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Re: [xmca] Re: Using the term institution in a very broad sense

Right, Tony - there has to be a goodness of fit both ways. I think what you're saying is the point that has been made against Chomsky. Rather than it being simply the case that humans have evolved to speak language, it is equally true that languages have evolved such that humans can speak them. 

The Sinha chapter is, to me, the perfect text at the perfect time.

He draws in Gibson:

"In the ecological psychology of James J. Gibson (Gibson 1979), a key role is played by affordances, properties of the ecological niche affording or supporting specific kinds of action made possible by the motor system and morphology of the animal. Such actions are both species-typical (though not necessarily species unique) and adaptive. Because affordances, Gibson maintained, are directly perceived, the phenomenal world of the animal is meaningful, in that it potentiates the activation of perception-action circuits: objects present themselves as edible, climb-able, graspable and so forth."

He explains Durkheim on social facts:

"Durkheim, a founding father of social theory, attempted a theoretical and methodological clarification of social science and its object. This object he stipulated to be the domain of social facts, which he described as “a category of facts which present very special characteristics: they consist of manners of acting, thinking, and feeling external to the individual, which are invested with a coercive power by virtue of which they exercise control over him.” (Durkheim 1982 [1895])."

He explains the difference between money and words:

"The bill does not *represent* or *stand for* twenty dollars: it simply *is* twenty dollars, it is self-identical to its monetary exchange value."

Language requires not just a "counting as" relationship, but in addition a (semiotic) "standing for" relationship.

And on these bases he develops a "semiotically defined ontology of the social"; a "social and semiotic ontology of language." 


On Jun 19, 2011, at 12:14 PM, Tony Whitson wrote:

> For the principle below, re: grammar, I should have also provided the analogical situation, re:phonology, that may be easier to grasp quickly:
> Linguists could invent an artifical language based on a phonemic system that could theoretically be used (spoken and heard) by a species whose vocal and auditory apparatuses are different from our own, but not by us. It might be a semiologically adequate language for such species. It would not work for us, for reasons that are physiological, not semiological.
> On Sun, 19 Jun 2011, Tony Whitson wrote:
>> thanks, Martin
>> While linguists might be able to construct artificial grammars that could structure linguistic communication in a non-human population whose psychological processing is different from our own, only a grammar that can be processed by our human psychological apparatus could function as a real grammar in a real human language.
>> The obverse is that a psychological apparatus must be capable of processing some semiosically adequate grammar if it is to function as the psychological apparatus for members of a language-using species.
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