So, what we're talking about with facts, "to be" and the static nature of English is the cognitive consequence of literacy. Literacy harbors the illusion of a world as static as the literate medium, a basic worldview in which facts and "to be" make perfect sense. But that's an illusion that has nothing to do with the real world. The real world is in constant flux. I read of an anthropologist who showed the same photograph to some speakers of Indian languages, and to some English speakers. He asked what it was a photograph of, and the English speakers told him the objects in the photograph, but the Indian speakers told him the actions and relationships in the photograph. That's the difference between a noun-denominated universe of objects, and a verb-denominated universe of events.
We didn’t have to give up literacy to acknowledge the flux of the world or understand it now, did we? I believe in the flux of the world, I sense the flux of the world, but I still like the fact that I can read and write with my language.
All right, I acknowledge the differences between nouns and verbs. But we still understand both of them, don’t we? Even Native Americans had words for buffalo, longhouse, man, woman, “two-spirit,” and tipi, which had to be nouns, even if they had different meanings or more than word for buffalo (as did some Native American languages).
There are objects in the picture, the picture is a picture, but there are actions as well. Cartoonists can show actions and verbs in pictures, like the “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon mentioned in this thread. What’s wrong with acknowledging both? Can’t the two ways of seeing the picture be both valid?
Right; because you know the absurdity of the notion of a "fact" and instinctually rebel against it. That's why you can speak of "revising" facts. But of course, you also know that facts can't be revised; if they can, that just means they were never facts to begin with, because facts are defined by their everlasting truth. They are true statements about an unchanging universe, which is a universe that can only exist in written words, never in oral speech, much less in reality.
Wait a minute. It was we who define words. You’ve redefined horticulture and agriculture countless times, can we not redefine what a fact is or acknowledge it should be redefined? How does “redefining” a word invalidate using it?
Really? Your mother could strike out what someone else had written, and send the book to the press with the changes she had made, but that book isn't quite the same book the author sent to her, was it? I mean, the author's version still existed, right? And after it went to press, did the book ever change? Should I go double-check the books on my shelf to see if they've changed the ending on me since I last read them? A proliferation of different versions does not change the static nature of the literate world, nor the illusion of a static, "thing-like" universe that it captures us in.
Sure, the book changed. But it obviously could change. Yes, the author’s version still existed, but it was not published. Yes, they couldn’t change after a while, but they still changed while being written.
Here’s another example–I edit my words constantly. The posts I’ve written–I sometimes edit ten times before I finish them. Notice that I erased the point about the Kwakiutl after writing it even though you quoted it, since I saw that it was indeed off-track. I change them if I feel like it. Yes, the editing must stop, but some change initially is possible. It’s not all-or-nothing the way I felt you argued it. Of course, if you didn’t argue that, then I apologize for misunderstanding you.
That's empathy, and while empathy is very important to an appreciation of the sensuous world, it is not, in itself, really a sensory experience.
How is this not?
Read above. Ong's exploration is really one of the cornerstones of literate cognition. Oral languages possess an almost musical quality; they are events, rather than things like books or even words to be "looked up." Rhythm is more important than syntax. Indeed, the very mentality of breaking things down follows from books made of chapters made of paragraphs made of sentences made of words made of letters, and the pursuit of the atom--the basic unit of the universe analogous to the letter. Orality focuses us instead on the relationship between the words, the rhythm and how they flow together. You don't analyze a song the way you analyze a book; a song is appreciated as an event, the relationships between the notes.
Yes, and obviously one can still analyze things in oral settings even when they are still literate. Sure, a song is different–so why does literacy inherently blind you if we still know how to analyze oral things differently? Sure, I analyze songs differently.
Can you write something that relates somebody to their senses? Sure, but that doesn't change the fact that to do so, you're swimming upstream, and largely trying to use literature to heal the gap that literacy created.
No. I would not write something that relates to their senses. I would acknowledge that their senses is something that is not in literacy. But I can still acknowledge that while being literate.
I had a speech delay as a child. I could not talk fluently until the age of six. The only way I could communicate was by writing. Now I can talk very fluently. Again, I just don’t see what’s wrong with literacy and writing since we still all do speak with an oral language, and we’re all writing right now and are communicating these “anti-literacy” feelings.
Facts are absolutely not observations.
All right, I misunderstood this you said in the past, then:
There are no consistent facts; any language that traps you into asserting them traps you into constantly muddled thinking. Even the most seemingly basic “facts” are subject to change. There are ways to state observations very strongly in native languages, but that final leap from “this is the way it has always been and everyone has always seen and experienced this,” to “this is how it is,” is something that’s very difficult to make.
