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Think In Pictures

 
 
Reply Sat 6 Feb, 2010 08:07 pm
"No ideas but in things" W C Williams.

For the most part, I think we humans think in pictures. For me, creative thought is figurative language, generally metaphorical.

It's as if we still point at objects to get our points across. (Note the word "across.")

I'm over this. (As if one were a rock thrown over a swamp.)


"Who/what is behind all this?" (It's as if the facts-so-far are conceived as a curtain.) The sub-text is the under-text. The text is the mask of the sub-text.

Hasn't Western Philosophy long been concerned with penetration? Do we not love stripping Goddesses?
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Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 05:12 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125575 wrote:

"Who/what is behind all this?" (It's as if the facts-so-far are conceived as a curtain.) The sub-text is the under-text. The text is the mask of the sub-text.

Hasn't Western Philosophy long been concerned with penetration? Do we not love stripping Goddesses?


Baudrillard makes a big deal out of the idea that the surfaces becoming more real than the real. Models replacing what they model. Mannequins replacing people. He says we have gone too far already and reality has disappeared leaving only the simulacra. Perhaps he is right.



But why do we undress the Goddess? Why do we want to penetrate her? Do we hope to find something there? Is there some final penetration, some final conquest, some final veil to be removed beyond which we will find what we were looking for, some thing that we can possess? No this is not it at all for we do not hope to find something that was there all along, we hope to create something that was not there before. It is not penetration for penetrations sake. That is enough for some, but only for those who are content with simulacra. It is penetration for the sake of procreation. We don't just want to f*ck existence, we want existence to have our babies.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 06:41 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125575 wrote:
"No ideas but in things" W C Williams.

For the most part, I think we humans think in pictures. For me, creative thought is figurative language, generally metaphorical.

It's as if we still point at objects to get our points across. (Note the word "across.")

I'm over this. (As if one were a rock thrown over a swamp.)


"Who/what is behind all this?" (It's as if the facts-so-far are conceived as a curtain.) The sub-text is the under-text. The text is the mask of the sub-text.

Hasn't Western Philosophy long been concerned with penetration? Do we not love stripping Goddesses?


I very seldom think in pictures, myself, And how can anyone think in pictures about, for example, the difference between knowledge and belief which are abstractions?
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 08:13 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;126085 wrote:
I very seldom think in pictures, myself, And how can anyone think in pictures about, for example, the difference between knowledge and belief which are abstractions?


But words themselves are abstractions, so how can anyone think in words without objects to attach them to. This may be why thinking about knowledge and belief never go anywhere because they are only grounded upon abstraction.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2010 08:19 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;126123 wrote:
But words themselves are abstractions, so how can anyone think in words without objects to attach them to. This may be why thinking about knowledge and belief never go anywhere because they are only grounded upon abstraction.


What makes you think that thinking about knowledge and belief "never go (sic!) anwhere"? (And what an ironic thing for you to say, with you screen name!). But even if that were true, what would that have to do with the question in the OP? In any case, I don't know what you mean when you say the "words are abstractions", but even if they were, that would have nothing to do with whether some words are about abstractions, and some are not. What picture comes to your mind when you use the word, "if", or the word, "although". None comes to my mind.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2010 12:20 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;126056 wrote:

It is penetration for the sake of procreation. We don't just want to f*ck existence, we want existence to have our babies.


I would enjoy some elaboration on this. What do babies represent here, for instance? The tropes/concepts invented/discovered? Something else?

Is our signature a sort of baby? Absalom piled up rocks. Plato piled up arrangements of words. These rocks and words were given a tag representing their author/creator (who is really perhaps just a re-arranger.)

***

But what I really want to get is the foundation of language/thinking which seems objects and persons used to describe other objects and persons. In this late stage in the game, I feel that the metaphoricity of thinking is obscured.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2010 12:59 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;126321 wrote:
I would enjoy some elaboration on this. What do babies represent here, for instance? The tropes/concepts invented/discovered? Something else?

Is our signature a sort of baby? Absalom piled up rocks. Plato piled up arrangements of words. These rocks and words were given a tag representing their author/creator (who is really perhaps just a re-arranger.)

***

But what I really want to get is the foundation of language/thinking which seems objects and persons used to describe other objects and persons. In this late stage in the game, I feel that the metaphoricity of thinking is obscured.


Babies are babies and works of art and houses and catapults and rocketships and robots. Episteme is techne. Phronesis is techne. I guess that's where I ended up with that metaphor.

