Re: Levels of consciousness

Jesse S. Cook III (jcook@AWOD.COM)
Tue, 1 Oct 1996 09:20:38 -0400

On 30 September 1996, Ronald Kephart replied as follows:

>In message <> "Jesse S. Cook III" writes:
>> Ron, Ron. It would seem that you are intentionally misunderstanding. I
>> know you are smarter than those questions imply. I was "speaking"
>> diachronically no synchronically.
>Makes no difference. Diachronically, for as far back as we can go, the
>languages we can reconstruct are fully human languages.

Ron, nobody said they weren't!

>There's nothing about them that would limit their speakers' consciousness.

How do you know?

>> And the evidence for that is to be found throughout history *if you have
>> eyes to see with*. Tell me that the people who wrote the Bible had a "fully
>> modern consciousness"!
>Why shouldn't they have? They were fully modern humans, possessing
>perfectly normal realizations of human language.

I don't know why they shouldn't have, Ron. They just didn't, that's all.
Of course they were fully human--anatomically. Of course they possessed
"perfectly normal realizations", whatever that is, of human language, but
that is irrelevant. The Hebrew spoken in those times is no longer spoken,
and the Greek of those times is no longer spoken.

>> Hey, Ron, you are entitled to make all the suggestions you care to. But the
>> fact remains, as you imply, some people in our culture do "carry
>> significantly more knowledge around in their heads". That raises the
>> average, does it not?
>There are extra-wise Yanomami and Baka, too, who would raise THEIR averages
>(they're the ones who end up as shamans, headpersons, etc.). I will go out
on a
>limb and cyber-wonder if maybe the essential difference between the amount of
>knowledge we carry around and the amount of say, the Yanomami, would not be the
>MEAN amount, but rather the STANDARD DEVIATION. If this is so, I'm willing to
>bet at least a quarter that our culture has the higher standard deviation; our
>highs might be higher, but our lows are probably also lower.

Why do you say this? Personally, I doubt it very seriously.

>And please note,
>I'm aware that this is very speculative, and probably could never be
>tested empirically, but does it sound plausible??

No. Not at all.

>> Also, all Yanomami do, or did, carry around pretty much the same amount of
>> knowledge. They don't have the likes of Ronald Kephart to teach them. They
>> don't have the likes of the University of North Florida to go to.
>The Yanomami person I knew was not a student, just a mother whose children
>sometimes played with ours, while we adults did our thing. I never tried to
>teach her anything; she tried to teach me a little Yanomami. More importantly,
>tho, she taught us all an important lesson about the relative value of
>After several years of trying to adjust, she left her husband and children and
>went back to the jungle. MTV and KFC were not enough to keep her here. Even
>her husband and children were not enough. She told us she could not understand
>how we could live all boxed up, isolated, separated from everyone else.
She went
>back to where the first thing she sees, every morning, are her friends and
>relatives looking back at her from around the shabono. The PEOPLE around her
>(and that means people beyond her nuclear family) were more important than the
>THINGS that "modern" American society could give her.

Very touching interpretation, Ron, but anecdotal evidence of this nature is
hardly scholarly evidence. Besides, one case hardly proves anything.

>It may be that Jesse is using "level of cosciousness" in a sense like
>about the wider world." In this sense, it would be true that people who have
>lived all their lives in say, a corner of the South American rainforest will
>have less empirical knowledge about the rest of the planet than many people in
>our culture will have. I would temper this, tho, by adding that they probably
>"know" more about their biome than we typically, on the average, do about ours.

How so? How much knowledge does it take to drive a car? How much knowledge
to use public transportation? How much knowledge to get a job? How much
knowledge to shop at the supermarket? How much knowledge to find and
furnish an apartment? These are the things in our "biome", whatever that
is. Come on, Ron, get real.

>Speaking of knowledge about the world. I was at the zoo once, watching the
>chimps. Somebody standing next to me pointed to one of the chimps and said to
>his companions, "Man, look at the hemhorroids on that guy!" I didn't have the
>heart to tell him it was a female in heat, and that the 'roids were really her
>genital swelling. Simple knowledge that anyone living among the Baka would
>know, I bet.

Ron, it is said that some aboriginies didn't know that there was a
connection between copulation and birth. What makes you think they would
know what you know.

>Anyway, when I read "consciousness" I had in mind level of mental
processing, or
>something like that. If you have language, you are capable of what Bickerton
>calls "off-line" thinking, as opposed to the "on-line" processing of incoming
>data that we and I guess all other critters are capable of. With language,
as a
>result of the displacement feature, we can do both at the same time, which is
>why you can think about the meeting you're driving to (off-line, displaced)
>while some corner of your brain makes you stop for the red lights, etc.
>(on-line, in real time/space).
>Does THIS make sense to anybody??

Of course it does, Ron. (I've read Bickerton's books too.) But it's

Jesse S. Cook III E-Mail:
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" is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated,
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