Observations relate a sensuous experience; I saw, I heard, I tasted, I touched, I felt, etc. They are couched in a subjective experience. But facts lay claim to objective truth. They aren't simply felt or seen or touched, they ARE. Indeed, we doubt our [i]senses[/i] when they don't line up with "the facts." The very definition of a fact lies in its claim to absolute, objective truth. That's quite different from an observation, which simply states what you have experienced yourself.
We regularly discover that the things we once thought were facts, are not actually facts. That doesn’t change the facts; that just means that our knowledge of the facts is imperfect. The facts do not change, but our knowledge of them does. Facts cannot change, that’s what makes them facts.
And a true scientist is unaware of this? Also, the people I know are aware of how their senses percieve things. Yes, I saw and I heard. I heard a sound that was loud and it bothered me–others didn’t get bothered about it. I do believe that emotions are not facts.
And that's what makes them absurd. The world is constantly changing, and all we ever have is our sensuous experience of the living world around us.
You still were able to acknowledge that in a “literate” context.
You have, and if you think you haven't, that just shows that you've done it even more. That's what "to be" means. Every time you use some form of the words "to be," you imply in your own mind and in the minds of everyone around you an implacable, essential, and thus unchanging, quality. That's what the word means. When you step back to think about it, you may realize that's not the case and deny it, but that's not what we're talking about. That's not important; that's not the kind of unconscious habit of thought that molds our brains so powerfully from constant repetition.
Speaking B-English produces “the colonized mind” because it so powerfully usurps all other viewpoints and frames of reference. Consider your own example. You know that facts do not actually exist (since you’ve spoken now about facts “changing,” which is a contradiction in terms; you might as well tell us about frozen fire), and yet your mind has been so thoroughly colonized by the literate mode of thinking that you’re trying to contend that “facts” provide a necessary and valuable frame of reference, except for being a fantasy produced by the cognitive consequences of literacy.
I will not deny that my mind has probably been colonized in some form by literacy. I’m sure yours has too. What I am arguing, however, is that this does not necessarily have to be the case. I see value in visual speech, and Abram does not believe writing has to be given up entirely either. Again, my argument here is this: can one think dually, and that is acknowledge a context for the “literate” mind as well as acknowledge the “sensuous” mind? I believe so. You might not, but my “observations” have made me conclude that I can.
Yet I will argue these points:
I said valuable, not necessary. I was also pointing out that you have defended facts as consistent. Again, I did not say that I believed those facts were consistent or unchanging, just that that was how you defended them. If I said something else, I will “retract” that.
How is that the case if I did not think of those things as unchanging, nor did I think I was saying that? I must have a difficult time understanding “to be” then. What examples then, constitute “to be?”
All right, I admit. However, you did argue consistent facts. And yes, things do change. But they still are sometimes in the frameworks of larger facts.
Consider mathematics. Two plus two equals four. Four plus four equals eight. Even animist cultures could count. See the mathematical systems of Native Americans at this site: http://math.truman.edu/~thammond/history/AmericanIndians.html. Sure, they were different, but they did have concepts of numbers.
Again, it’s based on the idea of defining facts that way. So is “frozen fire”–that’s based on the assumption that fire is hot. Scientists have not given up believing in facts to acknowledge that there is moonlight at night and sunlight at day. There’s even moonlight during the day at times!
Okay, how about gravity? Apples drop when you let go of them unless they are otherwise supported. That’s consistent, is it not? Every apple that is let go drops, or a ball.
It's like Robert Anton Wilson wrote in the quote above, "we move gradually from paradox to nonsense to total gibberish." When we're grounded in our sensuous experience, we have a wealth of mutual perspectives to draw upon. But when we include one with delusions of grandeur that lays claim to objective truth, we're forced into absurd positions like "light is a particle," and "light is a wave," that leads us "from paradox to nonsense to total gibberish."
So we end up in the position where we talk about how faulty and unreliable our senses are, because they don’t agree with the objective truth claims of the literate mind. They percieve only this pale, sensuous shadow of the pure world of Forms, as Plato wrote. We’re ultimately put in the position of disparaging our only genuine experience of the world, and all that remains is the literate mind, the “colonized mind.”
I do not think my senses are unreliable. Indeed, if I don’t feel a sound is loud that someone else tells me is loud, I’ll discard their assumption. But I’ll still acknowledge that he might think that sound is loud.
Well, that's E-Prime. "To be" always implies an unchanging equation. If I say, "Those leaves are green," then I've claimed that green is an inherent quality of those leaves. When they turn red in the autumn, my statement is shown to be false. The leaves aren't green; they appear green right now, but they might appear some other way at some other time. If I say those leaves appear green, then my statement is undeniably true. The difference is that the first statement asserts a fact, that greenness is an inherent property of the nature of those leaves. Like all facts, this ultimately fails; greenness is not an inherent property of the nature of those leaves, because those leaves have no static nature. Green actually is a relationship between the leaf and my visual cortex, mediated by light waves and my eye. It is how I experience the leaf visually, it is not a property of the leaf itself. So it is much more true to speak about my experience--the leaf appears green--than to try to lay claim to objective truth.