But back to the OP. I am reminded of Guliver's travels. The philosophers of Laputa:

Quote:
However, many of the most learned and wise adhere to the new scheme of expressing themselves by things; which has only this inconvenience attending it, that if a man's business be very great, and of various kinds, he must be obliged, in proportion, to carry a greater bundle of things upon his back, unless he can afford one or two strong servants to attend him.
I have often beheld two of those sages almost sinking under the weight of their packs, like pedlars among us, who, when they met in the street, would lay down their loads, open their sacks, and hold conversation for an hour together; then put up their implements, help each other to resume their burdens, and take their leave.
But for short conversations, a man may carry implements in his pockets, and under his arms, enough to supply him; and in his house, he cannot be at a loss.
Therefore the room where company meet who practise this art, is full of all things, ready at hand, requisite to furnish matter for this kind of artificial converse. - from Gulliver's Travels
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2010 03:25 am
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;126123 wrote:
But words themselves are abstractions, so how can anyone think in words without objects to attach them to. This may be why thinking about knowledge and belief never go anywhere because they are only grounded upon abstraction.
verb).

The word "know" comes from a word for sex. Online Etymology Dictionary

Examining the roots of the word "think" is also instructive. And note the use of the metaphor "roots." For me, etymology is a skeleton key. This is basically historicism applied to thought itself.
think http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gifthought and thankmethinks "it seems to me." Jocular pp. thunk (not historical, but by analogy of drink, sink, etc.) is recorded from 1876. Think-tank is 1959 as "research institute" (first ref. is to Center for Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, Calif.); it had been colloquial for "the brain" since 1905.
kennethamy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Feb, 2010 04:59 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;126344 wrote:
I like where you're going with this. To me, much time is wasted on treated abstract words as if they were precise in their meaning like numbers.

.


I am not sure what an "abstract word" is supposed to be. But the word, "three" is a word for an abstract entity (if that is what you happen to mean by "abstract word") and, as you already have said, words that refer to numbers (or is that what you said?) are precise.

In any case, I don't think there is a picture of the number three.
0 Replies
 
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 05:40 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;126329 wrote:

But back to the OP. I am reminded of Guliver's travels. The philosophers of Laputa:


Was Swift trying to tell us something? Were the boys on Laputa moving backward, devolving from the verbal reference to the physical object? Did Swift see that thinking is figurative and demonstrate this fictionally by reversing the process?

I know I'm harping on this, but it seems important to me. I suppose its another example Goddess-stripping, another shot at center.

Thought/language seems to be the dirt that the house of philosophy is built on. If thought is essentially figurative, then even man's thinking is a mirror of his sensual environment.
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 07:54 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;126848 wrote:


Thought/language seems to be the dirt that the house of philosophy is built on. If thought is essentially figurative, then even man's thinking is a mirror of his sensual environment.


How does what you are saying differ from regular old empiricism?
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 08:54 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;126889 wrote:
How does what you are saying differ from regular old empiricism?


As far as I can tell empiricism is an epistemological attitude. I'm not saying it's not related, because I think it is. But my focus is on the nature of language, which seems to me to be a network of metaphors. Norman O. Brown in Closing Time started my interest in etymology. He focuses, in this book, on Joyce, Vico, and the simultaneous development of language and culture.

I'm fascinated in the creations of abstractions like essence, causality, justice, serenity, etc.

Imagine a time in human history before these abstractions. How would such abstractions be created? It seems to me that these early humans could only get their meaning across by using words that referred to the sensual. A word like spirit is a good example, because it can be traced all the way back to something sensual/objective. I can't help but think how illuminated a comprehensive and perfectly accurate history of word transformations would be. And I mean beyond what has been managed already. If only alien spies had carefully documented man's language use from the beginning...

c.1250, "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from O.Fr. espirit, from L. spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath," related to spirare "to breathe," from PIE *(s)peis- "to blow" (cf. O.C.S. pisto "to play on the flute").
0 Replies
 
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 09:54 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;125575 wrote:

It's as if we still point at objects to get our points across.


I think we resort to metaphor when we can't point at objects to explain our thoughts or when there is no ready sign to point at i.e. no ready word to say. Metaphor begins where ostention ends.

The method of speaking employed by the philosophers of Laputa would render them incapable of metaphor since they always had to point to the actual object.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 10:26 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;126911 wrote:
I think we resort to metaphor when we can't point at objects to explain our thoughts or when there is no ready sign to point at i.e. no ready word to say. Metaphor begins where ostention ends.

The method of speaking employed by the philosophers of Laputa would render them incapable of metaphor since they always had to point to the actual object.


