Sunday, 23 September 2018

The World As Unlabelled Place Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 28, 29):
But in reality, the world, with its "objects," is an unlabelled place; the number of ways in which macroscopic boundaries in an animal's environment can be partitioned by that animal into objects is very large, if not infinite. Any assignment of boundaries made by an animal is relative, not absolute, and depends on its adaptive or intended needs. 
What is striking is that the ability to partition "objects" and their arrangements depends on the functioning of the maps that we discussed earlier. …
At the same time, the theory must account for object definition and generalisation made on a world whose events and "objects" are not prelabelled by any a priori scheme or top-down order.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, meaning is immanent within semiotic systems, not transcendent of them.  Any object is a construal of experience as first-order meaning (material phenomena).

Importantly, without the correlation of ideational meaning with perceptual discriminations, there can be no construal of experience as labelled objects, merely the construal of experience as nameless patterns (like those of a Jackson Pollock painting).

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Receptor Sheets To Brain Sheets Mappings Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 19):
Neurones can be anatomically arranged in many ways and are sometimes disposed into maps. Mapping is an important principle in complex brains. Maps relate points on the two-dimensional receptor sheets of the body (such as the skin or the retina of the eye) to corresponding points on the sheets making up the brain. Receptor sheets (for example, touch cells on your fingertips and retinal cells that respond to light) are able to react to the three-dimensional world and provide the brain with spatial signals about pressure or wavelength differences (they react to a four dimensional world if we consider time as well). Furthermore, maps of the brain connect with each other via fibres that are the most numerous of all those in the brain.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the mappings between points on receptor sheets and corresponding points on sheets in the brain provide the material means of construing experience as perceptual meaning.

Mappings between these and other sheets in the brain provide the material means of mapping perceptual meanings to the meanings of other semiotic systems, most importantly, those of language.

For humans, the meanings of visual experience are correlated with those of language, yielding a different construal of visual experience from those of other species.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Mind–Brain Dualism Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 11-2):
Dualism has persisted in various forms to the present day. For example, while apparently monistic, behaviourism is simply dualism reduced by denial of the mind as a scientific object, and therefore left with one end hanging. Behaviourists solve the dilemma by examining behaviour and ignoring intentionality. They do not attempt to put the mind back into nature; they simply deny its validity as a scientific object. And many nonbehaviouristic psychologists, while asserting that they are materialists and not substance dualists, are nonetheless property dualists. While conceding that the mind and the brain arose from a single substance, they insist that psychological properties must be dealt with exclusively in their own terms, which necessarily differ from those used for the physical objects or bodies giving rise to these properties. A good example of a property dualist is Sigmund Freud in his later years.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the distinction between the mind and the physical object (embodied brain) that gives rise to the mind is the distinction between different domains of experience.

Construals of the mind are concerned with what Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 131) call the 'conscious-semiotic centre of the ideational universe'; that is, the symbolic processing — (internal) mental and (external) verbal — that creates content: meaning and wording.

Construals of the embodied brain are concerned with the outer domain of 'the ideational universe', with its complementary perspectives of (active) material processes and (inert) relational processes.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Descartes' Res Extensa And Res Cogitans Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 11):
It is here that the second great figure of the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, Descartes, comes to the fore. In his search for a method of thought, he was led to declare for "substance dualism." As I mentioned earlier, according to this view the world consisted of res extensa (extended things) and res cogitans (thinking things). Galilean manipulations work on res extensa, the set of extended things. But res cogitans, the set of thinking things, does not exist properly in time and space; lacking location, not being an extended thing, it cannot fall into the purview of an external observer. Worse still is the problem of interactionism: the mind and the body must communicate. With an uncharacteristic lack of clarity, Descartes declared that the pineal gland was the place where interactions between res cogitans and res extensa occurred.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'substance dualism' arises from construing experience as things, rather than as processes involving participants.

A thinking thing (res cogitans) is a metaphorical reconstrual of a 'thing thinking', that is, of a senser mediating a cognitive mental process, through which ideas into are projected into semiotic existence.

