[Bruce Nevin (2003.09.28.1157 EDT)]
Rick Marken (2003.09.26.1010)–
And we know that
our ancestors’ ways of conceiving of the world and parcelling it up
categorially are not the same as ours today (though perhaps this bears
emphasizing, since it is so common an error anachronistically to presume
that people of the 16th or 14th or 2nd century, or earlier, or even the
19th, perceived the world as we do today, as though they were no more
than ourselves in funny clothes, as in some B movie).
really have a fundamental disagreement if you are saying that our
ancestors perceived the world differently than we do. If this is what you
are saying, what is your evidence? I believe that our ancestors perceived
exactly as we do, in terms of the same classes of perceptual variables.
They the same nervous system (and, hence, perceptual) architectures as we
do today. They might have used some words slightly differently than we do
now; they may have referred to a hippo as a horse, for example. But I’m
sure that their perception of a hippo was as different from their
perception of a horse as my perception of a hippo is from my perception
of a horse.
I did not say their perceptions. What I said was their way of conceiving
of the world and parcelling it up categorially. To take a hackneyed
example, in a lightning storm they perceived the quarreling of the gods.
I do not claim that they perceived flashes of light and the contours of
clouds differently than we do. Their explanation of it, the story they
told themselves about it, was different. This is a matter of language and
the use of language to construct concepts and parcel up the perceptual
universe categorially. But fabrications though these explanations are,
and fictional (i.e. made, constructed, from Latin faco, facere,
“to make or do”), they constitute (construct) reference
perceptions according to which nonverbal, supposedly nonfictional
perceptual inputs, which we presume they and we all have in common, are
controlled. And that is why it is crucial to understand culture.