On language: on controlling and being controlled

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Mephura, Jul 16, 2003.

  1. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    Well, I will fall back into the answer I have already built for myself, especially now that you have only served to strengthen the house. When language can up and instincts took a back seat, and as man started to fear the unknown, there can a need to reason the unknown and label it. Since most of the things attributed to gods were, at that time, truely unknowns ( like WTF is lightning??), a knowable and testable anser just couldn't do. Its one part wess's looking for the why's and how's driven by the need to label and control (atleast psychologically). Because of the nature of language and what it alows us to do (things that you bring us) man could create god and say he/she/it is the cause of the unknowable. Now, if you come to the idea that god isn't a mass creation but rather a creation of a select fre, you can easily find religion as it still exists today. A thing that is used to controll the masses and support social contract. It also allows us to say that, since god was created by the few, those few were able to give that god qualities that man found favorable. I see the whole thing as a social control devised by the few "thinkers" that left the herd (see earlier in thread) in order to not only give them a place in society (preists and mystics) but also give them some measure of control so that their place remained a constant one.

    To apease wess, I will point out that this course of actions on the part of the thinkers protects them from being bred out of existance yet keeps them a minority due to the bell curve distribution of intellect.

    WOW! This shit actually sound viable.
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  3. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    That's difficult to fathom.

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    You assertion plays right into mine in that the mystery you speak of is equivalent to the application of human emotions to the compulsion to provide context.
    Now see I know what you mean but I'd take you one step further. I'd say it's evolutions stumbling upon the usage of the dimension (yes, physical dimension) that allows or is consciousness which makes the hairy hominid so successful and is insomuch as the structure that both is and which allows the legend. Bacteria are mega successul, but only a legend amongst those who can concieve of such a thing.
    But I didn't say that.. hehe, I'd say it's a moot question really. It does, but not in the typical sense. Hehe, I have a theory on that really, quite simple in the context of the dimension thing I mentioned. Also make one wonder if there is a soul that continues on - at least in an abstract manner of the following sense: When I die, does love goe with me?

    Taking up a level we might contemplate: I exist only as an abstract of myself to me - so if the means for what constructed that abstract ceases to exist.. does that abstract also cease to exist, or is it merely confined to the abstract dimension?

    that made my head hurt.
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  5. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    That's good shit. I'll have to let that gell a bit but yeah, very very interesting observation. I'm not sure it's really "language" so much as the capacity thereof though. Regardless, I'll think about that some.
    I've always thought it because of fear or conditioning, but yeah.. language provides the substrate for spirituality, yes. It's like spirituality is the label for the space between (surrounding) the conceptual legos.

    Well hey, there you go. Aren't we all fucking brilliant. Somebody send us money damnit.

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  7. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Hmm. It seems you're centered on the aftermath. What intrigues me is the beginning, where it started and why.

    Point to ponder: don't you think that what sparked it was the mechanically impossible?

    I'm digging this:

    Of course the abstract ceases to exist. The mischief however is in that language has properties in it that don't allow that abstract to cease existing for others.

    Years after you die, you still exist in language. And that's the stuff of shadows. That's what I'm trying to get at.

    Compulsion? Yes. Maybe. But how about the inevitable end that falling into the 3 potholes in language would entail, so to speak?
    The fact that language can displace things (displacement)
    The fact that language allows a man to go "in" (recursion)
    The fact that language allows for a man to walk someone else's shoes (vicariousness)

    Regardless of compulsion, I'm seeing that a man toying with a powerful dwarf made a giant he could no longer tame by forgetting why it was that he started playing with him.
    The focus of control is no longer 'in'. Its 'out' as it is in the superstitious, no?
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2003
  8. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Brain has gone into nuetral for the night. More participation to come. Logging off on my mark.


