June 26, 2008

There is an actual resemblance between the sound vibration of the word and the phenomena itself

Roots: The origin of words in the works Sri Aurobindo and Michel Foucault
by Rich on Wed 25 Jun 2008 02:56 PM PDT Permanent Link

The chapter on the philological method of the Vedas in The Secret of the Veda is a fascinating one in which Sri Aurobindo traces the genealogy of Sanskrit back to its origins in onomatopoeia. If correct words at the dawn of language acquisition were not simply arbitrary signifiers chosen conventionally to represent things but directly corresponded to the signified as a natural (human) sound articulation of the phenomena itself. That is there is an actual resemblance between the sound vibration of the word and the phenomena itself. From these ur-utterances are derived a small number of roots in which the subsequent nominative conventions and evolution of vocabularies can be located.

In The Order of Things, Michel Foucault arrives as a similar conclusion which he derives from the work of some of the French philosophers of the Enlightenment. Foucault's ascribes the power of attribution and the propositional function of language to verbs which trace their origins back to the most basic verb “to be”At the root of all attributions is the verb “to be” way without at the same time saying that it is. The verb to he is found in all propositions, because we cannot say that a thing is in such and such a way without at the same time saying that it is “.

For its part the nominative function of language is implicit in the designating power of adjectives and nouns. As such Foucault locates the primitive origins of language through its role as pure designation. In tracing back its earliest designative function Foucault ascribes to the originating process of naming things a very similar role between the non-arbitrary articulation of sound and the actual phenomena itself as does Sri Aurobindo. Additionally, in tracing language back to its function of pure designation Foucault also concludes that our vocabularies can be traced back to a small number of originating roots.

The following post is a comparative exploration of the origins of language as described by Sri Aurobindo and Michel Foucault. Science, Culture and Integral Yoga

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