[percy-l] language theory

Mike Frentz mfrentz_2 at comcast.net
Sun Feb 22 23:40:46 EST 2004


I'm sorry I really haven't gotten a chance to go back a re-look at our 
earlier discussion.  One of the key things that I had been impressed 
with was Terrence Deacon's book, the Symbolic Species:  The 
Co-evolution of Language and the Brain (1997).  That is an excellent 
starting point for the state of the art from one scientist's 
perspective a half dozen years after Percy's death.  Bonus is that 
Deacon is Peirce literate, as you'll see in his description of icon, 
index, and symbol.

Googling Deacon's name I just came across this link on a book on 
Language Evolution.
I haven't seen this book but it looks interesting at first glance.  A 
PDF sample was available which seemed small enough that I attached it 
(I got it from the linked website of the softcover edition [reposted 
without attachment]).  Deacon has been saying for several years now 
that he has a follow-on to Symbolic Species, called Homunculus, in 
preparation, but I don't think it is yet out.

I also recall that there was some interesting material on genetic-based 
language research about a year ago -- someplace in England I believe, 
but I'd have to track it down.

 From my perspective, Percy seems to have come to grips with the 
importance of the cognizance of self in forming judgments, which is a 
critical last step in the understanding of knowledge (per Bernard 
Lonergan's approach in "Insight").  Lonergan seems to have 
independently developed a "Percy-like" perspective in this area, by my 
read (though there is no apparent connection/citing by either to the 
other).  Tekippe makes a comment in his commentary on Lonergan ("What 
is Lonergan up to in INSIGHT?:  A Primer") that in order "to find an 
adequate stress on judgement, one must go back to the medieval 
philosphers.  Thomas Aquinas, in particular, places a strong emphasis 
on judgment as the single criterion of truth." (p 122).  Percy, and a 
very small minority of only partially connected or disconnected others 
(e.g. Peirce, Lonergan, Aquinas), seem to be adding something in coming 
from a humanistic perspective that a purely scientic perspective (e.g. 
Deacon, Minsky, Chomsky) seem to be oblivious of (which I attribute to 
the lack of moorings and underlying, but apparently totally blind, 
agenda which appears to be prevalent in current postmodern-polluted 
academia (not to mention mass media).  I think there is probably much 
in current scientific advances that could add to the track that Percy 
was pursuing.

Just my blathering..


On Feb 13, 2004, at 9:21 PM, Karey L. Perkins wrote:

> This is addressed specifically to Mike Frentz, and generally 
> addressed to the vast and superior collective knowledge of the Percy 
> listserv as a group:
> Several months ago (years?) Mike, you said, that much 
> research/knowledge had been done/gained on language acquisition 
> and language theory since Percy's death.  What is this, specifically?  
> I know the list has discussed the FOXP2 gene.  Has more been 
> discovered/explored?  What were you referring to when you made this 
> comment?
> I am continuing my exploration of Percy's language theory/radical 
> anthropology.  He seems specifically concerned with the "third 
> element" of the triad, the human self, and what is happening 
> there: Among other things, Percy  refers to the work of Norman 
> Geschwind:   his discovery of a “recently evolved structure, ‘the 
> human inferior parietal lobule, which includes the angular and 
> supramarginal gyri, to a rough approximation areas 30 and 40 of 
> Brodmann’” (Message in the Bottle 326).  Percy elaborates 
> on Geschwind’s findings that this structure is not present in the 
> macque, and only rudimentarily present in higher apes.  It seems Percy 
> WAS interested in finding a neuro-physiological/anatomical correlate 
> (as he discusses in this essay in Message in the Bottle).  But I would 
> venture to guess that much work has been done since Geschwind.
> And here's a question to throw out to all:  if there is a 
> physical/biological brain location for language (surely dyadic), how 
> is that this dyadic structure creates triadic thought? Aren't we back 
> to Descartes' dilemma of how a mind/body interacts?
> Karey
> --
> An archive of all list discussion is available at 
> http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy/hypermail
> Visit the Walker Percy Project at http://www.ibiblio.org/wpercy
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