    Er.. NOW.
  9. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member


    Shoo. Go away.
  10. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    That was covered a few lines above the bit you quoted m'lady.
    See, I find it hard to assume that at the time the beast of babble was being spawned, that all men were on the same page. As language, society and intelligence are very complicated systems to deal with, its only natural that there would be some major differences as to which page everyone was on. That being the case and again falling back on the natural distribution curve, but double so now (once for intelligence and once for the development of language and thought) we could guess that the people who were noticing these unknowns and pointing them out were probably reguarded with fear and distrust from their herd. There you have a conscious motive for spreading the word and coming up with the answer. On the opposite side we have that those thinkers at that time were probably few and far between This means that they were isolated and suddenly being confronted with ideas beyond there comprehension. A very scary proposition. One so overwhelming, one could assume, that unless the mind conjured up an answer (possibly in the form of a "voice") that the thinker would totally loose it. I find the idea of a mass genesis for religion hard to swallow. The concept of the fwe creating it vs the many seems more viable to me. However, the ability to accept this religion is hardwired for the vary reasons you point out, especially by the masses. The problem I am finding with it is that you are saying religion came after language. That it spawned after "language was neglected to the point of renegadism". I see it as more of a natural step in the whole language/thought evolution process. My caim was that language grewas thought did and that we labled to control fear and name the unknown. What would happen when faced with unknowns that you can't control that way. Most minds want some way of dealing with it. Psychology is filled with them. Repressed memories, amnesia, multiple personalities, etc. However, those will not work for a species en masse. Instead, it falls to those same old boring answers that you hate. Man, or at least the majority, needed it because they were incapable of dealing with those unknowns in any other way.
    If you tell me you still don't see what I am saying, I will shut up about it until i figure out a better way to explain.

    Please clarify that. I am not sure what I am supposed to ponder there.

  11. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    So sure are you? I suppose it depends on what you mean by "exist". I'm not sure sure myself. While your answer does seem like the most intuitive, I'm not wholly convinced that the destruction of the connection to that dimension wholly destroys what exists within that dimension - but you're probably right.

    I believe I misrepresented myself somewhat there. Compulsion is only kind of correct. What I mean is that the function of the mind is as I've specified and that the mind will perform its function because that's what it does. It cannot do anything different. In a sense it's compulsory since consiousness adds an extra sense of "being" to function.

    On your thoughts about language I was just thinking that really, language isn't necessary for a sense of the spiritual. I believe that consciousnes (since it if of dual nature) provides that sense of mysticism inherently. How is it that I am, but before I wasn't? How is it that I am but later will NOT be? How is it that something is beatiful to me but ugly to you? I believe that by the function of provision of context, the sense of "spirituality" arises (creating perceived need). Language however, allows us to be quite specific about this beast and discuss it as we are now.. honing it.. coaxing it out from the void of the unknown.

    I think that's an estute observation of the capacity of language from a subjective perspective. I might ask though, do you think it fully inclusive? It seems that there are more functions of it like "conceptual placeholders" and such. *shrug* What do you think?

    I don't understand your question, can you clarify for me?
  12. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Allright my dears, I've finally found enough time to tend to these pretties. We left off with two questions:

    Mephurio clenched it by proposing that "what we are really digging for here is not the how and why of religion, but the how and why of the how and why, you know? ". He dropped a note right aftwerwards concerning the spookyness of the parallel thinking between he and I. Odd? Maybe. Chilling? V-e-r-y.

    But first things first of course before I answer those questions- I'm getting an odd whiff of maybe dragging fellow scifers into my pet theories when they'd rather be off musing syllogisms on other threads. Or the more horrible situation of *gasp* having something better to do. Or exponentionally more horrible the idea that the gendy might be *double gasp* boring you with language theory. I mean, c'mon.......wouldn't you rather be flaming or cyberfondling instead?

    Of course my mindfellows have every right to "do their own thing"- that is unless I put them in a chokehold, nail them down and stuff them with my theories. The thought of intellectual rape has me salivating, but of course there's no way to chokehold anything around here with measly text.

    If only. Oh well.

    SO!- I'll be more than happy to take this pearly thread back up again if I find that you're all just as much fascinated by the nuance in language, its biological strings and all the other theories that Wes is most annoyingly contending he's already thought up before. Its beautifully annoying in that it serves my purpose rallying around the universality in method, thought, and language. It strikes of pyramid syndrome.

    What say you?
  13. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    As you wish...
    I'm down if you are...

    I say keep going. Lets see what you've got. Just because wess beat you to the begining, doesn't mean he came to the same end.
  14. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Well, that's fine and as I've noted I think it easy to see. Relgion is the direct result of an perceived need apparently inherent to the condition of sentience or at least being human. It's the only means through which fundamental yearnings could be satiated. When the conceptual continuity is interupted by gaps that might offer comprehension to the host, why not fill those gaps with bullshit? Yup. In terms of the development of the speices, it's not too hard to see that ultimately religion is a social opportunity cost for gift of the species becoming sentient. Well I mean if you're equipped, willing and able (or prone) to fathom such things. If not they don't much matter.
    I don't really follow where you're vibing on that. At the moment, this is my favorite threads because it's actually somewhat stimulating rather than a trash chute.