An extended thing (res extensa) is a construal of experience as a phenomenon of a perceptive mental process mediated by a senser.

Descartes' distinction is thus between the medium of a cognitive process (res cogitans) and the range (or agent) of a perceptive process (res extensa), this being a contrast along two dimensions: process type and degree of involvement in the process.

However, contrā Descartes, a thinking thing (res cogitansis construable as located in time and space, as demonstrated by any clause in which a cognitive mental process is located in time and space, such as Einstein thought so in Bern in 1905.  Spatio-temporal location is thus not limited to the phenomena of perceptive mental processes.

On the other hand, although cognitive mental processes are not perceivable phenomena, the behavioural processes that manifest them are, as demonstrated by construals such as they saw him meditating.


they
saw
him meditating
Senser
Process: mental: perceptive
Phenomenon
him
meditating
Behaver
Process: behavioural

Sunday, 26 August 2018

A Physical Science Of The Brain Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 11):
Keeping in line with physics, should we declare an embargo on all the psychological traits we talk about in everyday life: consciousness, thought, beliefs, desires? Should we adopt the elaborate sanitary regimes of behaviourism? Should amorous partners say to each other: "That was good for you; was it good for me too?" The ludicrousness of this last resort becomes evident when we consider the denial it entails. Either we deny the existence of what we experience before we "become scientists" (for example, our own awareness), or we declare that science (read "physical science") cannot deal with such matters.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, physical science models the brain in terms of the material and relational processes from which emerge the conscious processes, mental and verbal, that project ideas (thoughts and desires) and locutions (spoken and written texts).  The relation between the two levels can be construed as a realisational relation between neurological form and semiotic function, wherein semiotic functions become established through being encoded by reference to neurological form.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Physiological Models Of The Brain Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 11):
But as Whitehead duly noted, the mind was put back into nature with the rise of physiology and physiological psychology in the latter part of the nineteenth century. We have had an embarrassing time knowing what to do with it ever since. just as there is something special about relativity and quantum mechanics, there is something special about the problems raised by these physiological developments. Are observers themselves "things," like the rest of the objects in their world? How do we account for the curious ability of observers (indeed, their compelled need) to carve up their world into categories of things — to refer to things of the world when things themselves can never so refer? When we ourselves observe observers, this property of intentionality is unavoidable.

Blogger Comments:

To be clear, the rise of physiology and physiological psychology did not put the mind into nature; it merely began the study of the brain from within the confines of Galilean epistemology.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, physiological models of the brain are concerned only with the outer domains of experience, doing and being; they are not concerned with the 'conscious-semiotic centre of the ideational universe' (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 131): the symbolic processing of sensing and saying that creates content — meaning and wording — through projection.

From this perspective, observers are 'conscious things', and it is this that distinguishes them from non-observers.  Human observers "carve up their world", not by "referring to things in the world", but by construing their experience as meanings, such as 'observer', 'object' and so on.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

'Einsteinian And Heisenbergian Observers' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 10-1):
Even with the startling revelations that at velocities approaching that of light or at very small distances the observer is embedded in his or her measurements, the goal of physics remains Galilean: to describe laws that are invariant. We have no reason to abandon this goal. This is because Einsteinian and Heisenbergian observers, while embedded in their own measurements, are still psychologically transparent. Their consciousness and motives, despite occasional arguments about their importance to quantum measurements by philosophers of physics, do not have to be taken into account to practise physics. The mind remains well removed from nature.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, physics doesn't describe laws, but reconstrues material phenomena — construed of experience — as theoretical meanings, including laws.  The laws are a feature of the semiotic description, not of the described material.  The description and the described are different orders of construed experience.  Moreover, in terms of interpersonal meaning, physical laws are modalised statements (probability and usuality), not commands or modulated statements (obligation), as the limit of physics, quantum theory, demonstrates.

