On language: on controlling and being controlled


I've , I've.......I've said too much. I ....I ..........don't think its right m'lord. We'll put the world to sleep. :: faints ::
Judging from how popular this is withthe locals, I think i did that along time ago..

Please m'lady, continue...
It is incomprehensible to me when people constantly complain about the limitations of language and how it somehow constricts thought. Humans think through language. We cannot supersede the language of our thought. The very fact that you are using language to challenge the limitations of language in itself should provide an idea of the power of language. Abstraction is possible only through language, and it is by abstraction that we challenge language. So saying that language limits you is a false in that it is paradoxical.

As for labeling, I think you are you are not considering a subtle, yet more important factor: culture. A label/word like professor is a linguistic necessity. Instead of

"2 a : a faculty member of the highest academic rank at an institution of higher education b : a teacher at a university, college, or sometimes secondary school c : one that teaches or professes special knowledge of an art, sport, or occupation ",

we have the more compact label, 'professor' which at the most fundamental level, means a teacher, a more specialized teacher. What we attach to that: infallibility of the teacher, respect for the teacher, fallibility of the teacher, etc are social constructs independent of the label. It should be evident that how teachers/professors were viewed half a decade ago is drastically different than now. The change is cultural and not linguistic. Human change is reflected in language through associations, the basic fabric of that language is thus untouched.

As another example, consider the word gay. Half a century ago, it had a different definition. The current culture and how it defines and associates certain behaviours with homosexuals means then that the word/label acquires more meanings, each specific to the culture. As society changes, so does the word/label. The basic fabric of language is still untouched and yet gave a way society to communicate. I am tired…

And just a comment on history: Individuals, select individuals (historians, artists, novelists, and nobles) choose and dictate to the masses, which characters in history to admire and respect. It is not like the regular Joe could go to a library and readily access the works of the sophists so he can pick the 'best'. The choice is already made for him. The choice is made very early. There is no paradox.
It is true that we are using language to challenge language, but we do so only because it is our only way!! You can not tell me that your only thoughts are words. And even if you personally, only thought in words, you would do it at a much higher speed mentally then you would verbally. Let me ask you this, what came first, the feeling of anger? or the word anger?

It is the primary feelings that are producing the words that I type now. So it is not only our language that is challenging language but it is the genuine feeling which would occur anyway from our hearts that is challenging language. Language has no power unless our feelings guide it. I know that I have felt things that I would have felt regardless of words. For instance every time I see a Honda Civic painted in that weird grey purple blueish silvery color. I don't think, "hey there goes that grey purple blueish silvery painted Honda," I simply give it no name. My brain understands that not everything is a label, that somethings are just...somethings. That weird color is just... that weird color, and you know what? I like not having a name for it. If a scientist came along and named it, I would probably be dissapointed. It's nice to be able to look at something and know what it is with out calling it anything; simple and easy.
The only way for you to know how I feel, is for me to say it.
The only way for me to know how I feel, is for me to feel it.
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Man on the hill:
"The only way for you to know how I feel, is for me to say it.
The only way for me to know how I feel, is for me to feel it."

I'll second that. You have no idea how many philosophers have put out books and books and books and books of tossed salad to do what you just did with two sentences. There most certainly is a universal pulse that no label, no word, no banner or logo can espouse.

The fountainhead:

Yes, yes. Now continue woman!

I'll continue but I won't if you're not on with me, I'll feel cheap or something.

Anytime you're ready. But so far we've got this: The left side in the sapien is the anylitical side. The right is emotional. Almost all vertebrates have a brain that functions in halves also, but we seem to be the only ones with asymetrical brains. There's a 'handedness' to our brains that's missing in other mammals.

Its the left side that's by far the more complicated of the two, its the magic behind our knack for systems, networks, organizations, and thirst for patterns and so, language. Could the simple reason for why we shot up the ladder to dominate the animal kingdom be as simple as asymetry?
We don't know. I don't know.
But now do you see why its so fascinating to see that in any population 90% are right handed? That's a global constant.

The more intriguing stuff I'll be more than happy to share when you're on again. That's where I come in.
FYI- most everything we do has a right "handedness" to it also.
When someone throws you a soccer ball, what foot do you hit it with?

WIth a microscope, what eye do you put to the lens?

