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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Mind Habitat, the quest for a home
    Project: , Polytopia
    On and on does the lattice grow, information flows, and our minds converge, into a single, fiercely independent, decidedly autonomous, highly intelligent, and self-propelling emergent metaverse, the infoverse.

    The infoverse is where we will live. And we need a home. A mutually supportive habitat of sorts; A mind habitat, an infotat for our minds, for we are infonauts.

    A new, wide eyed and freshly minted vision surfaces, as a specie we are just now in the process of being reborn. Insights abound, awareness rebounds, and shackles are being untangled, we might, if all goes well, be free.
    Free of our genetic heritage and free of our biological roots, free to soar into a promisingly magnificent future, the future of commingled information, of interweaved sensation, of co-opted dreams.

    We are coming of age into a different kind of consciousness, a self-aware info flow of sense perception. An existence, bypassing, and utterly confounding the so-called realism of old.

    Realism as a view need give way to the dreamers of the extended now, this same extension of experience that is not linear, not ordered and not confined to the vicissitudes of self. The extension we call the net, the grid, the Infobahn, is more than the sum of its parts, it may perchance lead to an actual organizing principle of reality itself. An organizing principle somewhat akin to an operating system, yet directed, and multidimensional, interactive and intelligent; it has started with electronics and will evolve into nanocomputing and will probably merge with biocomputing, eventually seamlessly integrating with our brains. At this point our own minds will become the defining factor of who and what we are; inner and outer reality will coalesce into a greater whole. The infoverse of our closely coupled minds, and for this we need a home, I know I do.

    We still do not contain insight consciousness to a degree large enough to allow us to define ourselves via our minds, yet a slight change of perspective will allow us a total inner revolution.

    On the same token it may be stated that we are not subject to evolutionary law anymore, we took and increasingly so, are taking, evolution in our own hands, in essence we are becoming evolution.
    Yet at the same moment we realize that via the new interconnectivity of all life, our minds are undergoing an emotional revolution, for though the future holds the promise of technological marvels and intellectual attainments beyond our wildest dreams it is the emotional aspect of the future that enhances our present and metamorphoses our past, for our motivations are at base emotional and highly personal.

    I stress the emotional aspect of evolution for the simple reason that to design our own future we need to love life beyond mere survivability, we need love the extended now and its myriad possibilities, we need love interconnectivity for its own sake, its unifying essence, for that is where evolution leads.

    Evolution in our hands is as much a pursuit of a dream as it is a rational undertaking. It is the combination of technological capability and emotional drive that will present us with the greatest challenge, this challenge we need tackle now by creating for ourselves a habitat of sorts. As I see it, a habitat is an environment that supports an array of organisms, the same array which in turn supports it. Seen from a different perspective a mind habitat is a kind of super-organism in and of itself. Thus, given that we are already within the technological singularity and the infoverse becomes a reality, an extended reality of nowness, by the moment, it stands to reason that a mutually supportive, highly intelligent mind habitat of emotionally challenging, aesthetically pleasing, intuition enhancing, intellectually inspiring, should arise.
    Our minds need a home, a vehicle of sense-thought, that might hopefully translate our dreams into a viable and highly accessible reality, for all.

    And this morning I think of space collective, at present I wonder if to call it home, my mind habitat, my little corner in the vast infoverse.


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    rene     Sun, Jun 8, 2008  Permanent link
    The extension we call the net, the grid, the Infobahn, is more than the sum of its parts, it may perchance lead to an actual organizing principle of reality itself. An organizing principle somewhat akin to an operating system, yet directed, and multidimensional, interactive and intelligent; (...)At this point our own minds will become the defining factor of who and what we are; inner and outer reality will coalesce into a greater whole. The infoverse of our closely coupled minds, and for this we need a home, I know I do.


    The reason some of us are intuiting this future as strongly as you do is that so many of its pieces are currently in place. There actually is a new operating system for the world, and the far-reaching process of re-wiring our brain is already well under way. The questions who we are and who want to be are prominently on our minds; and since we supplanted natural selection with our own interventions we have ramped up the pace of evolution a thousand times. We no longer need to extrapolate the future because in essence we are already there, and, as you put it, looking for a home. But it's not just us who feel this urge to move one. More than ever, the world we live in needs the future we imagine in order to survive.