Einsteinian and Heisenbergian observers are "embedded in their own measurements" in the sense that any perception of material phenomena requires a senser through which the mental process of perception unfolds.  It is in this sense that consciousness has been introduced into physical descriptions of nature, thereby creating an inconsistency with the Galilean epistemology that forms their foundation, as previously explained.  This is, however, distinct from any desiderative mental processes ("motives") of observers, which, as Edelman says, do not have to be taken into account to practise physics.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

The Inconsistency Between Galilean Epistemology And Quantum Physics Though Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 9-10):
Even today after the Einsteinian revolution and the emergence of quantum mechanics, the Galilean procedure has not been swept aside. Albert Einstein's theory of relativity showed how the position and the velocity of the observer altered the measurement of space and time, and by taking acceleration into account it altered the very meaning of the word matter. Quantum mechanics showed that the operation of measurement in the domain of the very small ineluctably involves the actions of the observer who has to choose, within the uncertainty dictated by Planck's constant, the level of precision with which he or she wishes to know either the position or the momentum of a subatomic particle. This reflects what physicists call the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Blogger Comments:

While it is true that 'the Galilean procedure has not been swept aside' after the emergence of the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics, these theories differ significantly from 'the Galilean procedure' in as much as both involve the observer in the theory.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, by including the observer, the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics construe experience as meanings that are the cognitive projections of conscious processing — senser and mental process — whereas the original Galilean procedure construes experience as meanings in the absence of the conscious processing that projects them.

As shown in previous posts on Quantum theory, it is this (unrecognised) inconsistency between the two epistemologies that confuses physicists with regard to the "intrusion" of consciousness into the Galilean domain of primary qualities: the position and motion of bodies.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

Edelman On Galileo Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 9):
In Science and the Modern World, Alfred North Whitehead observed that in inventing mathematical physics, Galileo removed the mind from nature.  By this figure of speech, I suppose he meant that Galileo insisted that the observer must be objective, that he must avoid the vexing disputes of Aristotelian philosophers over matters of causation. A scientist should instead make measurements according to a model with no human projection or intention built into it and then search for correlative uniformities or laws that either support or disconfirm his or her claims. 
This procedure has worked magnificently for physics and its companion sciences.  Isaac Newton stands as the triumphant figure of its first full flowering.


Blogger Comments:

To be clear, as Kœstler (1979: 476-7) observed — see previous post here — Galileo removed the mind from nature through his distinction between primary qualities (e.g. the position and motion of bodies) and secondary qualities (e.g. odours and sounds), identifying only the former as the domain of scientific description, as expressed in the following excerpt from his Il Saggiatore:
To excite in us tastes, odours, and sounds I believe that nothing is required in external bodies except shapes, numbers, and slow or rapid movements. I think that if ears, tongues, and noses were removed, shapes and numbers and motions would remain, but not odours or tastes or sounds. The latter, I believe, are nothing more than names when separated from living beings.
From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this is the distinction between quantifiable semiotic construals of visual experience and all other semiotic construals of experience.

This is distinct from Edelman's distinction between 'objective' and 'projective' which, from the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, is the distinction between the projected ideas of cognitive and desiderative mental processes, that is: the distinction between thoughts and desires.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Edelman's Objective vs Projective Distinction Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 8):
We can say this in a flurry of rhymes and near rhymes: intersubjective communication in science must be objective, not projective. No wonder that magic, vitalism, and animism pervaded prescientific communication. The projection of individual wishes, beliefs, and desires was not only allowed but was a major goal to be achieved in organising societies for defence against natural threats in a sensible way.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Edelman's distinction between 'objective' and 'projective' is the distinction between the cognitive projection of thoughts and the desiderative projection of wishes and hopes, respectively.

The interpersonal counterpart of cognitive projection — I think— is modalisation: probability and usuality, and so Edelman's notion of objective scientific communication involves propositions (questions and statements) of probability and usuality.

