Niðurhal 03

Obeyeskere, Gananath 1969. The Ritual Drama of the Sanni Demons: Collective Representations of Disease in Ceylon. Comparative Studies in Society and History 11(2): 174-216.

According to Ayurvēda, disease is caused by the upsetting or excitement of any one or more of the three humours basic to the human organism: vāta or vāyu (wind), pitta (bile), slēshma or kapha (phlegm). Collectively these are known as the tri-dōsa, 'the three troubles' (Sinhalese, tun dōsa). In addition to these diseases that spring from within the organism are those caused by external (supernatural) agencies. Thus demons, and gods, may also cause diseases and other types of misfortune like drought, flood and famine and certain types of illness. (Obeyeskere 1969: 175)

In the European tradition, there were four, if I recall correctly. Was the missing humour "sanguine" blood?

The drama of the Sanni demons is performed after the midnight watch (mäda yāma). (Obeyeskere 1969: 178)

"Mäda jama" is a false friend in Estonian, meaning rotten bullshit.

Therefore he called the great sage, Ananda (Buddha's chief disciple) and asked him where these demons now were. (Obeyeskere 1969: 182)

Relevant for my inchoate short story based on Remsu's Kurbmäng Paabelis. Ananda would be the opposite (much like the Antarctic continetn) to the female character, Anda. It may be possible that Remsu was aware of Ananda and modelled her after buddhist mythology.

No, none of this would do. You now have to dance and say 'may you live long' (ayubōvēva, a salutation). (Obeyeskere 1969: 194)

I'm still collecting these kinds of linguistic reports for phatic greetings. Cf. the Nepali "have you eaten rice?" (in Kunreuther 2006)

We have discussed earlier the manner in which public confidence is brought about. Second, and more important, there is the prescribed obscenity and horseplay which has the social function of easing this special interaction situation. This is achieved mainly by stripping these beings of their mythological attributes and presenting them in the arena as ludicrous, comic and humorous figures. [...] The problem can be summed up thus: the deities demand absolute respect, of fear or allegiance; any superordination-subordination relationship of this sort creates tensions towards the latter by the former; these tensions are relieved by the cathartic mechanism of obscenity; the expression of these feelings in the ritual permits individuals to better interact with these authority figures in normal social life. (Obeyeskere 1969: 205)

Obscenity is, next to alcohol, one of the uncelebrated factors in phatic communion. Ruesch has pointed out the importance of the latter, but this may be the first I've met the social function of obscenity and horseplay, at least in this direct of a form.

The Ratana Sutta or 'Jewel Discourse' that the Buddha is said to have recited on the occasion of the plague in Visala is found in the Khuddhakapatha, or 'The Minor Readings' (trans. Nānamoli, 1960: 4-6) and in the Sutta Nipata. These canonical sources give the bare text and make no references to the occasion on which it was recited. The latter evidence comes from the commentaries on the canon written in Pali and Sinhalese. I shall use three major commentarian sources: the commentary on the sutta by Buddhaghosa, the famous Indian scholar who lived in Ceylon in the fifth century; the Pujavali, a popular thirteenth-century Sinhalese commentarian volume on the Buddha; and the famous Sanskrit (Chinese-Mahayana) text, the Mahavastu. (Obeyeskere 1969: 211-212)

We tried reading the Mahavastu because it's available on archive.org but didn't make it far past the preface because it's all about the layers of hell and other unpleasant things in the very beginning. More context is needful, and hopefully I'll get to read a recent book on early buddhism come fall.

Lewis, I. M. 1962. Historical Aspects of Genealogies in Northern Somali Social Structure. The Journal of African History 3(1): 35-48.

In this system of shifting genealogical attachment the most stable units are the so-called 'dia-paying groups'. These are composed of men descended from a common ancestor from four to eight generations removed from living men. The members of a dia-paying group are bound by a formal treaty or contract, today often recorded in writing and lodged in District Offices, according to which they pay and receive blood-compensation (Arabic dia : Somali mag) in concert. A dia-paying group is thus politically and legally a corporation; an external act of aggression affecting or committed by any member of the group implicates the group as a whole. The male strength and fighting potential of dia-paying groups varies between a few hundred and a few thousand individuals and in 1958 in a population of 650,000 souls in what was then the British Somaliland Protectorate there were over 360 separate dia-paying groups. (Lewis 1962: 38)

This is reminiscent of two distinct, but interrelated, tidbits. First is the concept of alpha male, which turns out to be not simply the leader of the pack but basically the father amongst his immediate offspring. The second is the islamic proclamation of unity through this exact ethos of hurting one of us is tantamount to hurting all of us.

Somali discuss the expansion of lineages and lineage segmentation in terms of the birth of sons, for as they say, 'when a son is born the patrilineal line extends'. Each child takes his father's first name as his own surname and is given an new first name. Thus, for example, Maḥammad has a son Jaamaa, whose full name is then Jaamaa Maḥammad; and when he in turn has a son Aḥmad, the latter's full name is Aḥmad Jaamaa and his genealogy to his grandfather Aḥmad Jaamaa Maḥammad. In this way the genealogies are built up as with population increase lineages expand over the generations. At as young an age as five or six years children are capable of reciting their full genealogy to their clan-family ancestor. Knowledge of the complete genealogical tree of any large group, however, is restricted to old men and elders for whom such information has direct political importance. (Lewis 1962: 40)

After reading this, I briefly considered changing my name and taking my father's first name on as a last name. The reason for doing so lays in in my familial name being one of the most popular in Estonia and my first name being the most popular male name given to newborns in nearly all counties in my country; consequently there are 4-5 other persons named with my current name.

Lonsdale, J. M. 1968. Some Origins of Nationalism in East Africa. The Journal of African History 9(1): 119-146.

