Monday, May 18, 2009

SPEECH AND MODERN PHILOSOPHY

1

Although language occupies a position of special importance in philosophy, the 'linguistic turn' of the discipline, i presume, need not by itself predispose those who make it in favor of the earlier schools. indeed, a primary interest in the kinds of logical issues that occupy language-centric philosophers tends to have just the opposite effect. i'm just trying to draw some general conclusions: and as it happens with such broader plans, here, i talk about things as i have learnt them - as in, the way i was taught them. exceptions and debates will therefore find plenty of room.


Originally, philosophers interested in the workings of one's mind tended to think that it should be possible largely to bypass the utterances in which the mental functions are expressed and to concentrate attention on what directly takes place in the mind when we percieve or remember or whatever. however, this assumption was soon challenged in the history of the discourse, philosophers and psychologists expressed grave dissatisfaction with the outcomes thereof. questions were raised and doubts expressed about the reliability of the kind of introspection such inquiries appeared to rely on. It seemed like it is time to account the 'spoken truths'. the apparent accessibility factor of language and language use effectively contrasted the elusive and private nature of most mental functions. what someone says, unlike what someone thinks, is not hidden from public view; it is expressed in words that anyone can hear or, if they are written, see. as such a public fact, moreover, language lends itself to joint, cooperative inquiry as introspection hardly does.

Thus, language soon occupied a privileged place among the topics that come under the general rubric of 'the mental'. and in the consequent developments of psychology in general, the language one used for talking about mental functions altogether displaced those functions themselves. for example, it is quite in this spirit that a philosopher would propose that dreams be simply dismissed as mental episodes and that the stories people tell when they wake up be substituted for them. as speech or writing, these stories apparently were not thought to be problematic in a philosophical way, as dreams are. and this is where i think one should be able to see through the incontrovertible space that language has come to command in the discourse (regarding the mental).

Speech as a form of behaviour is a form of objective inquiry, it is also a vehicle of truth: it has a semantic character that other forms of human behaviour do not have. it is possible to apply the concept of truth and falsity to what is said, as can hardly be done in the case of other bodily processes. nevertheless, truth-value on the basis of mere objectivity is equally illusory. the Naturalistic assumption of bypassing the speech to locate mental functionings relied on an illusion - but substituting the truth of utterance does not change the basic nebulous nature of the inquiry much; we still are already-believing in a non-objective privilege.

As such, speech does perform an essential function of mind - without generating any of the puzzles usually associated with mental functions, at that. nonetheless, an approach to the philosophy of mind through language and speech merits far less than what it has been made out to be.

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this was written months back. i shelved it then. the write-up felt incomplete and abrupt. when i checked now, i thought i might as well post: the way i would have completed it, has totally slipped me. and i dont feel like adding on any new fancy endings either. i'd rather go for a newer trail in the same direction, a second part, sometime.

6 comments:

Zeinab said...
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Zeinab said...
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Zeinab said...
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Zeinab said...

In the past I have wholeheartedly welcomed your efforts (well, most of them). This certainly is not one of those posts I'd like to return to. The reasons are fairly simple and do not showcase your better talents.

First up, there is a curious mix up which is hard to gloss over: philosophy has nothing to do with speech. If we extend your argument, then philosophy should also have nice things to say about hearing, eating, smelling, and birdwatching. I hope you get the point. Philosophy is *not* about modes of expression. Which is why people in Greece and those in India have asked pretty much the same questions.

Then you have tried (you do that often, not just in this post, so it must be your style) in kicking up a row, from which mêlée you hope to scavenge some familiar bits and pieces. But you hardly even get there, and you have no idea of what you're talking about.

Why this hopeless jumble of half-baked ideas and presumptuous words? Your claim in raising a nonexistent issue fall flat on the face. You are an idealist and a littérateur, so you're perhaps ill-equipped to deal with these well-defined philosophical ideas. You remind me of a raw Heidegger, who until the end of his life battled unsuccessfully with jargon he himself created and mistakenly believed to be 'absolute.' Though you are far from that, have a care. At least make sure you make sense when you write.

I remain your well-wisher.

身體 said...
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請吃飯 said...
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