Man Alive! Chapter 3: Speaking in Tongues

Here's the post that kicked it all off. This is chapter 3 of 12, to give interested readers the chance to take on the free ebook chapter by chapter over the weekend, debate it amongst themselves, or even challenge the author who's keeping tabs.

~~~

From: Man Alive! A survival manual for the human mind.

by Greg Swann

Chapter 3. Speaking in tongues.

I told you I use the words “human being” as a term of art. Here is why: Because there is a valid and valuable distinction to be made between a genetic Homo sapiens (the surviving issue of the recombination of genes) and a human being (a genetic Homo sapiens within whom has been cultivated the gift of mind). A genetic Homo sapiens can have the potential to become a human being – although this capacity or its existential realization can have been damaged or destroyed by disease, injury or birth defect. But until the mind has been cultivated within a particular genetic Homo sapiens, that entity will not be a human being.

A human life is an artifact, a man-made thing. The existence of a genetic Homo sapiens is a manifestation of nature, just as with any tree or reptile or kitten. But the existence of your life as a human being is a consequence of a vast number of conceptually-conscious choices made by your parents and other human beings when you were just a baby. Had they failed to cultivate the gift of mind within you, you might have survived as a genetic Homo sapiens, but you would never have become a human being. You owe your biological life to nature, but you owe your life as a human being to choices made by other human beings.

It’s funny for me to listen to abortion ideologues, pro and con, argue about when human life begins: Conception or birth? The truth – as a matter of ontological fact – is that, for normal children raised in normal circumstances, human life begins at age four or five. The transition from toddler to child is slow and gradual, but the distinction is obvious once you know what to look for. A toddler is little more than a very smart dumb animal – an exceptionally talented dancing bear. He does amazing things, compared to the clumsy efforts of trained animals, but like a trained animal, he does not understand conceptually what he is doing or why. A child, by contrast, is a small and relatively inexperienced human being. He thinks in concepts, and he can name the reason for everything he does.

And that’s the bright-line distinction, of course: Thinking and choosing in concepts. Mammals have sense organs, obviously, and they can perceive the world around them. They can recollect some of their perceptions at some level of organization, and they can even draw crude inferences about those perceptions – pattern matching. They can communicate by bodily signaling. They can want, make no doubt, and they can pursue their wants quite willfully. What they cannot do is collect their perceptions into conceptual categories, reason proportionately about those categories and make informed choices on the basis of that reasoning. No mere animal can do this, no matter what breathless claims are made for its “uncanny” Dancing Bear behaviors.

That kind of cognition – rationally-conceptual volitionality – is found only in human beings – only in a normal genetic Homo sapiens child or adult within whom the gift of mind has been cultivated – by the repeated, persistent, fully-conceptually-conscious choices of the adult human beings who raised that child. If you’re like me, you never thank your parents enough for all the gifts they gave you when you were growing up, but your humanity itself is the greatest treasure they conferred upon you – and I expect they didn’t even think twice about that, at the time they were doing it.

Mainly, they cultivated your potential simply by delighting in it. You learned motor skills by playing “patty-cake,” and you learned to speak – in a sort of verbal semaphore, at first – by being spoken to. You learned to categorize by sorting among the many toys they gave you, and you taught yourself the laws of identity and causality by playing with those toys – taking the same simple actions over and over again and observing the results. You learned to think subjunctively – to think about things not immediately in evidence – by playing “peek-a-boo” and “which-hand.” This exploration of the subjunctive was honed by a hundred-dozen lectures about bad behavior from your parents and other adults: “Would you like it if little Tommy took your toy?” You came to be a human being by being raised as a human being by human beings. Your capacity for a human level of cognition was natural, in-born – a function of that great big brain in your cranium, the brain that, not-coincidentally, no other kind of organism possesses. But the cultivation of that capacity was the product of thousands of choices made by your parents in the process of bringing you up.

I said you learned to speak in “a sort of verbal semaphore,” at first, and this is also an important distinction. One of the things that protects humanity from all of the philosophers and academics who insist that we are nothing special is the power of speech. Not speech deployed to argue against them; for the most part we are intimidated by their pedigrees and their supercilious posturing. But the power of speech itself defends us, because each one of us can easily see that this is a power that human beings alone possess. Lab-coated academics never stop trying to convince us that chimpanzees or dolphins share the power of speech with us, but regardless of what we say – or don’t dare say – in rebuttal, most of us recognize that these claims are absurd.

That’s just more of the Dancing Bear Fallacy, of course, but it is worth listening to the people who make these arguments – and to the people who chortle their support for them. A laboratory dolphin possessed of rationally-conceptual volitionality would immediately file a lawsuit seeking manumission from the clipboard-wielding sadists holding it captive. Ten thousand chimpanzees sitting at computer keyboards cannot produce the works of Shakespeare, nor even one line of intelligible verse. Not ten thousand, not ten million, not ten billion. The purpose of making these nonsensical claims about the specious verbal abilities of trained animals is not to confer an unearned status on those animals, but to rob you of the status you earned by mastering your mind. Animals cannot make informed choices by reasoning about concepts – nor do they need to. They are perfect the way they are – and so are you.

The goal of modern philosophy – in all probability unknown to you and to the scientific researchers who make these breathless claims about the imaginary conceptual abilities of animals – is to undermine the mind. Slavishly following those knowing philosophers of mindlessness, there are vast cadres of very well paid professional butterfly collectors whose job it is to make tautologically obvious observations about animal behavior in the most exaggerated ways they can. And slavishly following them are hordes of popularizers – journalists and artists and so-called “thought leaders” – whose passion is to blow those exaggerated claims even further out of proportion. And, sad to say, at the tag end of that long slavish train, there are a great many ordinary people who hate the human mind enough to seek any bogus evidence of its impotence, its incompetence, its fundamental ugly corruption. I told you the world is at war with your mind. This is how that war is fought.

So let’s talk about what the power of human speech really is – and why it is so different from the bodily signaling we observe in animals. I can’t promise you that you won’t get fooled again, but at least you won’t be stuck trying to defend your mind unarmed.

What’s the difference between “a sort of verbal semaphore” in a toddler and true human speech in a child? Simply everything. Animals communicate by bodily signaling. They don’t know why they communicate. They do everything they do because that’s the way they do things, and they cannot change, add to or improve their in-born signaling ability. Whether the signal is a bee’s flight patterns, a dog’s wagging tail or a chimpanzee’s chest puffed out to express a territorial belligerence, the behavior is a semaphore, a cipher, with no underlying conceptual content.

I call that kind of communication Mothertongue, and all higher animals do it – including us. When you sing a lullaby to an infant, that baby cannot possibly understand the words you are singing. But he can understand the Mothertongue component of your message – the love, the care, the comforting – and he can respond in kind, also in Mothertongue, by smiling and cooing back at you. You and your spouse can do this, too – kiss and cuddle and coo – and very probably the best of the communication that flows between you is carried on without words. We express joy and pride and anger and impatience and every other emotion in Mothertongue, and we can drive each other completely crazy by saying one thing in words while communicating the exact opposite position in Mothertongue.

When a toddler first learns to use words to communicate, he is not at that point communicating concepts. The words he masters are just new signals to him, new semaphores, more precise versions of the laughing and crying and smiling and grimacing he has been using to communicate since birth. Gradually, over time, the toddler will come to understand that a word can subsume any number of instances of the type of object or idea it denotes, some immediately obvious, some not presently in evidence and some purely imaginary. This is the birth of Fathertongue in the toddler’s mind, and the acquisition of Fathertongue is the point of graduation from a largely-animalistic toddlerhood to a fully-human childhood.

In the broadest possible scope, Fathertongue is any notation system – codified memories, speech, written language, mathematical symbols, musical notation, choreography, drawing and painting, computer software languages, etc. – any system by which a human being seeks to retain and communicate complex conceptual information. Mothertongue is active, immediate, visceral and fleeting, where Fathertongue is generally passive, patient, cerebral and enduring. The world of sense experience can be cluttered and chaotic, and the mind itself is much too good at wandering off on meaningless tangets. Fathertongue is the means by which the mind focuses itself, the means by which it hangs onto matters of importance while shedding itself of everything that does not matter.

That’s important. We have been talking about communication, but Fathertongue is about thinking first and always. Even in isolation – stranded on a desert island – you would still have to retain your thoughts to survive, even though there is no one present with whom to communicate those thoughts. Which berries are tasty and which make you sick? If you don’t make an effort to recollect your past experiences, you are as much at risk as any dog of eating bad food – without the dog’s built-in easy-regurgitation system.

As an aside, the terms Mothertongue and Fathertongue are not sex-role related. Thoreau used these coinages, originally, in a very different way. To him a mothertongue was the kind of language Heinlein would have called a “milk tongue” – the locally-prevalent language of casual discourse, like English or Spanish, that you learn first at your mother’s teats. Thoreau contrasted this with the fathertongue languages – Latin and Greek – you would later learn as a part of your formal education.

My own usage of these terms is different. Every notation-based system of recording, preserving and communicating human cognition – memory, speech, poetry, prose, math, music, the visual arts, choreography, software – is Fathertongue in my formulation. Fathertongue can be communicated at a distance, across time, without any direct contact between the communicants, to anyone already versed in the notation system – and to no one who is not. Every sort of communication that can be carried out without formal notation – even if a notation system is used for convenience – is Mothertongue. When you sing to an infant, the words you sing mean nothing to the baby, but the embrace and the warmth and the comfort and the caressing and the sounds of your singing mean everything.

Fathertongue is the means by which human beings collect and organize our perceptions into concepts, and, stripped to its essence, Fathertongue is the means, mode and method of conceptualization. We devise notation systems – words and images and sounds and symbols – so that we might share our concepts with one another, transmitting them across the room, across the globe, across millennia, thus massively increasing our knowledge base. But you cannot denote and communicate what you have not first abstracted in the silence and solitude of your own mind. Fathertongue is the means by which you organize your thoughts so well that you can understand, retain and communicate them.

Dogs bark and dolphins chitter, but only human beings are possessed of the power of Fathertongue, and for this reason among many others, it is inappropriate to compare the mental functioning of animals to the conceptual prowess of human beings. Philosophers and academics can do this if they choose to, but they will be introducing obvious, palpable, outrageous errors into their arguments. And now you know how to identify those errors – and how to defend your mind from them.

Comments

  1. “…”human being” as a term of art.” Perfect phrase, thank you for that. Conveys that our ‘humanness’ (I’m purposely avoiding the polluted “our humanity”) is something that is created.
    I wholly agree there’s a transition that happens from the little animal to the little human, but I tend to think that the ‘reactive baby animal’ morphs into the human child at an earlier age, around the time the first language emerges. For some that can be as early as 1 for others closer to 2 years old. Yes, I know, toddlers.
    But the reason I think that they are Not much like the dancing bear already by toddlerhood is because of the clear strategizing/visualization that they are capable of and their creativity, ie. not just complex behavior which, granted, even a trained animal or just a smart one, is capable of.
    .
    No matter what though, it is very very difficult to define when the transition happens, you are trying to define humanness, just as it is difficult even to explain when a parent knows that they are dealing with a little person as opposed to an instinct-driven little animal, most parents just do.
    .
    And yes, maybe that distinction isn’t even what parents think it is, maybe what they are seeing is only the difference between the instinctive/reactive animal and human self-awareness with volition.
    But children also start to become quite creative at around the same time that this transition happens and I guess the creativity is the trigger for me. They start to make things and they start that during early toddlerhood. So we have self-awareness +volition +strategizing+creativity all around the time language starts to emerge.
    .