Historiographical controversies surrounding revolutions and other periods of rapid political change and concerned in part with the interactions of the 'spontaneous element' of popular initiative and the 'conscious elements' of direction and control by intellectual and political leadership. Debate on the relative importance of these two elements is in most cases likely to prove sterile, for they are interdependent. Nevertheless there may well be such a debate with reference to African national revolutions, for emphasis on the one or the other element will derive from contrasting assumptions about the nature of African nationalism as a whole. Studies of the conscious element, the political élite, will tend to stress the extent to which a nationalist movement is a revolutionary exotic in its reaction to colonial rule, and its dependence on European ideas and organizational models. (Lonsdale 1968: 119)

The spontaneous element, so called, amounts to dissatisfied young people, as is revealed in Vincent Miller's (2015) paper on the role of social media in recent social uprisings (especially the Arab Spring).

It was in the religious field that corporate action on a lowly social plane retained most vitality in the years that followed the collapse of armed African resistance and rebellion. Independent churches and indigenous sects were of many kinds, fulfilling as many social needs. Some sought relief for the oppressed poor in confused millennial dreams; some aimed at social sanity and order at a humble level on earth; others saw salvation in educational schemes as ambitious as any offered by the mission churches in which, as may tend to be forgotten, many political leaders continued to find 'a place to feel at home'. (Lonsdale 1968: 137)

Calling out all social sanity warriors!

Improved education did not remove the colour bar, but it did help to remove a sense of cultural inferiority. The secondary school-leaver was better equipped than the barely literate to distinguish between the material and cultural aspects of the West. (Lonsdale 1968: 141)

Probably the race-equivalent of glass ceiling.

Wein, Hermann 1957. Trends in Philosophical Anthropology and Cultural Anthropology in Postwar Germany. Philosophy of Science 24(1): 46-56.

[...] the actually new results of this young discipline, especially at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Chicago, are arrived at by means of team work by anthropologists, psychologists, and sociologists, which in Germany has not been the case so far. The overall thesis of the following account is this, that today the science of man in Germany is moving toward just this type of interdisciplinary cooperation based on the idea of a new knowledge of human nature as a totality. (Wein 1957: 46)

Semiotics is situated at the convergence of these disciplines, also including philosophy, history, and logic. The latter bit is reminiscent of the efforts of the Unified Science movement (begot by a semiotician, Charles Morris).

And yet it is not merely the fusion of Frobenius' ethnology and the Kulturkreis-theory, not the Paideuma- and Kulturseelen-theories, but more generally the approach concerned with understanding primarily in the sense of the humanities, from which it is so difficult to bridge the gap over to the approach of ethnological cultural theory as developed outside of Germany within the last decade. (Wein 1957: 47)

I should look into what's the polemic on Verstehen really about. It's still used in hermeneutics, isn't it? Then why did some unnamed author claim that it's a forsaken term?

One of the founders of the new cultural anthropology in America and England, B. Malinowski (born in Krakau), was himself still directly influenced by Wundt's "psychology of nations" ("Völkerpsychologie"). (Wein 1957: 48)

Likewise with Jakobson, who spoke of the linguistic capabilities of aphasics and the naturvölker in the 1940s.

The basic category of English and American cultural anthropology, the concept of "culture," which is not identical with the German concept of "Kultur," was defined in a book entitled Primitive Culture by the British ethnologist E. B. Tylor (1871). Tylor spoke of a "complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom," but in addition to these "any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as members of society." (p. 43) It may sound paradoxical, but it can be shown that this definition of the concept had appeared previously in the work of none other than Hegel. Montesquieu had already spoken of an "esprit général d'une nation." But only Hegel more accurately spoke of the "communal character" of "legal systems, morality, customs," but also of "science, art, and technical skills." (Wein 1957: 48)

It may very well be that Roman Jakobson's early notes on natural man's disposition towards phaticity was influenced equally by Malinowsky and Wundt, with whom he may have made contact in the Prague Linguistic Circle (Wundt made a presentation in their midst, if I'm not mistaken).

According to Hartmann's theory of layers ("Schichtentheorie"), man is distinguished first of all by the fact that the following layers, principally, operate within him: the biological-somatic, the psychic, the subjectively mental, and the objectively mental. Kroeber names four levels: body, mind, society, and culture. (Wein 1957: 49)

I'll take into consideration to read Primitive Culture before his Anthropology, which appeared a decade later. Hegel is still outside of my purview, though good to know.

In the course of a seminar in Berlin, in 1939, Nicolai Hartmann said: "The objective mind is nothing but homogeneous formation ("gleichartige Formung"), with only this difference, that the individual does not impose it on himself but takes it over." Using the term "Volksgeist" (national mind) in Herderian and Hegelian tradition, Hartmann continues: The national mind "encompasses the most heterogeneous things, from the trifles of politeness and social intercourse to the various forms of political fanaticism and party partialities, in fact down to the predominant opinions, prejudices, value judgments or even the biases of approval or disapproval." The two formulations just quoted, from the most recent German theory of the objective mind, might almost have been translations of formulas of the most recent American cultural anthropologists, such as Clyde Kluckhohn at Harvard. The phrase "homogeneous formation" would there read "patterning." (Wein 1957: 49)

Such is the case for the current trend towards Americanization and learning English as a lingua franca all across the world - I've moled over this before: the youth is currently driven towards these by "taking it over" whilst Soviet russification was apparently felt more as an imposition.

"The trifles of politeness and social intercourse amounts to phaticity. Curiously, I'm less interested in these trifles than I am in the meta-theoretical ones concerning the athropo-linguistic theories about these trifles. These "biases of approval or disapproval" touch upon the bonds of sympathy and antipathy mentioned by Malinowski in his essay.

