Re: The "Great Synthesis"
Ronald Kephart (rkephart@OSPREY.UNF.EDU)
Mon, 29 Apr 1996 11:05:53 -0400
In message <Pine.SUN.3.91.960427111933.22413Bemail@example.com>
Ralph L Holloway writes:
> You want a synthesis? Then start from the position that we are simply
> another species of animal, like a chimp, dog, aarvaark, zebra, whatever,
> and that we differ from all of the others by a simply preposterous
> adaptation, cultural behavior, that allows us to categorize and classify
> the world according to whatever arbitrary symbol-mediated schemes we can
> think up and IMPOSE upon ourselves and others.
I agree with the starting point, but (with apologies to Ralph) I'd like to
modify the rest in the following way:
You want a synthesis? Then start from the position that we are simply
another species of animal, like a dog, aarvaark, zebra, whatever, and that we
differ from all of the others, even chimps (with whom we are almost identical),
by a simply preposterous adaptation, Language, that allows us to categorize,
classify, and make statements about the world, using (for the most part)
arbitrary symbols which vary impressively but nevertheless do so within
parameters that are a part of our genetic endowment. This preposterous
adaptation also makes it possible for us to symbolically represent, both within
ourselves and to others, the world and what we think about it, and what we do in
it, including our non genetically acquired beliefs and behaviors; in other
words, it gives us Culture.
This is a bit fuller version of what I meant when I said the other day that
"culture is a product of biology."
Dept of Language & Literature
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, FL USA 32224-2645
Phone: (904) 646-2580