Yes, that’s true. But again, why do you have to say “appears” consistently? People might prefer saying the “leaves are green,” but they know they will turn brown.
If it’s easier for you to say that the leaf is green, wouldn’t people want to say it? People know that leaves turn brown, like in the Simon and Garfunkel song “Leaves that are Green,” where they sing “And the leaves that are green turn to brown, and they wither with the wind.” People in their minds revise that to know that the leaves will be green. Again, people do not have to take things literally, and they don’t–just like in a metaphor.
Why did I have to change my speech to acknowledge that leaves will turn brown. We also know that green is based on our sensuous experience–a colorblind person would not see it as green at all. But again, that is still implied. For example, in clay-marking, artists often say “slip and score” to discuss a part of making clay. But it’s actually “score and slip” based on true order. We acknowledge that, but still say it.
We also put quotation marks among words when we want to redefine that.
Perhaps it’s our definition of “facts” that has caused this problem more than just facts themselves, and the fact that we have created this prison, more than just speaking. I intuitively discard facts if I find them untrue, don’t you do that as well, Jason? Why is acknowledging a fact automatically imprison you?
I’ve said “the leaves are green” many times, but never implied they would always be green.
I suppose if you redefine "be" to something almost completely opposite of what the word means, then removing "to be" from English would mean much less. But even if you actually have completely redefined the word for yourself (and it sounds like you haven't, you've just pushed it all to the subconscious level where it can rule over you without any possibility of your interference), no one you're speaking to or writing for understands the word that way.
First, what is “to be?”
Unchanging, static reality is what "to be" [i]means[/i]. We can equivocate about how what we thought was an unchanging fact before has been shown to not be an unchanging fact; now this is the unchanging fact, but every time you say "to be," you assert a static equation, an objective truth.
Okay, now you’ve defined it. Strike the question I just said above. I’ve just changed the fact that now I know what you’ve said and what “to be” means. I could do that with writing.
Again, I’ve said things at static equations, but I didn’t have to lose my literacy to be open to the possibility they might change.
That's what the word means. It's like asking why everyone assumes that "coyote" [i]has[/i] to mean a wild canid smaller than wolf that usually hunts small game alone. After all, I've always defined a coyote as a bunny rabbit.
Okay. But again, that’s a way of defining something. Why is that not valid? Native Americans had a different word for coyote and wolf as well.
How do you know that? Everyone thinks differently. I cannot anticipate your responses to my comments.
Only because we all know that "to be" is really nonsense.
Yes, and we did that without giving up writing. We did it instinctively, and argued that literacy had one way of thinking, but we had to use another way of thinking to analyze emotions.
3A. John is lethargic and unhappy.
3B. John appears lethargic and unhappy in the office.
4A. John is bright and cheerful.
4B. John appears bright and cheerful on holiday at the beach.
Looking at our next pair, “John is lethargic and unhappy” vs. "John is bright and cheerful,’ we see again how medieval software creates metaphysical puzzles and totally imaginary contradictions. Operationalizing the statements, as physicists since Bohr have learned to operationalize, we find that the E-Prime translations do not contain any contradiction, and even give us a clue as to causes of John’s changing moods.
Why does everything have to be taken literally? People do acknowledge the changing reality of things.
The B-English "A" statements assign a property to John; John [i]is[/i] lethargic and unhappy; John [i]is[/] bright and cheerful. These contradict each other; is John unhappy, or cheerful? But we recognize that we couldn't possibly mean what we're saying, because what we're saying is absurd. No person ever [i]is[/i] a single emotion. So we fill in what we actually mean: John appears unhappy right now, or John appears cheerful right now. Wouldn't it be more truthful to say what we actually mean--in other words, to not use "is" at all?
Not if it’s easier for us to say it. If we all instinctively will change what we mean, what’s the problem with saying is, if we’re willing to nonverbally and subconsciously change it?
But if there are no consistent facts, how do you explain your assertions of them? You have asserted as consistent that civilization is inherently unsustainable, and also, that human beings must hate hierarchy due to their nature, and that these things never change.
Once again, my point is to show how civilized logic defeats itself, so I talk about “facts” in a “for the sake of argument” case; not because I accept their validity, but because the people I’m trying to persuade do.
But in my own case, I will confess to a poverty of language. I have no other way to express myself but in the stunted, domesticated language I have. I’ve been trying to expand that, but that is a difficult and crucial part of rewilding. To someone who recognizes the absurdity of facts, I would say that those are very consistent observations.
They are. That was precisely my point. And two plus two equals four. And as you mentioned later, you argue the Kwakiutl are unsustainable, even though they were not civilized based on the definition of civilization.