Consequently, it is only the style of the language that changes, not the set of principles that helps to formulate it. In other words, if a person speaks French, they will understand the world in the same way a German speaking person would; the only difference is the superficial qualities, such as intonation and grammar. Then there are also the strengths and limitations of language as a way of knowing. The four official ways of knowing that are taught in the IB are sense perception, reason, emotion and language5.
A functional way of approaching them and their relative role in defining our knowledge of the world is by a systematic study of human evolution. If we consider Darwin’s theory beyond the technicality that deems it pseudoscientific6, we can interlink the dependence of the human race on each of the ways of knowing. For one, the human race began with the same cognitive capacity as any other animal. Like them, we relied only on sense perception to obtain the information that would shape our view of the world. Nonetheless, over time we developed a liking for tool usage.
It is known that to even consider using a tool one must have the ability to reason, even if it is only to the most basic extent. However, since we know that other animals such as chimpanzees and gorillas also use tools, we cannot yet begin to speak of humanity as we know it. It was not until our brains were developed enough to be able to generate emotions that we could speak of human society and of human culture, accordingly. With emotion came the blueprints of society; early men and women were now able to bond with other members of the species in ways that were far beyond the merely symbiotic hunter-gatherer groups.
From this moment on we gained the ability to acquire knowledge. There are some who argue that since communication between individuals was present when these early societies started to form, language was too and so, consequently, it was really language and not emotion that paved the wave for human culture. However, these people forget that language is really the complex system of human interaction. These early forms of communication were extremely primitive in comparison even to those of ancient civilizations, and thus cannot be classified as language.
For early humans it was really only a matter of combining their current reasoning and emotive capacity. Even nowadays, if I was thinking ‘I like you, therefore I will give you this apple’, it would require no more than using emotion to determine how I feel towards someone and reason to decide what to do next. However, if I want to casually quote Hamlet and think ‘There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will’, it would be almost impossible to do it without a far more complex way of organizing concepts and ideas. Hence, the extent of our language serves the purpose of allowing us to express more complicated ideas.
It is then that language itself becomes critical. So far, we have seen how language is not a cause but a consequence of culture and how its extent, while not essential for human interaction, it is needed to express multifarious notions. Yet, at the same time, its type appears to be irrelevant according to Chomsky’s theory. The next assertion, however, will prove him wrong. A remote Australian aboriginal tongue known as Guugu Yimithirr is very peculiar in that instead of utilizing words like ‘left’ or ‘right’, they rely on cardinal directions such as ‘north’ and ‘south’7.
Thus, not only would this contradict Universal Grammar, since saying ‘left’ and ‘right’ is proven to be words that define our concept of space (an vital element of our view of the world), but it would also mean that anyone that hadn’t been born into a society that uses the cardinal points in this way would not be able to communicate with the members of said society. Without communication, one cannot understand the culture. Hence, one can never view the world in the same way. In other words, our language type can be limiting. In conclusion, language is the evolved offspring of the communion between our reason and our emotion.
It was created simply out of both need and utility, since it is easier and only possible to express more complex ideas through it. It is also self-limiting because of this, since when something is created out of utility it is dependant on the needs of a society which are in turn dependent on a large number of environmental factors such as geographical location or climate. This creates situations such as the one seen when discussing Guugu Yimithirr, where the language depended on the individual knowing the cardinal points, a resource that transcends their linguistic capacity.
Language is limiting; hence, its extent and type defines our knowledge of the world. Bibliography 1. http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/language 2. The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker, 1994 3. http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/culture 4. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Universal_grammar 5. www. amyscott. com/tok_diagram. htm 6. creation. com/is-evolution-pseudoscience 7. http://www. nytimes. com/2010/08/29/magazine/29language-t. html? pagewanted=3