Symbols, Commands and Prediction

Aranguren, José Luis L. 1974. Freedom, Symbols and Communication. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 412: 11-20.

By symbols one should understand images invested with a meaning. The images are given; symbols are made by assigning a meaning to the given images. This assignation is done by emotive connotation, if it is a question of literacy, concrete symbols and by plain convention, if it is about mathematic, abstract symbols. Use of symbols converts animal condition into human predicament. Indeed, we manage very often with nonverbal and even verbal signs which point directly to things, imitate them onomatopoetically or express interjectionally our feelings. (Aranguren 1974: 12)
There are of course countless definitions of a symbol, but this seems one of the most simplistic. It almost seems to hinge on the conflation of "image" and "idea".
Our only way to think is in linguistic terms, with words or shorthand words. I am not going to enter into the problem of differential psychology of language concerning the possibility or impossibility of thought without words, for instance, in deaf-mutes. (Aranguren 1974: 12)
Yeah! All chairs have armrests and I am not going to enter into the discussion about the possibility or impossibility of using chairs without armrests for sitting.
Every language is, as Wittgenstein says, a tool-box for doing things. Therefore, every time I say language, I must be understood as saying language imprinted in action, language as an activity, language as communication. (Aranguren 1974: 13)
That vulgar term, "body language", stems from the confusion between language and communication. It is like mixing up the tool-box and tool-using. Would "hammer as nailing" make sense? (For Heidegger it probably would.)
Language is purposeful, predictive, anticipatory. Language is in itself action: action because every human behavior is meaningful as invested with thought-word and, even more, because language is symbolic action in a world organized by it. (Aranguren 1974: 13)
Bread is the purpose, prediction and anticipation of butter. Bread is in itself eating: eating because every bite is tasty and invested with metabolism and, even more, because bread is eating in a world of digestion.
The sociologist Hugh D. Duncan writes in Language and Literature in Society:
There is much in life that is not symbolic as such. A blow on the nose, a financial depression, watching a loved one die, cannot be considered the same as reading a very moving account of them. But neither can I understand what such experiences will mean to individuals unless I know how such experiences are dealt with in their symbolic systems.
To explain this quotation a little: a blow on the nose is more humiliating for a person who considers it a point of honor not to be beaten than it is for another person whose symbolic system has nothing to do with physical force nor with enforcement as connected with honor. (Aranguren 1974: 13)
A blow of the nose is a symbolic beating of the handkerchief who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, just minding his own handkerchief business trying to stay dry and dignified in a world where wind erosion eats away our eyeballs and holy shit there are bats everywhere what the fuck. This guy has written over twenty books. I can't even make it through just one of his articles. That is, I quit. DNF [Did Not Finish].

Bohnert, Herbert Gaylord 1945. The Semiotic Status of Commands. Philosophy of Science 12(4): 302-315.

The large number of writers who have in recent years attacked the problem of the logical nature of commands appear generally in agreement in accepting the distinction of common grammar between imperative and declarative sentences as representing, albeit in no clear one-to-one manner, some real difference in the logical character of the two types of expression, and possibly in the psychological sign-functioning mechanism itself. The crucial logical difference adduced is that commands can apparently not be classified as true or false. (Bohnert 1945: 302)
I wonder if there are "imperative" nonverbal signs.
As for the imperative element, its presence is frequently taken to place the expression in a class with, say, growls and frowns, gestures evincing feelings but not referring to them, which in turn are regarded as representative of an entirely different "dimension" of semiosis - the "motivational" dimension. This notion is then sometimes extended by calling all declarative sentences which are sufficiently motivational, such as value statements, "disguised commands". (Bohnert 1945: 302)
define:evince - reveal the presence of a quality or feeling.
Commands which are thus self-enforcing will be called impersonal commands, the other type, personal commands. In personal commands, and commands in which the enforcer is neither the non-human environment nor the speaker but a social situation, namely, directives, laws, orders, it will be noticed that motivator perceived by the hearer is generally identical with the motivating disjunction itself. The "growl theory" would appear applicable, if at all, only to personal commands and hence not to be adequate account of commands in general. (Bohnert 1945: 306)
I find it dubious if "impersonal commands" (imperatives without imperators) exist. If there is no-one who commands, can it still be considered a command? Does the nno-human environment command? The article is way too involved with symbolic logic for my taste. DNF.

Miller, David L. 1950. The Behavioral Dimension of Prediction and Meaning. Philosophy of Science 17(2): 133-141.

Possibly after reading the article it will be clear that meanings presuppose conduct of which we can take cognizance, and that there is a difference between behaving and taking cognizance of behavior (both actual and possible). And although the locus of meaning is in behavior, meanings emerge only in relation to the symbolic process. (Miller 1950: 133)
There is also a difference between taking cognizance of behaviour and describing behaviour. #nonverbalethics
Briefly stated, my position is this: for a person to predict involves especially the capacity to control his behavior so that by virtue of that control it will at a later time be coordinated with the event said to be predicted. (Miller 1950: 135)
Cf. Peirce's self-control, Mead's truncated act and Morris's self-conditioning.
From our thesis it follows that scientific statements, scientific objects, and scientific concepts involve human bodily behavior, and symbolic behavior, and an environment in which we behave. As we have stated the matter, thinking is continuous with overt bodily behavior and both are continuous with out physical environment. It folloms that the locus of meaning is in behavior. (Miller 1950: 139)
Something like synechism.


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