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Mrityunjay Awasthy

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Role of language in forming concepts

The language(s) we learn play pivotal role in forming concepts, as the words in a language have per-determined concepts and with spoken or written words, though deviating a little bit sometimes, we take such concepts further. When I think of a feeling, associated with words like fear, pleasure etc. I am amused to think about how closely such concepts are knitted not only with memory (with aid of language) but also how language has narrowed or limited the concepts.

This might sound odd, but I decided to post this after I caught a mice in my hands yesterday and I couldn't relate my concept of fear with that of the mice.

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Closing Statement from Mrityunjay Awasthy

Thank you everyone for your invaluable inputs,

Until here and onward::

Thomas Jones:
Words are like road signs indicating our proximity to a city. Language is essential to the formation of concepts.

Tony Kuphaldt:
Words encapsulate ideas(By the same token, mathematics is a "language" useful for expressing certain powerful ideas in very precise ways). It would be very interesting to study how certain ideas spread within different cultures, where differences in language may influence how readily an idea is accepted.

Ed Schulte:
the fun is in watching the many ways Cultural conditioning unspokenly influences concept forming then merges with others and then meets in a "consensus" totally unrelated with any Culture ...just plain old Applied Science.
Ed also shared beautiful poetry by Rumi;

But when it comes now to the bare essence...it is not the words or language itself but what quality of awareness, what level of consciousness those words emanate from , that will define their effect(s). Language evolves with need of transmitting awareness concepts" and shall we now point out , but the oldest of all ....Silence ....are all transmitters of consciousness towards higher quality within our Species.

Rhona Pavis:
Humanity can change. We can change. It is possible that our generation will be the one that co-creates a positive world for all humanity. We have infinite choice about what to focus on at every moment of our lovely lives. May as well choose positive.

Debra Smith:
I think that many times human beings have experiences for which there are no words and we think of them in a spiritual sense because that moment feels so elevated- that gap between definition and something new.

Mrityunjay:
Reading
The Gay Science-Nietzsche-Book five-"on the genius of the species"
The feeling of what happens-Antonio Damasio
Consciousness Explained-Daniel Dennett.

I also suggest Cognitive Philology@
padis2.uniroma1.it:81/ojs/index.php/cogphil/

Thanks & goodbye for now :)

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    Nov 13 2011: I've wondered about this myself, as there have been numerous times in my life I've felt I've never really understood a concept until I've acquired the vocuabulary to express it. Words encapsulate ideas, and a lack of words sometimes means you have a difficult time grasping an idea.

    By the same token, mathematics is a "language" useful for expressing certain powerful ideas in very precise ways. I'm happy to have studied all the math I could in primary and secondary education, for it paved the way for me to understand a great many concepts and ideas I would have struggled to grasp otherwise.

    It would be very interesting to study how certain ideas spread within different cultures, where differences in language may influence how readily an idea is accepted. I've wondered, for example, about languages such as Spanish where every single noun has a gender, whether or not this influences peoples' view of gender roles in that society.
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      Nov 19 2011: True that Tony, Language does help form concepts and this is different with different cultures (and species too I guess, if some kind of language has evolved) as you have rightly pointed in case of Spanish. Many times, everything amazes me and it gets difficult to comprehend simplest things, such as rush of faces in a street, locking of the door, etc etc. We are living on edge of where our species has reached, what it has evolved into. language is like a closed passport marked with evolutionary lingoes one doesn't need to know whats inside, just say tomato, and one is served with the right-red thing we refer to as tomato, so we can keep calling those "Tomatoes" and have as many as we may want :D
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      Nov 19 2011: Hey Ed, I am just back from a ten days un-foreseen, much- less desired tour and has I had feared, we are few hours from closing on this one. Good to know this gets archived, we can start from where we leave here. it'll be great to have once again... in the meantime, I will check on this website, you may like it too:

      http://padis2.uniroma1.it:81/ojs/index.php/cogphil/index
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    Nov 19 2011: Words are like road signs indicating our proximity to a city: Vancouver, 100 Kilometres; Vancouver, 50 Kilometres; Vancouver, 25 Kilometres; Vancouver, 10 Kilometres; Vancouver, 5 Kilometres; and so on.

    Each sign indicates we are getting closer to Vancouver but none of the signs are Vancouver.

