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Another super post to round off a most interesting and rewarding month. I hope your book gets published in as many languages as possible and that there is a world-wide extensive discussion of it Thank you.


Simon Prentis Wrote:
> I must apologise to everyone for not having
> responded in the last few days, but I’ve been
> away from home and found it hard to keep up with
> all the tangled threads on a mobile handset. But
> back at base now, let me make a few final points:
> On the question of evolution and its relevance to
> homo sapiens, my main argument about language
> remains the same: that it is essentially a trick,
> not a trait. By which I mean it emerged as a
> simple technical advance – digitization – in
> the oral communication that we, like other
> animals, were already using. But the effects of
> that advance were so dramatic in terms of the
> ability to share and spread ideas, that it gave
> evolution a reason to select for intelligence in
> the homo genus over the course of the next several
> million years as we naturally branched into
> different types.
> That’s not the conventional story, which still
> clings to the idea that some ‘super-mutation’
> must have occurred (whether or not involving a
> cosmic quantum shift or mysterious expression of
> an archetype) as part of the otherwise unexplained
> growth in our brains, a mutation that somehow gave
> us the gift of language. There’s no practical or
> even theoretical evidence for that: it’s merely
> an assumption. But my argument is not only
> theoretically solid, it is founded on the facts.
> For if we look at the actual form of language we
> can clearly see that at the level of words (and to
> a less obvious extent, grammar) its core structure
> is digital – a fact spectacularly confirmed by
> the success of speech recognition software and the
> kind of programmes that Susan uses to read with,
> which rely on that to work. My book takes that
> fact as a starting point, and attempts to show how
> everything else that makes us human follows
> naturally from that – the growth of vocabulary,
> the emergence of grammar, a social culture
> (enabled by the ability to talk), the development
> of religion and a sense of identity, and then the
> gradual evolution (for ‘evolution’ it is) of
> science.
> That’s a lot to ask a single mutation of the
> brain to have delivered – and yet another reason
> to suspect that DNA is the wrong place to look for
> an explanation. But there’s something else too.
> Edmond referred at one point to consciousness
> being a ‘given’. My view is that we need to
> make a distinction between consciousness and
> awareness. Awareness is certainly a ‘given’ to
> the extent that all living things (and possibly
> inanimate things too; maybe iron ‘wants’ to
> rust…) are aware of their environment, and
> interact with it. But to the extent that it is
> unmediated by language, that interaction is
> largely instinctive, driven by immediate needs.
> What language does is to allow us to endlessly
> ‘tag’ our awareness with the distinctive and
> unique sounds we call words, and in the process of
> communication become aware that we are aware –
> ie conscious. I go into this in more detail in
> Chapter 4 of my book, as it is perhaps the
> greatest prize that language confers.
> That’s a controversial topic to end on (although
> I’m quite willing to discuss it further!) as
> someone else will shortly be taking my place as
> the AOM. But I’d just like to thank everyone
> who’s contributed to the discussion for reading
> my article, taking the time to comment, and
> perhaps even buying the book! And of course, to
> extend my thanks to Graham for lending me the
> space on his platform. It’s a broad church, but
> we all gain from hearing other views.
> With thanks and best wishes to all,
> Simon

Options: ReplyQuote

Subject Views Written By Posted
Thanks, Simon 224 drrayeye 30-Sep-21 07:14
Re: Thanks, Simon 80 Simon Prentis 30-Sep-21 18:31
Re: Thanks, Simon 62 Eddie Larry 30-Sep-21 21:12
Re: Thanks, Simon 62 Simon Prentis 30-Sep-21 23:41
Re: Thanks, Simon 98 Susan Doris 01-Oct-21 05:25
Re: Thanks, Simon 108 Simon Prentis 01-Oct-21 09:51
Re: Thanks, Simon 59 Aine 04-Oct-21 21:10
Re: Thanks, Simon 98 Simon Prentis 04-Oct-21 23:24

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