There is, or at least used to be, a movement that went by the name of General Semantics
. They're a quirky little group with politics somewhere just to the left of the Objectivists, among other things. But their big idea is that they're against inductive reasoning; it's deductive reasoning or nothing. For that reason, they're also against metaphorical thinking and language, to the point that the consider the word "is" harmful.
While I don't find the GS people's theories themselves to be particularly palatable (needless, I hope, to say, as I personally find metaphor to be one of my most powerful tools for dealing with the world), I am finding the meta-idea of critiquing the memetic structures embedded in and unconsciously transmitted by the structure of our language to be particularly instructive today. I suppose another way to say it is that I'm in a Whorfian mood.
Oh, right, my particular gripe. Sorry about that.
I happened to run into the (obvious) observation that "ownership" is (merely, although I should know better than to use that word) a social construct, not a natural fact about things in two separate places recently. It then collided with my previous complaint about the reification of sex, which is itself mixed up with ownership. When the dust settled, I was left with the realization that we force the possessive form, in English, to do all sorts of work that has nothing to do with "ownership"
- but because we use the possessive to do it, the idea
of ownership gets all mixed up with these other uses.
In particular, we use "mine" (or "your," or "their," or . . .) to denote a state of relationship. Now, in some cases - "my child," "his wife" - the relationship has historically been pretty close to ownership. But there are plenty of cases where that historical context does not apply: "your friend," "her boss," "my father," "my king," "my god." But as long as we use that language, there is an ownership-meme embedded in the very terms we use to describe relationship-between-people - which is, in my way of thinking at least, the farthest thing possible from ownership. This is one of the reasons I try to say "the Spouse" rather than "my spouse" or, worse, "my husband." However, doing this all the time sounds stilted at best, and it's not always applicable.
Arrrgh . . .
This is aside from my growing conviction that ownership is a pernicious meme in and of itself, especially as applied to things that are not individual nonliving physical objects, seeing how it appears to be the source of a great deal of bizarre and harmful thinking. I think I'll have to go into that later, though.