Re: requesting assistance
Thu, 20 Mar 1997 11:08:27 EST

>> > "Without language,we have no relationships.
>> What about early attachment relationships, which begin around 6 months
>> of age and earlier, between infants and adults -- would it be fair to say
>> that babies don't have relationshps with their parents?
>I have wondered about this as well, Mike. But what I have come to
>realize is that I was attaching a conventional, Objectivist
>interpretation to the term 'language' --- namely, that there IS
>someTHING, some entity, which we call 'language.'
>But is there? What evidence is there for it?
>I have concluded, after long study, discussion and reflection, that I
>can locate no such evidence. I am left with the conclusion that we use
>the term 'language' to denote a metaphor, or a linguistic
>distinction/concept, but not a demonstrable 'reality.' In the final
>analysis,then,the traditional Objectivist interpretation of language is
>thing-oriented, static, and potentially misleading and illusory.
>However, if we join noted Biology of Cognition scholar Humberto
>Maturana, we can reframe or reconstruct our interpretation of 'language'
>to a view which I believe is more in keeping with Constructivism (see
>Attachment). We can begin to think in terms not of a thing, but of a
>dynamic action process of languagING, in which we
>coordinate action with ourselves and others, continuously, publicly and
>privately, throughout all the conscious days of our life.

Hi Gary:

Your comments about language as an activity rather than as a fixed
structure are rich and thoughtful. I think that it is an appropriate
point to make. I agree that we should avoid speaking of language as
an abstract structure, and speak of speech, speaking, utterning, and
the like. However, as rich as your comments are, I may have been
addressing a different point. The poem suggested that without language,
there are no relationships; it suggests the priority of language in
psychological functioning. My point was simply that sign activity is but
one vehicle of psychological functioning. I gave early attachment as
an example of how there could be a relationshiup, but not signs or speech.

Here is another example, a classic one, from Piaget. Piaget was watching
his 15 month old girl as she played with a toy clown with long feet. The
feet of the doll became caught in the low neck of her dress, and Jacqueline
could'nt get them out. After her failed attempt, Jacqueline "put her hand
in fron of her, bent her forefinger at a right angle to reprduce the shape
of the clown's feet, described exactly the same trajectory as teh clown and
thus succeedded in putting her finger in the neck of the dress..."

In this example, the child is using the trajectory of her finger as a
symbol to "stand for" the movement of the clown. This is not sign-
activity. Piaget, in fact, sees such symbolic uses of action as a
forerunner to signs. Again, my point is that we think and relate in many
ways, sensori-motor actions, images, emotional expereicne, that are not
necessarily instances of sign activity.

Mike Mascolo