    pardon, you've tapped upon one of my areas of self-claimed expertise. i have myself mostly convinced that i simply 'understand' this stuff. actually i'm itching to be challenged on it as i haven't found any holes in the perspective (regarding this general topic) in a long long time. you seem to have an interesting view on it, but as is necessary from any perspective I'm inclined to dissect it and assimilate it into my own - though i'm rather particular about which parts get used and such.
    I say you must have been in a hurry since you didn't bother with the meat of the issue. I posted some shit. Dissect it fucker. Deconstruct it. Tell me your thoughts. I probably still owe your posts a little more from your previous post. As I find time I'll attempt to go back and dig through one or two from where I left off. What I say is I want intellectual interaction about the nature of mind and the universe (but I'm a horrible mathematician, I have to understand it through language) - bring it.
  15. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    agreed. i don't meet a lot of people who can offer substantial input on this topic, you both seem qualified (you know ghassan is good about this stuff if you can dance his dance, do either of you remember Love and Hate? i thought it a pretty good thread. it touched on some of this and really ended up with great shit about the function of emotions i thought. did you post there meph? seems like you did.

    EDIT: ah, I was thinking of xenu.
  16. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Allright. Let’s plow….

    Primero- In answer to the questions:
    When you go out into the field and see a mountain, or a rock, or a grassy knoll, it all jives with the environment on account of it being a byproduct of its medium. It blends with the trees and the shrub in a grand natural possibility.


    But an anthill meters high shooting out of the middle of a barren dessert does not blend. To a rational being it no longer seems naturally possible as much as it wouldn’t if it had been a naked manikin standing out there instead. It’s mechanically impossible that its background produced it, yes? To a sand lion this means nothing. But to a rational being so bent on causality this seems mechanically impossible. He wonders who built. He wants to know.

    Remember that I said that our little invention’s gift to us was leisure?

    My mind is now thousand and thousands of years into the past. I’m seeing a hairy little brown man with his tribe, settling down into a precursor of what years later will be hyperbolized tribalism. He’s not only talking things but he’s making things and now that he’s crawled out shrieking from the icy claws of the Ice Age the raw bits of his language are now giving way to thought in the only place that it could give way: leisure.

    So he notices that because he’s a dynamically productive being, the spear he just made he knows is not natural, a mechanical devise, an impossibility in nature without him. He knows that he made it and every time that he comes across a deserted campsite, shards of pottery, or a motif in stone he knew someone was there because of his need to explain the mechanical impossibility.

    He was nursing a habit of needing to explain where things came from.

    So one day, he sits back in that calming gift ~leisure~ and looks to the sky, and the birds and the bees and the trees and he gradually wonders ‘By jove..... where did those come from?’ because it all suddenly seemed mechanically impossible. In his beginning to be struck by the ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’- those were the scientist’s baby steps. That’s when causality took its first breath.

    Couple this with fear, the curious habit of explaining the knowables with unknowables, and man's instinct no longer being the animalistic force it used to be, and the outcome thousands years later where we find people in forums tearing their out over metaphysics was inevitable.

    M'lord is finding a "mass genenis" for religion hard to swallow, sure. I do too. I’m not thinking that the gates opened up and the floodwaters drowned us all with religion at once. And I’m not saying that it was after language became renegade that the gods reared their heads either. I’m saying that the raw ingredients for Zeus and Marduk were like viral plasmids embedded in those three properties UNIVERSAL to language that made man go inside himself and think that something was there.

    If we are to believe that we were animals once, we have to believe that we were not spiritual once. Given that, religious mysticism must have had its beginning when man was ‘tamed’ enough himself to go "in" and make a mistake. He coined up a soul. Maybe it wasn't a mistake. We can't say.

    But I refuse to call 'spirituality' bullshit.


    To which Wessy replies: "I don't understand your question, can you clarify for me?"

    Certainly. But its going to need another post. This is a warning of sorts since the answer is going to be something Mephura’s already read. Wouldn’t want his eyeballs to bleed unless I puched them out myself.

    But first Wes, this is what your explanations for why man is a spritiual animal sound like to me:
    Taking a generic steoretype and putting words or parts of words of the same generic stereotype into your structure and then discovering that the specimen's structure is just like the generic stereotype.

    No offence.

    On to the second post..........
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2003
  17. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    I’m thinking of this quote by Steinbeck that goes something like when a man is boxed in a corner with no way out, he begins to decorate his box.
    And I believe that he goes on decorating, and trimming, and dressing to the point when he stops one day and forgets why he’s even decorating in the first place.