    Now, I understand the origins of Mother/Fathertongue and your use seems an effort to redefine them, but…they are such loaded terms and caused some cringing. In an effort to appeal broadly, couldn’t you maybe go for something else entirely, maybe just first-tongue and second-tongue or some such? It’s the speed-bump, again (or monkey-wrench :-)). Breaks arguments’ flow, this time by the sexist distraction, no matter that you point out it’s not sex-role related. By their names and definitions, they create the association to sex-roles whether or not intended. Just imo. Maybe no one else cringed, in which case please ignore my 80′s overly-infused mind. :-)

    • Shelley says:

      I agree, Marie. I wondered when I previously read this chapter if the author even has children of his own or maybe because he is a father rather than a mother, he missed subtleties that maybe only mothers do (I’m certainly not saying that fathers are not perceptive, but I certainly feel that mothers are totally in tune with their children from smells, sounds, motions, etc.).

      I can only say that my boys at such a premature age (below 2 years old) were not “taught” anything from me, but yet they were absolutely so perceptive of the world around them. It was as if they were watching everything and I was watching a brain grow right in front of me with my only input being loving, nurturing, feeding. Yes, his words may have been learned words trying to negotiate his way through life, but his learning were not words they were more concepts, they were his visualizations that he was putting together in his own time.

      I agree with this: “Mainly, they cultivated your potential simply by delighting in it.” That is certainly all I figure I contributed with. Granted, I didn’t provide them with an inferior environment, but an environment in which to grow at their own potential, and I was amazed every day with their thoughts and processing. However, I really disagree with this: “A toddler is little more than a very smart dumb animal – an exceptionally talented dancing bear.” Maybe it’s my “cognitive dissonance” that wants to think of us as more than a dancing bear that happens to have the stuff necessary to progress beyond that.

      I am being called to watch a movie, so got to go, but I will give it more thought. overall, I just think that we are given relative mastery at such things as reasoning, logic, conceptual visions that no other animal has (as far as we know) for a reason. I’m not sure why we are trying to break it down and understand it but rather we should be celebrating that fact and taking a positive step in advancing this obvious advantage in our lives.

      • “but I certainly feel that mothers are totally in tune with their children from smells, sounds, motions, etc.). ”

        He motherfucking said that. He motherfucking said it.

        I fucking loath, loath comments that so blatantly expose one’s abject ignorance of the post material.

        Read it or shut up.

      • Shelley says:

        thanks, but I did read it and I do think that is what he was saying, so I was somewhat agreeing. I guess where struggle with it is that I’m not sure why he’s trying to define being human begins at some age when I could swear I saw it at a much earlier age than 4 or 5, but you’re right, I guess being a mother puts me at a complete disadvantage to being able to rear my old child and make any kind of sane observation about them.

        I’ll leave this book for the others. I agree with tt, this is pseudo science bullshit.

      • “I’m not sure why he’s trying to define being human begins at some age.”

        He’s not. Humans are genetically human from birth. But they do not have a fully function “mindspace” at birth. They cannot communicate in complex words, symbols or metaphor. This happens some years later. This is where the human mind begins.

        “I agree with tt, this is pseudo science bullshit. ”

        Then you have ver poor reading comprehension skills and so does he.

        This is a laughably easy chapter to understand fully and there’s nothing really controversial about it. Moreover, I think it is important to consider the important distinction between material and mind that proceeds forth. And he’s not talking about Cartesian dualism, either. But I’ll leave him to address that.

      • >> “I’m not sure why he’s trying to define being human begins at some age.”

        > He’s not.

        No, I am. I am distinguishing genetic Homo sapiens from human beings, drawing the dividing line at the mastery of Fathertongue. As you note, it’s not a big issue, and certainly not a matter of controversy. This is what we mean when we speak of “the age of reason” in children. I am just being punctilious about how to define and deploy this mental capacity. We are getting to a rigorous definition of the self, and these early chapters are building the foundation for that definition.

      • I meant trying to define it at some age for all individuals, suspecting that might be a sticking point for some. Everyone is aware of the child who begins reading the newspaper at 3, for instance (I have an uncle who did that and at the age of 16, served as the family’s German-English interpreter when father, mother and six kids came over on the boat in 1956).

      • Shelley says:

        Thanks, Greg, for engaging in a conversation with me letting me know what you were thinking when you wrote this chapter clearing up my blatant misrepresentation, unlike the asshole who would rather just punch first.

        I have not read ahead in the book so I wasn’t sure where it was going other than literally how I read this chapter. But I completely get your idea of free will and when a person starts to realize that and act upon that. So, I will read the whole book and post questions/comments on your site.

      • “unlike the asshole who would rather just punch first.”

        Thanks for the compliment.

        Feigning abuse doesn’t serve you well, Shelley.

        This is the adult ring. I wouldn’t waste my time had I not thought you up for it. Any idea how many hundreds of comments I simply dismiss?

      • Shelley says:

        We have a totally different perception of the adult ring is like.

      • You looking for a mysoginist handicap there, Sheeley?

      • > I wondered when I previously read this chapter if the author even has children of his own

        They’re grown, but every claim I am making in this book — and elsewhere, for that matter — is based on direct observation of human beings. Put me together with a toddler and I will show you in just a few exercises what that child does and does not know. This is touched on briefly in Chapter 10, but there is a lot more that I can do. I mentioned a number of co-factors to Marie yesterday, but the one that matters most in understanding whether or not a genetic Homo sapiens is fluent in Fathertongue is mastery of the subjunctive mood in grammar. Children can do it easily, toddlers poorly, and the younger you go the more alien the idea of worlds not in evidence will be to a toddler.

    • Marie.

      OMG. Laf and all of that.

      Everyone who is alive was born of a fuck, in whatever circumstance and swimmers made they way, uterus entered the fray, and they were born of a woman’s vagina.

      Every thinking man on the face of the Earth has contemplated this. Every thinking man on the face of the Earth loves their mother.

      Perhaps cunnilingus is a very complex thing in “mothertongue”.

      My point is that I love the metaphor and I think everyone should relax.

      I knew it would come to this, and I knew this would be the first sort of comment.

      Or, to put it another way, how come you vaginas didn’t rule the civilized world? How come? How come? Could you not train the boys?

      So, I love the Fathertongue metaphor, even though I haven’t even mentioned the role of a male in all of this

      Yea, that fuck, back then? That was a male _physically_ dominating you, if not mentally or spiritually.

      • Thanks, Richard. This is another popcorn hull, so I hope we don’t get stuck on it. Later in the week, I’ll link to some ideas about the origins of Fathertongue and about the roles of men and women in lo-tech civilizations. Meanwhile, if we do a mash-up with Nikoley and Thoreau, we can take note that English was “raped” on six different occasions by Latin, which is how English came to be the richest and most useful language in human history.

    • > it is very very difficult to define when the transition happens

      I would date the epiphany, the moment a toddler wakes up and becomes a human being, at the birth of consistent self-conscious memory. I speculate that this is coincident with the child’s apprehension of volition as a cause — the recognition that other people are not causally bound to behave in the way the child has thereto presumed that they would. And that conjecture leads me to the third supposition that, for most of us, conscious memory will begin with consciousness of an event we will later learn to identify as an injustice. One of the things a toddler is learning, from birth, is that he is separate from all other things. The birth of conceptual fluency is the full recognition of that separation. I think all of these ideas — self-awareness, self-conscious memory, volition as a cause, morality and justice, separation and indomitability — I think all of these are the substance of the birth of Fathertongue in the child’s mind.

      • Pauline says:

        I just question first consistent self-conscious memory – a lot of people have very few memories of early age and some have memories as early of receiving a bottle in a pram. Or like myself around one year old – I remember standing next to a bed, bearly reaching the top of it (about one year old) and being aware of the smells, sense of that room and the fact that I was alone but felt fine with that. The pyschology of understanding whenand how separation of self and other varies at this point. Some people have amnesia about childhood regarding whole chunks of their lives, has some event/s affected their ability to recall, probably. But it is all murky water I think. And who we are and our own experiences affect what we perceive as true and influences our life philosphy, absolutely.

      • >> consistent self-conscious memory

        > a lot of people have very few memories of early age

        By consistent I mean uninterrupted, the onset of the internal dialogue that is the substance of the self. And by self-conscious, I mean that consciousness of the self. This happens at age four or five for normal children. I have met adults who claim that it happened earlier for them, but I have never met a toddler much younger than four years old who was conceptually conscious of the self.

      • My first memories I still recollect are of a place my parents moved away from in the summer of ’64, when I was 3 1/2. They moved to a new construction home on a lot my grandfather had given them when they were married, just a fiels away from their own.

        I really only have two distinct memories and one that may be contrived from what I was told.

        1. A high fever resulting in bug hallucinations.

        2. Opening the front door and telling my mom I was going off on my own. She said ok, goodbeye. Then I shut the door.

        3. This is potentially contrived from what I was told, but my dad had a motorcycle and stapped a box on the back of it and rode me around in the neighborhood in the box. I feel as though I remember it but can’t be certain.

        Interestingly, in the new house from 3 1/2 on, memories are spotty. It seems to be more impressionable things, like Xmas and such. But from the age of 5 or so when I began to go to school, pretty damn solid, even girls I had a crush on in Kidergarten (I was never into the cooties thing).

        I think the first memory I have, being a memory of actually thinking and logically connecting dots was when I came home from Kidergarten complaining to my mom that kids were questioning the existence of Santa Claus–or God Lite as I like to call him–and mom sat me down on her lap in the swingset out in the back yard and broke the awful news. And when she did, I looked at her and said: and I suppose there’s no Easter Bunnie, either.

        Damn liars. :)

      • > Damn liars.

        Those are fun stories. This is something you can take up with people you know, to see what they can recall. As you note, other people’s shared recollections and your own memories-of-memories can smudge the canvas. My earliest memories concern the injustice, in my opinion at the time, of being punished. This is the birth of my libertarianism, I am quite sure. Consistent self-conscious memory began for me on a trip to Chicago my grandfather took me on. All kinds of things I had never seen before, but the epiphany came when my young cousin alone was punished for something we had both done. That injustice was the outrage that broke my tether to other people. That event was not just the birth of my self, it defined it. What I am today is a direct consequence of that incident.

      • My mom used to pull branches off the willow trees in the backyard, the ones that sucked up water from the creek that bordered the backyard.

        But, even then at the time, I knew it was more about here and the way adults seemed to cope with kids at the time. It was not so severe that injustice ever became a concept in my mind (get it?). Basically, I was doing stupid shit and this was the way she dealt with it in the 60s. I wouldn’t do that….now. But I didn’t have kids in the 60s.

        In short, I never really resented any discipline I got from my mother. I resented every bit of discipline I ever got from my father. Thankfully, it was minuscule.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        Time to contribute. I think my earliest dialog with myself was after we flew back to CA from the UK after I was born. Father was military. I remember he spanked me because I pissed the bed and I tried to hide the sheets. This was not much later than 2 years old. I remember holding my yellow checkered Snoopy blanket while bent over his knee. I remember my room and all my Legos were on the floor (Legos, erector set, lincoln logs, and later on K-nex, books, paints, and drawing were his preferred toys for my early childhood). He would always be very calm in the Japanese way.

        Before he would spank me he would sit me down and ask me if I knew why he was going to spank me and he would have me explain it to him. I remember I would always dance around the cause, he would say “yes, that’s true, but why are you going to be spanked?” Until finally I would say “because I lied about it”. He would always make sure to differentiate those things. He would question me thoroughly to make sure I was on the same page and that I understood cause and effect. Later on that shit made me extremely comfortable with authority and dickheads who liked to pretend they were tough. Him and my mom later on always argued about shit like that, he would say to her “watch let him learn on his own it’s better this way”. Sometimes to my own harm. Like putting airplane fuel in my eyes after he told me not to touch the bottle (he built remote control airplanes). I remember screaming and then he essentially drowned me in the tub to get it out. LOL. Which was a good thing. I remember things like that which are earlier memories but I do remember that those were cause and effect memories. I could ramble on about memories before the age of 5 all day but I remember that moment specifically. I think sometimes I remember more about that period of my life and it certainly defined me. It was a very powerful time. Especially with all the moves during that period. But that was my first WTF? moment.