    I'm planning to soon publish a series of posts, proposing some practical solutions for the world at large by optimizing certain redundant layers of civilization's haphazardly cobbled together evolutionary past. The goal is to formulate an actual plan that might radically clean up some of today's more pressing problems, while setting the stage for a "new organizing principle of reality itself." The series will be called "The Age of Optimization," and although it will tend somewhat towards "outer reality" I hope it'll contribute to SpaceCollective's overall goals and in its own practical way coincide with your much appreciated "mind habitat."

    Spaceweaver     Tue, Jun 10, 2008  Permanent link
    Wikipedia about the Noosphere:

    In the thought of Vladimir Vernadsky and Teilhard de Chardin, the noosphere can be seen as the "sphere of human thought" being derived from the Greek νούς ("nous") meaning "mind" + σφαίρα (sfaira) meaning "sphere", in the style of "atmosphere" and "biosphere". In the original theory of Vernadsky, the noosphere is the third in a succession of phases of development of the Earth, after the geosphere (inanimate matter) and the biosphere (biological life). Just as the emergence of life fundamentally transformed the geosphere, the emergence of human cognition fundamentally transforms the biosphere...

    For Teilhard, the noosphere is best described as a sort of 'collective consciousness' of human-beings. It emerges from the interaction of human minds. The noosphere has grown in step with the organization of the human mass in relation to itself as it populates the earth. As mankind organizes itself in more complex social networks, the higher the noosphere will grow in awareness. This is an extension of Teilhard's Law of Complexity/Consciousness, the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, added that the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point—which he saw as the goal of history.


    I find Teilhard de Chardin's vision of the Noosphere, highly resonating with the mind habitat you write about. In the grand evolutionary scheme, I see very clearly the emergence of the Infosphere as the new vehicle of the Mind. At the moment it might seem remote and perhaps insubstantial, for how could a vast network of lifeless machines, as much as it is fascinating become alive, how much less conscious? However, as I try to see beyond the confinement of our immediate conceptual horizon, I see an intelligent pattern that evolves, and right here right now, this pattern is us. Us, as the individual minds that we are, us as the collective human mind that we are, and us as in the emergence of a conscious intelligent universe.

    The whole complex story of our species can be told in the succession of images that we carried, the way we envisioned ourselves and the way we envisioned our future. Most influential of all was and still is, is the way we answered, mostly implicitly and rarely explicitly, the question: What is a human? What is the essential meaning of being human?

    It seems that we are about to give new answers to this very question. We are about to reinvent ourselves and reshape our reality according to a far reaching vision. For me, doing just this, being just this, is the essentiality of being human.

    In the course of human history, many visions that man has had about herself came and went. Yet, there is one thread, one vision that is ever present and ever recurrent. Some called it mankind’s perennial philosophy (Huxley, Leibnitz to name a few), others refused to give it a name at all. It spells that there is high common factor to all things, immanent and transcendent; that this common factor is consciousness, and in it, there is an infinite potential of creativity and intelligence. And most important perhaps, is that this factor being universal is accessible to all.

    Why do I mention this here? Because in the grand scheme, the emergence of the Infosphere as the new habitat of our minds, and the consequent emergence of the Noosphere, are driven by the same profound emotional drive that resonates with and is shaped by this vision. The truthfulness of this philosophy is the truthfulness of dreams and visions. We desire the universe to be like that, not more not less. It is a dream that we have, and such persistent dreams being our true habitat will emerge eventually as our reality.

    The Infoverse is a stepping stone, we shape it with the stuff of dreams to become our new habitat, for a while… Until a moment comes where the whole universe becomes home.

    Wildcat     Tue, Jun 10, 2008  Permanent link
    This is a map of the blogosphere that seems to give a form to the ideasphere, the infosphere, or the infoverse.
    is that how our habitat looks?




