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What is the relation between language and self-conciousness?

 
 
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 11:20 am
What is the relation between language and self-consciousness?

Is it only through language that we can critique our experiences and therefore be self-conscious?
Could it be posited that this critique arises from the 'gulf' between the world as we experience it, and the way we represent it to ourselves through language?

pq
 
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 01:18 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
I'm very interested in the relationship between thought and language, so I'll try to follow the thread. I don't think I'll have much to add.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 02:24 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
I see language as tool - the more command you have of it the better we
represent ourselves resp. express ourselves. Self-consciousness has many
factors of one could be language but is not necessarily the only elicitor. There are plenty of people who are accustomed to speaking more than one
language - some from birth on - and probably struggle with self-consciousness that is not related to language at all.
0 Replies
 
Cyracuz
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 03:49 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
As I see it, language stands in the way of self consciousness. That is, it is an obstacle when it comes to achieving perfect awareness of self and it's true contents. It is the source of many illusions and misgivings about the concept of self, and the more we utilize language to get to tems with this issue, the more we are moving away from the essence of it.
fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sun 11 Oct, 2009 11:37 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
Language is to selves as the ocean is to waves.
0 Replies
 
Soul Brother
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 07:27 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:

As I see it, language stands in the way of self consciousness. That is, it is an obstacle when it comes to achieving perfect awareness of self and it's true contents. It is the source of many illusions and misgivings about the concept of self, and the more we utilize language to get to tems with this issue, the more we are moving away from the essence of it.


Absolutely spot on.
0 Replies
 
kennethamy
 
  3  
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 07:39 am
@Cyracuz,
Cyracuz wrote:

As I see it, language stands in the way of self consciousness. That is, it is an obstacle when it comes to achieving perfect awareness of self and it's true contents. It is the source of many illusions and misgivings about the concept of self, and the more we utilize language to get to tems with this issue, the more we are moving away from the essence of it.


If language is an obstacle to perfect awareness of oneself, could you please tell me what it would be like to be perfectly aware of oneself? If you say that I am prevented form doing something by language, I would like to know, at least, what it would be like to achieve what I am prevented from achieving by language. If I was at a play, and I was told that I could see the stage better from another seat, although I may not be able to get to the other seat to understand what you mean, it at least makes sense to suppose I could. What kind of thing would I experience if I had "perfect self-awareness" that would be different from the kind of self-awareness that I now have? How would it be different?
0 Replies
 
Khethil
 
  2  
Reply Thu 15 Jul, 2010 08:30 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:
What is the relation between language and self-consciousness?

Is it only through language that we can critique our experiences and therefore be self-conscious?

What a great set of questions.

I don't think there's any reason to believe that language is required for self-consciousness. But my sense is that there is a connection - though not perhaps a hard-wired one.

Language does, I believe, play a large factor in how we store information - compartmentalize memories, info bits as well as semantic-reference recall. To the extent that this is true, should - in theory - enhance the fullness or internal descriptiveness of the being that's conscious of itself. So I'd be willing to accept language as a 'multiplying' or 'enhancing' factor to the extent of self consciousness (which, of course, isn't an ON/OFF switch - but matter of degrees). But that one is requisite to the existence of the other; I don't think so.

The Pentacle Queen wrote:
Could it be posited that this critique arises from the 'gulf' between the world as we experience it, and the way we represent it to ourselves through language?

Yes, likely so.

Language - in the expressive sense (not internalized thinking in that language), is just a clumsy tool by which we try and pass meaning from one to another. How much ones' thoughts are skewed (or more accurately conceived) because of one's language/descriptive talents is likely as much of a potential limiting factor as it is enhancing. I've interacted with people from many cultures and believe that I see broad self-perception differences that seem to correlate with the nuances of their language limitations or richness therein. This is just a notion I'm still evaluating - not something I'd stand on nor discard whole-hog.

I do believe language plays a part in self consciousness, though not requisite for it. I also believe that ones vocabulary plays a part in their thought processes; how much/if one self-analyzes or self-describes passively must, necessarily, have some effect on their degree of self-consciousness. How much, to me, seems to be the missing link.

This is one of those areas I'd like to learn more on.

Thanks
jgweed
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 08:29 am
It may be that self-consciousness is achieved in many different ways, and only one way involves the self-examination we do when thinking about who "we" are and even then we examine only certain aspects of ourselves in a historical manner for a particular purpose. Or: it may be that the "self" of which we are conscious is strictly epiphenomenal when we want to find a "cause" for our actions because actions seem to require an "actor."


ughaibu
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 08:33 am
@jgweed,
jgweed wrote:
it may be that the "self" of which we are conscious is strictly epiphenomenal when we want to find a "cause" for our actions because actions seem to require an "actor."
You seem to have two selves here, the epiphenomenon and that one that wants.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 16 Jul, 2010 12:00 pm
@ughaibu,
Read Gurdjieff...we have hundreds of "selves" !
0 Replies
 
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2010 02:30 pm
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

What is the relation between language and self-consciousness?

