samedi, janvier 22, 2011


Na ro-bhrathan dligheach agus estèatach 
sa chèill CHÀNANAICH mhodalaich.
The juridical and the aesthetic anticipations 
in the modal LINGUAL meaning.
     The aesthetic law-sphere as well as the juridical aspect have appeared to be founded in the modal lingual sphere, because their modal structure necessarily contains a symbolic retrocipation. In the modal structure of the lingual aspect, on the contrary, the cosmic coherence of meaning with the aesthetic and the juridical modalities can only find expression in the anticipatory direction of time. In the exact juridical use of language, in which every symbolic expression is to be carefully weighed with respect to its 'juridical sense' in order to guarantee a univocal signification, we encounter a modal anticipation on the modal juridical meaning-aspect. This is a deepening of language only reached at a higher stage of culture, just as lingual economy and lingual harmony are absent in the merely retrocipatory structure of the lingual aspect.
Uamh Lascaux
     It is true that in primitive* society every juridical act is bound to a strict formalism of symbols.
     *[FMF] - Dooyeweerd employs the loaded word "primitive" here throughout. This term of course has become ever more deeply associated with the prevailing Darwinist dogma of human development: biological, cultural, and linguistic (from grunts to gerunds). However, I would suggest that the principles set out by Dooyeweerd in this passage in no wise require a Darwinist reading of this term (which reading is in fact NOT supported by the field research - see for instance the additional note ** below from the "The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language"). Insofar as the principles are valid, they would seem to have to apply to a posited language which, having known a degree of "civilized opening", has subsequently "closed" due to its user-community suffering major cultural atrophy. 
     With some relation to this, it is clear that modern totalitarian regimes, whether Fascist or Communist, had a detrimental ("closing") effect on language - an issue explored, for example, by George Steiner in regard to German ("Language and Silence"), and of course in general terms by George Orwell ("Nineteen Eighty Four"). 
     The same discussion pertains to the visual art and music of atrophied or politically repressed communities. The art of Soviet Russia and Maoist China curiously exhibited a similar formalism and sterility. 
     When we view the so-called "primitive" cave paintings of Lascaux or Altamira do we find an (open) "free, explicit expression of aesthetic harmony" (see Dooyeweerd below)? Or are they "bound to vital and sensory needs" (ie, closed)? To me the former seems the case. But even if the latter be so, I venture that we simply have before us the art of humans who have fallen on hard times (not out of Darwinian trees). How difficult it is to divest ourselves of a lifetime of hugely conditioning Darwinist imagery - those ubiquitous illustrations of brutish, omni-hirsute "cavemen" - from childhood encyclopedias to National Geographic magazines. How difficult to check out the actual unspun evidence. Perhaps pictorialization in scientific publications should be restricted to photographs of the raw data under investigation - no "artists' impressions" thank you! 
     The term "primitive" properly defined no doubt offers some kind of contribution to language description - in terms of restricted and nuanced, concrete and abstract range of reference etc. However, as Dooyeweerd has maintained elsewhere, nothing has meaning in itself. Words do not have meaning in themselves. Therein lies an ultimate crisis for the Humanist view of speech (cf Samuel Beckett"s "Waiting for Godot") as an emergent property of blank purposeless scum. That chemical reductionism is surely the real "close-down". We would note in marked contrast to this Dooyeweerd's emphasis both on one's supratemporal heart as source of one's action (including speech "acts") and the modality of Faith via which all human experience is "opened" unto the Creator. These dynamics are evident, it seems to me, in the following words of Christ:
     “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37)
But this proves only that juridical meaning is necessarily founded in the modal aspect of symbolic signification. In primitive symbolism itself, which often shows magic traits, the manner of denoting does not disclose a juridical anticipation.
     On the contrary, it binds the lingual function to sensory representations of a strictly prescribed pattern, just because primitive language lacks the juridical anticipation in an abstract symbolism. The latter pre-supposes an opening of the symbolic and juridical anticipations in the logical aspect which makes possible the formation of abstract juridical concepts freed from the primitive sensory representation. That primitive language also lacks aesthetic anticipation, is primarly due to the fact that here the linguistic aspect has not yet opened its economic anticipatory function.
     For without a free economic disposal and control of the symbols, language cannot disclose a syntactical harmony in anticipating the meaning-kernel of the aesthetic aspect.