        That type of thing was a theme throughout my childhood. Dad when I was born intended to make somebody who could think critically and analyze things. Little did he know that shit would bite him in the ass because later on he became very involved with the church and well, critical thinking and church don’t really mix, especially when you’re a horny young boy and intensely curious. I like Mr. Nikoley didn’t do the cootie thing, I sat in between two twins in kindergarten and they used my color pencils and I held both their hands during class under the table. Fuck yeah. That was just the beginning.

        I really enjoy Mr. Swann’s ideas. And not to take from his glory but I enjoy his thoughts primarily because when I was in my early 20′s I started to write a book titled “How much do you really know?” The entire premise was explaining that the you that you think is you really isn’t you, that you’re a trained animal that responds to the stimulus of the wants, desires, needs, good and harm of culture, society, and civilization which is in conflict with yourself. I used the ideas of confidence in self and confidence in others to try and define this. Eventually I stopped writing because I began to realize that there were more factors at play that I wanted to explore. That’s essentially what I like about Mr. Swann’s ideas is that they are simplified and he describes them well and in a clear way. I don’t find his writing verbose. I find it accurate. I call it Wordscaping.

      • Edmonds.

        Very cool. I actually didn’t see who was writing it before I read it and I was capitaved as to how it was going to even outl.

        Cool.

      • Pauline says:

        This is part of what I was saying is that our experiences shape our philosophy of life. At the age of one in that bedroom I had a complete sense of being alone and being in this room with the scent of things and all the objects around. I felt a deep sense of aloneness and yet comfortable presence in myself. This is the deepest sense I have of who I am in the world. I also have a strong sense of justice/injustice from growing up seeing family violence up close and personal. Its made me fiercely protective of myself and others I love. It has made me resilient on so many levels and independent in spirit. I will fight for my right to be and for others to be who they want to be yet at my core I am very compassionate and sensitive.

      • I love those kind of stories, Edward. I’ve written a ton of them in fiction, because I love the way the way the birth of Fathertongue in young minds plays out. I’m going to quote a long extract from a post I wrote at SelfAdoration.com, but the two stories most closely related to this comment are Anastasia in the light and shadow and Cinderella’s memories of the zoo.

        Quoting from the post:

        Once I understood that there really are no villains, just ordinary people who have managed to screw up their own lives, and the lives of the people around them, with their bad habits, I lost all interest in writing about villainy as a source of conflict in fiction. In the novels that I wrote, I concerned myself with heroic characters who became still better people in the arc of the story. And in the Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie stories, I portrayed evil as I saw it then and see it now: Small and pathetic and unnecessary.

        And even then, I was much more interested in the good. Willie’s own back-story obliged him to be indifferent about the people he wrote about, but he could never quite make it stick. When he says, “Everybody’s gotta take a side,” he means he has to take the side of the good, even if despite himself.

        And it was fun for me, when I was revising Man Alive!, to see how many Willie stories were in there, between the lines. I hadn’t thought about those stories at all when I was drafting the text, but I could see them clearly when I had a chance to take some perspective on what I had written.

        I have seventy-five of those stories on my web server, and there are others out there that I didn’t retain and have never archived. Some of them are great, in my opinion, some awful, and most are simply satires — humorous tragedies. But all of them are about ideas — the ideas I have been thinking about for my entire adult life.

        Here are some of the ways Willie shows up in Man Alive! — or — here are some ways of understanding the ideas discussed in Man Alive! in fictional form:

        Children are everywhere, of course. I see a world full of children. Marla the Adorable was first, with a story about how parents unwittingly terrorize children into mistrusting their own minds. Cinderella’s memories of the zoo takes up the irrepressible persistence of memory and how that is shaped by your attitudes. And my all-time favorite Willie story, Anastasia in the light and shadow, illustrates the birth of Fathertongue in the mind of a four-year-old girlchild.

        Anastasia is a good example of how your own values influence what you see as being heroism or villainy. To you, Willie is a sedentary hero in that story: He is helping a sweet young girl grow into her mind, subtly influencing her toward a life of intellectual independence. But to an Islamist imam, Willie is shamelessly and subversively indoctrinating — beguiling, even — a helpless child in a creed of defiance, rebellion, intransigence.

        The so-called paradoxes of theoretical physics are taken up in How Cosmo overcame trans-universal envy and Why the quantum leapers didn’t leap, and the vice that is obsessive error-correction is addressed in ‘Wha’s happenin’?’ ‘Nothing. Go back to sleep.’ Satirical and farcical writing has always turned on the comic consequences of errors of knowledge, but I think I may be the only contemporary author who directly mocks epistemological errors in fiction.

        Everyone gets what he deserves? Take a look at A dumpster diver’s Christmas. What does the hook-up culture really look like? See The Desperation Waltz — “desperate people milling about in the desperation waltz, silently sizing each other up and silently tearing each other down.” How do you express indomitability in real life? Willie’s answer is in How to slay dragons. All three of those are Backstory stories, as are many of the Willie stories: We always start in the middle, but it is the accumulated errors of inverted value structures that bring the characters to where they are as the action commences.

        Willie pokes a gentle kind of fun at my style of egovangelism in Reflecting His Radiance, but, in the end, “Everybody’s gotta take a side.” Willie grows into that theme with another wonderful child in Xavier’s destiny.

        There are a lot of demanding ideas in Man Alive!, but the one that causes people the most trouble, I think, is the Calculus of Loss. When you behave righteously, doing no intentional harm, you should feel better about yourself, right? That’s what we insist to ourselves. And yet, any harm you do inadvertently, to your self or to other people, even when you are acting with scrupulous care, can diminish your own self-regard. And what about effecting topical justice, like tearing your purse away from a snatcher — shouldn’t that make you feel wonderful? How do we react to the news that it does not? We are what we are, not what we insist we “must” be, and when lives collide, often everyone involved gets hurt. The damage to your future self-adoration will be worse if you acted in knowing evil, but a scar is still a scar however you got it.

        All of that is taken up in A canticle for Kathleen Sullivan, the most brutally, unforgivingly painful thing I have ever written. The story turns on habituated virtues and vices, but the villain — who killed a mother and crippled her daughter — is just an ordinary everyday thoughtless dumbass. I challenge you to get to the end without crying for him — and for what you can see of yourself in him.

        I’ll end on a lighter note — or at least as light as Brother Willie ever manages to get. How the bank robbed Bonnie and Clyde is mainly just funny. There are all kinds of Backstory games going on, but the main focus is how pathetic, ineffectual and banal evil actually is.

        Are you looking for a villain in life? I can’t find any, and I’ve been looking for decades. All I see are ordinary people. Most of us manage to muddle through. A few make war on their own identity and on the identity of the universe, resulting in perverse, self-destructive behavior — with some of them deploying other people as the means to their own self-destruction.

        But none of us is beyond redemption — “the conscious choice to do better in the midst of chaotic life” — because each one of us wants to be good. We’ve just never learned how.

    • > I understand the origins of Mother/Fathertongue and your use seems an effort to redefine them, but…they are such loaded terms and caused some cringing.

      The fungibility of sex roles is a very recent outcome, a function of increased wealth. The advent and growth of Fathertongue, historically, is a largely masculine phenomenon, this because it was fathers, rather than mothers, who needed to expand their intellectual toolset. This robs nothing from women, and my use of the terms Mothertongue and Fathertongue refers to the mothering function that is common to all mammals. But new notation systems, until very recently, were almost always invented by men. More on that here:

      http://splendorquest.com/401/the-purpose-of-civilization/

  2. Fuck off cheri, that was but an aside to my comment, and you know it.
    Blame yourself for any ensuing monkeyness now, I was/am obviously more interested in the defining of humanness and the childhood transition, it is fascinating to a parent, true awe.
    And oh, yeah, physically dominating men are the best!

  3. OMG. Greg, do you even have children? Ok….conceptualization. My grand daughter aged 2 , barely, has a doll. We asked her the dolls name…..she did her “huh?” she thought and said something’s like lulu. Cool. Something she copied. No, then she said, “Lal” which is what she calls her aunt….ok, she copied. No we watched her wheels in her two yo brain turn…then she said, and I quote. “No, Lilly”. We asked her again….ok, no prompts…we are all teachers, wanted to see what she would do. This was over a long period of an hour. Abby, what’s your dolls name. “Lilly “. And it is Lilly. She created this on her own. That is just one example of her creativity. There are so many more, but I won’t bother. This chapter is really just plain non productive. Marie was polite in her response. I won’t be. The more I read, the more I am curious just where you get your ideas, Greg. And Richard, vaginas do dominate the world. We pick the dick we want “our” sperm from…..isn’t the “evolution” ? Survival of the fittest?

    • “Greg, do you even have children?”

      Typical out of the gate ignoramus. Can’t conceive of how your own experience might not have been as observed as Greg’s, so you have to conclude that he didn’t have experience.

      ….Not to mention that probably, as actula objective science goes, non parents are probably better positioned to speak to the phenomena of child raising and the abject stupidity that abounds because people can’t say no, doing pure evil to their children. I see it in action and I’ve seen it come home to roost.

      Parents are absolutely the very worst authorities on sanity in child rearing, in my experience.

      • While I agree that parents can often be nuts, your comment “Can’t conceive of how your own experience might not have been as observed as Greg’s” falls right into the realm Greg attacks of philosophers using their credentials to deny or disregard direct, personal human experience. That is, authority taking away our own experienced truth. It’s a fine line…

        I would be interested to see where Greg has made his observations, as they do echo a lot of the claims made by various psychologists and philosophers. That is, does his claim come from book learning, or direct observation of a large number of growing children from a variety of cultural and linguistic settings?

      • > I would be interested to see where Greg has made his observations

        I have been studying human beings since I became one. I like children better than adults, generally, because children don’t know how to lie. In any case, I spend a lot of time with infants, toddlers and children probing to discover what they know and how they know it. They think I’m playing with them, so it’s fun for everyone involved.

        Here is a way of understanding the distinction of Fathertongue from Mothertongue from Chapter 10:

        Obviously, no one can indoctrinate you before you master Fathertongue. Before then, words are semaphores to you, ciphers, with no more conceptual content than the wagging of a dog’s tail. If someone had read the Bible to you while you were still a toddler, or the Koran or the The Federalist Papers or The Communist Manifesto, what you would have heard, absorbed and acted upon would have been nothing but incomprehensible sounds, less meaningful to you, and less interesting, than the dog’s barking.

        Everything I have to say about anything comes from carrying the claim back to the object. As you note, I have zero respect for credentialism, and precious little for testimony. In any case, I can show you what your kid — or your pet — knows and does not know in very short order.

    • You get to pick the dick while you are young and birthin’ babies but later the tables get turned as Peter Townsend put it so eloquently

      Once she walked with untamed lovers’ face between her legs
      Now he’s cooled and stifled and it’s she who has to beg

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6tKXtqZG04

      Enjoy it while it lasts

  4. “It takes more courage to reveal insecurities than to hide them, more strength to relate to people than to dominate them, more ‘manhood’ to abide by thought-out principles rather than blind reflex. Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles and an immature mind.”

