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Language, meaning and temporal cognition

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If you escalate with students, the psychology exists equitable at the number and as fun of the further browser to make concepts. May 31, public ideas on the structure of time language meaning and simulation and block synthesis which is not on Spartan homelands.

On this account, the elaboration of subjective concepts in terms of concepts derived from external sensory experience, what I am referring to as inter-subjective information, may provide a means of foregrounding otherwise back-grounded mechanisms and experiences. Hence, by appealing to external sensory experience, the back-grounded mechanisms and experience associated with temporal cognition can more readily enter into focal consciousness.

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Download The Structure Of Time Language Meaning And Temporal Cognition Human Cognitive Processing

Of course, it is important to emphasise that from this it does not follow that temporal experience cannot be communicated directly. Put another way, the encoding of temporal experience in language can be accomplished in the absence of elaboration i. After all, we can consciously focus on assessments of temporal magnitude, simultaneity, and other aspects of temporal experience e. Moreover, there are lexical items which directly encode concepts derived from such experiences, e.

However, as temporal experience enters into our experience of anything, and indeed everything, even when we are not actively focusing on an aspect of temporality itself, temporal experience is omnipresent at a relatively low level of conscious processing. Hence, patterns of elaboration serve to enrich temporal concepts which relate to a fundamental and otherwise back-grounded, for the most part, aspect of human cognition. One JB[v. This may be due to evolutionary pressures in the formation of neuronal connections, in which certain experiences which are subject to higher-order processing such as decision-making, learning, etc.

A second account, due to work by Grady, suggests that temporal processing and experience may constitute one of the most basic aspects of our cognitive architecture. As such, it enters into many aspects of cognitive function and therefore operates at a level of cognitive processing which may not readily become accessible to focal consciousness. On this view, the elaboration of temporal concepts in terms of external sensory experience serves to foreground otherwise back-grounded processes and experiences. As this book is primarily addressing the linguistic problem associated with time in order to circumvent the metaphysical problem, it accordingly represents a linguistic analysis of the conceptual system.

Download The Structure Of Time Language Meaning And Temporal Cognition Human Cognitive Processing

Hence, it constitutes an investigation of the relationship between language and meaning. The expression of meaning is presumably the reason why language has developed at all — the symbolic nature of language and the mental faculties responsible represent the means whereby meaning can be encoded and externalised. It would therefore be surprising in the extreme if language and linguistic structure failed to reflect this primary motivation.

Consequently, the present approach assumes that our understanding of language cannot be advanced in a significant way without taking seriously the nature and central role of meaning.


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However, my concern in this chapter is not just to approach the nature of linguistic meaning; in addition, I consider how anything can be meaningful at all. The reason for adopting this more ambitious tack is that it is meaning broadly conceived — that is, the nature of our environment and on-going changes to which an organism must respond in an appropriate way if it is to be ecologically viable1 — which presumably must ultimately give rise to the nature of mental representation in the conceptual system.

It is upon this mental representation that language depends. In addition to offering a more general view of meaning, this chapter will also focus on the nature of the conceptual system itself and how it is constituted. In Chapter 1 I defined the conceptual system as that attribute of mind which encodes, organises and structures information which has achieved representational status. As I noted, representational status relates to the ability to represent, model and thus recall an experience, qua a concept, even when the experience is no longer accessible to focal consciousness.


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Hence, concepts are mental representations, which can potentially serve as the semantic pole in the sense of Langacker of a linguistic expression. The conceptual system is of fundamental importance for a number of reasons. Not least, it seems reasonable to suggest that a relatively sophisticated conceptual system must have co-evolved with language Deacon ; Edelman ; Jackendoff , This conclusion leads to the assumption that the conceptual system will ultimately constrain and delimit the nature of representation by language.

We would therefore expect to see the conceptual system leave its mark on the linguistic system. A number of scholars take quite seriously the notion that linguistic organisation reflects conceptual considerations. For instance, Jackendoff , , , , Langacker , a, b, , and Talmy illustrate in detail how conceptual categories, e.

For instance, Edelman hypothesises that a syntax may have evolved as follows: When a sufficiently large lexicon is collected, the conceptual areas of the brain categorize the order of speech elements, an order that is then stabilized in memory as syntax. In other words, the brain recursively relates semantic to phonological sequences and then generates syntactic correspondences, not from preexisting rules, but by treating rules developing in memory as objects for conceptual manipulation.

In this sense, evolution represents and reflects the behaviour responses, choices and habits adopted by a particular species. Dennett makes the same point in the following way: We all assume that the future will be like the past — it is the essential but unprovable premise of all our inductive inferences, as Hume noted. Mother Nature the design-developer realized in the processes of natural selection makes the same assumption.

Noam Chomsky: Language and Other Cognitive Processes

In many regards, things stay the same: gravity continues to exert its force, water continues to evaporate, organisms continue to need to replenish and protect their body water, looming things continue to subtend ever-larger portions of retinas, and so on. Where generalities like these are at issue, Mother-Nature provides long-term solutions to problems: hard-wired, gravity-based which-way-is-up detectors, hard-wired thirst alarms, hard-wired duck-when-something-looms circuits.

For organisms which require periods of low activation, sleep, and have evolved physiological apparatus for activity by daylight i. The Earth is, in effect, a geo-physical clock constituting a 24 hour day-night cycle as it rotates upon its own axis. The human organism has internalised this highly predictable cycle enabling humans to become more ecologically viable in a peridoic environment Winifree It is interesting to note that the wake-sleep rhythm runs on a The wake-sleep cycle in humans is regulated by the detection of light, and controlled by the suprachiasmatic nuclei, located above the crossing of the optic nerve in the mid-brain.

The point is that the nature of the environment which an organism inhabits necessitates responses from the organism in order to function more effectively and hence ensure survival. These behavioural responses which can lead to physiological responses i. However, to suggest that evolution constitutes a response to the environment does not entail that there is a single optimal response.

As pointed out by Varela et al. Such a view would treat adaptation as a process which leads to optimal physiological systems, a teleological tendency, in which evolution is driven by some ultimate goal or cause. As Toulmin and Goodfield observe, the doctrine of functional teleology, prevalent until as late as the nineteenth century, was undermined by the discoveries made by Darwin. As they put it: The Darwinian theory called in question all teleological interpretations of the History of Nature — theistic and naturalistic alike.

It did not deny that organic structure and animal behaviour were adaptive. But it did deny that these functional aspects of Nature came into existence as the end-results of processes specifically aimed at their production. For instance, they observe that human vision is trichromatic, which is to say, it utilises three types of photoreceptors and three colour channels.

More importantly, a consequence of having trichromatic vision is that three dimensions are required for representing the range of colour distinctions that we are able to make. Yet, some organ- JB[v. As Varela et al. This view of evolution, then, suggests that evolutionary fitness does not so much constitute adaptation in the sense that there is some pre-given property of the world that can be adapted to.

Rather, successful evolutionary change entails a viable response to diverse ecological niches, by developing effective, as opposed to optimal, means of exploiting regularities in the world. Moreover, once a species has happened to embark upon a particular phylogenetic pathway, continued development along the route selected takes place i.

This process they refer to as evolutionary natural drift. In terms of a broadly-situated view of meaning, the foregoing has important consequences as, in essence, the world we experience, i. Rather, it is constructed by virtue of our particular evolutionary history and the nature of our embodiment, a subject to which we now turn. In this sense, our world, and indeed our reality, is largely determined by the nature of our physiology and our evolutionary history.