    Credit:
    MATTHEW HURST / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

    Internet blog map. Computer generated map showing relationships between internet weblogs (blogs). Blogs are internet sites where entries are made in journal style and shown in reverse chronological order. Blogs usually feature a large number of links to other sites. The blogging community is known as the blogosphere. This map shows blogs as nodes (coloured spots) and lines represent the links between them. Nodes within the centre are blogs based on technical discussion and gadgetry. Nodes at the outer part of the sphere are non- technical blogs that link to the centre. Colours represent the URL, where blogs hosted at the same domain have the same colour. here
    Wildcat     Wed, Jun 11, 2008  Permanent link
    spaceweaver :
    Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, added that the noosphere is growing towards an even greater integration and unification, culminating in the Omega Point—which he saw as the goal of history


    There is no doubt, there are some parallels with T.d.Chardin however my main issue with his predications involve the very concept of the so-called ‘goal of history’. I do not think that history has a goal as such and though we might reach certain thresholds of complexity, no Omega point looms over the horizon.
    Au contraire, it is my view that given that there is no goal to evolution but ever-increasing complexity (and even that one may question) the freedom to re-describe our horizon is ever widening in its freedom

    spaceweaver:
    The whole complex story of our species can be told in the succession of images that we carried, the way we envisioned ourselves and the way we envisioned our future. Most influential of all was and still is, is the way we answered, mostly implicitly and rarely explicitly, the question: What is a human? What is the essential meaning of being human?


    I could not agree more that this is THE question ‘par excellence’, however it may be the case that the window into human nature manifested by language and exemplified by the concept ‘self’ is the fulcrum of this question. Thus, a human, in its self recognition, self reflective apparatus, is fundamentally the very vision of his own self reflection. This of course will lead to the infoverse becoming more and more like us, as we are now, yet distributed.
    Here come the questions: shouldn’t we, take it as a given that we are those self reflective beings that have finally in their own hands the possibility/capability to create a mind habitat according to our dreams and not according to what we already are? So the final point is, what are the characteristics that we wish to invest our habitat with? How would we like our future to be? Are dreams and visions powerful as they are acknowledged to be, sufficient?
    And last but not least, human nature is being redefined as we speak, in what fashion are we contributing to the direction the new definition/s take?

    (as an aside note let me state that for my understanding this is a crucial question)


    Spaceweaver     Thu, Jun 12, 2008  Permanent link
    Rene: I am looking forward to read your series about the age of optimization. I wonder though, if the word 'age' is still appropriate for processes that will take place and culminate within a couple of decades at the most. It seems to me, that ours is the last age.

    Wildcat: I read Thailard de Cardin's 'end of history', not in the sense that Fukuyama meant, but rather as an early reference to what we call today the singularity. It seems that Thailard's description was somewhat biased by his religious background, that made him emphasize history as having a goal. I agree, history has no goal, and moreover it can hardly be described as a process, much less a purposeful process. The same goes for evolution in general. Process and goals are features of our narratives as observers. They are not intrinsic neither to history nor to evolution.

    Having said this, de Chardin adds an interesting perspective to the concept of singularity: The process culminating in singularity as we understand it today, is driven by the acceleration of information based technologies. Ray Kurzweil describes this in great detail in his book "The singularity is near". The point I read in Thailard's description is that the process leading to singularity is driven by crossing thresholds of interconnectivity (and consequently of complexity). I think this is a very valuable insight, complementary and consistent with the idea of acceleration.

    As to the second part of your comment, I think that the ontology of 'self' is entirely subjective, and based on the very ability of human minds to form images in general, and self referencing images in particular. Your question is not easily answerable, I doubt if it is answerable at all. The reason is that I find it virtually impossible within our current conceptual framework to clearly distinguish between what we already are, what we imagine ourselves to be, and what we envision we would like to become. The issue is not linguistic, or even psychological, it is philosophical in nature and at its core metaphysical. Currently we lack the tools that will allow us to relate to your question in a really effective way.

