Baltic accent

2021 Vol. 12 №2

Back to the list Download an article

Action-thoughts and the genesis of time in linguistic semiosis



The genesis of time is explained in the spirit of constructivism combined with the activity approach to cognition. The cardinal temporal categories of present, past, and future are dis­cussed in terms of action-thoughts understood as elementary units of activity whose structure is determined by linguistic semiosis. Husserl’s tripartite model of the phenomenology of time (prime perception, retention, protention) is applied to the analysis of the subject’s experience of his actions. It is demonstrated that, while our lived present is composed of the actually per­formed actions, our past and future are constructed by reflexive action-thoughts in the cogni­tive domain of language. It is emphasized that the construction of a temporal sequence that unites what is and what already or still is not, is possible only in linguistic semiosis. The analogy with Husserl’s tripartite structure of the time-consciousness flow helps elucidate the triad ‘present-past-future’ as an instance of the epistemological trap of language: ‘past’ and ‘future’ are mental constructs that belong to the present just as any other act of thinking.


Arendt, H., 1998. The Human Condition. Chicago.

Arutunova, N. D., 1999. Yazyk i mir cheloveka [Language and the Human World]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Augustine of Hippo, 1992. Ispoved'. Istoriya moikh bedstvii [Confessions of St. Au­gustine]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Auletta, G., 2011. Cognitive Biology: Dealing with information from bacteria to minds. Oxford.

Bedny, G. and Karwowski, W., 2007. A Systemic-Structural Theory of Activity. Boca Raton, FL.

Bergson, H., 2004. Matter and Memory. New York.

Bernstein, N. A., 1990. Fiziologiya dvizhenii i aktivnost' [Physiology of Movement and Activity]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Bridgman, P. W., 1958. The Logic of Modern Physics. Vol. 3. New York.

Chomsky, N., 1975. Reflections on Language. New York.

Damasio, A. 1994. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York.

Damasio, A., 1999. The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York.

Dennett, D. 1996. Kinds of Minds: Toward an Understanding of Consciousness. New York, NY.

Deutsch, D., 1997. The Fabric of Reality. London.

Druzhinin, A. S., 2020. Construction of irreality: an enactive-constructivist stance on counterfactuals. Constructivist Foundations, 16(1), pp. 69—80.

Everett, D., 2008. Don’t Sleep! There are Snakes: Life and language in the Amazon jun­gle. New York.

Fasmer, M., 1986. Etimologicheskii slovar' russkogo yazyka [Etymological dictionary of the Russian language]. Vol. 1. Moscow (in Russ.).

Gallagher, S. and Varela, F. J., 2003. Redrawing the map and resetting the time: Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 33(sup1), pp. 93—132.

Gallagher, S., 2005. How the Body Shapes the Mind. Oxford.

Gendlin, E., 1997. How philosophy cannot appeal to experience, and how it can. In: D. M. Levin, ed. Language Beyond Postmodernism: Saying and thinking in Gendlin’s philosophy. Evanston, pp. 3—41.

Glasersfeld, E. von, 1995. Radical Constructivism: a way of knowing and learning. Bristol.

Goldsmith, J. and Woisetschlaeger, E., 1982. The logic of the English progressive. Linguistic Inquiry, 13(1), pp. 79—89.

Guénon, R., 1945. Le règne de la quantité et les signes des temps. Paris.

Heidegger, M., 1927. Sein und Zeit. Tübingen.

Husserl, E., 1991. On the Phenomenology of the Consciousness of Internal Time. Translated by J. Brough. Dordrecht.

Järvilehto, T., 1998. The theory of the organism-environment system: I. Descrip­tion of the theory. Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, 33, pp. 317—330.

Koshelev, A. D., 2018. Ocherki evolyutsionno-sinteticheskoi teorii yazyka [Essays on the Evolutionary-Synthetic Theory of Language]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 1996. Yazyk i vospriyatie: Kognitivnye aspekty yazykovoi kategori­zatsii [Language and Perception: Cognitive Aspects of Language Categorization]. Irkutsk (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2009. On traditions, linguistics, and a cognitive approach. In: N. K. Riabtseva, ed. Gorizonty sovremennoi lingvistiki: traditsii i novatorstvo [The Hori­zons of Modern Linguistics: Tradition and Novelty]. Moscow, pp. 51—65 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2015. Cognitive-semiotic grammar. In: A. A. Kibrik and A. D. Koshelev, eds. Yazyk i mysl': sovremennaya kognitivnaya lingvistika [Language and Thought: Contemporary Cognitive Linguistics]. Moscow. pp. 574—594 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2016. The epistemological trap of language. Tomsk State Uni­versity Journal of Philology, 3(41), pp. 14—26 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2017. "Consciousness" as an ecological concept. Noosfernye is­sledovaniya [Noosphere studies], 2, pp. 5—16 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2019a. Information technology and cognitive development: an ecolinguistic perspective. Journal of Psycholinguistics, 4(42), pp. 76—91 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2019b. How exotic is the ‘immediacy of experience principle’ in Pirahã? Siberian Journal of Philology, 1, pp. 148—160 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 1990. Towards a cognitive theory of tense and aspect. Filolo­gicheskije nauki [Studies in Philology], 6, pp. 81—90 (in Russ.).

