7
   

What is the relation between language and self-conciousness?

 
 
Cyracuz
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2010 06:01 pm
It may be that the conscious self is not an entity, but a function or attribute of consciousness that, when expressed through language, takes on certain attributes to fill a "narrative" role that is essential for our concept oriented perception.
When looked at like this, it is no longer obvious that consciousness resides within the percieving entity, nor that it originates from it.
0 Replies
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 4 Nov, 2010 06:11 pm
@attano,
Quote:
Language is outside us, although men have evolved to use it quite intensely.


I challenge you to separate the concept of "us" from a concept of "language", and subsequently the concept of "I" from the concept of "us".
At the parochial level "group membership" rests on a common communicative network, and at the species level humans appear to be particularly distinguished by "language use" and "self consciousness". It seems unlikely that these are not inter-related. The programming analogy is indeed vacuous since concepts of "programmable hardware" and "program" would be meaningless without each other.

attano
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Nov, 2010 02:45 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

I challenge you to separate the concept of "us" from a concept of "language", and subsequently the concept of "I" from the concept of "us".
At the parochial level "group membership" rests on a common communicative network, and at the species level humans appear to be particularly distinguished by "language use" and "self consciousness". It seems unlikely that these are not inter-related. The programming analogy is indeed vacuous since concepts of "programmable hardware" and "program" would be meaningless without each other.


Glad to be challenged, but I am afraid I don't really get what you say. I hope you can help me with that.
So, as for the separation of concepts, if meaning is an acceptable criterion, one can easily separate those concepts. If one says "us" he generally does not mean "language", and "I" is not "us".
You might object that meaning is made up by language. Still I would not see how this objection would blow my statement.
Besides, I do not really agree with the fact that meaning is *exclusively* in language. Clearly language influences meaning, but I confess that it is not really clear to me the way (groups of) words in natural language contribute to meaning, to the point that I suspect that there is a very relevant and indeed determining role of extra-linguistical factors in semantics.
I can live with your statement that "group membership" rests on a common communicative network (though I believe that economy, in a broad sense, has a stronger role), but I do not see this communication as being conveyed exclusively by natural language. It seems pretty certain that there are animals living in groups and having social codes that do not speak.
Btw, the assumption that the only possible language is based on signs, like ours, may turn out as just a prejudice. There is no evidence that those animals do not communicate. On the contrary, Ethologists seem on the path to discover complex languages that take place on non-verbal levels. I also argue that those animals have self-conscience. And men were/are no exception. At its origin what has evolved into our natural language was not based on signs.
So your argument that men appear to have "more" language and "more" self- consciousness and positing the former as the cause of latter seems unsubstantiated to me.

Leaving the above aside, I guess that there is some misunderstanding between us and that we agree more than you think.
Probably like you do, I do not endorse the view that language is just a tool, unless there is an agreement that the tool modifies its users and that in the case of language the tool has deeply modified not only some individuals, but the species as a whole. Therefore, as you probably maintain, mankind would be not as we know it without language. Still, I maintain that the connection of men with natural language is not hardwired, but it is the outcome of a (evolving) historical context.
This historical process has provoked the rise of the concept of the subject, of "I", but this is not self-consciousness in my view.

Maybe we should simply agree on what is self-consciousness and what is the subject. As I hinted in my previous post, I maintain that self-consciousness is simply a threshold necessary to separate "us" from what is not "us". But this "us" is not the subject. It has been a necessary step in the evolution in order to implement self-preservation, we probably share it with almost every animal on earth and, anyway, it has nothing to do with language.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Nov, 2010 03:25 pm
@attano,
Agreeing with you in most, specially on how you bring it together, I yet wonder if it is not the case that Language is everywhere not as verbal code but as code beyond what is verbal...things are build upon things...
...Music and Sound is language, as image is, as sets of objects in which functions and degrees of order are assembled can be credit as a sort of language...

...the order established between objects, abstract or concrete (whatever concrete means) can be translated by several means and still maintain the same form...look for instance on how certain computer programs can translate images in sound or sound in images by applying the mathematical patterns present in them...

Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Nov, 2010 05:15 pm
@attano,
My starting point, like that of Dennett, is that the "self" is an epiphenomenon of language. It is evoked by internal and external dialogue as an actor in comparison to others ( a subject required by grammar). This evocation is easily understandable when one realizes that "the conscious self" is not actually present during most of consciousness! Heidegger points out the whilst actions are uninterrupted there is no ontological separation of actor and world... there is merely "doing". Selfhood and thinghood only come into "existence" when the flow is interrupted. (e.g. hammering hits a finger). The verbalization resulting from the interrupted action involves socially acquired language...hence the whole I verbalizing scenario aka self-consciousness requires a social semantic field as an a priori.

attano
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Nov, 2010 06:29 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
This is clearly off-topic, but I find your remarks so uncannily relating to some thoughts of mine that I want to comment on. I am not going to make any clear point, I have no pretension to explain anything and I might be also over-simplifying things.