Most people when asked to picture or imagine something, they tend to look to the right. Sure you can say most of this shit is subjective but DAMN is it interesting.

True. Language isn't limited and it really isn't language that is limiting us. I slide my oppinion over a bit a little further in to the thread. Its not the language, its us using the language. We limit ourselves and others through language. When you look at your waiter or your gass station clerk, do you think at all that that person might have a college degree? Most people I know judge others on two things primarily. The first is appearance. Of course they automatically lable some one based on their appearance, so we are back to society controlling and limiting through lables. The second thing they judge by is situation (where applicable). If the person is a waiter of a gass clerk, they don't generally think of the person as being very smart. True, all these things can change the instant you talk to someone, but those are the first impressions. Another good example would be job interviews. If you go in dressed nicely, chances are that you might get called back and they will probably look more closely at your resume. If you look like a bum off the street, they might just pitch it (I've seen it done).
I will agree that these lables are more 'refined' on a personal level, but over all, too many people take sertain qualities as a given based on who some one is or what they do. Most people view potheads as stupid people. Personally, some of the most intelligent and interesting people I've ever met smoked weed like it was going out of style.

Also, I made a point about limiting ourselves through lables. I remember doing things when I was younger that I enjoyed immensely. I wouldn't normally do those things anymore, because I now think of myself as an 'adult', and those things as 'childish'. Then there are things such as telling a girl you like her or trying out for a play/sports team. Many times people will tell themselves "I could never do that". Why? Because it doesn't fit in their definition of themselves. Of course anyone could do those things, and many times succeed.

As for others making up the masses' minds for them, I agree 100%.

man on the hill

Nicely put. Language is, i would say, primarily used to communicate abstract ideas, at least on a inter-personal level.
Most of our conversations revolve around our feelings, thoughts and ideas. These are abstract concepts that existed long before language ever did. (Man I'm glad I got you to look at this thread. You are such good back up.)

My dearest gendanken

Go on, go on. I'm with you.
This makes alot of sense so far. I'm interested to see where you are taking me.

LMAO. Now who the fuck are you again? <After reading gendanken's history> Oh yea, another of the Xev-following pseudo- intelligent fuckers. I will simply say this and with contempt: unless I first replied to you, don't fucking respond to my posts.
thefountainhed and gendanken

Alright people. This thread is going good. Let's not drag this down into the mud, alright?

Gendanken, tell me about your brain duality and if you don't like something \, either defend with something a little more substancial or just ignore it. Please? I know you love the knock down drag outs, but this is actually getting somewhere.

Thefountainhed, I'm going to ask the same of you. Lets all be a bit more adult about this.

Must we honestly resort to name calling and mud slinging? If I don't like what some one says, I make them defend it. If someone challenges me, I defend it. If they aren't worth my time, I ignore it.

Its that fucking simple

I've talked to you both, and you both know where I stand on each of you. that being said, I'm ending this with one last plea,

Please, let it go.
Language isn't limited and it really isn't language that is limiting us. I slide my oppinion over a bit a little further in to the thread. Its not the language, its us using the language. We limit ourselves and others through language.

so this isnt really a discussion about language at all but humanity and our bias'.

Blaming language is like seeing a particularly bad sculpture and blaming the clay. Language is just a medium, its only as successful or accurate as the person using it.

Very true. However, language can also be thought of a sort of middle ground. Language, or rather the universal qualities of it, were developed at different times with different bases, and yet they all share similar characteristice. It is something inherent in our mindset as a species. Being as language is the most "concrete" example we have of these subconscious trends, we can through examining language, pehaps shed some light on why these biases exist and where they came from.

Blame is a human concept. I can no more "blame" language for limiting us than I can blame the clouds for raining. It simply makes no sense. Reguardless of how I may have first phrased it, I believed my thoughts were clear. I later clarified those thoughts. If you have merely commented on the last post because the rest seemed to be too much to read; or if you have decided to point out that the original name of the thread may, in some ways, be no longer appropriate, I would thank you for your concern.

However, I am aware of these facts as are those of us actively participating in the thread. If you have read the entire thread, and you have something constructive to add, please do so.

Simply rehashing of what thefountainhed posted at the top of the same page serves none of us to any end.