    If our future needs a grand planning project, and it seems to me that it critically needs one, I would start with the philosophical foundations of our future mind habitat. I would try to focus on how to ask the big questions in a manner that escapes the simplistic goal oriented perspective of evolution especially when it comes to our evolution as conscious beings.
    Wildcat     Mon, Jun 16, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver:
    Currently we lack the tools that will allow us to relate to your question in a really effective way.


    well, given that we are a tools creating civilization we might just be able to create those very tools we are currently lacking, that relates to my incentive (and consequent project) to create a new kind of language, for language is at core a tool. In a previous statement you say that the issue is not linguistic, well, I beg to differ here, for as I see it, the issue is very much linguistic, if only for the simple reason that philosophy and metaphysics use language to describe both their subject matter and their self referencing systems of thought. Moreover, the very construct of our higher faculties, namely the faculty of abstraction, relies on the semantics and semiotics of linguistic constructs. (see Derrida’s ‘of grammatology’ ) these in turn create the foundation for thought, so we may see here a circular, closely coupled system of creation of Vision, from self referencing imaging to the meaning that is applicable to the abstraction of the idea and back via the grammar of ‘verbing’ (putting into verbs) on to motivation, incentive and finally action.

    Spaceweaver:
    ’If our future needs a grand planning project, and it seems to me that it critically needs one, I would start with the philosophical foundations of our future mind habitat. I would try to focus on how to ask the big questions in a manner that escapes the simplistic goal oriented perspective of evolution especially when it comes to our evolution as conscious beings.”


    agreed, we need a grand planning project, a vision if you like and a unifying vision at that. A unified and unifying vision that will transcend the current divide both in goals, their meanings, and applications and in motives, their origination, and consequences.
    You continue by stating that we need to focus on how to ask the big questions, and in that I agree, yet for these very questions to carry the heavy weight of escaping simplistic goal oriented perspectives we need again a language, a language that will carry the new meanings of our existence.

    My first suggestion is to redefine the word ‘natural’.

    rene     Wed, Jun 18, 2008  Permanent link
    we need again a language, a language that will carry the new meanings of our existence.

    I've always been a great believer in a project like this. It is unbelievably frustrating that many words have become so loaded with connotations the writer may be at odds with that it would greatly help if certain definitions would be embraced by like-minded people in the form of a glossary of the meaning a group of people agree upon for as long as it lasts. A while back a similar project was suggested by Al, and we have been seriously considering a functionality that would allow for something along these lines. As you propose, "natural" is definitely a good contender to start with. A while back SpaceCollective was part of an event organized by the site http://www.nextnature.net/,  which takes a particularly ironic stand on the subject of technology as the new nature. Although the two sites appreciated each other, there was a classic disconnect based on undefined but very different interpretations of the term. I'd be very interested in hearing your definition. I also appreciated your consideration to modify the highly charged term Transhumanism into the word “ Transbeing”. It would be very interesting to see how much of a consensus the collective can arrive at.
    Spaceweaver     Wed, Jun 18, 2008  Permanent link
    Wildcat, Rene: Though we agree on the general premise of the argument, indeed we differ on the issue of language. To my mind, language is more of an abstract organism that emerges and continuously evolves within the ecology of mind of a distinct human community. This is why I doubt the very possibility of designing a language top down. I do agree that the structure of language reflects a conceptual ecology of mind, or more generally of a web of interacting minds, and that any transformation in the conceptual organization of mind is strongly coupled with a linguistic parallel transformation. My point of contention however lies more specifically in the possibility to artificially act upon language as if it can be decoupled from its ecology i.e. a mind or a web of interacting minds.

    I believe the required process to be holistic in nature, and the kind of dynamics I can imagine is one like Gould's punctuated equilibrium, which has become widely accepted as a general evolutionary dynamics. When many small changes in the ecology of mind are taking place, there is eventually an avalanche of sorts, a rapid conceptual shift, and with it, its parallel linguistic counterpart. An interesting analysis on the issue of parallels between restructuring of the mind and restructuring of language, can be found in Julian Jeynes monumental work: 'The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind'

    What we can do in the light of this, is augmenting our current language in a manner that will open the doors to a fresh out of the box thinking in the most profound sense, especially regarding the foundations of our world view and our self description in particular. Introducing small changes into critical linguistic structures will prompt and invite an eventual large scale conceptual shift . Yet such large scale shifts are emergent in nature and contain an intrinsic unpredictability.

