Download The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the by Terrence W. Deacon PDF

By Terrence W. Deacon

"A paintings of large breadth, more likely to pleasantly shock either basic readers and experts."—New York instances publication Review
This innovative e-book offers clean solutions to long-standing questions of human origins and recognition. Drawing on his step forward study in comparative neuroscience, Terrence Deacon deals a wealth of insights into the importance of symbolic pondering: from the co-evolutionary alternate among language and brains over million years of hominid evolution to the moral repercussions that man's newfound entry to different people's options and emotions.

Informing those insights is a brand new figuring out of the way Darwinian approaches underlie the brain's improvement and serve as in addition to its evolution. not like a lot modern neuroscience that treats the mind as not more or lower than a working laptop or computer, Deacon presents a brand new readability of imaginative and prescient into the mechanism of brain. It injects a renewed experience of event into the adventure of being human.

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Additional resources for The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain

Sample text

One way we alent to language or rather that linguistic reference was just this simple) . learn about new meanings is to figure out what the right contexts are; but To me, this experiment demonstrates the simplicity and mechanical na­ knowing five or ten more contexts in which the same phrase works does not ture of this form of reference. And how its key features-learned associa­ really change the superfiCial nature of the reference. Learning more and tions, arbitrarity, reference, and transmission of information from one more appropriate contexts does not in itself constitute understanding the individual to another-are not sufficient to define symbolic reference.

Take, for example, human laughter: a symptom of being in a highly amused state of mind. Laughter is an excellent example of a human innate call (I will re­ turn to analyze bOtll the evolution and phYSiology of this call in later chap­ ters). Like other calls it need not be intentionally produced; it often erupts spontaneously even when we would rather suppress it, even though it can also be faked (with variable success) if the social context demands. For tlle most part we tend to think of it as a way to work off feelings inspired by a joke or an awkward social situation.

Peirce recognized that interpretants can not only be of different degrees of complexity but they can also be of categorically different kinds as well; moreover, he did not confine his definition only to what goes on in the head. Whatever process determines reference qualifies as an interpre­ tant. The problem is to explain how differences in interpretants produce different kinds of reference, and specifically what distinguishes the inter­ pretants required for language. So, what are some of the interpretants of words?

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