Fil Albuquerque wrote:

I yet wonder if it is not the case that Language is everywhere not as verbal code but as code beyond what is verbal...things are build upon things...

I do not think it is everywhere, but I believe that we tend to put it everywhere.
As you suggest, I also agree that initial representations (and I omit to discuss "representation of what?") made through language gradually took off until becoming a thing on its own. The "I" would be an excellent example.

Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...Music and Sound is language, as image is, as sets of objects in which functions and degrees of order are assembled can be credit as a sort of language...


It largely depends on what we think a language is. The hegemonic view would equate language to a medium to convey information. This could be a useful abstraction, and probably in these times it is the main function of over the 50% of the language we speak. But it does not explain what language is and it does not explain the history of language.
I believe that sound/music and images are no languages, not in the beginning at least. My hypothesis is that these artistic expressions pre-exist language and have been determining to what it has become, until a certain point in (pre-)history at least.
At its origin language had probably a strong drive into the imitation of sound and images - if we posit pictographs as a form of language. Those gradually became symbols - through the same process that makes representations to become things on their own.
How come? My guess is that it was witchcraft. The goal was to cast spells, gain control and power over objects and phenomena or to "steal/borrow" their power. According to this view, pictographs were probably the first form of articulated language, because of a higher expressive power and the capability to express more clearly connections between objects and events.
How come sound eventually took over? Well... mobility/portability could have been a factor, I guess. [En passant, it's funny how much IT has become a repository of tool-concepts in philosophy, I see that as quite recurrent in philosophical fora]. But finally, the stronger reason - to me - would be physical vibration. Simple sounds could express internal states (emotions) and be received "analogically", so that the transmission of information was not based on understanding, but rather on stimuli and reflexes. This magic of sound, the power to affect states of mind, made sound prevail in the end.
(This theory of the power of words-sounds was still en vogue in the V century Athens).

Fil Albuquerque wrote:

...the order established between objects, abstract or concrete (whatever concrete means) can be translated by several means and still maintain the same form...look for instance on how certain computer programs can translate images in sound or sound in images by applying the mathematical patterns present in them...


I tend to see this in connection to different approaches in philosophy. There is a well established family of metaphysics by which men are ultimately only a function of knowledge.
Plato, Hegel (or the 1st Wittgenstein) are examples. There is this recurrent research/uncovering of patterns that would prove a (rational) super-order that would be the signature of reality. A lighter version would be the search of deep structures of our language/thought that would constitute the only meaningful account of reality.
I am not one of them, but indeed the "existence" of these patterns seems to have been to date the philosophical quest par excellence, even in post-modern philosophy.

Fil Albuquerque wrote:

Regards>FILIPE DE ALBUQUERQUE


Thank-you for your attention and your remarks, Fil.

M
0 Replies
 
attano
 
  1  
Reply Fri 5 Nov, 2010 06:44 pm
@fresco,
Then I think that our positions largely overlap, and that the main disagreement is about the definition of self-consciousness, that in the way you mean it I would label as "subject". And it seems to me that you provide a good argument to support the view that language is not hardwired into men. That is what I meant - in that context - by "language is outside us".
I like the action-flow thing, it is just the "ontological" that I find disturbing (but I am not really serious about it). Thanks for your explanation.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2010 03:10 am
@attano,
Quote:
language is not hardwired into men.


Not quite, I argue that "wiring" and "men" depend for their meaning on the a priori status of "language" in the sense of a culturally acquired semantic field. I am arguing for a "top down" relationship between language and "things", rather than your "bottom up" one.
0 Replies
 
 

Related Topics

There is a word for that! - Discussion by wandeljw
Best Euphemism for death and dying.... - Discussion by tsarstepan
Let pupils abandon spelling rules, says academic - Discussion by Robert Gentel
Help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Question by lululucy
phrase/name of male seducer - Question by Zah03
Shameful sexist languge must be banned! - Question by neologist
Three Word Phrase I REALLY Hate to See - Discussion by hawkeye10
Is History an art or a science? - Question by Olivier5
"Rooms" in a cave - Question by shua
 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 06/15/2021 at 07:22:31