Both theories agree that no man creates his own language, his own ethos, his own morality, his own law. In both theories, it is the fact that man reaches into the sphere of the objective mind of culture, respectively, that constitutes his unique distinction within the cosmos. (Wein 1957: 50)

Johannes Aavik would not agree, and his example proves that an individual can at the very least contribute immensely to the development of a language. Issues of actual private languages I'll leave be; I still believe in individual selection of active vocabulary and the such.

Kroeber, Linton, and Kluckhohn, too, for instance, ascribe to the influence of the individual the creation of the new in culture. Nicolai Hartmann's more general theory, however, goes considerably beyond that, in the phenomenon of the "incidence of planning" in history. Only the human individual endowed with consciousness is able to plan. Planning consists of the basic anthropological functions: fore-sight, purposeful action, the setting of goals, the discovery of values, autonomous assignment of meaning. This is a hierarchy of functions which far transcends the American "theory of action." (Wein 1957: 51)

Juri Lotman should be included amongst these names, though his propositions were made even after this piece of writing, and in addition he did append the issue of untranslatability between languages and cultures to this question. The "autonomous assignment of meaning" is the other side of the coin of individual selection of active vocabulary; i.e. individual association of ideas.

The great achievements of A. Gehlen's Der Mensch ("Man"), first published in 1939, was that in it the most recent developments in anthropology are shown to be founded upon those of biology (Lorenz, Storch, Portmann, et al.). That which is typically human beings before the "mental" sphere, in the biological elements of man, his motor impolses, his sphere of incentive and observation, etc. (Wein 1957: 52)

Was Gehlen the influence for Jakob von Uexküll whose books are still untranslated and difficult to find in original German? If so, then the analogy between "incentive/observation" and Uexküll's Merkwelt/Wirkwelt" would make a lot of sense. Incentive is another synonym for conation, isn't it?

Plessner's idea implies that man does not merely have the same relationship as do other living things to that which is "outside" him but in addition stands "above" this relationship, i.e., he appears to himself as one so related. (Wein 1957: 54)

Man is self-reflexive, cf. also the concept of meta-cognition.

Needham, Rodney 1960. Descent Systems and Ideal Language. Philosophy of Science 27(1): 96-101.

Biological relations are indeed universal, but descent systems are interesting in that they are structurally and conceptually different from biological necessities or possibilities. The logical space is a category within a system, the properties of which are not determined by biology; and the genealogical specifications co-ordinate with the category may be practically innumerable. (Needham 1960: 98)

The kinship systems where the de facto paternal caretakers are mother's brothers instead of biological fathers, is a case in point.

Feuer, Lewis S. 1953. Sociological Aspects of the Relation between Language and Philosophy. Philosophy of Science 20(2): 85-100.

Again, we might ask what has been the philosophical bearing of the phenomenon of double or cumulative negation. Language as varied as those of Russian, Spanish, Magyar, and Bantu exhibit this syntactical form. (Jespersen [The Philosophy of Grammar] 1924: 332-333 & Jespersen [Mankind, Nation and Individual from a Linguistic Point of View] 1935: 118s119). Two negatives in these languages do not cancel each other; on the purely linguistic level, it is not true in their syntaxes that not-not p =/= p. Do these languages then promote some special alternative logic or metaphysics? Not at all. As Jespersen says, the function of double negation is not as a logical, but as a psychological device. A layer of negative coloring is spread throughout a whole sentence instead of being localized in one part. (Jespersen 1924: 337). Where repeated negatives are not used for emphasis, they may serve to convey attitudes of hesitancy. "This is not unknown to me" conveys a reticence not present in "I know this." Double negation can thus express either a strengthened negative or a weakened positive. (Feuer 1953: 87-88)

A man could almost feel happy if he wasn't careful.

Many languages, furthermore, have no future tense, and make use of such devices instead as the use of the present tense to convey futurity. (Jespersen 1935: 160). There is no evidence that the people who use these languages have therefore confounded the present with the future in a metaphysical sense. (Feuer 1953: 88)

Estonian language, reportedly, "has no future". Whether Estonians consequently confound present and future, I, as a futurist, am not sure.

"In primitive culture people speak only about actual experiences. They do not discuss what is virtue, good, evil, beauty; the demands of their daily life, like those of our uneducated classes, do not extend beyond the virtues shown on definite occasions by definite people, good or evil deeds of their fellow tribesmen, and the beauty of a man, a woman, or of an object. They do not talk about abstract ideas. The question is rather whether their language makes possible the expression of abstract ideas. It is intstructive to see that missionaries, who in their eagerness to convert natives have been compelled to learn their languages, have had to do violence to the idioms in order to convey to the natives their more or less abstract ideas, and that they have always found it possible to do so and be understood. Devices to develop generalized ideas are probably always present and they are used as soon as the cultural needs compel the natives to form them." (Bentwich 1910: 141-142). (Feuer 1953: 89)

The exact wording, "our own uneducated classes", appears in Malinowski's passage on phatic communion, too (PC 4.3). It is related to the metaphysical aptitudes of primitive peoples, on which some hold that they are not the most remarkable metaphysicians. But the latter portion is more in line with Jakobson, who similarly wrote (a bit later than this here) that if Einstein's theory of theory of relativity need be translated into South African clicking languages, for example, it could be done.

When Grescas discusses the existence of God, his terminology has an empirical flavor. "God exists" is translated "haeloh nimtzah," that is, "God is found." (Wolfson 1929: 130) There is no simple verb "to exist" in classical Hebrew; in that language, things are found or not found, and the verb "matzoh," to find, is one of homely human action. The absence of the abstract verb "to exist" was no barrier to the discussions of the proofs for God's existence. The diffusion of metaphysical culture thus takes place across boundaries of syntax. (Feuer 1953: 91)

Some additional depth to the common expression, "finding God". Either you find him, and think him to exist, or not.