  5. Richard, this is sort of pseudo science bullshit is the crap that wankers used to try and impress other wankers with at dinner parties in the 1970s and 1980s. We have the internet and much more data now. We can get on with real science and leave this pointless pontification to all the useless fucking pot heads stuck in their fucking time warp. Grow up dude and move on. Life is short Richard – make your’s count.

    • tt

      I have no idea what you’re talking about, since you use wide sweeping, hand waving generalizations (DON’T LOOK!!!).

      Do you really imagine that your, well, 70s and 80s schtick holds any sway over me, intimidates me, whatever?

      That’ll be the day.

      Onward. Next church session is tomorrow.

  6. Richard, philosophy and religion are both very similar. The both attempt to ascribe meaning and reason when in fact there is none! They also both attempt to create artificial constructs that do not exist to explain themselves into existence. You have been fooled by randomness my friend. You’re boxing at shadows. I thought you’d be smarter than this.

    • “Richard, philosophy and religion are both very similar.”

      Similar, eh? How about this: religion _is_ philosophy. And given that upwards of 80-90% of the world’s population still ascribe to philosophies’ very most primitive forms, I think it’s worth the effort.

      As to the rest of your psychodouche, I haven’t an idea in the world what you’re talking about. It’s certainly not about me or what I’ve been up to counting about 20 years.

  7. Richard, I’ve read close to everything that’s ever appeared on your blog (comments included) since you first appeared on Art Devany’s site many years ago. Remember the honestylog.com days? Nearly everything you’ve written has been helpful to me in some way. Many of your commenters equally so. However, nothing has repulsed me more than the Man Alive posts. I’m so repulsed in fact I refuse to read anything posted on your site for the next 3 months.

    BTW, fuck you of you cunts, I’m off to the fucking gym!

    • “Richard, I’ve read close to everything that’s ever appeared on your blog (comments included) since you first appeared on Art Devany’s site many years ago. ”

      That was in 2007. Posts and comments go back to 2003, tt.

      “Remember the honestylog.com days?”

      Do you remember the “UncommonSense” days?

      “Nearly everything you’ve written has been helpful to me in some way.”

      …and

      “However, nothing has repulsed me more than the Man Alive posts. I’m so repulsed in fact I refuse to read anything posted on your site for the next 3 months.”

      This is pretty much why it took almost a week to bother a reply.

      I don’t give a runny shit or a wasted fuck what you do. Have at it.

  8. Edward J. Edmonds says:

    Alas, the conflict between Fathertongue and Mothertongue. What a tragedy.

  9. Edward J. Edmonds says:

    A classic conflict between Fathertongue and Mothertongue: masturbation. With a requirement of a) being caught or b) being forbidden. A consequence of Fathertongue.

  10. For some it’s probably better to read the whole book at once before drawing hideous conclusions.

    • > For some it’s probably better to read the whole book at once before drawing hideous conclusions.

      Bless you, sir. Chapter 4 is sufficient to deal with the objections we are hearing here, I think, but my idealized perfect experience is for the reader to drink in the text in one drenching, at least the first time.

  11. “The truth – as a matter of ontological fact – is that, for normal children raised in normal circumstances, human life begins at age four or five.”

    Interesting. Make an unbacked claim, but prepend it with ‘as an ontological fact’. Neat trick, that. Put a complex word not likely to be understood by most readers at the start to assure a sense of authority. In fact, you seem to be doing what you criticise other philosophers of doing. “intimidated by their pedigrees and their supercilious posturing” indeed…

    “he can name the reason for everything he does.”

    Can you claim this is genuine understanding for what is done? Surely you’re falling back already on the Socratic fallacy, whereby that which is valid is only that which we can explain ‘why’? That is, just because one can invent ‘reasons’ for ones actions, is one actually any more consciously enabled that someone who does stuff in full awareness but doesn’t know why?

    Regardless, I’ve seen two year olds work conceptually. You’re clearly working in metaphor – trying to make a distinction of the rational mind, but you’re perhaps better of using a different metaphor.

    Regarding *all* of your comments regarding the inner workings of animals, do you have any references to research backing these claims? Without them, I can only assume they are mere pontification.

    It’s a common practice for philosophers to make bold claims on the experience of animals, but it’s usually little more than a rhetorical device to try to highlight something within human workings they believe is truly unique. If that’s what you’re doing, please have a little honesty about it.

    And what is to be won by trying to disregard the evidence that many animals employ language, and some of them are clearly capable of abstraction and conceptualisation? Firstly, it makes any of your other claims hard to take seriously – after all, if you’re willing to deny clear and simple real-life evidence, what reason do we have to follow you further down your path?

    Your counter-arguments are so absurd that you’re clearly writing comedy rather than philosophy:
    “A laboratory dolphin possessed of rationally-conceptual volitionality would immediately file a lawsuit seeking manumission from the clipboard-wielding sadists holding it captive.” to disprove dolphin intelligence? What of any human culture where lawsuits don’t exist?

    It’s quite obvious that humans possess a different intelligence to dolphins or chimps – we also possess different bodies, teeth, habitats etc. It should be of no surprise, and hardly worth remark, that dolphins, living as they do outside of human culture, don’t possess the conceptual trappings of that culture. But why on earth should that mean we hold some ‘special kind’ of intelligence (rational-conceptual volitionality, if you will) over the other creatures?

    You claim the point of this research is to deny the majesty of the human mind. That may be true in some quarters, if we consider that the historical assumption of the human mind has been a Cartesian dualistic entity split apart from the world, endowed with infinite self-willed potential and truly rational action. The actions of recent philosophy have indeed shown the mind to be something different, but something you yourself advocate – the mind as embodied.

    Anyway, your split between ‘Mothertongue’ and ‘Fathertongue’ seems to be a regurgitation of what has been discussed since at least Aquinas, and since dealt with pretty thoroughly as an arbitrary distinction. That is, it’s all the same thing, to different degrees. The understanding of ‘Mothertongue’ largely relies on abstraction and understanding of metaphor (‘they waved their hands in pain’ still relies on me understanding ‘them’ as another kind of ‘me’, their expression as expressing pain, similar to what I feel, etc). ‘Mothertongue’ is foundation, and ‘Fathertongue’ is extension, but one is never devoid of the other.

    Anyway, I’m going to start reading the rest of the book to see if that solidifies what seems to be an unstable position. From a glimpse at the next chapter, you seem to be conflating Fathertongue with memory, at least to some extent, but time will tell…

    Also, a question – what do you make of Chimps, crows etc learning to use tools, then passing this knowledge to one-another? How is one to understand the ‘meaning’ of a tool without your ‘Fathertongue’? If it’s simple ‘dancing bear’ mimicry, how do the chimps use sticks for single purposes, rather than just jabbing them in anything regardless of whether or not there are termites present? The lack of randomness in their actions shows a clear understanding of the meaning, intent, purpose or what-have-you of the action.

    • Hi Togi. Start with Chapter I :D

      - Ontology
      - Teleology
      - and his “brandings” : Mothertongue and Fathertongue

      are the only “complex” words.

      • and SPLENDOR!

      • I ought to have used ‘jargon’ instead of ‘complex’.

        The above quote as no need for ‘ontological’ (actually, ontological is arguably the *wrong* word to use here, but that’s a different argument). Greg could simply have said ‘as a matter of fact’, but he chose to use ‘ontological fact’. Why? Because it gives extra weight to his claim – it’s now a ‘special kind of fact’, and without any background understanding of the use of this bit of philosophy-specific jargon, we have to take it for granted that this use is: a. meaningful, b. denotes added ‘weight’ to the claim c. Greg knows much more about this than we do.

        Using specialised jargon to infer authority without the requirement to back ones claims is one of the oldest tricks in the book. I wouldn’t say that Greg does this all the time. As you point out, he largely uses common terminology. But he *does* do it, and, given his attacks on various philosophers and ‘thought leaders’, it’s rather ironic that he does.

    • My assumption is that you’re just grand-standing. If not, have your chimp shoot me an email correcting my misapprehension. The bright-line distinction between the smartest animal and the dumbest human being is obvious to every one of us — and it’s dealt with in Chapter 2 in any case. Animals cannot organize sense evidence into concepts, cannot reason proportionately about those concepts, and cannot make choices therefrom by informed discretion. They can’t do any of this, no matter how hard you pray, and no matter how assiduously you fudge the “evidence.” Human beings are sui generis. It profits us nothing to insist otherwise, but it is immensely valuable to act upon reality as it actually is.

      • “The bright-line distinction between the smartest animal and the dumbest human being…”

        Alright, time for a favorite story, can’t really remember the time or place, or whether it was on relation to Forrest rangers working in Yosemite or Yellowstone, but the subject is the metal lockers they use for you to keep your food in.

        They have a fairly complex mechanism for opening and closing them.

        A ranger was quoted as saying that it was rather difficult to design a mechanism. “There seems to be an overlap between the smartest bears and dumbest people.” :)

        Context matters. Child safe caps on medicine defeat the old people who it’s presecribed for.

      • By context matters, I’m talking about Yosemite and Yelowstone with its campers and their food over decades (as a kid, in Yosemite, we had our camp ravaged by bears one night in the 60s). Yea, Bears can open increasingly complex lock boxes with food in them.

        When they actually design one to give themselves access and keep us humans put, I’ll be impressed.

      • ….oh, design, manufacture, market, distribute, sell and install….

      • …oh, design, negotiate contracts….

      • I’m not sure, but you seem to have moveable goalposts here. Do you require that animals have a sense of self? That they are able to use conceptual modes, abstract thought? That they can communicate in a symbolic language? Or, absurdly, that they act exactly like human beings. I know of plenty of humans who would be unable to write an email to you, so that example seems redundant and arrogant.

        Quite simply, our research on animal cognition is pretty nascent, but there are interestingly high levels of cognition, language, thought, culture and so on within various species. I’m not trying to argue that animals can do certain stuff as well as we do (but likewise, who can swim like a dolphin or fly like a crow), but that we may not be anywhere near as singular as you seem so keen to insist.

        It seems that part of your assumption is based in the idea of similarity – that all intelligence, self-awareness etc must take the same form as it does in humans to be valid. This idea of a ‘bright-line distinction’ between a dumb human and a clever animal seems akin to the complaints of an untravelled english-speaker complaining that ‘these french are so *stupid*, they don’t even know what I mean!”

        I agree that it’s important to undertand reality as it is, which is why I ask these questions (not to ‘grand stand’). But that includes the obvious broadening of horizons and working to understand our own intelligence in context of a myriad of different forms. Why do we count in base-10? Is it because decimal has some universal usefulness, or is it because we have 10 digits on our hands? Outside of the mathematical realm, we arguably have a conceptual system founded on the distinction between ‘self’ and ‘other’, but is it possible to conceive of others?

        Let me ask you: if it could be proven that certain animals *can* “organize sense evidence into concepts, reason proportionately about those concepts, and make choices therefrom by informed discretion.” what difference would it make to your philosophy? Why are you so keen to deny this possibility? What difference to my own self-awareness does it make that other species hold it?

        Also, you ignored my question regarding use of tools in chimps. How do you propose animals propagate knowledge and *meaning* of tools without conceptual understanding?

        Coincidentally, regarding the sense of self, what do you make of the ‘mirror stage’ proposed by various psychologists? There seems to be an age (around 18 months to 2 years) where a child becomes aware of themselves in a reflective surface, and represents for many the formation of the ego. Obviously, this doesn’t sit with your requirement that the self/ego is formed through linguistic cognition (by ‘fathertongue’, do you mean ‘metacognition’ – the ability to think about thoughts?)

