Language is information storage technology.
The quick summary of the evolution of information storage and transfer goes like this: We take sensory data through our sense organs which form impressions in our mind, communicate these impressions non-verbally, then we developed spoken or verbal communications, and then learned to communicate with drawings or pictures or pictographs, then pictures turn into more formalized transcriptions with symbols and later syntax, and then we began impressing this information onto clay tablets by hand, then written on paper by by hand, then copied with printing presses, then developed ways to store information with electricity using circuit systems, which later progressed into the computer and hard drives, and CD’s and DVD’s and flash drives, so on and so forth.
Language is entirely a sociological phenomenon, meaning it is a result of humans woking together.
To create and preserve common knowledge to form a unified conscious experience for the group.
Language is a means communication: Communicate is to make common= create a uniform understanding
Syntax allows you to create complex logical sequences with words, which represent noises.
I was thinking (and talking with my buddy) that we tend to treat propositional knowledge as separate from procedural knowledge.
Propositional knowledge is inadequate for imbuing semantics into the topic
You cannot simply read a book to become a master mandolin craftsman.
You need a mentor, you need to become an apprentice. This imparts the necessary procedural knowledge
The abstract (propositional) world is great for communicating concepts.
But it is devoid of semantics. There must be a context of activity, i.e. Procedural knowledge
Interestingly enough, propositional knowledge and procedural knowledge are stored in independent areas of the brain
The neuropsychological subject H.M. had brain damage, and had no ability to store propositional knowledge. But he could store new procedural knowledge.
But because he could not store proportional knowledge, he could never remember he could. They taught H.M. to play the piano after his accident. He had no recollection that he ever played the piano ever. When asked to play a song, he said I don’t know how to play. When they sat him down at the piano, he would play magnificent songs, much to his surprise
I say all this for a few reasons.
Semantics are important for meaning
Semantics require experiential exposure to contexts and various activity
I think procedural knowledge implicitly is gained from these exposures that allow us to understand the meaning of abstract text, or propositional knowledge
And language is entirely a sociological enterprise.
Specifically for storing information, specifically for preserving the “institutions”, or human organization, that allows groups to self preserve
A medical doctor cannot be a doctor unless he does clinical, unless undergoes the activity of treating patients, of being in a hospital setting. You cannot read text books and gain all this propositional knowledge proficiently understand anything
You must connect it to meaningful activity, to a procedural knowledge, from which it was derived from
I think mirror neurons play a tremendous role in imbuing language with semantics.
Observing, yes. Reading alone, no
Pictures and Video helps tremendously. Video more so because: mirror neurons.
And video captures the actual activity, because activity creates context
But video is still no substitute, because there’s no engagement, and engagement is the ultimate
If you had a mentor or a community of ping pong players to observe and play with, you would have excelled far more that being self taught from books. I think we’d all agree
I guess I’m saying this and reflecting on fake news
Fake news…. it’s this weird post truth phenomenon that is very murky
That’s possibly true. But I think it could also be said that I may learn and gain more from watching videos of the world’s best than just an above average mentor
I think that’s a valid argument
Would love to see data
Because top pros often put out lots of training materials. But I don’t see them producing a who lot of incredible prodigies
I find the internet by default is isolating and reinforces the ego.
The internet is an echo chamber that reinforces the confirmation bias. Thus validating beliefs we already possess and leading us to believe we are right
We only hear what we understand. We suppress information and sources that we disagree with, even subliminally/ Unconsciously
Trump supports and liberals are thus totally isolated from each other, both firmly believing the reality funnel that they live in
It’s a difficult problem to overcome, because no one wants to overcome it, because there’s no problem. We can safely exist in these reality tunnels
“Post truth” is scary.
Truth is not capital T truth, ever, because perceptions shape our reality, and what we see.
But because we can safely live in digital social communities, and not physical social communities, we’re never forces to reconcile dissonance
Cognitive dissonance is rare in our digital lives
It’s a problem. A big problem.