I suppose what I'm trying to emphasize is that abstractions themselves are all dead/literalized metaphors/figurative language. For instance, all the abstract words I just used: dead, literalized, metaphor, figurative, language.

We were born into a world full of such literalized metaphors and learned them from context and use. But at some point in the past these words had to be invented. It's my opinion that etymology offers us the original metaphor through which abstractions are invented.

DEAD
O.E. dead, from P.Gmc. *dauthaz, from PIE *dheu-. Meaning "insensible" is first attested early 13c

LITERAL
late 14c., "taking words in their natural meaning" (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical), from O.Fr. literal, from L.L. lit(t)eralis "of or belonging to letters or writing," from L. lit(t)era
"letter."

METAPHOR
1530s, from M.Fr. metaphore, from L. metaphora, from Gk. metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, lit. "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over," from meta- "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear"

FIGURE
early 13c., from O.Fr. figure, from L. figura "a shape, form, figure," from PIE *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough);

LANGUAGE
late 13c., from O.Fr. langage (12c.), from V.L. *linguaticum, from L. lingua "tongue," also "speech, language" (see lingual).
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 10:51 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;126919 wrote:
I suppose what I'm trying to emphasize is that abstractions themselves are all dead/literalized metaphors/figurative language. For instance, all the abstract words I just used: dead, literalized, metaphor, figurative, language.

We were born into a world full of such literalized metaphors and learned them from context and use. But at some point in the past these words had to be invented. It's my opinion that etymology offers us the original metaphor through which abstractions are invented.

DEAD
O.E. dead, from P.Gmc. *dauthaz, from PIE *dheu-. Meaning "insensible" is first attested early 13c

LITERAL
late 14c., "taking words in their natural meaning" (originally in reference to Scripture and opposed to mystical or allegorical), from O.Fr. literal, from L.L. lit(t)eralis "of or belonging to letters or writing," from L. lit(t)era
"letter."

METAPHOR
1530s, from M.Fr. metaphore, from L. metaphora, from Gk. metaphora "a transfer," especially of the sense of one word to a different word, lit. "a carrying over," from metapherein "transfer, carry over," from meta- "over, across" (see meta-) + pherein "to carry, bear"

FIGURE
early 13c., from O.Fr. figure, from L. figura "a shape, form, figure," from PIE *dheigh- "to form, build" (see dough);

LANGUAGE
late 13c., from O.Fr. langage (12c.), from V.L. *linguaticum, from L. lingua "tongue," also "speech, language" (see lingual).


Agree with everything but :

...My question is, Why do this walk towards abstraction occurs in the first place? is it entropy, noise, complexity ???
...Or do we look for something more essential ?
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:23 pm
@Fil Albuquerque,
Fil. Albuquerque;126921 wrote:
Agree with everything but :

...My question is, Why do this walk towards abstraction occurs in the first place? is it entropy, noise, complexity ???
...Or do we look for something more essential ?


I think these abstractions are good. For instance, the concepts of "entropy, noise, complexity" and "essential "would not exist except for their originating metaphors. Abstraction frees us from contingency, also known as time and chance. That's my thought at the moment.

Of the three, I think "complexity" is the one that describes the "walk of abstraction." To create new concepts is to grow new eyes?

entropy = turning-in
noise = seasickness, hurt, or quarrel (how i wish we had a perfect history of words..)
complex = circle + twine

entropy http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif1868, from Ger. Entropie "measure of the disorder of a system," coined 1865 (on analogy of Ger. Energie) by physicist Rudolph Clausius (1822-1888) from Gk. entropia "a turning toward," from en- "in" + trope "a turning" (see trope).
noise http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gifearly 13c., "loud outcry, clamor, shouting," from O.Fr. noise "uproar, brawl" (in modern Fr. only in phrase chercher noise "to pick a quarrel"), apparently from L. nausea "disgust, annoyance, discomfort," lit. "seasickness" (see nausea). Another theory traces the O.Fr. word to L. noxia "hurting, injury, damage." OED considers that "the sense of the word is against both suggestions," but nausea could have developed a sense in V.L. of "unpleasant situation, noise, quarrel" (cf. O.Prov. nauza "noise, quarrel"). Replaced native gedyn (see din).
complex http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gifc.1652, "composed of parts," from Fr. complexe, from L. complexus "surrounding, encompassing," pp. of complecti "to encircle, embrace," from com- "with" + plectere "to weave, braid, twine." The adj. meaning "not easily analyzed" is first recorded 1715. Psychological sense of "connected group of repressed ideas" was established by C.G. Jung, 1907. Complex sentence is attested from 1881.
0 Replies
 