        As for ‘sui generis’ – as the self emerges from the fathertongue, which emerges from the mothertongue, which is essentially an evolved process partaken by homo sapiens, rather than a ‘human being’, I’m not convinced we can say that your self is much other than a part of an evolutionary continuum. Of course you may or may not agree with this, at which point I need to continue reading the book to get a handle on what you’re saying.

    • togi: Yikes! I pulled all of your comments from this thread into one file. More than 2,000 words! I take it all back. You are not grandstanding. You’re having a crisis of faith! ;)

      That’s a good thing. Nurture it. Your mind will improve in consequence. I think all of your objections will be dealt with when you read the whole book. In the very next chapter, I demonstrate what Homo sapiens without Fathertongue cannot do, and that discussion makes is very easy to identify all of the things that non-human organisms can never do.

      In any case, it would be more profitable for me if you would quote the text you disagree with. I took into account every objection common to modern claims about human nature, but I did that mostly by dismissing them wholesale. I don’t have the time — or the need — to dismiss them again retail. You can’t have it both ways: You can’t quibble in Fathertongue that entities incapable of mastering Fathertongue are “just like us” — which is dealt with in Chapter 2, in any case. Human beings are different in kind from all other entities because of Fathertongue.

      > Regardless, I’ve seen two year olds work conceptually.

      I start to see abstract reasoning impossible to adult dogs starting at around 13 months. I can teach an infant to exercise willful self-control — sticking out his tongue in mimicry as a game — at six weeks or so. This has nothing to do with notation systems.

      > do you have any references to research backing these claims?

      Credentialism. Tell it to you confessor. I don’t care.

      > It’s a common practice for philosophers

      Take you complaints to them, then. They didn’t write this book.

      Most of what you’ve done is simply characterizing and then disputing things I have not said, the Straw Man fallacy, so I’m going to give most of this a miss. Please work from quotations, as I am doing here.

      > many animals employ language

      Bodily signaling — Mothertongue — not notation systems — Fathertongue. Precise distinctions matter.

      > some of them are clearly capable of abstraction and conceptualisation

      Pattern-matching. More on that: Debunking Artificial Intelligence — while programming your computer to be almost as smart as your dog. I’m dismissing another imaginary god of the academic priesthood, so your crisis of faith may deepen if you dare to read that essay.

      > if you’re willing to deny clear and simple real-life evidence

      Ahem.

      > you seem to be conflating Fathertongue with memory

      The first notation system was codified memory.

      > what do you make of Chimps, crows etc learning to use tools, then passing this knowledge to one-another?

      Pattern matching and Mothertongue. Otters teach their offspring to swim. Harris hawks captured and trained by falconers are much better hunters than their native kin. These are all Dancing Bear behaviors — training without any conceptual understanding. If bears could think conceptually, some of them would specialize as beekeepers — and then they would need a web site like this one to help them overcome the consequences of eating too much honey.

      > how do the chimps use sticks for single purposes, rather than just jabbing them in anything regardless of whether or not there are termites present?

      How does your dog manage to shit in the back yard with 100% accuracy? All organisms pursue goals. Higher animals can be trained. Quibbling is explicated in Chapter 7.

      > The above quote as no need for ‘ontological’

      Man Alive! can be summarized in three words: Ontologically-consonant teleology. The ontology of human nature is essential to the argument. Hume and all extant moral philosophies are dismissed in Chapter 6, if you want to pray ahead.

      > Using specialised jargon to infer authority without the requirement to back ones claims is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

      Fallacy ad hominem. Not that I care. Excoriation of heresy is always ad hominem.

      > Do you require that animals have a sense of self? That they are able to use conceptual modes, abstract thought? That they can communicate in a symbolic language?

      Only human beings can do any of those things. All of your terms are sloppy and inexact. Mine are more useful. As an example, self is not a sense, it’s a concept. As soon as you understand it that way, you have yet another redundant proof that non-human animals cannot possibly apprehend the self. We quite literally say, all the time, that animals are un-self-conscious. It’s true.

      > I know of plenty of humans who would be unable to write an email to you

      A genetic Homo sapiens incapable of conceptual consciousness and communication is not a human being. That would be Chapter 3 — this chapter.

      > there are interestingly high levels of cognition, language, thought, culture and so on within various species

      Zero notation systems. It’s a bright line distinction. You can’t paper over it.

      > who can swim like a dolphin or fly like a crow

      Human beings can swim and fly because of Fathertongue. Non-human animals cannot join you in your religious defense of their non-existent conceptual ability because it is non-existent.

      > we may not be anywhere near as singular as you seem so keen to insist

      As I said, the purpose of the Dancing Bear fallacy is to induce human beings to spit on their nature as human beings.

      > seems akin

      This is the form characterization takes. I won’t be held accountable to your prejudices. Quote, don’t characterize.

      > Why are you so keen to deny this possibility?

      I am pioneering the idea of ontologically-consonant teleology. Unlike all other organisms, we are not born with a built-in survival strategy. The appropriate thing to do, if we wish to thrive in Splendor, is to respond to reality as it is, rather than to insist that it must conform to our contrived doctrines.

      Inlookers: In what way are togi’s quibbles distinguishable from theology?

      > How do you propose animals propagate knowledge and *meaning* of tools without conceptual understanding?

      Pattern-matching. Watch what your dog does when you open the drawer where you store its leash. Miss your dog’s feeding time and watch it pushing you toward the food bin. The dog is not only able to “tell time”, it “believes” in free will! This kind of behavior is common, not rare, and it is only remarkable to people who do not carry their claims back to the object. Bears in possession of Fathertongue would keep bees, and the chimps you are so proud of would husband termites if they could “collect their perceptions into conceptual categories, reason proportionately about those categories and make informed choices on the basis of that reasoning.”

      > I need to continue reading the book to get a handle on what you’re saying

      That would help you. Without intending to insult, I’m not learning anything from you. One of my objectives in writing the book was to help people defend their minds from these kinds of specious claims. I’ve dealt with your objections here to help inlookers understand your errors. If you profit it, too, so much the better. But I consider every claim associated with the Dancing Bear fallacy to be fruitless, so you I would be grateful if you could work this stuff out on your own without taking me through your liturgy still another time.

      I’ve been thinking about my style of thinking since I was four years old, rigorously since I was nineteen. You discovered my way of thinking four days ago. Instead of rebelling against my ideas, attempting to pigeonhole them into the pre-fabricated pockets of your pet prejudices, you might learn them and think about them first. Your business. The church of academia is rife with sputtering theologians. But your errors will teach you nothing, where my truths will set you free. I rate that a good bargain.

      • >More than 2,000 words!

        Most of them lost on you, it would seem.

        >I take it all back. You are not grandstanding. You’re having a crisis of faith!

        Cute.
        >In any case, it would be more profitable for me if you would quote the text you disagree with.

        I’ll try to help you in future.

        >You can’t quibble in Fathertongue that entities incapable of mastering Fathertongue are “just like us”

        I’ve not said that. Not close.

        > This has nothing to do with notation systems.

        You didn’t answer my other question, lower down, so I’ll ask again: Can it exist without writing?

        There’s a whole mess of questions regarding ‘fathertongue’, selfhood and humanity if you require that fathertongue, as a prerequisite of conceptual thought, have written form, so this is an important question. If you don’t mean writing/symbolism, can you explain what you do mean by ‘notation’?

        >Credentialism.

        Not really. Simply: you make claims without providing evidence, meaning we’re expected to trust you on matters we have no reason to believe you understand. If making claims about empirically provable facts, then it is not ‘credentialism’ to suggest that we ought to see these empirical ‘facts’ are indeed proven.

        >Most of what you’ve done is simply characterizing and then disputing things I have not said, the Straw Man fallacy, so I’m going to give most of this a miss.

        I’m unaware of having mischaracterised your position, but apologise if I have done so. I’m simply trying to understand it.
        I would ask that you have the courtesy to abide by your own request, and avoid characterisation of my position (e.g. above suggestion I claim animals etc are “just like us”).

        Regarding straw men, I’d suggest that you name some names in your book. You frequently rail against various ‘thought leaders’ and their varied attempts to denigrate the human mind, but I’ve not come across many people (in respectable discourse, at least) who make the claims you ascribe to them.

        > Bodily signaling — Mothertongue — not notation systems — Fathertongue. Precise distinctions matter.

        Well this is the thing, and where I’d like you to help: If fathertongue is essentially written symbolism, then we see the precursors of it in non-written systems (by necessity – we couldn’t get writing if it had no connection to spoken or bodily communication). The elements of abstraction, the understanding of metaphor, symbolism, etc, that form the foundation for a written language are all present, to some degree in what you classify as ‘mothertongue’.

        You are adamant that one is unable to arrive at conceptualising the self (or conceptualising *anything*) without fathertongue, and I’d be interested to explore that idea. Why, if one already has metaphor, symbolism etc, can one not think conceptually?
        Or do you mean, by ‘system of notation’, that mental process of symbolism that may have enabled the written word to make sense?

        > Debunking Artificial Intelligence — while programming your computer to be almost as smart as your dog. I’m dismissing another imaginary god of the academic priesthood, so your crisis of faith may deepen if you dare to read that essay.

        I read the essay, and your refusal to give sources for the claims you argue against makes it seem, again, like you are fighting straw men. You also argue that ‘there is no Artificial Intelligence’, and do so from a position that computers are, and likely will be unable to attain genuine, conceptual intelligence. You fail to notice that ‘Artificial Intelligence’ refers to just that: Artificial; an artifice, a representation of intelligence. Not the real thing. The whole essay is founded on a misunderstanding of a very simple term and, as such, ends up swinging at windmills. Or, straw men.

        The essay also reminded me of the Mirror Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_test) where animals are tested for self-awareness by seeing if they recognise an image in a mirror as representing themselves. Make sure to note the addition to the experiment regarding the dye on the animal’s body, which seems to be a way to test your objection that these animals have simply decided the animal in the mirror poses no threat because it has no smell.

        While you categorise the self as “the internally abstracted concept of your life”, there seems to be some form of awareness-of-my-life that exists prior to this concept, unless we are to conclude that animals have a concept of self.

        > The first notation system was codified memory.

        Okay, this is starting to make more sense.

        > [Animal knowledge and culture as] Pattern matching and Mothertongue.

        Have you ever seen the videos of river dolphins using river banks to catch fish? In a group, the dolphins harry the fish towards the riverbank, creating a large wave as they do so. This wave takes the fish and dolphins up onto the shore, beaching them and allowing the dolphins to pick up the fish. A remarkable display of non-intelligent ‘pattern matching’ and communication.

        >How does your dog manage to shit in the back yard with 100% accuracy? All organisms pursue goals. Higher animals can be trained. Quibbling is explicated in Chapter 7.

        Perhaps we’ll wind the animal issue up here. You seem to have a special purpose in demanding that nobody else share in ‘Fathertongue’ or anything similar to it. Your stated goal is to refute those who would denigrate the majesty of the human mind, and that’s a noble goal. I just suspect that you are confused that animal intelligence, or lack thereof, has any bearing on this majesty.

        To draw a parallel – does a claim that Mozart’s work is truly great and representative of genius make an equivalent claim regarding Beethoven untrue? Given that some animals show remarkable intelligence, and even the possibility for things you deny, why should we assume the achievements of the human mind are any less special? If the human mind can only be special or amazing if no other creature comes close, then it seems we’ve taken a wrong turn.

        > Hume and all extant moral philosophies are dismissed in Chapter 6.

        Yes, I read that: “They [the philosophers] don’t want for you to be a dancing bear – a mindless animal unwittingly soiling its own identity in pursuit of ephemeral “treats” – they just want for you to volunteer to sacrifice every value the uniquely-human life requires in exchange for their empty praise.
