Code biology and language: questioning the three systems’-view

Aktivitet: Foredrag og mundtlige bidragKonferenceoplæg


According to Barbieri (2014), the history of evolution gives evidence of the existence of three different kinds of cognitive systems: The first, most basic kind involves mere perceptual capacities which that any living being including bacteria and other unicellular organisms can do (cf. Martin & Gordon 2001). The second kind of system pertains to eukaryotes having the neurophysiological complexity that not only permits them to perceive the world but also to interpret it. They do so as they “receive signals from the environment, transform them into mental images and perform mental operations” (Barbieri 2014: 143). Lastly, the third kind of system is the faculty of language which is human-specific and, specifically, initiated as a human infant makes use of “sounds to attract attention” and start mimicking the behaviors of others (Barbieri 2014: 144). This ‘three systems’-view makes sense in evolutionary terms. Nevertheless, there are good reasons for questioning its suitability if it is taken as an ontological claim. Here, we need only take a closer look at one of the systems: language.• First, it gives the impression that language builds on an interpretative dimension which can be potentially separated from linguistic activity. However, as Wittgenstein (2009) has shown, the basic attitude of ‘grasping’ something as something need not entail any mental reflectivity • Second, it remains unclear how human linguistic activity is different from, say, the “interpretive” activity of birdsong which, as Farina (2017) shows, also builds on biological capacities for making “connections between emitting and receiving sounds” (Barbieri 2014: 144). Thus, what remains to be clarified is how human language (and the cultural complexity it has brought about) is different from other kinds of vocal sense-making.This paper investigates the ontology of language in relation to the human ecology. It does so in an attempt at substantiating Barbieri’s claim that language is qualitatively different from other cognitive phenomena.
Periode4. jun. 2019
BegivenhedstitelSixth international conference in code biology
PlaceringFriedrichsdorf, Tyskland
Grad af anerkendelseInternational