In challenging form-based models of language, some emphasise human poetry and creativity (Vico, 1991; Croce, 1960). Many share Wittgenstein's (1958) view that language moulds the human world. If natural selection also has a part, its basis may be 'reacting in concert to features of the world and to each other's reactions' (Davidson, 1997, p. 27). Such claims parallel linguistic challenges to structural analyses. Thus, rejecting the reality of word-forms, Reddy (1979) denies that these have or carry meanings. The orthodox, he says, are fooled by the conduit metaphor. For Harris (1981) too, linguists depend on the language myth. Without argument, they ascribe reality to words, rules, and language systems. By reifying 'structures', linguistic communication becomes non-behavioural ('telementation'). In fact, sense-making integrates wordings with experience (Harris, 1998). Endorsing this, Cowley (2007 b) argues that language is distributed. Spread as it is across bodies, space, and time, language is analogue and digital (Love, 1998). Indeed, only this hybridity can unite culture, brains, and first-person experience. Given a flow of analogue expression, artefacts have become integral to a process that unites what we do feel and think. While based in coordinated behaviour, language is inseparable from meshwork of cultural and institutional resources. Given the importance of linguistic reflexivity -and analysis - we overlook its roots in coordinated expression. Oddly, learning to talk is pictured as acquiring (or constructing or learning) second-order cultural constructs (wordings and meanings). We overlook experience. Further, in spite of Cartesian models, brains need no more represent wordings than colours, elephants or bacteria. Language-behaviour may arise without connecting 'little things' to bursts of sound or identifying 'words' in the behavioural flow. Indeed, phonology may lack neurobio-logical reality (Docherty and Foulkes, 2000; Port and Leary, 2005). By challenging Saussure's (1916) point of view, we can reconceptualise language. Below, I seek the origins of dialogue in organic processes.
Working independently, Kravchenko (2007) builds on Maturana (1978; Maturana and Varela, 1987) to reach similar conclusions. Language is behaviour that connects subjects to an environment (or consensual domain). It serves in constructing a world where, using experience, we modify each other's perception and action. As structurally determined systems, signals show aspects of the world. Speaking and understanding depend - not on wordings - but physical and cultural experience. Real-time thinking depends on, above all, connotations (Maturana, 1978). In rejecting appeal to structures, Kravchenko emphasises linguistic dynamics. Playing down denotations, he stresses how linguistic flux prompts us to monitor and modify what we do. Below, I reject this epistemological approach because it fails to explain how personhood arises in creatures without digital semantics (viz. human babies). Given Kravchenko's focus on verbal patterns, he fails to ask how behavioural dynamics make us semiosis-ready. Having scrutinised interactional and neural dynamics, I claim that social events prompt babies to become human subjects. Indeed, infants use digital semantics long before hearing wordings or discovering (what we call) 'signs'. First, I trace organic coding to the utterance dynamics that index changing states on both sides of the skin. As self-reports confirm, language changes first-person experience. In this respect, it contrasts with constructed coding. Later, real-time dynamics prompt us to hear wordings.
Ross (2007) also challenges reduction of language to constructed codes. Taking an evolutionary view, he applauds Chomsky (1957) for tracing many computational powers to language. Rather than reify the objects of linguistic analysis, he stresses that human judgements depend on more than wordings. We construct meaning
spaces as we actively partition the world. In Wittgenstein's terms, we learn to see aspects. We can choose to see a shape as black or as a triangle. Indeed, we can even use its dimensions to imagine a red square.
Avoiding the assumption that digital semantics depend on wordings or shared meanings, Ross frames his argument in terms of evolutionary game theory. He asks how humans come to choose perspectives. While conceding that other primates identify objects and events, he doubts that the rise of digital semantics can be explained by natural selection. Accordingly, he uses Bickerton's (1990) work to suggest that cultural selection is also needed if we are to grasp logical relationships between hierarchially arranged objects and events. Formal representations could not, in themselves, be reduced to hard-wired synaptic dispositions. On its own, Ross thinks, natural selection could not give rise to grammatical categories. Indeed, no single, selective process could lead to the abandonment of a metaphysics. There is no reason to think that the primate world of objects and events was replaced by one based on hard-wired syntactic categories. Indeed, unlike the dots and dashes of Morse, wordings exploit complex semantics. Thinking is irreducible to operations on syntactically defined arrangements of denotata.
While generating infinite sets of sentences, Bickerton says nothing about how these map onto the world. Ignoring the symbol grounding problem, Ross objects that no selective advantage would accrue to an individual who grew a grammar. First, the organ would give no strategic benefit. Second, it would not prompt the identification of counterfactuals.6 Indeed, this way of perceiving the world would fail to separate fantasies from facts. While fun, that is not a basis for selection. Given individualism, linguistic nativists overplay formal constraints while underestimating strategic signals. Rather than begin with the brain, we can ask how coordinated signalling - linguistic or metalinguistic - gives rise to compressed possibility spaces. How, in short, do human agents come to see aspects and choose perspectives.7 To address this, we must turn to how nontrivial causal spread affects real-time decisions. Indeed, unless we explain how cultural selection favoured digital semantics, the evolutionary phase shift will defy explanations. Accordingly, Ross asks how human signalling turns infants into human subjects. Brains, he stresses can code or transduce information without any need for either little things or form-based processes. Digital semantics use interactional history and, as also Trevarthen suggests (see below), the relevant brain structures evolved as adaptations for coordinated signalling. To build bridges between words (in this case, agents), we need new ways of compressing information. Far from reducing to input/output, Ross thinks, human signalling transcends the duality of genotype and phenotype. Humans are ecologically special. Among primates, as Dennett (1991a) argues, we stand out because our strategic signals (and digital semantics) give us virtual selves.
In sketching an alternative to viewing language as a constructed code that maps forms onto meanings, I show that organic coding came to animate both subjects and their thoughts. Coaction, I will argue, gave rise to ways of life that use (strategic) forms of creativity. Language, on this view, is a distributed meshwork of resources that prompt, coordination, hearing, and conscious decision making. We depend on integrating skilled use of signalling with second-order cultural constructs (including words, rules, and languages). Given this hybridity, semiosis unites value-based connotations with wordings and cognitive dynamics. We make strategic moves in an ecology where brains and bodies connect emotionally and across practices. With this distributed view in place, I turn to another issue. Do these heterogeneous resources use organic codes? Do we fill out missing information by using public events in ways that enable us to function as conscious human beings?
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