The interpersonal counterpart of desiderative projection — I want— is modulation: inclination and obligation, and so Edelman's notion of prescientific communication involves proposals (offers and commands) of inclination and obligation.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Edelman's Transorganismic Levels Of Brain Systems Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 7):
The findings of neuroscientists indicate that mental processes arise from the workings of enormously intricate brain systems at many different levels of organisation.  How many? Well we don't really know, but I would include molecular levels, cellular levels, organismic levels (the whole creature), and transorganismic levels (that is, communication of one sort or another).  Each level can be split even further, but for now I will consider only these basic divisions.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the inclusion of transorganismic levels of organisation, involving communication between organisms, additionally acknowledges not only the verbal domain of consciousness but also, implicitly, its interpersonal dimension.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The 'Mind' Of Cognitive Science Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 6-7):
But as William James pointed out, mind is a process, not a stuff.  Modern scientific study indicates that extraordinary processes can arise from matter; indeed matter itself may be regarded as arising from processes of energy exchange.  In modern science, matter has been reconceived in terms of processes; mind has not been reconceived as a special form of matter.  That mind is a special kind of process depending on special arrangements of matter is the fundamental position I will take in this book.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the 'mind' of cognitive science is a reification of the domain of sensing (Halliday & Matthiessen 1999: 595): mental processes that unfold through sensers and range over, or are caused by, phenomena that are construals of experience as meaning.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Brentano's Intentionality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Edelman (1992: 5):
  1. Things do not have minds
  2. Normal humans have minds; some animals act as if they do.
  3. Beings with minds can refer to other beings or things; things without minds do not refer to beings or other things.
This last property, called intentionality by the German philosopher Franz Brentano, served as a good indicator of the existence of a mental process.  It refers to the notion that awareness is always of something, that it always has an object.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Brentano's intentionality, the notion that awareness is always of something, corresponds to the notion of an emanating mental process, wherein a mental process ranges over a phenomenon — a phenomenon being a construal of experience as meaning. However, Systemic Functional Linguistic theory also offers a complementary perspective, an impinging mental process, wherein a phenomenon is the cause of a mental process.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Abrahamic Myth Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Deuteronomy 8:3
And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic Theory, this is an acknowledgement that the creators of meaning live according to two orders of meaning construed of experience: not just the material order ('bread'), but also the projected semiotic order ('word').

Monday, 12 February 2018

Cosmogonic Myth Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [17]

Genesis (1:31):
31. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this symbolism from Abrahamic mythology can be interpreted as further construing the genesis of construing experience as meaning through language.

The first clause of the final verse of Genesis 1 construes all phenomena as a domain of the mental perception of the creator of meaning:

and
God
saw
every thing that he had made

Senser
Process: mental
Phenomenon

That is to say, everything that the creator of meaning sees is what language construes of experience as meaning.

The second clause attributes a positive value (attitude) to all phenomena:

and
behold
it
was
very good


Carrier
Process: relational
Attribute

This completes the ascription of interpersonal values (attitudes) to experiential phenomena by the creator of meaning; cf the notion of 'categorising on value' in the neuroscience (TNGS) of Edelman (1992).

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Cosmogonic Myth Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [16]

Genesis (1:26-7):
26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 
27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this symbolism from Abrahamic mythology can be interpreted as further construing the genesis of construing experience as meaning through language.

In verse 26, the creator of meaning verbally projects a proposal for humanity to serve the rôle of the creators of meaning:

and
God
said

let
us
make
man
in our image, after our likeness
1
"
2

Sayer
Process: verbal

Process:
Actor
material: creative
Goal
Rôle: guise

That is to say, humanity itself is here unmasked as the creators of meaning, and this is itself construed as a linguistic construal of experience, made by the creator of meaning.

Verse 27 then confirms that the result of the proposed identity relation in verse 26 is humanity as a (linguistic) creation of the creator of meaning:

so
God
created
man
in his own image

Actor
Process: material: creative
Goal
Rôle: guise

in the image of God
created
he
him
Rôle: guise
Process: material: creative
Actor
Goal

male and female
created
he
them
Rôle: guise
Process: material: creative
Actor
Goal