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:40 pm
@Reconstructo,
Sometimes I say Kleenex instead of tissue or Coke instead of pop. Certain objects, or actions e.g. writing for literal and tongues for language have brand name recognition than other objects/actions in their class. For whatever reason some words become representative of a class of things. This is synecdoche, not metaphor although sometimes metaphor is used as a synecdoche for figures of speech including synecdoches
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Feb, 2010 11:52 pm
@Deckard,
Deckard;126931 wrote:
Sometimes I say Kleenex instead of tissue or Coke instead of pop. Certain objects, or actions e.g. writing for literal and tongues for language have brand name recognition than other objects/actions in their class. For whatever reason some words become representative of a class of things. This is synecdoche, not metaphor although sometimes metaphor is used as a synecdoche for figures of speech including synecdoches


I agree that your examples are examples of synecdoche, an example of trope.

The broader category of trope is the one I regard as more exact, as far as the general point I am trying to make. Unfortunately the word "trope" is not well known. I usually use the phrase "figurative language" or the word "metaphor." I appreciate the drawing of distinctions in this matter.
I feel that metaphor is more central in this issue than synecdoche, though synecdoche plays its part. Metaphor in the broad sense covers most of it.

Moreover, metaphor also denotes rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison, and resemblance, e.g. antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy, and simile; all are species of metaphor.

To give you an example: Rorty suggests that the "self is a network of belief and desires." Self as network. Or virtue as knowledge. I think the bigger leaps are made by the more discursive trope metaphor, rather than synecdoche. I like the etymology of trope. It's a twist, a fertile perversion.

1533, from L. tropus "a figure of speech," from Gk. tropos "turn, direction, turn or figure of speech," related to trope "a turning" and trepein "to turn," from PIE base trep- "to turn" (cf. Skt. trapate "is ashamed, confused," prop. "turns away in shame;" L. trepit "he turns").
Deckard
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 01:54 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;126935 wrote:
I agree that your examples are examples of synecdoche, an example of trope.

The broader category of trope is the one I regard as more exact, as far as the general point I am trying to make. Unfortunately the word "trope" is not well known. I usually use the phrase "figurative language" or the word "metaphor." I appreciate the drawing of distinctions in this matter.
I feel that metaphor is more central in this issue than synecdoche, though synecdoche plays its part. Metaphor in the broad sense covers most of it.

Moreover, metaphor also denotes rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via association, comparison, and resemblance, e.g. antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy, and simile; all are species of metaphor.

To give you an example: Rorty suggests that the "self is a network of belief and desires." Self as network. Or virtue as knowledge. I think the bigger leaps are made by the more discursive trope metaphor, rather than synecdoche. I like the etymology of trope. It's a twist, a fertile perversion.

1533, from L. tropus "a figure of speech," from Gk. tropos "turn, direction, turn or figure of speech," related to trope "a turning" and trepein "to turn," from PIE base trep- "to turn" (cf. Skt. trapate "is ashamed, confused," prop. "turns away in shame;" L. trepit "he turns").


Etymology could be defined as the history of language games. Can Wittgenstein help us out here? Wittgenstein's games are all very different. Some of them involve tropes but by no means all. Words are tools within a particular language workshop or as the balls and bats on the playing field of a particular language game. Of course both of these are metaphors.

However, Wittgenstein's games and workshop metaphors also point to the fact (or reflect) that words are born insofar as they have a use in these workshops/games. Words qua words are not just reflections seen "through a glass darkly" as tropes are. Tropes did not arise mysteriously reflections of sensual experience into the realm of thought/language but rather because these reflections are useful within various workshops/games.
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Feb, 2010 02:43 am
@Deckard,
Deckard;126974 wrote:
Tropes did not arise mysteriously reflections of sensual experience into the realm of thought/language but rather because these reflections are useful within various workshops/games.


I agree. It makes sense to apply Darwin to tropes. How many neologisms are lost with the snows of yesteryear?

The word "through" comes from the word for tree, apparently. Perhaps it was common to use trees as poles, spears, etc. One day someone uses the word for tree but isn't thinking of a tree, but only it's through-ness. He chances the word for tree with a certain tone in his voice and appropriate gestures and it catches on. It's not that sensual experience is imposed but rather borrowed. Of course as man invents technology he is providing himself with more common objects (with common names) to work from in the creation of abstractions. Terrence Mckenna used "software" as a metaphor for human culture, for instance. One possible source of the word person is "persona," the mask used in Greek Tragedy. I can imagine one guy saying that so-and-so's "mask" is (fill in the blank).
 

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