We may venture the hypothesis, furthermore, that the intensity of Chinese family life, the "we-feeling", kept the sense of reality and involvedness with things strong. The Chinese individual was not afflicted with loneliness or emotional isolation; it is striking that epistemologic subjectivism begins to torment philosophers with the onset of the age of economic individualism. (Feuer 1953: 93)

This we-feeling (although not unfamiliar) is usually rendered as a sense of togetherness or sense of belonging. The general point adds to the assumption that modern psychological problems are exactly that, modern.

But [William] James made use of a metaphor of the American language which brought friends to his philosophy among the citizenry at large. He spoke of the pragmatic method as a way of realizing the "cash value" of words. Sensitive to the American idiom, he had also described his God as one who does a retail, not a wholesale business. And James' call for confidence in God, for a faith akin to that which wins a man "promotions, boons, appointments" smacks of a salesman turned theologian, who writes his theology with the help of phrases from a manual on "How to Win Friends and Influence People". These were linguistic metaphors, but James found to his consternation that his philosophy was henceforth linked to them. (Feuer 1953: 93)

This very same "salesmanness" is a boon upon body language discourse, which for all intents and purposes did begin with Dale Carnegie's book (at least with the portions of it dealing with handshakes and smiling, for example).

Different languages emphasize different relations of men to nature, but each segments which are emphasized do not define incommensurable universes. Each culture can be informed in its own language concerning the limitations of its experience; if it wishes to, if it needs to, it can add to the resources of its language. The Hebraists in Israel have thus taken an ancient language, and expanded its vocabulary so that textbooks of electro-dynamics can be written in the idiom of the prophets. The "principle of linguistic relativity" argues that there are incommensurable cultural universes. An incommensurable cultural universe would be an unknown one. The fact of linguistic communication, the fact of translation, belies the doctrine of relativity. (Feuer 1953: 95)

Exactly Jakobson's point. Curiously, also the same example (Einstein's theory of relativity). When finding pieces such as this, it incites suspicion whether it's just another case of timely convergence or if one has found an uncited source.

The "will to be untranslatable" grows during an era of cultural regression and ethnocentrism. (Feuer 1953: 95)

Somewhere I found a similar tidbit about mythology making a comeback at a time of cultural regression. So, seeing that both the will to be untranslatable and the creation of modern myths is apparent in Estonia, is Estonian culture currently regressive?

The "principle of linguistic relativity" is an instance of a phenomenon among thinkers which we might call "illegitimate diffusion". When the theory of physical relativity acquires its world renown, there was a tendency for theorists in other departments to run riot with the words of "relativity". The psychological and social sciences, for instance, began to discover "frames of reference" everywhere. Economic classes, social observers, different philosophies, - all of these were variously denoted as "frames of reference". The immense prestige of the physical theory of relativity was the covert, emotive argument for the adoption of these "relativities". As a matter of fact, none of these usages have any significant analogy to the physical theory. (Feuer 1953: 96)

I'm taking this. No ifs, ands or buts. Phatics present a veritable case of illegitimate diffusion, evident in the apparent confusion between various subtypes of interpretations of phaticity. It even seems like some disciplines "run riot" with "phatic" so much so that one could just as easily coin a new term (like symphatic) ta make the conceptual diffusion explicit. The "prestige" of "phatic" is also justifiable - it was the brain-child of "the famous English anthropologist", after all, and the symphatic notions of phatic technology studies, for example, do indeed veer so far off from the original conception that no "significant analogy" can be found.

The literary classical language, on the other hand, has led a life immured in monasteries, dissociated from the practical concerns of men. No wonder that this dissociation of language from the controls of action finally produces a situation, as Veblen says, where "classical learning acts to derange the learner's workmanlike aptitudes." (Veblen 1926: 395). So that Descartes wrote in his momentous linguistic manifesto: "If I write in French which is the language of my country, rather than in Latin which is that of my teachers, this is because I hope that those who avail themselves only of their natural reason in its purity may be the better judges of my opinions than those who believe only in the writings of the ancients." (Discourse on Method, Part IV). The change from Latin to the vernacular, as Morris Cohen once said, reveals the emptiness of received systems. (Feuer 1953: 99)

Something similar is evident in my own use of English versus Estonian. There is so much I have gathered here in English which I cannot (or will not) put into Estonian because it would lose its point. In the near future I'll attempt to put this assumption to test by writing free-form Estonian notes on these very passages in this series.

Sjoberg, Gideon 1955. The Comparative Method in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of Science 22(2): 106-117.

The Bases of Comparison. As Clyde Kluckhohn (1953) has observed, "...genuine comparison is possible only if nonculture-bound units have been isolated." Certain "invariant points of reference" or "universal categories" are required which are not merely reflections of the cultural values of a particular social system. Comparable and relatively stable units must be consciously perceived if comparative study is to progress. Only through the use of invariant points of reference is it possible to test adequately various hypotheses in a cross-cultural setting. (Sjoberg 1955: 106-107)

Relevant for the intercultural assumptions about phatic communion and other politeness behaviour. Japanese scholars have frequently pointed out that the forms of interaction held universal by the likes of Brown and Levinson, for example, simply do not work in the Japanese context. So it is still under debate how universal phatic communion actually is.

Certainly if any theory is to be of value in comparative research the universal categories employed must be established in a manner which will permit their use in the testing of specific hypotheses. Although it is apparent that for some time to come much of cross-cultural research will be dependent upon rather loose and somewhat impressionistic conceptualization, social scientists must strive for a more rigorous approach. (Sjoberg 1955: 110)

Sadly it would appear that there are no "hypotheses" to be tested with regard to phatic communion. It is more often than not "borrowed without evaluation". It is also a matter of debate whether phatic communion constitutes a "theory" in the sense of something that can be tested. Presently it seems more like a "frame of interpretation", like feminism, marxism, and psychoanalysis. Add phaticism to this series.