    You’re telling me ‘legend’ only has value among the conceivable. That’s a why. I’m intrigued by how’s. I didn’t really understand what you meant about evolution stumbling on a new dimension unless you said it in terms of man’s collective pshyce blooming being the new dimension that was fertile ground for evolution to grow legends.

    But in how it is that these siblings became legends, here’s what I meant:

    On the assumption that language was simple once and then ran away unharnessed, imagine booting up a program with a nested loop in it. It puts out a bunch of junk on the screen and you let it go on unsupervised until you come back some thousand years later. You didn’t have the leisure to tend to it at its beginnings. And so it went on neglected.

    "Leisure" is the only reason you came back, and having done so you find a gigabyte file filled with letters.
    Enter probability and chaos theory that says a pattern is inevitable in any multi-factored field in flux.
    You can’t explain the pattern but to you, having genetically developed by now to appreciate beauty, the pattern seems ghostly and poetic. And so, a simple hairy hominid’s invention of grunts and snorting interchanged sequentially thousands of years ago now suddenly ascends the throne and becomes the stuff of legends.
    Why? Neglect.”
    This invention of ours has generated many wonderful things but it has also allowed for the haunting of the mind by abstractions.
    And aren’t abstractions the universal basis for religions?
    Those three vexing properties in language: vicariousness, displacement and incursion have made all of this possible.
    Before, fear was only an immediate whiff of horror alive only for that second, that moment. The way it is for the animal out on the Sahara.
    Language has solidified fear’s fluidity and made a god out of it. How?
    I'm saying these 2 things (language and religion) were born on the same day but were seperated by circumstance.
    One became a common specimen for the laboratory, swimming in formaldahyde and put to the scalpel. Its materialistic nature became the stuff of science; you see words on paper, make them with ink, you hear it on tounges, you speak language, you think and play with it so there's nothing magical about it. Everyone's Ok with it being used and abused because its just language.
    It serves us.

    The other one became a spiritual byproduct of these vexing three properties. The very fact that you cannot see it, hear it, speak or play with it has further mistyfied the hell out of it and so we placed it on Olympus. It became the stuff of Zeus and the soothsayer. The focus of control having long ago been misplaced by our little invention made this all the more easily possible. And so with time we allowed its untouchability, the same untouchability found in language, to elude us and now it no longer serves us.
    We serve it.
    Why? How? Because the focus of control had been shifted long ago, the same exact trait found in the superstitious.

    Maybe now you see where I’m at Wes?
  18. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Hmm... my counter is based in what seem to me to be the apparent fact that without the capacity for language, there would be no inside for which man to delve. In other words, it's the capacity for context that lies at the root of this ability. In some senses I think it's the amount of time that a consciousness is aware of at any given time. If not for this ability your argument is moot. While I generally agree with what you say, I think your details are slightly off. It is is the propensity for depth thats allows man to think something is there, languages picks up (as a direct resultant of the condition of consciousness and that there is more than one member of the species) and procedes somewhat as you prescribe. We'd have to really sit down and discuss what language (do you have to have language for communication to take place?) is in detail before determining whether or not religion is possible without language.
    (as if we aren't NOW?)
    Actually I'm pretty sure we can say, but of course who the fuck am I? I only say that because to me it is SO obvious. I can see how the whole doodad went down. Here are the highlights:

    - Homo sapiens break through an evolutionary threshold that allows them to recall the past, project the future and comtemplate self in a way that no other species can. (though neandrothol and gorillas and chimps or whatever can do these things to an extent)

    - man walks outside and thinks "uhgh?"

    - man tries to express "uhgh?" more clearly.

    - this leads to the equivalent of "what the hell is all this stuff?" or "who made me?".

    - this is problematic. eventually man learns to communicate "who made me" to the other men.

    - some men think they have ideas about where they came from (they thought about it in the context they had to deal with and came to the most reasonable or rational conclusion at the time)

    - that turned into religion. the most logical first assumptions are different gods for different stuff. one for this, one for that, etc.

