Stories, explanations, concepts

[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).
Now we
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.

    /Bruce

Nevin

[From Rick Marken (2003.09.28.1130)]

Bruce Nevin (2003.09.28.1157 EDT) --

I did not say their [our ancestors' -- RM] 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.

But we can perceive it that way too, right? If not, how would people understand what you just said?

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.

But they are the same _kind_ of stories as we tell, containing descriptions of intensities, sensations, relationships, events, programs, principles and system concepts. The difference between our ancestors' stories and our own is no greater than the difference between my stories and yours. They contain different examples of particular perceptions. But they are made from the same types of perceptions -- the types that make up the perceptual hierarchy (or so says PCT, I think).

This is a matter of language and the use of language to construct concepts and parcel up the perceptual universe categorially.

There are certainly differences in the way language communities map language to experience. I know that Eskimos (not surprisingly) have a different word for each of a number of different types of snow conditions. But I'm pretty sure they perceive snow in the same way as do other people. Otherwise how could a non-Eskimo like Whorf have learned what all these different words point to?

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.

I think you lost me here. What fabrications? And aren't fabrications perceptions, too? How can a perception, even if fictional, constitute a reference perception?

And that is why it is crucial to understand culture.

I don't understand. Why is it crucial to understand culture?

Culture is, indeed, an interesting phenomenon. I think it's an interesting side effect of interactions between individuals, like the rings in the "Crowd" program". But why is it "crucial" to understand it?

Best

Rick

···

---
Richard S. Marken
marken@mindreadings.com
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