Possibly the greatest advances have been in the field of microscopic research - i.e., the study of small groups - where the situational factors seem somewhat more easily controlled. Nevertheless, some crucial aspects of the problem of standardizing observations, especially in cross-cultural research, remain relatively untouched. There is particular need for standardizing and objectifying the procedures by which imputations are made concerning the "subjective" aspects of human experience, data which are not directly observable. Just how to standardize the imputation of meaning to human action is a pressing issues in all the socio-cultural sciences. When a person enters a place of "worship," just what "meaning" is to be attached to his action? One can observe and record the act easily enough, but imputed meanings to it is another matter. (Sjoberg 1955: 113)

In other words, is there "mind-reading" involved in gauging the meanings of "situational factors"? Perhaps it is due to the point of phatic communion stemming from Spencer's comparative psychology (of man) that so much of it is psychologistic: how to you quantify "social bonds" or, in more modern lingo, "tie-strength"?

Spiegelberg, Herbert 1951. Supernaturalism or Naturalism: A Study in Meaning and Verifiability. Philosophy of Science 18(4): 339-368.

"Matters of definition" are rarely, if ever, merely matters of definition. Behind them stand, asa rule, different views of the phenomena and of their intrinsic articulation, if not an unwillingness to face the facts and to analyze them conscientiously. Nor would I go so far as logical positivists like Ayer (1936: 75), who consider supernaturalistic theism so meaningless a position that he is not even prepared to call himself an atheist, offering the theists the ice-cold comfort that "theism cannot be invalid since it cannot be valid." (Spiegelberg 1951: 339)

This is what I believe about phaticity. It is not only the case that the definitions of phatic communion, phatic communication, and phatic function are different and consequently inspire different vocabularies and approaches but they also pertain to widely different phenomena. The problem is, I think, that these differences have not been articulated explicitly enough - even the best as they come, e.g. Haberland, only go so far, and generally remain under the radar. In the near future I'll have to write a separate piece on each of the concepts of phaticity listed, and specify their distinctness from each other.

One first minimum sense of the term "meaning" has apparently not yet been fully brought out. As soon as a phonetic utterance does no longer stand merely for itself but points beyond itself, it has already some kind of meaning, even if such pointing does not lead to any definite or clear referent. I propose to call such meaning sound-transcending or more briefly pointer meaning. Meaning in this sense have even magic formulae or code words to the one who does not know their specific meaning, yet knows that they have meaning. They are expressions pointing somewhere, however vaguely and unintelligibly, even though the speaker fails to know "what he is talking about". Meaningless in this minimum sense are only phonetic exercises, the notorious meaningless syllables of psychological experiments, fillers in cryptograms or garbled telegram "words." (Spiegelberg 1951: 349)

This "pointer meaning" is, in short, the understanding that a given word of phrase has a definite meaning, but marred by unknowing about what exactly it could or should be. This is a problem I'm very acutely aware of when reading phenomenologists who use extremely abstruse terminology, for example.

Expressions with presentational meaning have, as a rule, both denotation and connotation, taking the term "denotation" here in the sense of "things consistently thinkable" or "comprehension," as distinguished by Professor C. I. Lewis from "actual denotation." While actual denotation may be absent, as in the case of extinct animals, comprehension or potential denotation is indispensable for this type of meaning. (Spiegelberg 1951: 350)

More on the difficulties with the pair of terms, denotation and connotation, which I take to mean something analogous to empirical and logical meaning: denotation signifies an actual existence whereas connotation the possibility of thinking of an existent or non-existent thing. To put it bluntly, "horse" denotes and "unicorn" connotes.

Thus, since they function usually as more than mere noises, all of them have at least sound-transcending or pointer meaning. Likewise, since they occur in the standard dictionaries of the major modern languages, they have at least that much linguistic meaning. (Spiegelberg 1951: 353)

In this sense, pointer meaning comes close to John Austin's "phatic acts" - the use of which transcends mere sounds, since the sounds are recognizable as "words" (belonging to a certain vocabulary) but may lack a definite sense and reference.

According to J. N. Keynes (Keynes 1928: 58), the basic characteristic of negative concepts is that they express the "absence of one or other of certain specified attributes." Now, there is considerable argument about the meaning of "negative names" of the formal type not-A, e.g., not-white. (Spiegelberg 1951: 354)

Phatic communion, as Malinowski ("apophatically") defines it, is definitely a negative concept. Not only does he negate the three primary (faculty-bound) linguistic functions but in my opinion he even negates in the coining of the word by removing the sym- from sympathy or em- from empathy (I'm veering towards the former because empathy was not as commonly known and used back in 1923).

The "not-natural" remains a check made out in an unknown currency without any established exchange value. The only positive denotative complement could conceivably be supplied by Rudolf Otto's "feeling content" (Otto 1928), a content which is, however, totally indescribable in conceptual positive terms and can therefore not be shared and communicated. (Spiegelberg 1951: 354-355)

Feeling content, in other words, can be communized but not communicated. Understanding it must originate from personal experience, as no amount of mediation can fully convey it.

Whoever asserts that a certain event is supernatural also asserts that he has complete knowledge of the field marked off as nature as well as full knowledge of what is and what is not possible within it. (Spiegelberg 1951: 358)

This is well exemplified by the Christian "televangelist" Kirk Cameron who made the argument that God created all of nature for human use because the banana neatly fits into the human hand, unaware that the fruit he held in his hand was an outcome of human tampering with nature. His phrase, "the maker of the banana, the almighty God" ironically attests to the notion that God is a figment of human imagination: both marketplace banana and the supernatural deity are human creations.

Feuer, Lewis S. 1957. The Principle of Simplicity. Philosophy of Science 24(2): 109-122.