    So we could say language is essential to the formation of concepts. Without language, no signs; and those points on the road - were we have placed our signs - would be meaningless. They would be real points but meaningless.
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      Nov 19 2011: Can't agree more Thomas. Language is essential for our kind of cultures... and its wonderful to see how language connects two entirely different 'things' (in itself?). The ride between both worlds, worlds by essence and worlds as perceived, conveyed, worlds;which language connected, opened to each other...is altogether a new world by every mean.
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    Nov 19 2011: Thank you everyone for wonderful thoughts and insights. Sorry that I couldn't stay for most of the time but this sure seems to me, a good beginning. I was thinking about "Cognitive Philology", any suggestions (Talks or books)?
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    Nov 13 2011: I love this word: numinous.

    numinous  [noo-muh-nuhs, nyoo-] Show IPA/ˈnumənəs, ˈnyu-/ Show Spelled
    Part of Speech: adjective
    Definition: spiritual
    Synonyms: airy, asomatous, devotional, discarnate, disembodied, divine, ethereal, extramundane, ghostly, holy, immaterial, incorporeal, intangible, metaphysical, nonmaterial, nonphysical, otherworldly, platonic, pure, rarefied, refined, sacred, supernal, unfleshly, unphysical, unworldly

    I think that many times human beings have experiences for which there are no words and we think of them in a spiritual sense because that moment feels so elevated- that gap between definition and something.....something new.
  • Nov 7 2011: Humanity can change. We can change. It is possible that our generation will be the one that co-creates a positive world for all humanity. Love and respect ourselves. Love and respect others. Choose positive everytime we have a choice. SEEKFIND positive. Positive cause/Positive effect. Positive can be contagious. Let's spread it. We currently have that power.
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      Nov 8 2011: May such infection never be contained, may all have good lives. Amen.
      :)
  • Nov 7 2011: M. Awasthy: We have infinite choice about what to focus on at every moment of our lovely lives. May as well choose positive.
  • Nov 5 2011: I've always thought an interesting experiment would be to remove all negative words from dictionaries, especially those used by elementary school children. I think it might increase the level of positive thinking, speaking, acting and feeling. Perhaps we can stop the flow of negative thoughts, words and deeds that are passed from generation to generation causing much pain. I think life is meant to be enjoyed by all. Let's erase all those negative words from our vocabulary and the negativity itself may disappear.
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      Nov 6 2011: very warm and genuine concern, too human though. If we can eliminate words and if things change in real doing this, I know you mean good for all Rhona, but I'll give humanity no more than a couple of years. Furthermore, THIS is the danger language poses, a tool capable of incapacitating the user. Good and bad are relative also are these words mere references to something beyond language. Blake's fly will still be dead.
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      Nov 6 2011: Isn't it a beautiful poem? Thanks for share Ed

      You observation added two valid points; Fear and maximum success rate. Now I am thinking if these are two evolutionary goodies added to our basket and same instincts could have contributed to limitation of language which is a great tool, but is too focused on humanitarian concerns, narrows our motive to kind of life we live, thus flies and mice are hard to comprehend. It is usually when one is in a situation where language fails (almost, for the purpose), one realize how cautiously Canadian Engineers work and what price development extorts of the subject.

      Spectrum is bewilderingly wide and we are successfully hiding in a hairline fracture.
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          Nov 8 2011: You have broadened the scope of conversation Ed :)

          Not only we are looking into "after" the language part but we have "before" the language "quality of awareness; a source of language now. Allow me to gather what we have here:

          Concepts are formed(you added quality here)>Language evolves with need of transmitting awareness concepts(still concepts, quality of course helps, relative term though)> Language becomes highest potency of communicable ideas, awareness, a permanent(somewhat) casting mold, limited but focused and much without a utility in all stages of civilization is not casted.

          So what I see here is a species discovers most economical ways to share, transmit, receive from whoever's concerned. There can be concepts common to many forms of life, or at least are shared with aid of analogies. Language, I once again would say, is most economical, mass based tool, and the is scope of new casts is limited, hence we have ART to compensate for much that we realize isn't fuller. This also covers beautiful Poetry of Rumi you have shared here, thanks a ton.

          We have good eleven days if you its worth your time