Friday, July 27, 2007

The miracle of language...

Chana wrote a post today, thinking that no one would understand her. It turns out many people, including myself share her feelings to some degree. I pointed her to a post that I wrote in April which was triggered by me listening to some excerpts from "Notes from the Underground".

There is something amazing in this chain of cause and effect. Steven Pinker starts his phenomenal book "The Language Instinct" with these words:

As you are reading these words, you are taking part in one of the wonders of the natural world. For you and I belong to a species with a remarkable ability: we can shape events in each other's brains with exquisite precision. I am not referring to telepathy or mind control or the other obsessions of fringe science; even in the depictions of believers these are blunt instruments compared to an ability that is uncontroversially present in every one of us. That ability is language. Simply by making noises with our mouths, we can reliably cause precise new combinations of ideas to arise in each other's minds. The ability comes so naturally that we are apt to forget what a miracle it is...

I completely agree with Dr. Pinker. The ability to transmit this shared consciousness is nothing short of miraculous. I believe it is one of the foundations of our humanity.


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