Is it only through language that we can critique our experiences and therefore be self-conscious?
Could it be posited that this critique arises from the 'gulf' between the world as we experience it, and the way we represent it to ourselves through language?
pq

1) Self-consious is logically and thus grammatically incorrect. Relation to self is not possible. We are simply conscious.
Language is the method we use to symbolically manipulate perceptions in order to effect human will that maintains and promotes our life.
There are two primitive branches of language.
See, Language and Experience on the Internet Archive.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2010 04:19 pm
@NoOne phil,
.....and you see Dennett on the evocation of "self" by language.
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Oct, 2010 06:09 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

.....and you see Dennett on the evocation of "self" by language.

I do not recall anyone being able to negate first principles--only that most are unaware of when they violate them. Nor do I believe that violating reason while trying to reason is wise in any case.

On this point see Plato's Alcibiades 1.
Relation to self and self knowledge. Also Charmides.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2010 01:03 am
@NoOne phil,
You seem to be fixated on particular (ancient) axioms. Note that Wittgenstein, perhaps the most celebrated philosopher of language of the 20th century, never read Plato.
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2010 03:55 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

You seem to be fixated on particular (ancient) axioms. Note that Wittgenstein, perhaps the most celebrated philosopher of language of the 20th century, never read Plato.


Yes, he might rate right up there with Einstein, however, if you actually understand my Language and Experience, you might also understand that even Einstein can be, and was, toppled in a paragraph--a small one at that. Of course, you might actaully have to do something radical, like study it. I believe that a child can easily put a great many historical giants in their hip pocket, while others they only imagine they see eye to eye with.

Pay no attention to my delusions, I am no respector of men or institutions. My arrogance is founded on something more solid.
HexHammer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2010 05:15 am
@The Pentacle Queen,
The Pentacle Queen wrote:

What is the relation between language and self-consciousness?

Is it only through language that we can critique our experiences and therefore be self-conscious?
Could it be posited that this critique arises from the 'gulf' between the world as we experience it, and the way we represent it to ourselves through language?
I don't see what selfconciousness has anything to do with language, vegetative state people are selfconcious, but can't communicate.
NoOne phil
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2010 05:50 am
@HexHammer,
But, language has a great deal to do with consciousness.
You can call it language, logic, symbolic manipulation of information, thought, they are all synonyms.
It is not taught that there are two fundamental branches of logic. So, if you are going to talk about the mind, it is linguistic in nature.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2010 08:46 am
@NoOne phil,
Quote:
Pay no attention to my delusions, I am no respector of men or institutions. My arrogance is founded on something more solid.

Smile
0 Replies
 
attano
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2010 05:15 pm
@Khethil,
(great posts, Khethil and the-PQ.)

The Pentacle Queen wrote:
What is the relation between language and self-consciousness?
Is it only through language that we can critique our experiences and therefore be self-conscious?

I do appreciate this attempt to focus on a major philosophical problem, which is not traditional but very present to our minds - at least to mine.

Khethil wrote:

I don't think there's any reason to believe that language is required for self-consciousness. But my sense is that there is a connection - though not perhaps a hard-wired one.

I believe that self-consciousness pre-exists language. There is definitely a relation between language and the way we represent our consciousness, but language does not define self-consciousness, only its representation. (Btw, it's clear from the above that I posit that self-conscousness is not representing oneself as a subject, I doubt that self-consciousness can be defined as the synthetic unity of perceptions. Structural self-consciousness can be safely assumed only as the limit whence it is no longer "us", but something else).

The Pentacle Queen wrote:
Could it be posited that this critique arises from the 'gulf' between the world as we experience it, and the way we represent it to ourselves through language?

I confess that I do not understand the question.
What is the critique of experiences? If it is meant that natual language provides a tool to describe perceptions or, rather, to interpret our perceptions, I fail to see how self-consciousness would arise from that - although the fact that we can speak of our perceptions (probably) implies that we are self-conscious. There is no therefore as it is put in the first sentence. It is not because we can describe (or "critique") our experiences through language (which is not even quite true) that we are self-conscious.

Probably language is the major responsible of our idea of the subject. But this is not hardwired, structural. I see it as fundamentally historical.
We have the default assumption that we are subjects with certain features because we speak in a certain way.
There is a basic layer in our representation/belief in the subject which is closely connected to grammar, a more articulate idea of it derives from cultural inheritage. It is doubtful that people with different jurisdictional references would elaborate an idea of the subject similar to ours.

(Natural) language is just an option that we have to process perceptions. There are other signs, like pictograms or mathematical formulae. (And these other classes of signs could be seen as somehow more accurate in the description of perceptions).
Language is outside us, although men have evolved to use it quite intensely. But, ultimately, running a program it is not being that program (this is just to cut a long story short, I am not really supporting this analogy).
As Khethil says, it can enhance our processing of experiences as well as blinding (and shielding) us from our experiences (and that is probably the very same function, only in different degrees).



 

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