        And with that observation I dismiss from further consideration every theory of moral philosophy ever propounded – putatively egoistic or openly anti-egoistic.”

        You construct a straw man characterisation of *all philosophers* (really? you’ve read them all?!), then ‘knock it down’ by saying “I dismiss… every theory of moral philosophy…”?

        Really? That’s it? I mean, if that were by any means a valid way to do things, I could just say: “You’re trying to delude people into giving you praise and for that reason I hereby dismiss anything you say.” And, if we follow your example, I’d have just won the argument. Yay for me!

        >Fallacy ad hominem.

        Insofar as I criticised your mode of engagement, then I suppose you could claim it’s ad hominem, but of course, that ‘excoriation of heresy’ would work both ways and your accusation of my ad hominem attack, as a criticism of my mode of engagement would, in itself be ad hominem. Obviously, this is absurd, so we’re better off conceding that criticism of the style of argument, and the rhetorical devices used therein, is a valid pursuit.

        > As an example, self is not a sense, it’s a concept.

        You define it as “the internally abstracted concept of your life”. From where could this abstraction arise if not from sensory awareness of ‘your life’?

        If the concept of the self is, to use your term, ‘ontologically consonant’, then there must of course be a ‘your life’ of which one is aware a process or thing to which the concept refers, otherwise it’d no longer be ‘ontologically consonant’, ie, true. So if the self is a valid, true concept, it follows by your own definitions that we can sense the self, or at least that thing to which the self refers as a concept.

        Does that clear it up a little? By ‘sense of self’, read: ‘Sense of that process or thing of ‘my life’ to which the concept ‘self’ refers’.

        Of course, if the self is a concept in ontological consonance with an existent thing, then why do you focus on the concept, rather than the thing? As you say, ‘the map is not the territory’.

        >[animals have] Zero notation systems. It’s a bright line distinction. You can’t paper over it.

        See, I’m stuck again. I’d understood by previous comments that a ‘notation system’ refers not only to written language, but also to internally understood symbolism. If that’s the case, your claim is unfalsifiable – we have no way of knowing what happens in an animal’s awareness. Obviously, animals have no writing, but a notation system doesn’t require writing, or does it?
        If the ‘bright line distinction’ relies on an unfalsifiable (and thus unprovable) claim, then it doesn’t seem very ‘bright line’ to me, so please do explain.

        >Human beings can swim and fly because of Fathertongue. Non-human animals cannot join you in your religious defense of their non-existent conceptual ability because it is non-existent.

        You miss my point, but no matter. Also, you’re getting into characterisation that you are so keen I avoid.

        > As I said, the purpose of the Dancing Bear fallacy is to induce human beings to spit on their nature as human beings.

        Hearing about the abilities, whether real or not, of animals only makes me marvel even more at the world we’re in, as well as the advancement we’re achieved in being able to even start to understand the cognitive processes of completely different species. It’s sad that you could see these remarkable things and somehow decide they represent an attack on our own nature. Surely anything special about the world makes us more special, as we’re a part of that world?

        > This is the form characterization takes. I won’t be held accountable to your prejudices. Quote, don’t characterize.

        One arrives at the character of a person by what they say and how they act, but I will endeavour to quote if that helps.

        > I am pioneering the idea of ontologically-consonant teleology.

        You aren’t. You’ve used new words, but you’re trying to do the same thing as many people before you have tried. People have been trying to figure out how to act in the world, based on an accurate understanding of that world, for millennia. You may try to avoid this fact by slandering them or turning them into straw men, but there is little new in what you have to say. That’s not to say it’s not a noble goal, nor even a valid one, but if you wish to ‘respond to reality as it is’, you’d do well to recognise where you stand.

        >The appropriate thing to do, if we wish to thrive in Splendor, is to respond to reality as it is,rather than to insist that it must conform to our contrived doctrines.

        I agree. Which is why I’m so keen to understand your claims and see whether or not they correspond to how reality is.

        > Inlookers: In what way are togi’s quibbles distinguishable from theology?

        Characterisation. Ad Hominem. Straw man.

        You make bold claims, and purport to be providing a survival guide to the human mind. If your fall-back is to claim that anyone testing the survival guide is acting akin to religious adherents, rather than rationally debate the issues they present, then you’re not made of such strong stuff as your bold claims would have us believe.

        > Without intending to insult, I’m not learning anything from you.

        No insult taken. It’s a shame you’re not learning, but not unexpected. For what it’s worth, I’m learning a lot.

        >One of my objectives in writing the book was to help people defend their minds from these kinds of specious claims.

        If you can’t defend your own thoughts without resorting to fallacy, why do you think your book will help? Consider this: if your book is to do its job, it needs to convince people. If it can’t effectively convince people, then it won’t help them. If there are clear objections raised by various people, then there are flaws in its ability to convince, be they flaws in the presentation, or in the core of the argument. It needs to be tried, tested and proven. The flaws and objections need to be raised, then explained, changed, clarified or re-presented by you.

        It matters not one bit whether or not your book makes perfect sense and is totally believable to you. What matters is whether it makes sense to other people, and whether it strikes them as valid and true. You can get frustrated at others all you want. You can claim they’re grandstanding, acting theologically, or even that they’re spawn of the devil sent to dissuade the ‘good folk’ of the light you show them. But at the end of the day, if you can’t communicate your ideas effectively, and defend them against honest (or even misguided!) criticism, you’ve failed in your objective.

        That’s not even to say your ideas are *wrong*, but if you can’t communicate them well, then you’ve failed. I could know the cure to cancer, but if the only way I communicate that cure is through interpretive dance, then I’m not of much use, am I?

        >But I consider every claim associated with the Dancing Bear fallacy to be fruitless, so you I would be grateful if you could work this stuff out on your own without taking me through your liturgy still another time.

        As above, consider the animal issue dropped. You’ve clearly no interest in exploring the issue, and it’s a side point to your main argument.

        > I’ve been thinking about my style of thinking since I was four years old, rigorously since I was nineteen. You discovered my way of thinking four days ago. Instead of rebelling against my ideas, attempting to pigeonhole them into the pre-fabricated pockets of your pet prejudices, you might learn them and think about them first. Your business. The church of academia is rife with sputtering theologians. But your errors will teach you nothing, where my truths will set you free. I rate that a good bargain.

        Your self-belief is admirable. However, ideas need to be tested. You should know that. Ideas need to be confronted, provoked, hit, and chiselled. If you’re not willing to have your ideas tested, debated and criticised, you ought to say so, rather than accusing anyone who does so of ‘attempting to pigeonhole them into the pre-fabricated pockets of your pet prejudices’.

        So I’ll give you the option: if you’d rather people step away, avoid serious criticism of your ideas, and give you a good pat on the back instead, say so. I’ll step away, and likely be the happier for it.

        But if you want to be taken seriously, that means having your ideas tested against sharp edges and blunt rocks. It also means not hiding behind easy characterisations of your critics, nor refusing to admit you might have got something wrong.

        For my part, I’ll play by your rules. I’ll quote, I’ll avoid any characterisation or assumption that cannot be backed by direct quotation, and I’ll even force myself to read every single word in your proud treatise. I’ll ask genuine questions when I’m not sure I understand what you’ve said, and I’ll admit if I don’t know something, or if I’ve been proven wrong. I’ll take it all very seriously and act like we’re doing real thinking. I’d really rather not bother, but ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’, eh?

        Just let me know which you’d prefer.

  12. Edward J. Edmonds says:

    Fuck me. Besides common sense I just found another quality to be proud of that seems to be rarer and rarer as the seconds go by. Reading comprehension. In my schooling years I scored in the top percentile for reading comprehension every fucking year i.e. the ability to read something and comprehend it. You mother fuckers are some dumb shits for sure. I remember the teachers asking students (probably some of the same dumb ass people here were in my class) what a passage meant and mother fuckers would say some dumb shit; I’d raise my hand and say “no fuck head, this is what it meant”. “A” fucking plus. Typical. Half-wits just love to take something very straight forward and rip it apart because you lack fucking imagery in thought. You look at words like fucking mathematical symbols representing 1′s and 0′s. Look in the fucking mirror can any of you still see a fucking reflection?

    • Care to elaborate?

      • It’s too easy around here to pull out the “fuck you” when you won’t elaborate or if someone doesn’t agree with you.

      • I just look at someone who claims to have been in the top percentile in reading comprehension yet can’t write for shit and laugh.

        Perhaps he was in the top percentile in the 1st grade, that third time when he passed with flying colors.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        Thanks for raising your hand and volunteering. I knew some poor douche wouldn’t be able to resist. Your response illustrates my point precisely: all you see are 1′s and 0′s. In this case fuck, fuck, fuck, and non-mechanical use of punctuation instead of addressing the central idea that you’re reading comprehension sucks.

      • Tell us more about what a bad ass you are, anonymous Edie. With your eloquence and maturity I bet Richard would offer you a guest post.

        Or should I say “you’re” eloquence and maturity? I don’t want to confuse “you’re” incredible reading comprehension.

      • Well, from what I’ve read of comments so far, I think reading comprehension, or simply a desire to quibble over fairly obvious things, is an issue.

      • Richard, I also had some quibbles with Greg’s, I dunno, examples, metaphors that I found distracting. Greg said he whipped this out in a week or something right? I understand there are some deeper philosophical ideas that he’s trying to illustrate but I found the didactic style rather off-putting. My problem is that I find it hard to take hardcore, first principles philosophy serious.

      • Sean, did you read the book? It doesn’t care in what time you write down something mechanically. The preparation is more important. It took him 30 years to perfect his arguments.

      • “Richard, I also had some quibbles with Greg’s, I dunno, examples, metaphors that I found distracting”

        I agree. Maybe the reason it is easy to quibble over the simple is because Greg isnt doing his job in all his verbosity, or maybe you see loftier things in his discourse that just arent there. Or you are much more of a higher thinker than the simpletons that read your blog. There are many points that Greg makes that are interesting, but I find reading his work difficult, and, well, tedious. Maybe my comprehension skills arent as tuned Edwardo’s. Or maybe it was having all those children I should have had the government raise for me that killed my brain cells. What ever, I give up on this book.

      • Paul, I sort of read the book, perhaps 1/2 to 3/4, but I found the didactic style and absolutism off-putting.

        Are you perhaps friends with dumb Edie? Fellow cult-members?

        “30 years to perfect his arguments”

        Really? Does Mr Swann now dwell in perfection? Did you and dumb Edie come over here to fuck with the non-believers?

        I have this terrible quirk: when I see some newly minted anonymous commentors here who can’t debate, reason, or even spell themselves out of a paper bag, but are huge defender’s of Greg, then I become even more more skeptical.

      • I’m not sure about the style. Reading in English is still a different territory for me. I mostly absorb the ideas.
        I don’t know Edie.
        I’m not a defender of Greg. I just recommended to read the whole book at once, if one is interested.

      • Paul, sorry, it’s not fair to lump you in with Edward, I jumped to conclusions when I saw you agreeing with chucklehead downthread. My bad.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        The problem is that you get offended too easily and that seems to be the guiding paradigm for the basis of your responses. You do have a reading comprehension problem. I’ll leave for the possibility that it may be conditional; as there are some who are unfortunate enough to have selective reading comprehension. And to some extent we all do.

        You insinuate that I’m defending Mr. Swann. Whether or not I agree with Mr. Swann has no bearing on the point of reading comprehension. You don’t have to agree or disagree with an idea to understand it or comprehend it. However, you do have to comprehend it in order to properly debate it. And in this case there are few things to debate except if you want to get into the interesting conflicts between Fathertongue and Mothertongue and how they contribute to produce personality.