Because we are so so so sure we have the “T”ruth, because all the information we consume reinforces values and beliefs
“Truth” is endemic to the institutions and sub-institutions they originate from
People keep to themselves, people are isolated, now more than ever before
There are millions of Chinese youth that haven’t left their bedrooms for years, I was reading
It’s important to share other people’s physical reality
This who post truth thing has been occupying my mind a lot
It’s scary because it’s a rabbit hole
I sent an article to a family member
They said it was fake news, and linked me to a fake news checker. I looked at the website, and it seemed like… a fake fake news checker website
I just couldn’t process how far this goes down
I think about the role of legitimization from a sociological world building perspective
And it’s now more relevant than ever before, as knowledge has become democratized, so too has the ability to create knowledge without any process of legitimation
Legitimization is derived from authority. I’ve had a problem with this my whole life, although I understood the role it played.
The idea that there were gate keepers, and that these gatekeepers had a more political incentive than anything else to accept or reject people or knowledge.
But I know see that this political incentive is less about how helpful knowledge or person is or can be, and more about the stability of the institution, and balancing that stability with legitimizing new people or knowledge
So we’re entering a world where society cannot distinguish between what is “true” or “false” because we don’t have any universally accepted or revered institutions that legitimize and fact check in accordance with their values. Instead, it’s fragmented. We have institutions that cater to a variety of realities, of ideologies, often at odds with each other.
The result is that people maintain their own version, and exist in narrow reality tunnels that prevent them from seeing or understanding any other reality, because there is reality is seamless.
This causes factions and societal fragmentation that is scary. A clash of realities.
Whether or not it was created by him, it’s absolutely was legitimized by him, and that’s a more important distinction in my opinion
Because now this abstract idea of fake news, which is simply propaganda, has power to undermine any claim that conflicts with prejudiced beliefs
Russell Conjugation (or “emotive conjugation”)….. demonstrates how our rational minds are shielded from understanding the junior role factual information generally plays relative to empathy in our formation of opinions [2017 : WHAT SCIENTIFIC TERM OR CONCEPT OUGHT TO BE MORE WIDELY KNOWN?, EDGE.com]
That’s a mouthful. Abstract.
The thing is, this economist is speaking about this rational mind as if it exists. It doesn’t.
But that’s an economist for you 🙂
Humans are not rational creatures. Because humans have different values, and values form the basis of our assumptions, and we reason exclusively from these assumptions, which leads to different rationale for each group of assumptions/ values
“Framing” is a powerful cognitive phenomenon, which he is speaking about in a roundabout way
Much work has been done by Tversky and Kahneman in the realm of behavioral economics by examining cognitive biases like framing and prospect theory and it’s impact on decision making, i.e. whether we accept or reject information.
Very nice article. I like the content.
And it’s funny, because in a way, he’s making a distinction between “facts” and “empathy”
Much in the same way I make the distinction between “propositional” and “procedural” knowledge
Propositional knowledge = what, and is fact and logic based.
Procedural knowledge= how, i.e. the phenomenal activity within the context, the motor behavior, i.e. the ethics, and ethics = proper human behavior
Which is fascinating similarity.
There is no “private” language
It does not exist.
We do not need to communicate to our “self”, although after the advent of language, it becomes important to understand this unconscious “self” from a objective point of view, so writing as a means of reflection is quite helpful at revealing the limits of what the ego perceives.
Language is purely social. And it is purely a result of human activity.
Ethics and language seem inextricable
Ethics = moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity.
Moral = correct, right, proper, good…. and the contrast
It’s interesting to think that language and information can never be devoid with some ethical agenda.
When we say language, we often think of the words, the propositional knowledge
If you understand that language is derived as a result of human activity, as a result of humans working together, (think Wittgenstein’ language games) then language always springs from some context with various agendas
Each activity has a language that is unique to it. How words are used are unique to the activity
A small example: A vector in physics (quantity with magnitude and direction) is different from a vector in computer science (dimensional array)
The agenda of the human activity shapes how language is used, or its agenda, in a sense
It’s like, there’s a “right” way to perform a task, and a wrong way. The right way is dictated by norms, usually controlled by gatekeepers or authority figures, legitimized by processes accepted by the institution they represent
It’s weird to think that two groups of people can use the same “words”, yet those words (tho familiar spelling and definition) mean different things depending on how they are framed, and how they are framed is influenced by the values or ideology of that group and it’s agenda
Does that make sense?
