Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Word

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him." (John 1:1-3))

That's a very provocative statement. (The Greek word "logos" is usually translated as "word," but also as: account, cause, communication, doctrine, intent, preaching, reason, saying, or tidings.) I don't believe any of them. Except "word."

"In the beginning was the word, and the word was a number and the number was One" - anon

"Before the beginning was 'The' or 'That' (no nouns or verbs, only indefinite articles) and this became a word, so the system began and the system was God." - anon

I think now we're getting somewhere. I'll cut to the chase: In the "beginning" the word for "word" finally got invented. And having a symbol meaning "symbol" changed human thought incredibly, irreversibly, and multiplied the power of speech and thought almost inconceivably. In other words, the human concept of self, and self-awareness itself, and awareness of self-awareness, perhaps all derived from having a word for "word."

This implies a historical phase once existed somewhere in between modern consciousness and nonverbal consciousness. To say that beasts had no words at all, (although certainly they have no word for "word") may not be so true. After all, animals have calls of alarm, and make noises of pain, and yips and grunts of pleasure, such as puppies and pigs; and birds singing lustily atop
a pile of hemp seeds. Perhaps the primate protohuman speech progressed somewhat above that, but not much.

What goes on in a dog's mind when he heads for the comfortable spot near the rock? I suggest there are symbols representing this spot in the dog's mind. The memory of the feel of the earth in that dug-out burrow, a memory too of the smell of the nearby plant varieties.

What goes on in a near-modern human mind using words? Here is the mystery, for pre-written languages left no clue to their structures. It's all guesswork on our part. Except for observing chimpanzees in the wild; and as far as determinable, they have gestures, but no known words for anything and no grammar at all. (Chimp communication)

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