February 27, 2009

The nexus between language and thought

Dabar: Some Psychodynamics of Language from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak

Walter J. Ong's landmark Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word affords us an opportunity to critically examine the nexus between language and thought, even though we should be wary of too quickly adopting his distinction between oral and literate (chirographic, typographic and electronic) cultures with all of its implications. The fact that most language acquisition, beginning in the first months of human life, takes place before the acquisition of literacy gives us one reason for believing that the features of orality, or what Ong terms "massive oral residue" (passim), are in fact evident in every actual, lived language. We could, though I won't bother at this precise juncture, rigorously explore other reasons for believing that by and large language remains intertwined with speech even among the most sophisticated of literate communities. Instead I would simply ask you to reflect on your own experiences with language, even as you're reading this.

  • What is your body doing while you read this?
  • What feelings are in your throat, or in your hands as you formulate a thought that could be expressed in some form of language?
  • What peoples your imagination?

Mnesic Replay from Fido the Yak by Fido the Yak
Edgard Richard Sienaert, "Marcel Jousse: The Oral Style and the Anthropology of Gesture", Oral Tradition, 5/1 (1990): 91-106) [...]

  • How do Jousse's anthropological universals show themselves?
  • What is the bilateralism of the question?
  • How do we inquire evenhandedly?
  • Why do we say things like "both sides of the question"?
  • What is the mnesic question?
  • What kind of experience could a question possibly relive?
  • Does the question intussuscept in the same manner as the proposition?
  • Is a question forever intussuscepting?
  • Does the memorization of the question in any way interfere with its being a question?

(title unknown) from enowning
The Imaginative Universal explains about jargon and Martin.

Heidegger was somewhat obsessed with language and believed that language tends, over time, to hide and obfuscate meaning, when it should rather shed light on things. Along this vein, Being and Time begins with the claim that we today no longer understand the meaning of Being, and that this forgetting is so thorough that we are not even any longer aware of this absence of understanding, so that even the question "What Is Being?", which should be the most important question for us, is for the most part ignored and overlooked. To even begin understanding Being, then, we must first try to understand the meaning of the question of Being. We must first come to the realization that there is even a problem there in the first place which needs to be resolved.

Heidegger's chosen solution to this problem involves the claim that while language conceals meaning, it also, in its origins, is able to reveal it if we are able to come to understand language correctly. He gives an example with the term aletheia, which in Greek means truth. By getting to the origins of language and the experience of language, we can reveal aletheia. Aletheia, etymologically, means not-forgetting (thus the river Lethe is, in Greek mythology, the river of forgetting that the dead must cross before resting in Hades), and so the truth is implicitly an unconcealment that recovers the meanings implicit in language.

Feb 26, 2009 How Strong is a Chimpanzee? from Shared Symbolic Storage by Michael

John Hawks has a very interesting article in Slate in which he looks at the experiments that have been done to find out how strong chimpanzees really are. As it turns out, claims of chimpanzees being 5 to 9 times stronger are exaggerated, but they are still about twice as strong as humans. The short article makes for really enjoyable reading, Go check it out. I was surprised to read that that a chimp on all fours can easily outrun a human sprinter...

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