The Scientific Principle of Simplicity. We are all acquainted with persons who seem to have a talent for making things over-complex, persons who invent exceedingly devious explanations for what can be simply explained. Such individuals strike us as hardened violators of Occam's Razor: Entities are not to be multiplied unnecessarily. We shall say briefly that such persons goropise. To goropise. The word has never come into use, though it should, since it fulfills a need. It was invented by Leibniz under interesting circumstances. Goropius, a scholar of the sixteenth century, maintained that Adam spoke a dialect of German. He tried to prove that all other languages were derived from their Teutonic prototype. Goropius' hypothesis was not unlike another widespread view according to which all languages originated from Hebrew. Leibniz regarded all such theories as virtual nonsense; they led into "strange and often ridiculous etymologies", with "too many leaps from one nation to another far distant without having good verifications." He added that these extremely complicated etymologies were without "concurrent evidence." Goropius' name became to Leibniz synonymous with a type of scientific malpractice (Leibnitz 1916: 303). To multiply auxiliary hypotheses is to goropise. (Feuer 1957: 109)

Richard Lanigan's treatment of Jakobson immediately comes to mind, though, admittedly I may have been immature (in my jakobsonianism) when reading it and might do better this time around.

Ernst Mach, for instance, did interpret the principle of economy so that it verged upon the anthropomorphic. He held that science was a labor-saving device, a short-hand summation of Nature's operations which enables you to deal with situations more easily (Machs 1893: 6; 78; 490). Occam's Razor was traced to the laziness of men, to their propensity to do things with the least effort. The "line of least resistance", formulated as a principle of scientific logic was taken to coincide with the principle of economy. Occam's Razor, from this standpoint, is a projection of laziness into scientific method. F. C. S. Schiller therefore declared that the principle "occurs to us because we have a brief span of life in which to effect our scientific purposes; to a non-human mind that was not pressed for time but disposed of all eternity it would be unmeaning or repugnant" (Schiller 1915: 402). (Feuer 1957: 117)

This made me add something to my incoate short story about "cultural AI-robots" who, when their human visitors are asleep, tend to and cultivate the land because machines don't require sleep and lack "the laziness of men". The idea also originates from Stargate, where replicator spaceships can take the longer route because to machines, time is not as pressing an affair.

There are symptoms of neurosis in the behavior of the goropisor and the roundabout-man. Persons who think over-complicatedly are usually fixated upon certain institutions and dogmas. When they look upon objective facts and problems, they must at the same time bear in mind institutional dogma. The prolix person is trying, as he writes, to solve some inner anxiety concerning his ability to communicate. The more institutional fixations and anxieties he has, the more complex will be his way of thinking and writing. From the psychoanalytical standpoint, the goropisor and circumlocutionist are also trying to work out a simplest possible solution. But their problem is more complex, because they have added unverifiable and unknowables to the equation which they must solve. (Feuer 1957: 118)

Does this apply to me? Am I prolix due to some inner anxiety concerning my ability to communicate? It could very well be because I much prefer typing away rather than speaking face to face. Consequently, I put more effort into writing than speech. Though, on the other hand, I at least attempt to be as clear as I can in my writing and detest writers who do their best to obnubilate, instead of clearing up, a point.

Hartung, Frank E. 1951. Science as an Institution. Philosophy of Science 18(1): 35-54.

By "scientism" is meant the transmutation of science into a modern form of magic. The practitioners of scientism are largely popularizers of science and advertising agencies. They have tended to develop the stereotype of the scientist as a person of handsome and distinguished appearance who is disembodied, absent-minded, brilliant, infallible, and slightly grey at the temples, and who comes from behind the King George beard he wears while touting "medical" products to appear clean-shaven in his role of salesman for other gadgets. (Hartung 1951: 35)

Funnily enough this paper preceded the inception of scientology by a few years or so. The term is valuable enough, and very applicable when describing body language discourse, which indeed popularized some early and sometimes faulty findings of early research (1950s-1960s) to such an extent that half a century later it is still difficult to combat that nonsense. The latter portion of the quote appears to describe the popular image of the lone scientific genius, i.e. Albert Einstein, the first Dr. Who, "Doc" Brown, Rick Sanchez, etc.

Judged by our present detailed knowledge and exacting standards, he [contemporary primitive man - as well as ancient man] is a very crude physicist, chemist, surgeon, geographer, mathematician, psychologist and sociologist. He is these insofar as he uses fire, cooks food, heals wounds, knows his physical environment, counts, and controls his own behavior. All this is knowledge derived from the analysis of experience. (Hartung 1951: 38)

This is an odd cybernetic understanding of "sociology". Looking up etymoloy I found what I expected, that socius is Latin "friend" (and consequently socialis is "allied") but also that in Faliscan (old Italian language) socia meant "girlfriend, companion". Also, Latin socius is more generally "partaking, associated; partner, associate". And altogether the Proto-Indo-European *sokʷ-yo- ("companion") originated from *sekʷ- ("to follow"). In any case, it should properly read that the primitive/ancient man was a sociologist insofar as he followed his companions.

Ordinary knowledge is derived from what Northrop refers to as the natural history stage of scientific inquiry. The techniques used are direct observation, description, and classification. These techniques yield what Northrop terms concepts by inspection, such a concept being one whose meaning is given by immediate apprehension. Theory is present in this stage of inquiry to the extent that the observed facts are subsumed under such concepts; and the observed phenomena are in constant and direct relation. (Hartung 1951: 41)

Again applicable on phatic communion, which was derived from participant observation, anthropological description and linguistic classification. Consequently, this explains why the concept is so intuitive - everyone can look around and take note of the language used in casual social intercourse.

