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Re: [xmca] Somatic Semantics, or, Speech as a LOWER Psychological Function

Dear David Kellogg:

The spoken word registers as a vocal sound and as a representative of a referred-to thing. We are affected by the sound subliminally and according to our fundamental nature. We are affected by the referential aspect of spoken words consciously and according to our learned associations. What we are conscious of can be examined, questioned and deliberately altered. That which affects us subliminally is beyond our ken and unavailable for alteration. What you call, "higher mental functions" are founded upon our "psychological functions". The unquestioned affects upon us of our vocal sounds supply us with a sense of the ultimate meanings of the things we consider consciously.

That humans evolved in disparate physical environments accounts for the emergence of our different languages/cultures. Water in Eskimo- land was a different substance than water in the Amazon, hence different emotional reactions to it and therefore, different words for it.

I hear we are 98.6% genetically the same as chimpanzees. Much of our foundation is the same. We are supposed to be 30% genetically the same as yeast

Were it not for the emotional-feeling effect of the sounds of our words, we would not be able to think of things in the abstract and maintain a sense of their meanings, (their affects upon us). While we are busy thinking with words about things, at the same time we are experiencing our reactions to to the sounds of the words for those things. Consequently, we associate the thing referred to with the effect we experience from the referrer, - word -. People who are multilingual report that they see the world differently depending upon what language they are using.

		Joseph Gilbert

On Nov 21, 2010, at 5:28 PM, David Kellogg wrote:


Here's an example of the distinction between higher and lower mental functions, and why it's so important.

There are really TWO aspects to Joseph Gilbert's "somatic semantics", that is, his idea that bodily emotions are in some important sense fundamental to sense making.

a) The idea that emotion (including interpersonal emotion and social emotion) is part of the base, part of the substratum, part of the phylogenetic, sociogenetic and even ontogenetic origins of speech, and in the same way essential to speech in microgenesis (everyday use).

b) The idea that this emotion in turn has an individual, biological, corporeal substratum in the human body, hence the preverbal examples of "mmm" and "mama" and so on.

Now, my position is that I accept a) but only if we completely turn it upside down and take the social, cultural, and interpersonal as the indispensable base and the individual, biological, intrapersonal as the derivative, and thus optional, superstructure.

This accounts for the linguistic variation with culture (which Gilbert's theory in its biological form cannot do). But it also means we have to completely reject b). If we accept b) then we are reducing speech to a LOWER psychological function..

Actually, there are two different words for "psychological" and "mental" in Russian, but the distinction is slightly different things from the distinction we have in English. One of them is психические, simply a transliteration of "psychological", and it means what it does in English. But the other is the other means something like "intellectual" or even "learned" as opposed to unlearned, uncultured, non-socialized. So it already has in it the idea of a higher mental function.

Take a look at this Conversation Analysis data from one of my grads. You can see that the EMOTIONAL substratum is essential to understanding the whole dialogue. But you can also see that the ways in which the corporeal body participates in this meaning are really trivial, and subordinated to "intellectual", "learned" ways of meaning making

The English teacher is talking in English to the kids after a class talent show.

T: I was impressed by(.) your acting,(.)°your drum.°
S: bum bu bum bum bum

The kids respond with a sound that is purely biological, and which could be understood by anyone, even someone who understands no English. It's a lower level mental function, but it's in RESPONSE to a compliment delivered (using the passive voice) in a foreign language.

T: °oh, you were almost like (.) a specialist.°=
Ss: @##$%%
T: = Ohh~! It's cool I think.

The teacher wants the kids to feel good abou their performance. But she realizes that the word "specialist" doesn't really convey what she wants, or rather, it conveys what SHE wants but it doesn't convey what the kids want to hear.

So she uses the word "cool". Now, of course, the word "cool" does have a physical substratum, just like the word "hot". But that physical substratum comes from understanding its ideological superstructure, not vice versa.

"Cool" is an obvious example of complexive thinking: it includes many many things, including, as we shall see, its opposite, or at least the opposite of what the teacher means.

Ss: @#$%#
 S4: >Oh(.)uh(.)uh(.)< I. I like(.) uh(.) Kim Jiseong's dance.

S4 is referring to a mildly pornographic dance by a boy impersonating the sexy pop singer Miss A in the sixth grade. The teacher is shocked.

Ss: huh↓(laughs)
  T: do you LIKE it?
Ss: [we like it.]
T: huh. °never mind.°

The teacher is aghast because of the sexual suggestiveness of the dance. But what intrigues the kids is not this (they have no real experience of sex but they have a lot of experience of sexual suggestiveness and they are quite blase to its meaning as a result). What intrigues them is the gender bending implicit in the parody of the pop singer, Miss A.

S7: °mr. a°
T: mr. a (giggles) not miss a. [ok ]
Ss:                                          [hahahaha]

It often happens that kids are exposed to PARODY before they are really familiar with what is being parodied. A very warm seedbed for PREJUDICE. It is one of the rather confusing aspects of being young, and one of the things that makes young people natural recruits for racist, reactionary and sexist movements.

T: ok(.) I really want to ask him(.) why he wore:: kind of short pants >°for women.°< =
S4: [Hat ppaensch ibjana (He wore hot pants)]
Ss: [haha ](giggles and laughter)
T: [= ° I don't understand.°]
Ss: [@#$%$#]

Now, you can see from the somewhat precious Conversation Analysis notation that I force my poor grads to use that Conversation Analysis really tends to emphasize a lot of the PHYSICAL aspects of speech (volume, intake of breath, etc.).

Between you and me (and Halliday, who agrees), I find this rather unfortunate, because it seems to me that key to understanding this extract as a CHAIN, as a COMPLEX, as a series of EMOTIONAL responses and responses to responses is not the biological, lower mental function of the speech but on the contrary its cultural and sociological value.

Volosinov says "Individual consciousness is not the architect of the ideological superstructure, but only a tenant loding in the social edifice of ideological signs (Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, p. 13)."

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

--- On Sat, 11/20/10, Bella Kotik-Friedgut <bella.kotik@gmail.com> wrote:

From: Bella Kotik-Friedgut <bella.kotik@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [xmca] Sorry for not modifying the subject: Higher mental functions = higher psychological processes = executive functions ?
To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <xmca@weber.ucsd.edu>
Date: Saturday, November 20, 2010, 3:17 PM

On Sun, Nov 21, 2010 at 12:21 AM, ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com> wrote:

2010/11/21 ulvi icil <ulvi.icil@gmail.com>

With my apologizes for my ignorance, I have a question:

What we meet as higher mental functions are "almost" the same with higher
psychological processes YES

and both are "almost" the same as executive
functions.  NOT Right



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Sincerely yours Bella Kotik-Friedgut

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