I am not attempting to belittle or attack you. I merely wish to see this thread continue on in a productive direction without getting bogged down in semantics.
Pardon. My time was eaten up elswhere. On to happier things...

Now, this idea of the left being the mischief maker behind it all was proposed by a guy named Corbalis in a book he wrote called "The Lopsided Ape" which is cute becuause it implies that we're little more than asymetrical apes or in a sense lopsided. Incredibly interesting and he had loads of intriguing stuff in there but I took it further.

Here's where I come in.

Consider now what language is. And then consider what we are
But first language. What is it? - an incredibly long trail of historical accident, probability, hodgepodge and chance. There are three main properties in language that in a sense has messed us up and if you give me a sec I'll tell you how:

Displacement- it allows you to talk about things that are not there, or never been there, or going to be there. Either way it allows for things that both are and aren't. Ever seen a fairy?

Vicariousness- it allows you to be somehwere, do something or live via something outside of yourself. Ever been in someone else's shoes?

Recursion- which allows for introspection, insight, brooding, reason and ego.

There's no other animal on this planet, from the invertebrate to the vertebrate, that can displace themselves like we do. That is not to say, however, that the differences between us and them is reason. So many philosphers have written tons of shit mistakenly thinking so.

Dogs know when they're about to get fed. My dogs can read body language, they know when they're about to go for a walk. So many animals from dolphins, to lorikeets, to the circus bear "know" that (a) leads to (b). I think the pivotal distinction between humans and animals is not that we know but that we know that we know. There's a hierarchy to our "knowing" anything.

And its because of language.


This begs the first question. How did this mess us up exactly? And what are we? I always try my best to never get pedantic so I'll plow further when you'll have it. What comes next has to do with this:

we can through examining language, pehaps shed some light on why these biases exist and where they came from.

Says fountain:
LMAO. Now who the fuck are you again? Oh yea, another of the Xev-following pseudo- intelligent fuckers. I will simply say this and with contempt: unless I first replied to you, don't fucking respond to my posts

Look you, what your post did was take a chunk of what Mephura had already said, jiggled it up a bit and poured it back out. The consequence of cultural change was already addressed, fountainman, and then you ground his inquiries down to a petty "complaint". You fail to realize Mephura is true blue honest to god intrigued with language.
Don't fucking respond to your posts, say you? Well, dont fucking tell the gendy what to do sounds much wiser. ;)

Blaming language is like seeing a particularly bad sculpture and blaming the clay

I've been threatened with bodily harm if I don't keep this alive, so....

Let's recap (mind you this will not be in chronological order)
Here is my theory thus far for those new to this thread:

In days long ago, when man was less developed as a species, we lacked the ability to reason and imagine as we do now. Our minds where governed primarily by instincts. Language, except on its most basic level, had not developed.

Instincts, acting as a set of intructions, told us how to deal with fear/the unknown. Because of this, fear held little sway over us and actually fell out of our mind until it was present: i.e. a lack of conscious worry.

With the development of language came labling and thinking. I am not saying that language caused us to think or that thinking caused us to create language. I believe that the two developed hand in hand. Bigger thoughts required bigger words so to speak.

Labling and thinking allowed us to control our environment, but it also lead to instincts being banished to the deepest darkest parts of our minds. Fear jumped to the for front because as thinking man, we realized that the unknown was all around us, and we had to know how to react to it if we wanted to survive.

Labling things was done in order to communicate concepts quickly.
Wich is more dangerous, the rabid wolf or the friendly puppy.
You get the point. We lable in an attempt to destroy/remove the unknown, and thus 'crontrol' or environs more.

Labling ourselves has led us to a problem. We began to lable for control. Now, we have reached the point where our lables have begun to control us. Many impressions are formed on what you look like, do for a living, and say. We take the preliminary information we have at hand and we put labels on each other based on the results. We also limit ourselves by defining our place in the world and what our life consists of. Anything not in that deffinition is either impossible for us or shakes the foundations of what we believe should it occur. If I say middle aged house wife mother of 4, you don't think race car driver, but she could well be one. if you are a middle aged house wife mother of 4, you probably don't see yourself doing many things that you could do. Point being that many of us have dreams and desires that we say can't be true because of who we are.

Also, as a side not, I see a definite trend now occuring to lead the masses back to the point where large language is not needed, because large thoughts are a dying trend. The herd mentality is on the rise.

