Monthly Archives: February 2013

Neighbours, highlighting and hiding

Consider this conversation:

Tom: This is my neighbour, David.
David: Hi. I’m his neighbour. Call me Dave.
Harry: Harry. Nice to meet you, Dave.

David is Tom’s neighbour from Tom’s perspective. So the focus of the conversation is with Tom. But in reality we tend to forget (or in Lakoff and Johnson’s term hide) the fact that Tom is also David’s neighbour.

Any piece of dialogue must assume a perspective. If it didn’t they would be difficult to understand. It must highlight some facts and hide others. Sometimes this highlighting and hiding is deliberate. Sometimes it is unavoidable.

The importance of evolutionary embodiment – clues from the fingertips

2uipial8Western philosophy has a tough time in dealing with the relationship between the body and the mind. In particular, identity has been all too often separated from the physical, all characteristic of ‘being’ invested in the soul. So it is no surprise that we have ignored the function of the fingerprint as part of our evolutionary makeup.

Fingerprints have served, so far, as an identity marker only in terms of criminality. But in reality the grip factor of fingertips are a trait for nothing greater than survival and advantage.

What is interesting in this article about a recent paper is that orientation of the friction plays a role in real terms for natural materials in nature, not for the artificial materials tested in labs and in human habitats.

Every trait, in short, has an evolutionary purpose. We are not above all other species or special in anyway. But we are unique, though, in our ability to delude ourselves and ignore important indicators such as this.

Advances in neuroscience and imaging

Here is a great short video on how we have mapped the structure brain with the latest scanning technology.

As part of the a project called the Human Connector Project 1,200 Americans have been scanned in order to analyse differences between behaviour and the brain’s structures.

Highly interested to see how language and the mind can finally be mapped for a better understanding with this advance.

International Mother Language Day

21 February is International Mother Language Day, a day to remember, protect and promote the world’s mother languages. The death of a language is the death of a culture, and the death of a way of thinking.

Two new books on metaphor

Two recent books on metaphors worth looking at is Raymond Gibbs and Herbert Colston’s Interpreting Figurative Meaning and Benjamin K. Bergen’s Louder Than Words. Gibbs and Colston approaches metaphorical meaning from psycholinguistics and neuroscience while Bergen looks at meaning from the cutting-edge perspective of neuroimaging.

Both are worth a look. The Gibbs/Colston is harder to get through than the Bergen. The latter is definitely an easier read, written for those with little background on the subject.