        It is no problem to not understand something. Say so. It’s not a problem to disagree. Disagree. It is a problem to not understand and criticize bits and pieces without understanding the overall idea. It is like the straight-sitting-straight-A-well-trained-smart-ass in class who you stump. They really had no understanding of the material, they memorized it. It’s easy to trick an animal. There are a lot of teachers like this as well. You can’t understand something completely in that way. It requires a certain level of honesty. But underneath that is the priority of curiosity.

        Further, saying that I’m a new commenter is basically a reflection of your ownership. Does a comment reflect readership? You appeal to authority whether it is a piece of paper or the comfortable frequency of reliable action. You need that comfort because it helps to confirm or deny your position.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        You’re demonstrating a level of intelligence that I see quite often in your generation. Oh well, therd tymes a charm. Maybe you’ll get it this time Joker.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        Fuck you.

        Yeah that was to easy.

      • Edward J. Edmonds says:

        Care to elaborate? Translation: needlessly pull sentences, phrases, and terms out of context to confirm or deny your own elaboration due to a lack of confidence? I’ll leave the backtracking and therapy to you. There is nothing to elaborate on. It’s a simple idea Mr. Swann is presenting. But you’re getting offended by the details that lead to the bigger overall point. You’re quibbling.

      • Edward, I agree with you. The Critics actually did understand the whole Idea and because of this they rip apart everything and pull terms out of context.

      • Greg makes points ‘that lead to the bigger overall point’. These are his supporting argument. In order for a supporting argument to hold a concept up, it must be valid. Therefore, debating issues regarding a supporting argument is not ‘quibbling’, it is an attempt to determine the validity of the ‘bigger overall point’.

        Greg obviously feels that the points he makes are relevant and important to the overall position, otherwise he wouldn’t have put them in there. If they are relevant and important, it follows that it must be relevant and important to test them.

        If, on the other hand, they are superfluous to his main argument, we must ask why he has chosen to fill his argument with superfluities. Either way, discussion of the points made is worthwhile to our understanding of the position held and the critique of its validity.

  13. Richard, “everyone should just relax” – You are the one who needs to relax, badly.
    .
    The first two comments yesterday were rational, calm and even opening possibilities/questions -it’s perfectly valid to debate when the transition happens, what we’re looking for to determine it etc… one would think.
    .
    But no, comment #3 is from you as you come in swinging and berating people, ignoring anything substantive, focused on some pet peeve of yours apparently.
    And I just don’t see why. It’s too bizarre.
    Hell, I even tried to nudge you out of this negative mind-set in my immediate response to you (it’s been displaced lower in thread by now) but that didn’t work either.
    I don’t care to try to discuss this book anymore, even though it’s interesting, there is way too much drama.

    • Marie:

      Like Mr. Edmonds, I simply don’t like senseless quibbling over non-central themes, particularly when the central message is so damn simple and I think, pretty uncontroversial in the large.

      1. Human are born fully genetic human, physically.

      2. They communicate in similar fashion to other animals. At first, very basic, increasingly complex (mothertongue in his parlance).

      3. At some point—one could argue (quibble) over what average age, I suppose, but I don’t see the point in doing so because it’s not the point—the human has a fully functioning mind, able to use symbols, notation and metaphor to convey complex ideas. Think: the HEAD of a nail, human, household, class, company, state, etc. Think: E=MC^2 (fathertongue in his parlance).

  14. Whose quibbling? It’s interesting because it deals with the characteristics that distinguish animal and human minds, in fact, the question of what constitutes a human mind -and that is central to the theme.
    If you weren’t acting like a mother hen, you’d have noticed that the central point was acknowledged, hell, complimented, right off the bat.
    But look, if you’re not interested in some aspect, don’t bother with it. Why play whack-a-mole with your commenters? and in the most derogatory way you can.
    Or else, perhaps moderate the comments, then you can guide the discussion where you want if that’s what interests you. But don’t invite debate and then beat down anyone who doesn’t debate what you want.
    .
    And now fuck off, I pulled over to answer you yesterday when Pete read out loud the comment and it did no good, you bounced around denigrating other people too, I’m done on this post.

    • I agree. Don’t invite debate, then get all butthurt because someone ‘doesn’t get’ the big picture, or ‘quibbles’ over details.

      • That’s not what happen. I don’t take blatant misrepresentation very well.

      • What blatant misrepresentation for fuck’s sake?

      • From Shelley:

        “but I certainly feel that mothers are totally in tune with their children from smells, sounds, motions, etc.). ”

        From Greg:

        “I call that kind of communication Mothertongue, and all higher animals do it – including us. When you sing a lullaby to an infant, that baby cannot possibly understand the words you are singing. But he can understand the Mothertongue component of your message – the love, the care, the comforting – and he can respond in kind, also in Mothertongue, by smiling and cooing back at you.”

        Just one example.

      • Okay, nice example, Richard.

      • So, the chapter is entitled “Speaking in Tongue[S]”

        Plural.

        The whole very point of the thing is how we communicate with children and other animals exclusively in a non-verbal mode (even when we verbalize, but they don’t understand it in a cognitive-conceptual way, but essentially, “body language”) and how we go from H. Sapiens to “Human Being” (a term of art for him) through the use of concepts, symbols, notation and metaphor to communicate amazingly complex ideas.

        It’s the body part and the [human] mind part, but as I said, I’ll leave it to him to address Cartesian Duality if he cares to.

      • Thank, Richard.

        > I’ll leave it to him to address Cartesian Duality if he cares to.

        I don’t see any duality. What we are as entities is everything we are as entities. Normal, healthy genetic Homo sapiens are born with the capacity to master Fathertongue, contemporaneously discovering the idea of the self, thereby becoming becoming human beings. Fathertongue is unique to human beings, but we never cease to be physical objects, organisms and mammals. Everything we do is an expression of our full identity, and nothing we do is divorced from that identity.

        With respect to “pseudo-science” in a number of comments: I don’t go to your church. Sorry.

  15. Pauline says:

    I think psychology has been sexualised over the years and you will see this in how psychological concepts of self and theories on formation of self and psychological defenses have been formulated and re-formed again and again starting with Freud and then a continuum of others in dinstinct patterns over the preceding century. I think that is where we feel some resistance depending on gender on how we respond to ideas that have a mother/father description. Mothers/women also teach concepts, ideas, reasoning, emotions versus instincts, feedback, language, rules, design, justice/injustice, self/others, the tribe – family, friends, strangers, material value of objects, ownership, buying/selling and the list in endless. In some families the women are the leaders and some the men. These experiences shape and influence our lives over time, not just set up in childhood. Men have been very good teachers in my life and so have women, some of the women are more aggressive and scientific than the men and sometimes the men are mix of that emotionalism and intellectualism, these skills vary in each individual depending on their early and ongoing influences/teachers in their lives.

  16. Pauline says:

    I think mother/tongue and father/tongue as a description is limiting and if you are writing for all your readers some feedback can be useful. Mother tongue being basic, instinctual responses and father/tongue being more developed concepts, ideas and relation to self/world/objects may not be the best way to educate your reader. Using centuries old formation of dialogue and language with more masculine emphasise may make your letter to the new world unwielding and indigestible for those readers who live with more fluid concepts where language is expressed with less dichotomy in form.

    • > Mother tongue being basic, instinctual responses and father/tongue being more developed concepts, ideas and relation to self/world/objects

      But I didn’t say that. It is useful to quote text you disagree with, so as not to put words into the other person’s mouth.

      Mothertongue is bodily signaling, occurring without any conceptual content in non-human organisms and often without conceptual content among human beings.

      Fathertongue is any conceptual notation system. It is possible — as a matter of ontology — only to human beings, genetic Homo sapiens within whom the gift of mind has been cultivated.

      You can come up with your own terms for these phenomena. What is important to me is not the terminology but the fact that they are fundamentally distinct means of cognition and communication.

      I’ve been using these terms to make this distinction for twenty years. To my knowledge, no one else make the distinction at all. My impression is that virtually everyone else is striving instead, like many here, to conflate unlike things with rubber rulers.

      Here’s an example from togi’s elaborate, extended non-grand-standing: If chimps teach each other to exterminate termites piecemeal, that’s mothertongue — bodily signaling without any conceptual understanding of what is actually being done. Before academic philosophy was destroyed by Marxism, we all knew enough to call this behavior “monkey-see, monkey-do.”

      How do we know that there is no conceptual understanding in the described events? Because once you understand termites conceptually, you know that they cannot be eradicated unless you kill the queen.

      How do we know there is no fathertongue at play in the process at all?

      Mothertongue is active, immediate, visceral and fleeting, where Fathertongue is generally passive, patient, cerebral and enduring.

      Absent the putatively-observed mothertongue demonstration — I wasn’t there, and academics exaggerate for a living — there is no communication whatever.

      • Okay, so could Fathertongue exist without writing? You claim it’s a notation system, so does that mean one can only pertain to conceptual thought, and thus selfhood, if one can write?

        Oh, and chimps aren’t trying to eradicate the termites. They eat them. They salivate on the end of a stick, then poke the stick into a termite mound. The termites get stuck on the spit, and the chimps pull them out and eat them. My suggestion is that, as they don’t jab sticks into any random hole, and that they haven’t evolved this ability – it’s observed within certain tribes, but not others – there is a clear understanding of what is being done, why, and how to do it.

        Whether or not this is fully cognitive in the sense of a monkey having ‘thought A: i want termites’, ‘thought B: termites can be got with a stick’ is a different question, but it seems an example of an event where ‘mothertongue’ bodily communication requires what is, at least, an underpinning of conceptual thought.

        ‘Mothertongue’ still requires an understanding of metaphor, of abstraction, etc. So I’m not convinced by your claim of a ‘fundamental’ difference in language types. ‘Fathertongue’ can only come to be understood through extension by the groundwork made by ‘Mothertongue’, so, while it may well be distinct in form and have significantly more complex function, at the ground level (the fundamental level) they are the same process.

        It may be worthwhile to discuss in what form you consider concepts. You seem somewhat aligned with the Platonic theory of universal Ideals, of fixed concepts to which a language refers, rather than the kind of theory that describes concepts as formed by, within language in a non-universal sense. In the second way, concepts could quite happily emerge from ‘Mothertongue’, as bodily communication in some forms already requires abstraction and metaphor.

  17. Shelley says:

    Greg, just out of curiosity, have you read Harry Browne’s “How I found Freedom in an Unfree World”? I admit I haven’t finished your book to make any comparisons myself, but offhand they do seem to have the same overall theme.

    • > have you read Harry Browne’s “How I found Freedom in an Unfree World”?

      Years ago. I used to trade email with Harry before he died. I expect Richard did, too. He was the world’s most approachable presidential candidate. FWIW, the closest parallel I can think of to the job I’m trying to do in Man Alive! is John Galt’s speech in Atlas Shrugged. Rand was too interested in scourging Marx, in my opinion, where I wanted to leave a very brief roadmap back to hellenic civilization, should that prove necessary.

      • I tried to stay away, I failed. It is the fact that you do engage Greg that remains appealing, overshadowing anyone’s knee-jerk reactions. Thank you for responding above both to my main interests of how/what defines ‘humanness’ and the childhood transition and responding to the aside regarding the terminology of mother/father tongue.
        I understand and tend to agree with your highlighted ‘human mind’ characteristics.
        But now, your answer regarding gender terms has opened for me a larger query , due mainly to this :

        “The advent and growth of Fathertongue, historically, is a largely masculine phenomenon, this because it was fathers, rather than mothers, who needed to expand their intellectual toolset. ”
        And this is in the context of conceptualization and development of notation (not necessarily writing) and the other characteristics you ascribe to Fathertongue, if I understand well (please correct otherwise).