The last level of scientific training is almost invariably that of intimate contact with a teacher, contact which today perhaps most often occurs at the university level. In this contact, the training is both formal and informal. Formality exists in watching the teacher make his choice of problems and developing techniques; in participating in the evaluation of successes and failures, and in the discussion of work being done in the field. Informality exists in the friendship which develops, and the incessant bull-sessions through which some of the hunches, devotion, and enthusiasm of the teacher are transmitted to the pupil. This is why great pupils so often follow great teacher. It is possible to trace this pupil-teacher relationship for generations back. (Hartung 1951: 46)

An addition to the notion found circulating the discourse on teaching in general, that a teacher does not so much teach the subject matter as incite personal interest towards it. Here, the list is expanded from simple enthusiasm to other types of "feeling content" (cf. Spiegelberg 1951: 354-355, above).

The term self is used here in Cooley's sense, as indicating that system of values and objects, organized through association with others, which we regard as peculiarly our own. When science has thus become part of his self, it has also become an aspect of the scientist's conscience, and controls him with all the authority which conscience possesses. This is not an unusual use of the term conscience; it has been firmly established in Cooley's analysis of the social aspect of conscience. (Cooley 1922: 358-401). (Hartung 1951: 48)

A reminder to read Cooley. This sort of selfhood is pretty common in social psychology, i.e. the self as that part of a person conditioned "through association with others", e.g. the super-ego, if I'm not off with my freudianisms.

We are continually confronted with an indefinite number of impulses and stimuli, which we attempt to assimilate into a whole. The process of dealing with these impulses and stimuli includes deliberate reasoning. It also includes considerable symbolic manipulation of which we are unaware, and which tends to organize the materials of our thoughts into a whole - it accepts some and rejects others. (Hartung 1951: 48)


Phraseological findings

Few historians would, I imagine, accept a genealogy as an entirely neutral historical document unaffected by the social milieu in which it is conserved. (Lewis 1962)
There the Gordian knot of the problem of body and soul was to be cut, not undone. [...] Surely no one in cultural philosophy before Spengler and Toynbee, Misch and Jaspers can be said to have taken seriously the equality of rank of other cultural spheres. (Wein 1957)
[...] but in this case the references to social anthropology are so erroneous that a rejoinder is called for. [...] Indeed, in the preamble to his argument he claims authority for his approach on the ground that the study of descent systems is an important and well developed part of the discipline. [...] The will usually be concordant to some degree, but the defining character of descent systems is social. [...] I have been perturbed by a philosopher trying to tell other philosophers what an important topic in social anthropology is about, [...] (Needham 1960)
Aristotle was imported into Western Europe with Semitic bills of lading. There were some misrepresentations of Aristotle's ideas which arose as they were refracted from one linguistic medium to another, Syriac, Arabic, Hebrew, Latin. [...] He inclined to agree with the view of a Chinese thinker that the alphabetical civilizations are fickle and lack solidity. [...] And in their primitivity and innocence, they value what they thus immediately apprehend. (Feuer 1953)
Nevertheless, social scientists nowadays are evincing increased interest in comparative studies. They are coming to realize that many of their generalizations may be found wanting when tested in the laboratory of world cultures. [...] The preceding discussion serves as an introduction to some pertinent observations. [...] It should be stressed that the isolation of invariant points of reference is not an end in itself. Nor should these be used simply to classify various social phenomena. [...] This is just one example of the social scientist's capture by culture-bound concepts; still others could be enumerated. (Sjoberg 1955)
Evene the great minds of the past, who were innocent as yet of this philosophical two-party system, are being herded into one pen or the other. [...] What is needed in this respect is an unbiased readiness and effort to face and accept without fear or favor the phenomena with all their shades and depths, with their striking and their receding aspects, with their continuities and discontinuities, with their meaningful and their perplexing characters. [...] Naturalists tend to give to their catch-all term a much wider field and consequently less content (connotations), while supernaturalists try to reserve everything good and noble to their supernatural realm and strip nature of all its more endearing qualities, thus giving it a fuller, but rather unflattering connotations. [...] It is to serve merely as a point of departure for a better understanding of the supernaturalist doctrine. [...] "...it is obvious that the two terms in question are merely negative and exclusive attributes with reference to "nature" and the "world" or cosmos respectively." (Rudolf Otto) [...] Moreover, it is interesting to see that Thomas Aquinas himself approves of the negative definition of eternity given by Boethius, who uses the word "interminable," if only for the reason that eternity is supposedly simple and that simple things can be defined only by negation. [...] But its primary sense involves not more than an overnatural "mighty deed," i.e. one of overnatural degree, or, to put it in modern garb, a record feat. [...] There are those who, with Moritz Schlick and J. A. Ayer, declare that meaning attaches only to terms which can be "verified" by experience, though only in principle, and that unverifiable terms are plain nonsense. [...] But this provides normally no criteria for situations other than telephonic contact and has therefore no sense meaning. [...] The supernaturalist certainly does not mean to ascribe to the supernatural a hodgepodge of all conceivable properties with the one exception of the natural. [...] It has always been a rather embarrassing situation for religious orthodoxy that there are so many false gods, false prophets, false Messiahs, delusions of the devil, "devil's works" and similar religious pseudophenomena, all dressing up as the real thing and making exactly the same claims to authenticity. [...] What aggravates the situation even more is that this is not just a matter of re-identifying an entity that we had met once before, much after the manner of the Platonic anamnesis. [...] However, as I will suggest in conclusion, they make me wonder whether it would not be preferable to start all over again with a clean slate and forget all about the outdated controversies and oversimplifications that cling to the old terminology. [...] One striking weakness of the recent naturalistic conceptions of nature is that, by making nature "the all-inclusive category" (Krikorian 1944: 357) which embraces everything, from the physical to the spiritual realm, the naturalists have built a catchall that, while taking care of everything, is no longer capable of excluding anything. [...] How widely or how narrowly are we to understand it? [...] Contrary to the old a priori adage "natura non facit saltus" the empirical evidence confronts us with any number of "jumps," from sub-atomic phenomena up to biological mutations, a fact already anticipated by C. S. Peirce's thycism. And every genuine novelty implies at least a qualitative jump. [...] "even for Mr. Dewey it is manifest that this is the nub of the matter" [...] What is the upshot of all this faultfinding? (Spiegelberg 1951)
Knowledge is a groping process in which the direction remains indeterminate and the goal unknown. (Feuer 1957)
None of man's major activities, like science, art or religion can be captured and pinned down on a dissecting tray with one single phrase. [...] The history of science is replete with conflicts of interpretation. [...] The history of science presents plenty of instances of errors of omission and commission. [...] Would that it were so!(Hartung 1951)

