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Becoming Human: The Development of Language, Self, and by J. Canfield

By J. Canfield

This e-book is a philosophical exam of the phases in our trip from hominid to human. facing the character and beginning of language, self-consciousness, and the spiritual perfect of a go back to Eden, it has a philosophical anthropology strategy. It presents an account of our position in nature in keeping with either empiricism and mysticism.

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The word is no mere gesture-like stylization of the foundational proto-behavior. The word qua symbol-token is so stylized that its connection with the job it performs is purely conventional, and in that sense arbitrary. Any other short and readily pronounceable or readily perceived token-type would have served the same purpose equally well. This arbitrary thing, the word, or other symbol, replaces the gesture and takes over its function. In moving spontaneously to a use of one of its culture’s words the child steps into language.

This does not happen just once. It becomes a given pattern. It becomes in short a way of her making a request and getting it filled. This pattern is generalized. For instance, if she wants a tablet I am holding she will reach for it and make that “wanting” noise. Eleventh month. “Arrar ” and arches back—to be let down from S’s lap to floor. Cries and holds up hand—wants balloon. Hands bottle to parent, saying, in effect, feed me! Fifteenth month. Holds shoe out to me and then gives me her foot so I’ll put her shoe on.

For the “that” implies it is a proposition that is known or assumed, and the child would not understand such a proposition, let alone know it. What we should say, rather, is that we will not count the child as having learned the meaning of “red” if it does not go on to use the word as we do, for example in giving or receiving request-statements involving the term. Given the right context, the child does pick up on the ostensive definition of red. Having been shown samples, it goes on to be able to point to new samples and then to do things like bring the right book when told to get the red one from the table.

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