BIOLOGICAL AND COGNITIVE FOUNDATIONS OF LANGUAGE
Language and the nature of humanness. Invitation to a discussionAbstract
The article invites the reader to contemplate what impedes further development of language science which is currently in a state of stagnation. This crisis is caused by the inadequate methodology used in linguistic research. It defines the paradigm of so-called ‘normal’ science, which suppresses innovation. The dualistic philosophy of external realism continues to be the epistemological foundation of ‘normal’ linguistics, and neither mainstream cognitive science nor cognitive linguistics has been able to break away from it. The author argues that a new, constructivist epistemology is capable of overcoming the crisis and could give a new impetus to further development of language science. This calls for abandoning the traditional view of language as a tool used for the expression and transfer of thoughts. Instead, researchers should use a systems approach to linguistic semiosis as a biological adaptation, which is the organizational basis of humans as living systems at both individual and social levels. Linguistic semiosis is an evolutionary stage in the development of Homo sapiens. Establishing the functional role of linguistic semiosis in systemic cognition as a socially organized living system whose unity is ensured and sustained by its circular (self-referential) organization in the relational domain of language, calls for a radical revision of the extant views on the relationship between language and mind, language and cognition, and language and consciousness. An ecological approach to language assumes that the cognitive dynamics of humans as living systems consists in the adaptive interactional behaviour in the relational domain of linguistic interactions. This domain constitutes the ecological niche of humans as organism-environment systems. It is in this continuously self-constructed human niche that the uniquely human power to reasoning (intelligence) emerges and develops. Humanness rests in language as the creative beginning of the world in which we exist as organisms capable of speech.
Who is the one who uses the human language? On Alexsander Kravchenko's article "Language and the Nature of Humanity")Abstract
The article is devoted to the polemic with Alexander Kravchenko regarding his thesis that the way out of the protracted crisis in linguistics is to use a systemic approach to linguistic semiosis as biological adaptation. The author argues that linguistics is not in a state of crisis but rather in a state of stagnation. Overcoming it presupposes an intensive methodological search that infinitely expands the horizons of permissible views rather than the use of a system approach that is inadequate to the task. At the same time, it is necessary to take into account the marginal manifestations of language as fully as possible to obtain truly universal results, which is impossible without clarifying the nature of man as the user of language. Human nature is in a very complex relationship with human biology in its anthropological understanding and the biology of Homo sapiens as an object of zoology as one of its components. The doctrines of different epochs and schools of thought, from the Book of the Prophet Ezra through Thomas Aquinas, from Palamas to Austin, from Searle to Shchedrovitsky and Father Georgy Kochetkov, are examples of works claiming to solve this problem.
On the functional definition of concepts and linguistic meanings: the embodied/grounded approachAbstract
The article suggests a way to overcome two well-known problems of embodied/grounded theory of cognition: the impossibility of strict differentiating modal and amodal symbols, and the difficulty in defining abstract concepts/simulators (abstract lexical meanings). The proposed functional approach is based on the dichotomy 'perceptual (external) vs. functional (internal)' that goes back to Ivan Sechenov. These cognitive units are shown to play fundamentally different roles. The function — the embodied human response to the perceived object and the typical interaction with it — strictly defines the concept and the category set by it. The percept — the appearance of the object — allows one to quickly hypothesize which category this object belongs to. Based on the function of the concept and the division of this function into parts (private functions), it becomes possible to construct, instead of one generic concept (and one lexical meaning associated with it), an ontogenetic concept (ontoconcept) as three age-related variants of the concept (and, accordingly, three variants of the meaning of the word), arising in ontogeny — in preschoolers, early school and late school. As an example, the ontoconcept CHAIR and three variants of the meaning of the word chair are constructed. These constructions resonate with Vygotsky’s thought that the meaning of the word changes with the different modes of thinking. In other words, the ontoconcept supports the idea of heterogeneous verbal thinking (Werner, Vygotsky, Luria, Tul’viste, and Pomanov), arguing that there are several types of verbal thinking associated with different types of human activity and the tasks solved within the framework of this activity (applied, theoretical, artistic, etc.).
On the forms of manifestation of the magical function of languageAbstract
The article explores linguistic phenomena as a form of manifestation of the magic function. Systemic classifications, taxonomies, and linear phenomena such as euphemization and performativity reflect the beliefs and socio-spiritual functions of societies. This set of linguistic forms and means is determined by the existing religious beliefs. The article studies the foundation of beliefs in the form of elementary "primary performatives". They cannot be denied from the standpoint of logic but can be presented as felicitous and infelicitous. The entire set of cultural representations is based on elementary performatives. Another example of the continuity of linguistic forms of religious beliefs is euphemization. Systemic classifications in the languages of Australian aborigines and the animate/inanimate gender in Indo-European languages appear as dependent entities on religious choice in the form of preferences arising in the totem ideas of peoples. A we reconstruct the areas of intersection of beliefs and linguistic forms. The linguistic form is in harmony with certain stages of development of society, as well as its social organisation. Thus, we define the isomorphism of the linguistic and social structures of the Australian aborigines. In Indo-European languages, taxonomies of gender go back to primary divisions into stems defined as active/animate and inactive/inanimate. The article shows that animate / inanimate is influenced by the stage of animism.
LOGIC AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS OF LANGUAGE
De re attitude reports about disjunctive attitudesAbstract
This paper discusses the semantics of so-called de re propositional attitudes. According to the standard Kaplanian analysis, the semantics of such dicta contains existential quantification over functions that map the attitude holder and the object of their de re attitude to an individual concept by which the attitude holder identifies the object. This existential quantification has a wider scope than the universal quantification over possible worlds that is generally associated with the semantics of attitude dicta. We explore examples of disjunctive de re attitudes and show that these dicta have truth conditions that cannot be grasped by the standard analysis. To account for them, we propose a revision of the theory of concept generators and show how the revised theory makes correct predictions.
THE RUSSIAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE ABROAD
Cultural discrepancy within Russian-speaking community in IsraelAbstract
The objective of the present research is to discover and explain a variety of cultural preferences within the Russian-speaking community in Israel. We juxtapose veteran immigrants of the ‘1990 wave’ (including children and teenagers who came with their parents, so called 1.5ers) and representatives of the ‘Putin Exodus’ who arrived in the country in 2014—2018. The divergence in preferences and attitudes was revealed thanks to the discourse, semantic and comparative analysis. The research was conducted on the material of the free association test and blogs of the Russian Israelis. The association test revealed cultural stereotypes of the Russian Israelis who did not write blogs. The ‘1990s wave’ immigrants revealed their deep connection to the Soviet Jewishness and Israeli citizenship regardless of their religious confession. For the 1.5ers, the Russian language lost its special function as the key to the cultural heritage. The ‘1990 wave’ immigrants and 1.5ers experience the Russian language attrition. The representatives of the 1.5 generation prefer to participate in the cultural events in Hebrew; they are involved in the Hebrew cultural context. The representatives of the ‘Putin Exodus’ consider the State of Israel to be a Western democratic state. They ignore the peculiarities of the Middle East country, do not support ‘mestechkovy’ culture of the Russian street and disagree to prioritize the Jewish traditions. The cultural discrepancy does not match the divergence between elite and mass culture.