Kravchenko, A. V., 2018. On the implicit observer in grammar: aspect. In: L. M. Liashchova, ed. The Explicit and the Implicit in Language and Speech. Newcastle upon Tyne, pp. 12—34.

Kravchenko, A. V., 2020. Linguistic semiosis and human cognition. Constructivist Foundations, 15(3), pp. 285—287.

Kuhn, T. S., 1977. The Essential Tension: Selected studies in scientific tradition and change. Chicago.

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M., 1999. Philosophy in the Flesh: The embodied mind and its challenge to western thought. New York.

Lektorsky, V. A., 2018. Constructive realism as a modern form of epistemological realism. Voprosy filosofii, 23(2), pp. 18—22 (in Russ.).

Leonov, A. A. and Lebedev, V. I., 1971. The Psychological Aspects of Activities in Space Flight [Psychological features of the activities of astronauts]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Leontiev, A. N., 1975. Activity. Consciousness. Personality [Activity. Consciousness. Personality]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Mach, E., 1975. The Analysis of Sensations. New York.

Maturana, H. R., 1970. Biology of cognition. BCL Report # 9.0. University of Illinois. Urbana, 1970.

Maturana, H. R., 1978. Biology of language: The epistemology of reality. In: G. Miller and E. Lenneberg, eds. Psychology and Biology of Language and Thought: Es­says in honor of Eric Lenneberg. New York, pp. 27—63.

Maturana, H. R., 1978. Ontology of observing: The biological foundations of self-con­scious­ness and of the physical domain of existence. In: Texts in cybernetic theory: conference workbook (American Society for Cybernetics Conference, 18—23 October 1988. Felton, pp. 4—53.

Maturana, H. R., 1984. The tree of knowledge: the biological roots of human under­standing. Boston.

Maturana, H. R., 1990. The biological foundations of self-consciousness and the physical domain of existence. In: Beobachter: Konvergenz der Erkenntnistheorien? Mu­nich, pp. 47—117.

Maturana, H. R., 1995. Biology of Cognition. In: V. V. Petrov, ed., Jazyk i intellect [Language and intelligence]. Moscow, pp. 95—142 (in Russ.).

Maturana, H. R., 2001 Drevo poznaniya [Tree of knowledge]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Maturana, H. R., 2012. Reflections on my collaboration with Francisco Varela. Constructivist Foundations, 7, pp. 155—164.

Maturana, H. R., Mpodozis, J. and Letelier J. C., 1995. Brain, language, and the origin of human mental functions. Biological Research, 28, pp. 15—26.

Mesulam, M., 1982. Slowly progressive aphasia without generalized dementia. Annals of Neurology, 11(6), pp. 592—598.

Morris, C. W., 1938. Foundations of the theory of signs. In: O. Neurath, R. Carnap and C. W. Morris, eds. International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. Vol. 1, Part 2. The Chicago, pp. 1—59.

Noë, A., 2006. Action in Perception. Cambridge & London.

Okhotsimsky, A. D., 2018a. Thought actions as the basis of mental work. Voprosy kul'turologii [Questions of cultural studies], 8, pp. 28—40 (in Russ.).

Okhotsimsky, A. D., 2018b. Thought actions as the basis of mental work. Voprosy kul'turologii [Questions of cultural studies], 9, pp. 29—41 (in Russ.).

Piaget, J. 1977. Recherches sur l'abstraction reflechissante. Vol. 1, 2. Paris.

Piaget, J., 1970. Genetic Epistemology. New York.

Rizzolatti, G. and Sinigaglia, C., 2010. The functional role of the parieto-frontal mirror circuit: interpretations and misinterpretations. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 11, pp. 264—274.

Rubinstein, S. L., 1940. Osnovy obshchei psikhologii [Fundamentals of General Psy­chology]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Schmidt, R. A. and Lee, T. D., 1999. Motor Control and Learning: A behavioral em­phasis. Leeds.

Shchedrovitsky, G. P., 1995. Izbrannye trudy [Selected works]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Steffe, L. P., 2007. Radical constructivism: A scientific research program. Con­structivist Foundations, 2(2-3), pp. 41—49.

Stewart, J., Gapenne O. and Di Paolo, E. A., eds., 2011. Enaction: Toward a new par­adigm for cognitive science. Cambridge, MA.

Thompson, E., 2007. Mind and Life. Cambridge, MA.

Urban, P., 2016. Foregrounding the relational domain — phenomenology, enac­tivism and care ethics. Horizon, 5(1), pp. 171—182.

Varela, F. J., 1987. Laying down a path in walking. In: W. I. Thompson, ed. Gaia: A way of knowing. Political implications of the new biology. Hudson, NY, pp. 48—64.

Varela, F. J., Thompson, E. and Rosh, E., 1991. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive sci­ence and human experience. Cambridge, MA.

Vygotsky, L. S., 1934. Myshlenie i rech' [Thought and Language]. Moscow (in Russ.).

Ward, D., Silverman, D. and Villalobos, M. 2017. Introduction: The varieties of enactivism. Topoi, 36, pp. 365—375.

Wittgenstein, L., 1922. Tractatus logico-philosophicus, London.

Zahavi, D., 2003. Inner time-consciousness and pre-reflective self-awareness. In: D. Welton, ed. The New Husserl: A critical reader. Bloomington, pp. 157—180.