All language has an agenda, because it springs from activities that possess an agenda driven by the values of the members of the institution
It seems to me that when I try speaking to or trying to understand my decent family, who raised me, and we speak the same “tongue”, yet we cannot comprehend each other’s point of view…. it doesn’t make sense. It’s utterly incomprehensible
It seems to me that this is because we subscribe to different institutions, and these institutions have a different agenda, a different set of values
And the language that resonates with them, is utterly false and insane to me.
It’s like, language frames things, like a paradigm.
But it’s not the language as much as this ethics inherent in it, the activity behind it
Activity = ethics. The correct way to act.
I think about Wittgenstein’s language games.
There’s a necessary process of socialization that occurs in all language, that seems to be implicitly rules for how to behave and act
I wonder if the division of labor has consequences in shaping our ideology/ values? I don’t doubt it. We’re more specialized than ever before.
I’m very familiar with my specialized domain of work, but I have a very sketchy understanding of the language and values of any of your worlds
Each institution that we’re apart of has an inherent agenda, a mission, and therefore the language it cultivates is imbued with ethics and values that implicitly shapes our world view, i.e. Creates a paradigm or worldview and frames information in a specific way to guides how we navigate the world.
We live in a contemporary world where these aberrant ideologies no longer exist on the fringe. They are mainstream, occupying a huge percentage of our population, and they deviate from appealing to historically reliable institutions to legitimize knowledge, such as major institutions and universities and scientific researchers, etc.
This whole climate denying phenomenon is less about the weather, and more about a rejection of these institutions as reliable guides
They reject the scientific method, and scientific consensus altogether, because it conflicts with the agenda of the institutions they subscribe to, the reality tunnel they live in. Like fundamentalist cult shit.
This seems like a very dangerous road
It’s like this battle of the mind. This battle for the soul of society.
What is real? What is worthwhile? What are our priorities as a society? Who decides what is fact? What constitutes fact? What are the current forms of legitimization? Of people and information?
The media are bastard for putting people up on pedestals and legitimizing nobodies just by putting them in the spot light and giving them attention, simply because they are provocateurs, not because they have been produced influential work, or can contribute to refining and bridging understanding
Facts are interesting.
Hume wrote a lot on facts. Kant wrote even more.
What is the difference between a fact and a truth?
Facts are experientially derived, a posteriori (after experience) existing as the best probability possible, from the data we receive from our senses, or other “reliable” mediums of data collection.
It’s a fact that mammals give birth to live young. It’s a fact, until it isn’t, until we find an exception, and the platypus ruins everything. But it was a safe fact, because all data from mammals until that point confirmed this.
All swans are white. Fact. Until we see a black swan. Then we revise our facts.
Facts are not truth.
What’s a truth?
“Truth” is inherently true, a priori, by the logical relationships between ad hoc definitions or axioms. We often assume facts are axioms, which leads to dangerous assumptions.
Unmarried men are bachelors. [this is an ad hoc definition, that we need no experience to verify].
I am an unmarried man, therefore I am a bachelor.
A = B
C =A, therefore B=C
This is truth. But it is truth because of the definition provided. It can’t be untrue or half true or probably true. It’s analytically true. We need no experience to deduce this truth.
Post truth is interesting. Because the vast majority of the time we’re not speaking about truth at all, we’re speaking about facts. And facts are experientially derived, but our willingness to accept facts is determined by the processes of legitimization we deem acceptable, or what the institutions we subscribe to tells us are acceptable, or we set an even lower bar, and just believe what we want to hear, regardless of anyone else’s say.
President trump said it, so it must be a fact.
But if our world is totally isolated from anyone who disagrees with our version of reality or ideology, we’re only exposed to facts that correspond to furthering the agenda we’re apart of
There’s like a blindness.