Thus ends the quick recap. Mind you all the points therein are made more in depth in earlier posts. please read them before commenting.

Now, m'lady gendanken brings to the table ideas on why we started thinking and talking in the first place. Her ideas, based off of Corbalis's, are that our brains started to develop in a way in which one side became more developed or did more work that the other. (hence the rigth handed majority). She brings up the it isn't simple reasoning that seperates man and beast, and I will second that notion.

So far she has given us many valid points. I am waiting for more on her brain duality discussion. I need more. I feel I am on the verge of somethign big.
I need more. I feel I am on the verge of somethign big.
Not big but interesting. Something to monkey with.....

Now seeing how language is fertile grounds for displacement, the focus or place of control is also displaced. True, language is a medium by which to tame the unknowable but the focus of it being elswhere is key.

One) Recursion allows for introspection, true. Its the backing behind insight. But the bad in this is that it allows for the brain to run at the mouth. Its what constitutes hairsplitting and what fuels that knack we have to make shadows more gruesome than what they really are. Its coined the term "sin"

Two)Vicariousness- allows for the treading in someone else's shoes. Its the backing behind sympathy and empathy. But the bad in this is that it allows for one being to haunt another being. It allows for infatuations the vileness in cold murder. Its coined the term "pathos"

All of these feed back into the displacement[/i] property in language.

And you know what the number one thing that's common in highly superstitious people? Its been researched thoroughly and its this:
There locus of of control is displaced outside of them.
That's what's fascinating. Their medium, or locus, or location of control is not 'with' them but outside them. Their authority, their very sanity lies outside either in charms, people, places, or luck.

and so enter the biggest Mishief since the dawn of mankind....

Still with me?
Still with you?

Of course I'm still with you. What you've ginven me so far has been added to the pot and is now simmering. In a day or so, I should have figured out how one little tidbit you brought up relates to somethign else I've got going.

That's what's fascinating. Their medium, or locus, or location of control is not 'with' them but outside them. Their authority, their very sanity lies outside either in charms, people, places, or luck.

The simple fact that that exists in older cultures is of monumental importance to the current run. Thank you gendanken.. (Almost slipped up and said something else.)

Let me see that I have you so far. Our language has three distinct properties not found in less developed languages. Those being Recursion, Vicariousness, and Displacement.

These three properties lead to concepts such as sin and empathy that are not found in nature. A displacement of power though..that is what interests me..

Damnit woman continue..
Let me see that I have you so far. Our language has three distinct properties not found in less developed languages

No. That's the neat part. These very properties are found in ALL languages from the native San, to the Fore to the Chiapan natives to the aboriginals- all these people talk about things that are not there. All of them go "in" and "out" and "in there"
and in "here" and its all becuase of language.

This means that its universal. All these people treading the globe seperately, living seperately, growing seperately for hundreds of thousands of years "invented" exactly the same thing exactly the same way.

Remember how I just said that in the superstitious its been found that the common factor in all of them is their displacing their locus of control? Outside of them?

Here's the mischief:

In all the eons of language being structured, the practice got out of hand. It very quickly transgressed from invention to necessity to addiction and became a runaway culural developement. It got to the point where later on its speakers simply refused or neglected to explain its (language's) origins or refused in defining it.

So, as the ages rolled on language became romantasized by its very intouchabilty. And this untouchability in language dressed up a common invention with riddle. It has mistifyed what has been our own doing.
Neglecting this invention of ours to the unconscious has made it implicit. And we've become so good at it, its become so ingrained in the human genome that we've mastered a giant but don't know exactly how. The funny thing is is we think we are either still in conroll or have it under control when its neither.

Enter religion....

The trick lies in this: language itself is intangible, untamable and implicit. The human is good at "feeling" grammar. But language itself is of a materialist nature so we ascribe its ghostly untouchabilty to a scientific muse. A puzzle.

Religion/gods/spirits also itself are intangible, untamable and implied. The human is good at "feeling" religion. But since gods and goblins involve all those spiritual ooohs and aaahhs that the displacement in language has made possible, we ascribe its ghostly untouchabily to the heavens and hells. Soul. Eternity.

That's why, it seems to me, native peoples still living like savages away from society have their own gods and religions and spiritual what have you's. They all talk.

There's more. Still with me?
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