    Wildcat     Sat, Jun 21, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver:
    Though we agree on the general premise of the argument, indeed we differ on the issue of language. To my mind, language is more of an abstract organism that emerges and continuously evolves within the ecology of mind of a distinct human community. This is why I doubt the very possibility of designing a language top down. I do agree that the structure of language reflects a conceptual ecology of mind, or more generally of a web of interacting minds, and that any transformation in the conceptual organization of mind is strongly coupled with a linguistic parallel transformation. My point of contention however lies more specifically in the possibility to artificially act upon language as if it can be decoupled from its ecology i.e. a mind or a web of interacting minds.


    the point you make is indeed controversial and interesting, and as you rightly point, it is a truism that nothing can be decoupled from its ecology of mind or its community of minds, at least until a certain point in its evolution. Having said that, I need re-iterate that to my eyes a top down procedure is a must since as you mention (and I agree) language has emerged and evolved within a given ecology of mind. Yet that very mind has emerged or co-emerged if you prefer as an operating system on a biological wetware, our biochemical brains, and is thus as you correctly point, highly coupled with it. Nevertheless, that, as I see it, is the old conceptual framework, in the new framework, which I advocate, a decoupling is inevitable as our technological improvements are taking us away from the origins of our evolution and into new realms of possibilities. In other words, though I agree that in the past the concept of a top down procedural language was an impossibility if not an impracticality, in the Infoverse we are creating, in the very reality of our extended memories via the net and beyond, the need for a top down language creation is not only possible it is a must.
    As a very simple example let us look at the concept of time as it has evolved and is now being remodeled. In fact it will be true to state that the very usage of the word today (in other than the most mundane circumstances) demands such a high level of contextualization that for all practical purposes we would be better off having a new set of words that describe the particular meaning of the term time we mean and use in a particular context.

    I strongly believe that a sufficiently cohesive community of minds working in tandem might under the correct circumstances create a language that is highly specific and highly correlated to their goals and meanings. The fact that we may not be able to create such a community (though I strongly suspect it has not received enough attention as a concept so as to be checked properly) does not in any fashion change the very concept of a possible language creation, see a redefinition of concepts to such an extent that for all practical purposes it is a new language.

    Spaceweaver:
    What we can do in the light of this, is augmenting our current language in a manner that will open the doors to a fresh out of the box thinking in the most profound sense, especially regarding the foundations of our world view and our self description in particular. Introducing small changes into critical linguistic structures will prompt and invite an eventual large scale conceptual shift . Yet such large scale shifts are emergent in nature and contain an intrinsic unpredictability.


    well, it may very well be that what I call creating a new language and what you refer to as ‘augmenting our current language’ are one and the same with minor variations in meanings and implications though in both cases (be it creation or augmentation) the procedure is top down from the abstract to the local. Rene has mentioned in a previous comment that he was interested in seeing to what extent can we manage to arrive at a consensus, and I must admit that I am interested in this question as well and very deeply so. For without consensus the new language or augmentations will be useless.

    So, what say you? to what level of consensus can we agree to?

    Spaceweaver     Thu, Jun 26, 2008  Permanent link
    Wildcat:
    Nevertheless, that, as I see it, is the old conceptual framework, in the new framework, which I advocate, a decoupling is inevitable as our technological improvements are taking us away from the origins of our evolution and into new realms of possibilities. In other words, though I agree that in the past the concept of a top down procedural language was an impossibility if not an impracticality, in the Infoverse we are creating, in the very reality of our extended memories via the net and beyond, the need for a top down language creation is not only possible it is a must.


    What seems to the case in the Infoverse is a continuous and increasing effort to make machines interact and understand natural language, or in other words to make computers active participants in the fabric of language which is also the underlying fabric of human existence.

    To reiterate, my argument is that a conceptual change should always precede, or at least take place in tandem with a linguistic change, and that conceptual changes are never local though they might seem so. Even a single minor conceptual change prompts the shift of whole semantic networks in the space of meaning.

    It is not that I object the very possibility of design. It is rather that our conceptual mind should be the focus of design and not the linguistic structures. Metaphorically speaking, language and concept are coupled much like genotype and phenotype. We should deal with the first and let the second emerge in an integrated development process.

    Wildcat:
    I strongly believe that a sufficiently cohesive community of minds working in tandem might under the correct circumstances create a language that is highly specific and highly correlated to their goals and meanings.


