Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

Relationships and Things

A very long time ago, someone came up with names for things. It was so long ago, that we can no longer really tell how it happened. In the beginning, it was said. That’s pretty much all we know – no, it’s actually what we believe. How’s that for facts?

OK, so as my father was once reported to have actually said: your guess is as good as mine.

As a result, we have names for things – particular things. Anything you see or hear or whatever: it has a name, or someone is allowed to give it a name because the rules say so. Let’s leave the rules out of it for the time being – we’ll get back to them soon enough.

So all of the particular things have names. The Government Pillar and the Business Pillar are made up almost entirely of such particular things with particular names. Therefore, we can single out these particular things with particular names. That is all good and fine, but we need a third pillar: Relationships. All of the particular things with particular names are in some kinds of relationships with one another… and these relationships are also constantly changing. Everything is in flux. We keep trying to figure it out, and as we try to explain it, it becomes something it wasn’t before. It becomes something else, and so our explanations have to be adapted. This is a never-ending process – we generally refer to it as evolution (at least at this present moment in time).

These continuously evolving relationships are the main ingredient – or even “part and parcel” of the Relationships Pillar.

Now please note that each of these tree pillars – Government, Business and Relationships – are in flux, and more precisely: they are in symbiotic flux. They influence each other, and they are thereby involved in each others’ development (and / or evolution). Yet whereas Government and Business are traditionally seen as being intricately entwined with humans and / or humanity, relationships are generally seen as a matter of science, of scientific development and / or natural evolution.

Personally, I view the Relationships Pillar as virtually synonymous with “language”… but as but one tiny particle, as a mere atom or perhaps even just as one sub-atomic particle, I do not feel confident enough to simply declare such complex phenomena as completely equivalent in every respect. Names are almost certainly governmentally sanctioned phenomena, but the exact point at which names end and words begin is not completely clear. What is nonetheless clear (to me, at least) is that while language evolves certainly in symbiosis with human evolution, it is nonetheless a distinct phenomenon which cannot be controlled by any one human (or even any group of humans). When people are startled, for example, their expressions and behaviors are involuntary – there is some natural force, some instinctive behavior, some pre-programmed automatism involved… and such automatism happens often (and not just in “startling” situations).

Traditionally, human languages have been viewed as specifically human. They have also been viewed as innate, rather than as a devised technology. If humans did devise human languages, then what role do the shape and characteristics of the human vocal tract play? Likewise, what role is played by the human brain – which is itself undoubtedly the result of many thousands of years of evolution? Are human languages dependent on humans, or could the evolution of languages transcend the evolution of humans?

Just yesterday I listened to an interview of Isabella Rossellini with Alan Alda (see Clear + Vivid with Alan Alda “Isabella Rossellini on Communicating the Wonder of Nature” 2018-09-18 , via a variety of sources – see https://www.alanalda.com ), in which Ms. Rossellini remarked about the messages her chickens – she mentioned she owns about 100 chickens – send each other regarding threats from above (like a hawk) or below (like a snake) … that the expressions they use for different threats differ from one another. At that moment, I realized something I have wondered about for a very long time: it is (apparently) indeed possible for one species (in this case humans) to understand the language of another species (in this case chickens). Here I feel I need to point out that this case is different than the case of a pet owner understanding their own pet when the message is directed at the pet owner (or vice versa). In the case of the chickens, it is the expressions chickens use with each other (among the chicken species) that is apparently being understood by Ms. Rossellini (across species).

I feel I have stated clearly enough that the Relationships Pillar is both very abstract and also very complex, … and I could beyond the shadow of a doubt mention a long list of additional nuances. We have barely discovered even just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to language. Yet it would be an unpardonable mistake to ignore languages and / or such relationships when considering how social order happens, how social disorder happens, the kinds of things that lead to growth, the kinds of things that lead to extinction, and so on.

Advertisement