Language And Consciousness – Philosophy

Flowers in the fountain
Flowers in the fountain – Eve’s photography

 

“Before my teacher came to me,
I did not know that  “I am.”

I lived in a world that was a no-world.
I cannot hope to describe adequately that unconscious,
yet conscious time of nothingness.
Since I had no power of thought,
I did not compare one mental state with another.”
~ Helen Keller

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The unity of language and consciousness.

If we want to know more about communication between people, epochs and cultures, we must investigate the nature of the means of communication—language. Language is the highest form of thought expression, the basic means of controlling behaviour, of knowing reality and knowing oneself and the existence of culture. Without the gift of speech man could never acquire cultural values. Consciousness presupposes speech as its material reality in the form of gesture, sound, symbol, and so on. Speech may convey thoughts, feelings and volition in the process of mutual communication, because words are material and can therefore be sensuously perceived. Speech is language functioning in a specific situation of communication. It is the activity of communication and its recorded results. Russian speech, for example, embraces an infinite number of statements by specific individuals and all that has been written in that language. Language, on the other hand, is a specific vocabulary and grammar, expressed in rules and sentence patterns, which have been evolved historically and are national in character. But specific sentences, both spoken and written, belong not to language but to speech: they form the symbolic reality that constitutes the existence of language.

~ A. Spirkin – Consciousness of the World

 

Ferdinand de Saussure a Swiss linguist now considered the father of twenty century Linguistics said:


“In language there are only differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms. Whether we take the signified or the signifier, language has neither ideas nor sounds that existed before the linguistic system, but only conceptual and phonic differences that have issued from the system. The idea or phonic substance that a sign contains is of less importance than the other signs that surround it. […] A linguistic system is a series of differences of sound combined with a series of differences of ideas; but the pairing of a certain number of acoustical signs with as many cuts made from the mass thought engenders a system of values.

Petals in the fountain - by Eve
Petals in the fountain – by Eve


Semiology is the study of signs and sign processes (semiosis), indications, designation, likeness, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, signification, and communication. Semiotics is closely related to the field of linguistics, which, for its part, studies the structure and meaning of language more specifically Semiotics is often divided into three branches.”

Relation between signs and the things to which they refer; their denotata, or meaning

Relations among signs in formal structures

Relation between signs and the effects they have on the people who use them

….

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In what language  do deaf people think? I think in English, because that’s what I speak. But since deaf people cannot hear, they can’t learn how to speak a language. Nevertheless, they must think in some language. Would they think in English if they use sign language and read English? How would they do that if they’ve never heard the words they are signing or reading pronounced? Or maybe they just see words in their head, instead of hearing themselves?


Can you think without language? Answer: Nope, at least not at the level humans are accustomed to. That’s why deafness can have far more serious consequences than blindness, developmentally speaking. The blind suffer many hardships, not the least of which is the inability to read in the usual manner. But even those sightless from birth acquire language by ear without difficulty in infancy, and having done so lead relatively ordinary lives. A congenitally deaf child isn’t so lucky: unless someone realizes very early that he’s not talking because he can’t hear, his grasp of communication may never progress beyond the rudiments.


About one child in a thousand, however, is born with no ability to hear. Years ago such people were called deaf-mutes. Often they were considered retarded, and in a sense they were: they’d never learned language, a process that primes the pump for much later development. The critical age range seems to be 21 to 36 months. During this period children pick up the basics of language easily, and in so doing establish essential cognitive infrastructure. Later on it’s far more difficult. If the congenitally deaf aren’t diagnosed before they start school, they may face severe learning problems for the rest of their lives, even if in other respects their intelligence is normal.

 

 

Photo of Helen Keller in mid-life


Helen Keller

A few more thoughts!

“Human consciousness, as constructed by human language, becomes the vehicle through which the self-reflective human mind envisions time. Language enables the viewer to reflect upon the actions of the doer (and the actions of one’s internal body), while projecting forward and backward — other possible bodily actions — into imagined space/time. Thus the projected and imagined space/time increasingly becomes the conscious world and reality of the viewer who imagines or remembers actions mapped onto that projected plan. The body thus becomes a physical entity progressing through the imaged world of the viewer. As the body progresses through this imaged world, the viewer also constructs a way to mark progress from one imagined event to another. Having once marked this imagined time into units, the conscious viewer begins to order the anticipated actions of the body into a linear progression of events.” ~Sue Savage-Rumbaugh


Kindly pusblished through  the generousity of Blog: KoneKrusosKronos.wordpress.com

 

 

flowers in the fountain

flowers in the fountain

 

To end on:

 

There is nothing in this world that can arise without the Self. All existence is one – in one’s Self. When the mind moves, like a restless wave, the world arises also. Be still, throw away everything and be free. Free of those burdens that keep you bound to suffering.  Stillness of mind comes from giving up all desires and attachments,  except that attachment to Self. Meditation, the masters say,  is to effortlessly turn the mind inward.  When the mind is quiet, all is Self. There is nothing else.  ~  Eve

2 thoughts on “Language And Consciousness – Philosophy

  1. I get a ‘knowing’ that comes through, it is only when I decipher it into doing something that ‘I’ translate it by ‘who’ I have become….english, french, etc.
    But a very interesting point about how we understand something if we have been deaf from birth…with what do we ‘understand’.
    Which confirms (for me), that ‘knowing’ (or any other way), doesn’t have a language. Otherwise we would be just a shell with no understanding.
    Great post Eve 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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