    A sufficiently cohesive community of minds is by all means the best ecology I can think of to reach a conceptual change and stabilize it to the extent it finds its expression in language. Still, even within such ecology, new words or new meanings to old words, cannot be 'invented' without an emergent process of consensual realization of the concepts or objects they correspond to. Then, and only then words or meanings integrate into the fabric of language and become 'alive'.

    Wildcat:
    well, it may very well be that what I call creating a new language and what you refer to as ‘augmenting our current language’ are one and the same with minor variations in meanings and implications though in both cases (be it creation or augmentation) the procedure is top down from the abstract to the local. Rene has mentioned in a previous comment that he was interested in seeing to what extent can we manage to arrive at a consensus, and I must admit that I am interested in this question as well and very deeply so.


    Well, I think what we do here is an excellent case study. In this short discussion we already manifest critical elements of the process of augmenting or creating a language. We clarify what is similar and what is different in our initial perceptions. We explore the range of available metaphors and descriptions that are available in the context. We negotiate meaning relations and semantic distances and try to figure a way to converge to consensus. We operate our conceptual creativity trying to form a new synthesis. All these are part of a process I think is necessary.

    Forming a linguistic entity along with its conceptual antecedents, is a dynamic process where (figuratively) two kinds of forces operate: The first arises from discriminative sensitivity to variations in meaning, that operates as a repulsive kind of force, while the other arises from our disposition to cluster and categorize cognitive and mental elements based on their sameness while hiding their differences. This is the attractive or cohesive force. These forces are exchanged and interact between minds that engage, (actually immersed) in a linguistic exchange.

    In the sense that our conceptual framework is hierarchical, I accept that a top down strategy is in place. We should identify the fundamental layer and explore it first. From there continue downwards, and backtrack if and when we reach dead ends. The level of consensus we can reach, explicitly correlates to how high (or how deep) we start on the hierarchy. A strong agreement on first principles, will render any other difference as superficial.

    A productive tactics to go about this kind of project is, I think, to focus on the concept 'language' as our first project. This concept, besides being fundamental, is self referential by nature. Exploring it will inevitably confront us head on with the most critical and relevant issues and will therefore help us to expose, experience and clarify what kind of process is generally necessary in the course of forming a consensual domain of a new language.

    To understand this single concept 'language', goes a very long way in understanding ourselves as entities who operate in language and through language. It is a good starting point.
    Wildcat     Sun, Jun 29, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver:
    It is not that I object the very possibility of design. It is rather that our conceptual mind should be the focus of design and not the linguistic structures. Metaphorically speaking, language and concept are coupled much like genotype and phenotype. We should deal with the first and let the second emerge in an integrated development process


    this is where our main difference resides, how exactly do you create a so-called conceptual change without a change in language? though it may seem that this is similar to the proverbial egg and chicken apparent paradox, I do not believe that it is so. As I see it, there is no conceptual mind without language (be it the language of images or phrases and words), moreover, to the best of my understanding language preceded the concept as a fundamental component of higher structures of emergent complexity such as the conceptual thought. To the best of my knowledge, a human mind cannot have a conceptual thought without language, hence language precedes concept.
    Thus change comes from change in language, resulting in concept change and not vice versa. Moreover, I do not think there is an equivalence, not in importance nor of value between language and concept, language gives form to impressions, whilst impressions without language (at all) results in nothing more than a non-coherent quasi blank visual stimulus. Meaning, which is the very backbone of motivation, beyond the instinctual neurological drives, resides in words, no words, no meaning, you may find foundational motivation of motion such as an amoeba moving unconsciously towards its necessary nutrients, but to imply ‘meaning’ in this case will be an over the board anthropomorphic (and unwarranted) implication.
    If we can settle for the “in tandem” equation I can live with that, but concept preceding language is simply an impossibility.

    as to your suggestion concerning the very terminology of language, I definitely agree, i shall try and draft a proposal for a new project for the collective, concerning language in which the first term to be redefined or augmented will be language itself.
    Spaceweaver     Fri, Jul 4, 2008  Permanent link
    Its quite a discussion developing here, and I think it is interesting and extremely important. There are many points that need deepening, yet given the limitations of time and resources I will try to keep it brief and focused.

