July 2009

I have long contended that many of the difficulties we have of accommodating experience appropriately within our account of the world stem from difficulties associated with the use of personal pronouns. The use of words such as “I” and”we” and “you” is fraught with metaphysical dangers. C. O. Evans, in “The Subject of Consciousness” is good on this point (see The Experiential Self, p. 174ff). For example, he distinguishes between what he calls a “self-approach” and a “persons-approach”. The latter comes with all sorts of baggage and expectations about continuity through time.

“At the level of ordinary langauge, statements about unprojected consciousness if understood as statements about persons become paradoxical. The reason for this quite clearly has to do with the fact that the conceptual scheme we use presupposes that we are talking about persons, as distinct from subjects of states of consciousness – where it is characteristic of our talk about persons that we are concerned with questions of identification.”

Watching an instrument of the missionaries. It’s a badly acted religious pantomime, with voice over in Kilega. Very few people speak Kilega, but it is about 40,000 or so, I believe (depending on what you count as part of the language). But the written material you find is all from the jesus-sellers. Now I tend to see this as a pernicious effect of proselytizers on language, but you could also reverse the agency, and see that religious channels are how languages spread. (I helped out in compiling the first Kilega dictionary once, and it had nothing to do with religion. But soul-mongers and linguists often find themselves in similar territory).

…As so much of what we think of as ineffable and private is actually public and lawful, we should learn to recognize that of which we can speak. We can speak only of our collective nature. We can not speak of the individual.