    - that eventually turns into monotheism. why not one god for everything?

    er, something like that anyway. all of it is bullshit though as this conversation likely is in the context of a thousand years from now... maybe. we simply don't have the social or cultural or "common knowledge" context that will be available then, as the fuckers who started the religious balls rolling didn't have the context that we have.. blah blah.
    Really? Hmm.. yeah I'm on the fence. It's semantics really. Spirituality bothers me because it's the mainstay of religion and parapsychology. Because of that I often end up thinking of it as bullshit. I don't think it's right to ignore the wonder of the subjective experience, I just get a little finicky about labels.
    Hehe. Okay, pardon me if I've requested that you repeat yourself, feel free to reference me rather than put forth repetetive effort.
    None taken except that you did not cite a specific example... maybe there is just miscommunication. Maybe I'm not sure what you mean by "generic stereotype" and "specimen's structure". Let me restate once more, specifically to the question "why is man a spiritual animal?" and then maybe you can tell me specifically where you think I've gone awry?: The condition of consciousness inherenly begs the question "what is up with this?" (per my assertion that the mind's function is to provides context). The realization "I don't know" or "how could I possibly know" coupled with emotion in a real-time feedback loop sparks a sense of the fantastic, the unknowable.. not the knowledge in a passive sense, the feeling of the knowledge in an active sense creates the sensation of spirituality. Of course language provides a means by which to propagate similar senses of this component of common experience amongst the other humans.. language further allows us to develop it, hone it.. etc. The feel I get is that you're looking at it as an active component of the development of the species and I'm looking at it as satisfying a need that arises from the function that the mind is built to perform. How accurate or relevant do you find that assessment?
  19. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    Now, before we plow further- have you read the second post yet? The one that starts......."I’m thinking of this quote by Steinbeck that goes something like ..."
  20. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    You just gave me something very interesting to chew on. Its funny, because it was built in from the begining, but i glossed over it. Fear. Fear and now there is a question of self awareness and temporality to add to the list..
    As for religion, I believe we are on the same page. You seem to be talking about the phenominon and i am trying to figure out the specifics. (something that with out a time machine handy doesn't seem all that likely to be figured out.)

    As for the fear and temporality issue, I'll spell it out so that i don't forget it. I have a bad habbit (almost fermat like) of eluding to things I think i have figured out in magins and then never providing the proof.
    Here it is. As you have stated fear, was held to a very small (temporally speaking) size when instincts where in charge. As instincts fell, fear grew because we came to be not only more aware of ourselves and the unknown (abstracts etc.) but also the passage of time and who the things we should fear were not just isolated instances, but things that remained whether visable or not. With thinking and a hightened level of self awareness came a extended grasp of time. This must correlate to certain types of memory. Ever seen a dog act guilty when you suddeny find that spot on the floor? The dog must beable to remember what it did and that the consequences of those actions are not pleasant. The dog is at least somewhat self aware and has some memory.. Really right now, I am just babbling so that I can work this out a bit more for my self. I think I will end now.
  21. gendanken Ruler of All the Lands Valued Senior Member

    I have. All four of them. And in this you're waltzing down a venue I was hoping we'd get to soon. The higher in the kingdom that we go, the farther up the hierchy the more awake we find things to be. Elephants, dogs, whale species, birds and of course last but not least- monkeys.
    And this being more awake past the immediate is what's key in our species.
    Remember that we're the only ones with a 'handedness' to anything.

    Do I kiss you now or later?

    "Present fears are less than horrible imaginings", was what Macbeth had to say about it. Read that. I mean really read it.

    Before, fear was only an immediate whiff of horror alive only for that second, that moment. The way it is for the animal out on the Sahara.
    Language has solidified fear’s fluidity and made a god out of it.
  22. wesmorris Nerd Overlord - we(s):1 of N Valued Senior Member

    Indeed. I constantly wonder if that's what I'm doing, yet I keep decorating because the stuff I put there just fits with the rest of the stuff I've already bought. You too I guess?

    What I mean is that consciousness is something new. Before the existence of conscious animals, the universe experience countless millenia of perfectly mechanistic undergoings. At some point the conditions were met such that evolution could take hold. Some some sort of "life-force" must exist to drive evolution. It is whatever makes things alive and in need of staying that way. Evolution is our term for how this life-force is realized. At some point far after life began, evolution tapped into previously un-tapped aspects of possibility and beings came to be that could realize they exist. This condition lead to that list that I put in my previous post regarding the beginnings of religion. That seems like the how and the why to me, but it's possible that I'm not as smart as I think I am.

    ah christ I'm spent for now.

    more later.
  23. Mephura Applesauce, bitch... Valued Senior Member

    If could it be now, so now I would say. Alas, it cannot, so later it be.

    This whole thing is starting to remind me of a pet theory of mine. Its kinda turning into a cult, so I try to keep it under wraps until I get all the details ironed out. Perhaps I will put it up for you guys to look at. Damn it I don't know where to put the temple at though....

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