosophical ideas and frameworks. Dr Gualeni and his team have created a game with a seemingly simple task: to serve soup to the patrons of your restaurant. However, the player soon realises that this is not so thanks to the shifting concept of 'soup', influenced by the culture and personal experiences of your customers.
The importance of exploring this phenomenon should not be understated. If we misunderstand each other on even the simplest concepts, imagine how badly we misunderstand each other on more complex matters like democracy, freedom, or justice.