     The primitive manner of denoting is strictly bound to sensory representation. Therefore it cannot anticipate the super-sensory meaning of harmony in its original aesthetic sense.
Uamh Lascaux
     This does not mean that primitive man necessarily lacks the aesthetical aspect of experience. Primitive art testifies to the contrary. We can only say that the primitive manner of symbolic denotation has no aesthetic anticipation. That is the reason why primitive art cannot elevate itself to a free, explicit expression of aesthetic harmony, but remains bound to vital and sensory needs, so that its aesthetical aspect can manifest itself only implicitly. We shall return to this state of affairs in the third Volume.
Buabhall Pailéiliteach (Paleolithic Bison)
(Herman Dooyeweerd, New Critique of Theoretical Thought, Vol II/ Part I/ Chapt 2/§4 pp 139-140)
**(FMF) Additional note from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language
"We do not know how to quantify language, so as to be able to say whether all languages have the same 'amounts' of grammar, phonology, or semantic structure. There may indeed be important differences in the structural complexity of language, and this possibility needs to be investigated. But all languages are arguably equal in the sense that there is nothing intrinsically limiting, demeaning, or handicapping about any of them. All languages meet the social and psychological needs of their speakers, are equally deserving of scientific study, and can provide us with valuable information about human nature and society. This view is the foundation on which the whole of the present book is based.

     There are, however, several widely held misconceptions about languages which stem from a failure to recognize this view. The most important of these is the idea that there are such things as 'primitive' languages - languages with a simple grammar, a few sounds, and a vocabulary of only a few hundred words, whose speakers have to compensate for their language's deficiencies through gestures. Speakers of 'primitive' languages have often been thought to exist, and there has been a great deal of speculation about where they might live, and what their problems might be. If they relied on gestures, how would they be able to communicate at night? Without abstract terms, how could they possibly develop moral or religious beliefs? In the 19th century, such questions were common, and it was widely thought that it was only a matter of time before explorers would discover a genuinely primitive language.
     The fact of the matter is that every culture which has been investigated, no matter how 'primitive' it may be in cultural terms, turns out to have a fully developed language, with a complexity comparable to those of the so-called 'civilized' 
Now, boys and girls, a Darwinist sleight of hand is about to happen, so let us concentrate very hard! In what follows we will observe a fascinating diplomatic protocol which seamlessly combines obeisance to the scientific paradigm with honest affirmation that the scientific evidence is at variance with the paradigm...(FMF)] -
     "Anthropologically speaking, the human race can be said to have evolved from primitive to civilized states, but there is no sign of language having gone through the same kind of evolution. There are no 'bronze age' or 'stone age' languages, nor have any language types been discovered which correlate with recognized anthropological groups (pastoral, nomadic, etc.). All languages have a complex grammar: there may be relative simplicity in one respect (e.g. no word-endings), but there seems always to be relative complexity in another (e.g. word-position). People sometimes think of languages such as English as 'having little grammar' because there are few word-endings. But this is once again the unfortunate influence of Latin, which makes us think of complexity in terms of the inflectional system of that language. Simplicity and regularity are usually thought to be desirable features of language; but no natural language is simple or wholly regular. All languages have intricate grammatical rules, and all have exceptions to those rules. The nearest we come to real simplicity with natural languages is in the case of pidgin languages; and the desire for regularity is a major motivation for the development of auxiliary languages. But these are the only exceptions. Similarly there is no evidence to suggest that some languages are in the long term 'easier for children to learn' than others - though in the short term some linguistic features may be learned at different rates by the children of speakers of different languages.
     None of this is to deny the possibility of linguistic differences which correlate with cultural or social features (such as the extent of technological development), but these have not been found; and there is no evidence to suggest that primitive peoples are in any sense 'handicapped' by their language when they are using it within their own community. 
     At the other end of the scale from so-called 'primitive' languages are opinions about the 'natural superiority' of certain languages...[] A belief that some languages are intrinsically superior to others is widespread, but it has no basis in linguistic fact. Some languages are of course more useful or prestigious than others, at a given period of history, but this is due to the preeminence of the speakers at that time, and not to any inherent linguistic characteristics."      
(The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language 1997. Part 2 The Equality of Languages