Lexical findings

Herbal medicines and decoctions may be given, but they are ancillary to the main treatment which is the placation and banishment of the agents causing the disease. [...] Though the ritual may be held under the primacy of one of the four demons, most major demons, as stated earlier, have to be propitiated. [...] Thus if a woman is afflicted by the sensual demon Kalu Kumāraya (Black Prince), one may perform a sanni ritual, but in addition one may have an image (bali) of Kalu Kumāraya and special invocations and oblations to him. [...] With a graceful movement of his hands he performs gestures of obeisance in the direction of the other altars. [...] kendi pāliya, 'the spectacle of the water pot' where the altars of the gods are lustrated with tumeric water and the patient blessed and 'cleansed' with it; [...] Two persons drawn from the audience stands holding two pestles, in the manner of a barrier. [...] His swords breaks. He comes up to the drummer crestfallen. [...] This view, however, meets with a serious linguistic objection for according to the normal rules of the Sinhalese language one cannot elide pāta from the Sanskrit san-ni-pata and simply form a new noun from the two Sanskrit prefixes san-ni. [...] The Malayalam work Sahasrayooga has a list of eighteen, thirteen of which are diseases produced by san-ni-pāta and partially duplicated in the Tamil list while five are pyrexias caused also by the upsetting of the three humours. [...] The three stages as phases of inclusion are also found in puberty rites for females in Hiniduma. On achieving menarch a Sinhalese girl is excluded in a hut (kiligē) in the bush outside the house; after a few days she is brought into a hut almost adjacent the house; and finally she is brought into the house and included again with the family in the status of marriageable female. [...] Pestilence and famine were the results of the depredations of the Sanni demons. (Obeyeskere 1969)
Moreover, the same process of genealogical elision has been shown to occur in other tribal societies, and is in my view the only reasonable explanation. [...] I refer now to the apices of clan-family genealogies where descent is traced to noble Arabian families, and particularly to those closely connected with the Prophet. [...] Again, as with Sheikh Daarood, there are a number of published hagiologies in Arabic which describe not only the Sheikh's movements and life and works in Somaliland but also his peregrinations in Arabia before his arrival among the Somali. (Lewis 1962)
In the ideal case the political communicator, king or chief, whether traditionally legitimate, traditionally recognizable as usurper, or jumped-up mercenary and buccaneer, remained also a social communicator, in close relationship with his tribesmen or peasants. [...] But in order to mollify the newly articulate educated men, administrators had 'strained to the utmost the loyal support of the old chiefs, by demanding the inclusion of younger men' in tribal councils, [...] For within the society were many strata ranging from the conservative, collaborating Arab élite, to the radical 'Maniema' townsfolk, originally the social detritus of the slave-trade. [...] Together, they both obviated the need for a continuing, committed presentation of mass problems before the colonial authority, [...] Early in 1959 the Luo African District Council of Central Nyanza, acting under strong local pressure, voted itself into dissolution rather than accept government terms for the management of an afforestation scheme. (Lonsdale 1968)
It may be most convenient if I proceed simply by dealing individually, and briefly, with points as they arise seriatim in Gellner's paper. (Needham 1960)
Value attitudes, emotional projections, social perspectives, - these are the founts which nurture the diverse modes of metaphysical ideas. [...] Free from the atomicities and unstable transciences of the alphabetical language, it would be predisposed to see unchanged solidities in things, [...] In vain, he protested against the description of pragmatism "as a characteristically American movement, a sort of bobtailed scheme of thought, excellently fitted for the man on the street, who naturally hates theory and wants cash returns immediately." (Feuer 1953)
Under the spell of this triple inspiration recent naturalism has often fallen into an uncritical idolatry of nature, into mere braggadocio about the triumphs of natural science, and into cheap ridicule of the "mysticism" of the poor benighted supernaturalists. [...] How, without that much of a sifter, can we possibly hope to soperate the grain from the chaff? [...] The rearguard action of ever so many supernaturalists in defending every inch of miracle territory against scientific explanation hardly suggests that they appreciate this fact, [...] witness Professor Krikorian's prefatory formulation of their "common agreements" [...] (Spiegelberg 1951)
Meta-scientific simplicity is thus regarded as an asymptote to which the sciences draw ever closer. [...] What determines our choice, as scientists, among the rival claimants is our practical judgment concerning the character of their underlying respective methods of theory construction. [...] it explains at once causticity and non-causticity, transparency and opacity, colour and the absence of colour. [...] The belief in an external world independent of the percipient subject is the foundation of all science. (Feuer 1957)
In doing so, the scientistic ideology endangers science, jeopardizes the status of the scientist, and provides antiscientists with ideological brickbats. [...] Frazer's conception of science is more acceptable not only because it makes science indefinitely more ancient than does Comte's view, but also because it makes scientific development a more tentative and crescive process. [...] the scientific attitude is inculcated in its initial stages before the scientist can have any realization that this is occurring. (Hartung 1951)


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