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Sunday, 1 March 2020

Making Sense Of What We Perceive

What we perceive is meaning construed of experience of the meaningless. Interpreting Edelman's extended Theory of Neuronal Group Selection from the perspective of Halliday's Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory, this involves an identifying relation between the meanings of somatic perceptual semiotic systems and the social semiotic system of language.

On this model, the identity encodes the meanings of language by reference to perceptual systems:

the meanings of somatic semiotic perceptual systems
realise
the meanings of social semiotic linguistic systems
Identifier Token
Process
Identified Value

and decodes the meanings of perceptual systems by reference to the meanings of language:

the meanings of somatic semiotic perceptual systems
realise
the meanings of social semiotic linguistic systems
Identified Token
Process
Identifier Value

That is, what we perceive are perceptual meanings, construed of the meaningless domain, interpreted in terms of the meanings of language. On this model, members of other species do not perceive what humans perceive, since their perceptual meanings are not interpreted in terms of the meanings of language.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Making Sense Of The Emergence Of Language

According to Halliday, language is differentiated from all other semiotic systems by being constituted by a stratified content plane (the 'signified' of Saussure's sign), such that semantics is realised by lexicogrammar, and it was this stratification of the content plane that created modern humans. Halliday & Matthiessen (2014: 25):
This stratification of the content plane had immense significance in the evolution of the human species – it is not an exaggeration to say that it turned Homo ... into Homo sapiens. It opened up the power of language and in so doing created the modern human brain.
The semiotic means through which this stratification could come about is suggested by the model of metaphor in Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory.

As Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 288) explain, the deployment of metaphor involves an internal stratification of semantics, in the sense that a lower level token (metaphorical meaning) realises a higher level value (congruent meaning).

By the same token, in the emergence of language from protolanguage, the content plane becomes stratified when a lower level token (lexicogrammatical wording) comes to realise a higher level value (semantic meaning).

It is this prior emergence of a lower level token (lexicogrammar) on the content plane that makes possible the emergence of lower level tokens (metaphors) on the semantic stratum, and it is these lower level tokens on the semantic stratum that enormously expand the meaning potential of language, as demonstrated by the use of lexical metaphor in the reconstruals of meaning in the field of mythology, and the use of grammatical metaphor in the reconstruals of meaning in the fields of science.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Making Sense Of Reality

Axiom 1: Immanence: All meaning is within semiotic systems

Axiom 2: Semiotic systems distinguish between a non-semiotic domain and a semiotic domain.

Axiom 3: Within the semiotic domain, the semiotic system of language distinguishes between a material-relational domain and a mental-verbal domain.

Axiom 4: It is the mental-verbal domain (the process of consciousness) that construes experience of the non-semiotic domain as the meaning of the semiotic domain.


In this view, 'reality' is identified with the semiotic domain: the outer material-relational ± the inner mental-verbal. For example,
Galilean science is concerned with the outer material-relational domain ('primary qualities') rather than with the inner mental-verbal domain ('secondary qualities'); and
in Cartesian philosophy, the certainty of the existence of the inner mental-verbal domain (cogito) guarantees (ergothe existence of the outer material-relational domain (sum).

To be clear, this does not mean that the domain outside meaning (e.g. what is construed as 'cancer') "does not exist", but that to think or say that anything exists is to transform the meaningless into meaning (e.g. a material world).