Contents of spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/Lyotard.and.Language.txt

From Mon Jan 13 09:04:00 1997 Date: Thu, 09 Jan 1997 08:47:47 -0800 From: hugh bone To: Subject: Lyotard and Language Attachment is copy of a letter inspired by Tom Wolfe article on the death of the soul in Forbes ASAP. [ Part 2: "Attached Text" ] Hugh Bone 127B Cove Road Oyster Bay, New York 11771 January 8, 1997 Dear Mr. Barrett, Don't know if you are the author of "Death of the Soul" and other books of a philosophical nature, but if so you are the person most likely to understand what I am trying to say. Don't think we are ready to lose our souls quite yet. God didn't truly live until the priests put him far beyond idols and rituals by making him invisible, hence indestructible, in the interior universe of each believer. By so doing they obtained control of the value systems of their flocks. No matter what happened to Cain, Noah, Job, and other victims of wretched circumstance, the people did not destroy idols and priests together; the priests merely went back to the source, and got a new reading. The unfortunate continued their belief. The priests continued their priesthood. Nietzsche said God was dead; after years of silence a voice said: "Nietzsche is dead", perhaps the voice of God using a believer as instrument. In my view the brain makes language; language makes us human. We make "reality" by what we say and do. Objective and subjective reality are always being re-defined. Lyotard probes language as the essence of rule-making and values, and also finds mystery in something called "obligation". Rules and values create symbolic universes. For one individual, one consciousness, the content of consciousness and memory might be described as his/her personal symbolic universe. Inquiry into these matters is getting more and more attention in recent years. Such inquiry is part of the basics; such as why is there something rather than nothing? What is a human to scientists, to philosophers, and especially to him/her self and significant others. What can be thought? What can be said? What can be done? How can philosophers be persuaded to think about the present and the future of whatever they think we humans are, and to share their thoughts with us rather than spend the best years of their lives attending to the language of persons long dead? The cult of "man the measure of all things" was perhaps inevitable once God was declared dead. But in pursuing unbiased but elusive "truth", man was constituting himself a new divinity usurping the old. Nature, to this new divinity, might be Gods' creation, or post-mortem, God's creator. Either way, man, the new divinity, was Nature's child; his human "being" and intelligence a slight, but to him, significant, deviance from the being of Nature's other children. So man as a maker of gods, (and god-making in whatever form seems typical of all tribes, all nations, in all millennia) is also a maker of "souls", spirits, the essence of being, of consciousness and conscience. A "self", centered in subjective reality, is a "soul" so long as it lives and breathes, a flesh and bone inhabitant of a body, and individual being, and normally, a social being. Phenomena the scientific community discovers and analyzes by employing instruments of their various disciplines and technologies, becomes an object of scientific dialogue, and, once accepted as "true", becomes part of our modern definition of "reality". This can only happen through mediation of the most unique instrument we know, the human brain. Because this reality is directed to objects we tend to think of it as "objective reality". Each individual, however, enjoys, is imprisoned by, cannot escape from a personal symbolic universe or subjective reality. By an act of faith one bridges a gap to objective reality, the world of science. But how can science deal with the inside of consciousness, for example... the content of a word? A word, such as "mother", as perceived by an orphan, or as perceived by an orphaned adult female who is childless. With or without science (i.e. essentially during all of human history) the brain has been the instrument for relating to the animate and inanimate environment. Human being is the only being each person can know; one being, one consciousness, one subjective reality. Religion, art, and aesthetics deal with the this reality, and provide first-hand reports on the singular content(s) of the consciousness of one species-individual. This is also the conduit through which scientific (objective) "truths" must pass from scientist "a" to scientist "b". One living brain can proclaim truth, but in the absence of dialogue, acceptance, consensus, a truth cannot become "science". Speech, writing, body language, and the audio and visual languages of the arts, are attempts to communicate the reality of being, of being human, of being situated in the environment which science describes, and which most people accept as "objective" reality. Other species, other brains, might know other realities. Language, especially verbal language, is, like genes, in a sense immortal; and, like genes, transcends the life of the species-individual. Deconstructionist writers and others have brought this to our attention with observations about the nature of texts. These marks on paper are only artifacts, but they re-create reality in living brains. Language emphasis in philosophy has historically been concerned with logic and efficiency of the thinking process, including refinement of definitions of such human-created abstractions as "meaning" and "truth". Think Wittgenstein, Russell, Ayer, To reason in a series of steps, to avoid incorrect assumptions, mis-steps, errors, and thereby arrive at "correct" conclusions. In Lyotard's "Le Differend", he describes how values are structured by speech and rules in dialogue, and in dialogue plus third-party judgments. Through speech (phrases) an interior self is defined for the new-human. What is permitted and what is forbidden. The good, the bad, the moral, the immoral. And apparently, watching Nature movies, other creatures, particularly mammals, like us, use vocal sounds and body language to teach their young the behaviour appropriate for their survival. For the human animal the process begins with first words, a couple of decades before what might be called mental maturity. This process builds subjective reality for each species-individual and is the basis for re-defining subjective reality for a post-maturation life time. I could not talk to myself had others not talked to me. Feral children without human language thus experience human form, human senses, and human perception, but not the subjective reality of a human being. While neurobiologists seek objective truth; while genetic scientists consign free will and our very souls to oblivion; other seekers of truth such as philosophers, historians, artists and writers, will explore subjective reality through analysis of what really happens when we "talk" to ourselves and others. Although competent scientists, quite reasonably, avoid questions for which the they cannot anticipate objective answers, philosophers, artists, writers and such, can hardly indulge this option. Consciousness nudges and insists. Sincerely, Hugh Bone Enclosure: N I G H T R A G E we tenants on God's earth we self-entombed cynics spinning decades of our lives shall we, in prayer, avow our weakness, ignorance, a fear we cannot name expatiate meaninglessness elaborate, articulate, our grief, our guilt, our shame reality oppresses dreams not fulfilled adults, failed children condemned to wrestle terror in deep night's space and time constrained by manacles we forged now our world, becoming shapeless, senseless falls to pieces shall we submit our selves to expert care while hordes of experts wait shall we state edicts publish propaganda agitate resentments evoke incessant protest eliciting violent reaction man is the hairless ape who walks erect mid modern Munichs every day ascending, descending rituals of truth orgies of shame shall we have recourse to the shrink or compromise in user-friendly cemeteries by light of burned-out stars ^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z^Z

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