An afternoon at New York’s Museum of Modern Art:
‘What’s this?’ I asked the young lady, a curator-assistant, walking alongside me.
‘Oh, that!’ She said, ‘That’s Pollock. It’s painting about Painting.’
Any linguistic discussion on Language must be introduced with the cautionary note that you are diving headlong into the swirl of the Self-Loop. It is Language on Language.
So watch your step. And try not to take long leaps, however much that might impress the girls.
The number of theories floating around about Language are prodigious, even by the grant-induced profligacy of modern academic opinion.
Well, it all started by us imitating birds and animals, says one theory. It really started when men began living in groups, says another. Might be, but Man didn’t learn to speak until he discovered God and ritual, adds a third. That’s not it, it has to do with mother-child bonding, says a fourth. Of course not, it’s all neuro-muscular; it began with the facial muscles and the tongue.
The more widely followed of the newer theories posit some sort of gene, a patch, a point, in mind-brain space. We are not sure where it is, when or how this center came alive, or why on earth it did. But this mysterious center is where it all started. [Only a Professor lost in language would not see the deeply religious origin of such views.]
If you try and not let your sophistication-gene get reflexively activated, you’ll see that the above penetrating review of language is itself entirely in language.
All in language, including this and the lines above. [What’s all this talk about Self-Reference and Self-Loop?]
Words ‘Refer’; but ‘Refer’ is a word.
‘So how did Language originate?’
That’s language. A ‘Cause and Effect’ Aficionado.
‘And when did it begin?’
More language. The Temporal Man.
‘Any idea where?’
Still more language. The Spatial Man,
‘We all know that ‘Why?’ never has an answer, right?’
Deep language, but still language.
‘The questions are in Language. So they are invalid?’
Skeptical language, but still language.
‘So the answers are in Language. That does not make them wrong.’
Righteous language, but still language.
‘I think the Gene-Idea makes perfect sense. It’s all DNA and stuff.’
Faith language, but still language.
‘I don’t think you know the whole story. Something slippery here.’
Suspicious language, but still language.
‘As Wittgenstein claimed, is language itself the vehicle of thought?’
Thinking language, but still language.
‘None of this is very convincing. You might be right. But so what?’
Defiant language, but still language.
‘This is Bullshit!’
Angry language, but still language.
The most expressive language so far.
You can’t get to the ‘Origin’ of Language, an idea deeply embedded in a linguistic-understanding of Self and World, using Language [Language again. Yikes!]. If you do, you will build fine elegant models of the ‘Origin of Language’ and write the expensive 500 page tomes. But it has nothing at all to do with the origin of Language.
So how does one get to the ‘Origin of Language’, itself a linguistic construct? To start, you have to step out of language. And sit yourself down on a Meditation Mat.
Here is a related Post from my files that illustrates this idea and how ignoring this self-inclusion is often the only way to make Language meaningful as we know it.
‘Definition’ derives from the Latin: De Finito-‘to make finite’. In other words, to draw a line. to divide and to make Double. Definitions are co-dependent and have no life except in mutual relationship.
But how do I define ‘Definition’ when every definition of ‘Definition’ is itself a defined word?
All Inquiry begins with Definition. It is the center bolt of Rational Discourse. And the line limiting fraudulent bombast.
Definition can be verbal, as that provided by a Dictionary. It can be spatial, auditory, tactile; it can be explicit, implicit, smooth or crooked; static, dynamic, clear or vague.
You may not explicitly know the definitions, but are implicitly using them in any form of expression, logic or language. But there must be a boundary in order to define something. And there must be a definition, explicit or implied, in order to have a dialogue.
We’ve got ourselves a fenced space where the fence needs to be moved further and further out as we repeatedly try to fence it in. If you can’t define ‘Definition’ all Inference drawn is spurious precision. The Logic will prove whatever you want it to prove.
[In the wonder-world of the Self-Loop, the word with the most number of posted definitions the last time I checked seems to be the word ‘Set’, as in Mathematical Set, which is another word for ‘Definition’.]
So what’s the definition of ‘Love’? What’s that? You’ll tell me when you feel it? Touché!