Language On Language

‘Philosophy’ observed Ludwig Wittgenstein, ‘is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by language.’

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?]

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.