    Wildcat:
    how exactly do you create a so-called conceptual change without a change in language?


    One way I can think of is using metaphors. I believe new concepts evolve from old ones through the usage of existing metaphors in novel ways, or the invention of new metaphors, or new metaphorical combinations. All these, do not necessitate a new language. Only when a concept, or a new conceptual domain is consolidated and becomes an organic part of communication,only then language changes to accommodate the conceptual change and we witness new words and semantic structures introduced.

    Wildcat:
    though it may seem that this is similar to the proverbial egg and chicken apparent paradox, I do not believe that it is so.


    Agreed. There is no simple 'before' and 'after' relation between language and concept. It is rather that the conceptual sphere of the mind is much larger than the sphere of language and linguistic expressions. The sphere of language is a subset of the sphere of concepts. Moreover, evolution wise, the conceptual sphere has layers much more primitive than language. This however does not exclude the fact that certain domains of the human conceptual space, that are critically constitutive to abstract thought are language dependent, and have evolved through language. Here I think is the key to bridge our differences.

    Wildcat:
    to the best of my understanding language preceded the concept as a fundamental component of higher structures of emergent complexity such as the conceptual thought.


    I entirely agree with you that language is necessary to conceptual thought, language indeed precedes conceptual thought, and is a basis to it. However, foundational conceptual domains that constitute the human vast spheres of experience, and non verbal interaction, do seem to have arisen prior to both language and conceptual thought. These occupy, I think, the larger and more significant fraction of our mind's activity.

    Wildcat:
    Moreover, I do not think there is an equivalence, not in importance nor of value between language and concept, language gives form to impressions, whilst impressions without language (at all) results in nothing more than a non-coherent quasi blank visual stimulus.


    I do not agree here. Impressions and experiences can be processed and retained without the mediation of language. There is amounting evidence from neuroscientific research that complex highly coherent processing in the brain having to do with cognition, planning, decision making, and intuition are entirely non conscious and non linguistic. Such evidence clearly points that concepts do have direct neural correlates that are independent from language and precedes it. Moreover, concepts are being processed in the brain in complex ways that are entirely non lingual.

    There is indeed no equivalence in value. But I still think concept takes precedence to language.

    Wildcat:
    Meaning, which is the very backbone of motivation, beyond the instinctual neurological drives, resides in words, no words, no meaning, you may find foundational motivation of motion such as an amoeba moving unconsciously towards its necessary nutrients, but to imply ‘meaning’ in this case will be an over the board anthropomorphic (and unwarranted) implication.


    Meaning and high level emotional content far beyond the purely instinctual plane are expressed in art as well as in everyday expressions and interactions without the aid of words. According to research, half of our brain (the right hemisphere) registers and processes information without the mediation of our language centers. It therefore influences our cognition, motivation, behavior and experience in a way which is independent of language. All these amount to a significant fraction of our mind operating with concepts yet definitely outside the sphere of language. I wouldn't dismiss all that lightly.

    Where does all this bring us to? Language is an extremely efficient and flexible tool for processing and manipulating concepts. I do agree that conceptual thought is entirely based on language. Moreover, I do believe that conscious conceptual thought is fundamental and critical to the evolution of the human conceptual sphere, and if so to the conscious evolution of mind. Language is the tool and the means, but the conceptual sphere is the subject matter of what's to be transformed and changed.

    Indeed language can also manipulate itself recursively, because language itself is a concept. It is a fascinating feature of language and part of what makes it so powerful. Nevertheless, what shapes our minds are not linguistic constructs but what they come to represent. Clarifying the concept language is both a formidable challenge and an excellent starting point because metaphorically and literally, it is a singularity point within our conceptual sphere.



    meganmay     Mon, Jul 28, 2008  Permanent link
    i just typed a note to myself about different ways of visualizing space collective:

    visualize overlapping inquiries and how people are woven together through comments

    then I replaced people with minds, a crucial linguistic distinction:

    visualize overlapping inquiries and how minds are woven together through comments

    And the idea made so much more sense. I think more than any other website, SC is where minds meet outside of bodies.
     
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