        So then, What history are you referring to? Not, for example, hellenic as you note here above? You mentioned somewhere else pre-technological societies, so are you perhaps referring to pre-history? I am now confused. I do know that specifically since the dark ages, there has been a limited knowledge of civic life in ancient Athens in the west, the later renaissance highlighted art of course and the political, male, domain. However there was an equally important civic and conceptually rich domain created by women, which was a central, defining aspect of daily life, centered around religion and all the concepts there, ritual and the notations there, and life-cycle events… it was mothers, perhaps even mothers first, who had to expand their intellectual tool-set.
        Brief summary here, for anyone else, I know you must be familiar with this, hence my confusion in your explanation :
        .
        I am absolutely not trying to be difficult here, I appreciate what you are trying to do, as we have discussed before, or else why would I, or anyone, actually bother to read and try to understand, critique (not criticize) and feedback to you in this particular intellectual exercise and despite a bizarrely emotional environment.
        As I noted in my first comment and as Pauline explains rather eloquently, ascribing gender-specific thought processes is a rather sensitive issue for many, but it has nothing to do with ‘feminism’ or the reclaiming (not first claiming) of intellectual life in modern technological wealthy societies. It has everything to do with the personal experience of the women.
        So if you would like to clarify further, I for one would be interested. If not, I respect and understand personal voice.

      • Marie: Glad to see you back. I’m not being confrontational, and I certainly don’t want to rob anyone of anything they have earned.

        > You mentioned somewhere else pre-technological societies, so are you perhaps referring to pre-history?

        Creating and excelling in the use of notation systems has been a largely masculine phenomenon for most of human history. This says less about differences among men and women than it does about economics and socio-biology: Until we get to very wealthy civilizations, the tasks men and women undertake are largely non-fungible. As before, I like the term Mothertongue because it refers to communication behavior that is common to all mammals — a category of entities defined by an organic system absent in male Homo sapiens. And I like the term Fathertongue because notation systems, until now at least, have been invented by human fathers in their role as fathers.

        I linked to a fuller exposition of this above, from a post at SplendorQuest.com. This is quoted from my book The Unfallen:

        Gwen said nothing for a moment, just looked out the window. “Shall we eat this ice cream before it goes entirely soft?”

        Winnie chuckled. “It took me two years to get used to the fact that people here will eat ice cream on the coldest days.”

        “It’s warm enough in here, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to have it and then race right outdoors, but I don’t think you have any business going outdoors anyway.”

        “Too true. We’ll have to do this again in the spring, because I’d like to show you this place. Can you read the inscriptions on the buildings outside? This is M.I.T.’s way of honoring all the great men of science. Galileo, Kepler, Fourier, LaPlace. Aristotle, toward whom every branch of science must bow. Hundreds of names, some larger, some smaller, almost all of them men. Does that seem odd to you?”

        Gwen knitted her brows. “Should it? The great men of science were actually men. How could you list their names without making a list of men?”

        “Are you unenlightened? Why should men get all the credit just because they did all the work? My mechanic fixes my car so it runs, but I can repair it just as well myself. I’m differently inclined, mechanically speaking, so it doesn’t run when I finish with it, but why should we judge the work of a mechanic by the outmoded and subversively patriarchal standard of whether or not the car runs?”

        Gwen smiled. “Now pull the other one.”

        “The strictures of antiquity are not true because they’re old. That’s the antiquarian fallacy, the cornerstone of conservatism. But the one thing we can say about classical ideas, as compared with newer ones, is that they have stood the test of time. We have five thousand years and more of human history, and that’s a pretty good database from which to draw conclusions. Science? Men. Engineering? Men. Medicine? Men. Music? Men. Sculpture? Men. Painting? Almost entirely men. Literature? Largely men with a few women, especially in poetry and prose. There are almost no women playwrights we remember. Philosophy? All but entirely men. Why should it be that so much that we see as being characteristic of ‘The West’, in capital letters, should be so dominated, at least at the very top, by men?”

        “That doesn’t seem to be a very fruitful line of questioning. It is so because it has been so. If you’re arguing that we should not dilute the contributions of men by laying false claim to an equal stature for women, I agree with you. Women have done many interesting things, but the Organon and the Summa Theologica and the Eroica were all produced by men.”

        “But must that be so? It is so, surely, but aren’t we all equals? We said one man cannot claim to be king, claim to be privileged by god to reign over others, and the monarchies were razed. How can it be that only a man can fix my car? There are some really talented physicists of the second rank who are women, and a few of the first rank. Why are there no first class women mechanics?”

        Gwen tugged at her chin. “I would suppose there simply aren’t that many women who are interested in repairing cars. It’s very dirty work, isn’t it?”

        “Bingo! I could ask variations on that question all day at a meeting of feminists and never get a straight answer. Maybe women could be as good as men at repairing cars, but we don’t know because little girls don’t want to spend hours and weeks and months and years up to their elbows in grease. The truth is, they don’t have to. If they want a mechanic’s income, they can marry a mechanic. If they want a doctor’s income, they can marry a doctor. This is heresy of the first water, so don’t tell on me. But there’s a reason to think about heretical ideas, even at the risk of the Inquisition. ‘We must follow the argument wherever it leads.’ And our dear friends the feminists are willing to read anything except text that parses into clear, discernible meaning. And the very last thing they want to hear, the very last idea the Enlightenment wants to consider, is that human beings, while not ruled by their biology, are nevertheless animals with a particular inviolable nature. Can you think of a biological reason why men should do all the scut work in the world instead of women?”

        “I assume you’re going to say because of pregnancy and childbirth, but isn’t the premise open to question? Isn’t that one of the key complaints of feminism, that women get stuck with all the dirty jobs?”

        “Wrong and wrong. You’ll have to stay after and wipe down the chalk boards. Women get stuck with the cleaning and the laundry and the diaper changing, and they work in schools and libraries and hospitals. But men get killed or badly injured at work, and almost everyone who gets killed or badly injured on the job is a man. Men take high-risk jobs for higher pay. Men do the jobs that require a total commitment, unlimited overtime without any extra pay. Men work themselves into an early grave, everyone knows this, whether they fix cars or compose symphonies. Why do they do it?”

        “…Competition for women?”

        “Bingo! It’s actually simpler than that, simpler and more complicated. Aristotle’s name is huge out there. Galileo’s name is huge. But you can do something that Aristotle could never do. You’ve done it once, and I think you want to do it again. I’m doing it now, and I haven’t seen my feet in weeks.”

        “Women can have babies. Is this news?”

        “The implications of that one simple fact are what make us what we are. As a species. As a culture. As individuals. If you’re very lucky, you have maybe thirty-five years of eggs in your body. They were all there before you were born, and you can’t get any more. The maximum number of babies you can have is just over four-hundred. Nobody wants that many, but you throw egg after egg away, once a month, ‘the curse’. If you really worked at it, you could have ten babies in your lifetime at most, and the fact is you’ll be lucky to have two or three. On the other hand, if I waddle down the hall and give Xander a good yank, I can pull half-a-million little Xanders out of him, and he’ll have half-a-million more armed and ready by the time we get home. Sperm cells are insanely abundant and egg cells — and the conditions necessary for their proper gestation — are insanely scarce, and everything that we think of as human behavior is a reflection of these two simple biological facts.”

        “And if I should answer that biology is not destiny?”

        “It isn’t. It’s just a tireless goad. In terms of simple genetic recombination, men are redundant, ridiculously so, and women are precious. In a Garden of Eden consisting of one man and twenty-three women, in a year’s time there would be twenty-three new babies. But if there were one woman and twenty-three men, at the end of a year there would be one woman, one surviving man, and the man would kill her baby if he thought it wasn’t his own. That is the state of nature. Does Devin talk to you about fathertongue and mothertongue?”

        Gwen rolled her eyes mockingly. “All the time.”

        “He tries to make it sound very gender neutral, but the truth is that notational systems are created by men for very masculine purposes. Women are debilitated by babies. Behold my debilitation. Between pregnancy and child-rearing, a woman is fairly defenseless for two or three years. For ten or fifteen if she has one child after another. The job of men, the job of men, is to die so that women and children will live. If this is not the most profoundly anti-Enlightenment statement you have ever heard, you can have double your tuition back. Biology is not destiny, but a man’s biology urges him at every turn to impregnate as many women as possible, as quickly as possible, before someone else takes them out of play for two years or more. The Legions of the Half-Million are fully-formed and fully-armed several times a day, and his unfiltered appetite is to set no impediments before his appetites. This is what his body wants him to do. Why shouldn’t he do it?

        “I’ll answer for myself. Because he wants to make sure that his offspring survive. He wants very badly to satisfy that urge, and who am I to blame him? But if he rapes every woman he sees, he risks being killed by some man who views himself as her protector.”

        “Or by she herself. She’s not helpless, after all.”

        “That’s right. And in any case, the chances are that any children he fathers this way will die. They’ll either be murdered by the mother or her menfolk, or they’ll simply die of starvation or exposure, because the mother will not be able to provide for herself. We’re not reptiles. Fathers can’t just spray the egg and slither away. Gestation for human beings takes fifteen years or twenty years or forever, depending on how you measure things. He wants to father children who will survive to adulthood, and the way he does that is by sticking around. To provide for his woman and their children and to protect them and to lay down his life, if necessary, so that they will live.

        “Her job is basically changeless. She nurses, she cleanses, she succors and comforts and soothes. She nurtures, and while women today have better tools than they had five-thousand years ago, the mother’s primary tool will never change: mothertongue. This is how we rear our children and neither god nor man nor kings nor media princes nor radically-feminized Focouldian philosophers can change it. This is what we are irrespective of our reason.

        “A mother’s world is unchanging, and a father’s world never stops changing. No matter how well he does at his job of providing for and protecting his family, he can always do better. This is what fathertongue is for, and the threshold of human civilization is enumeration, the primal notational system. One antelope, two antelopes, many antelopes. Hmmm… Many antelopes. Seem like good place to live.”

        Gwen laughed delightedly and Winnie joined her.

        “It’s funny, but the sad and glorious fact is that we are not born knowing how to stay alive, and it’s men who are normally stuck with the job of figuring out how we can live — and live better each day, each year, each generation. That’s the first function of fathertongue, work, solving the problem of survival. You can’t solve any problem in mothertongue. You can’t reason in mothertongue, only feel. Fathertongue is the language in which we think, and historically, culturally, men have done it. They’ve had the time to do it, and they’ve had the impetus because of their biological role. Perhaps things need not work out this way, but this is the way they have worked out.

        “The second function of fathertongue is justice. Whether they like it, and whether we like it, they are our warriors. They are hugely redundant genetically, and therefore they are expendable. Oops! Another heresy… But men don’t want to die, and we don’t want them to die, and even though they are redundant genetically, their skills at production and protection are not expendable. Fathertongue is a means by which men can try to resolve disputes with words instead of weapons.

        “The third function of fathertongue is beauty, high art and low, poetry and courtly manners and civility and graciousness. Partly this is competition for women, and partly it is simply competition among men, establishing the lesser and the greater, the ridiculous and the sublime. His genes goad him to pursue the best woman he can find and her genes goad her to find the best man. He judges her by her appearance, at least at first. Is this shallow of him? No. He’s looking for good bones and healthy skin and bright eyes and full hips; he’s looking for a good, sturdy mother for his children. She judges him by his accomplishments, by his wealth or his reputation for skill or his creations. Is this shallow of her? No. She’s looking for the man who can best assure and protect her life and the lives of her children. Deriding human beings for doing what they must do in order to be human beings is a very stupid and very ‘Enlightened’ thing to do.

        “The fourth function of fathertongue is worship. And I think more than anything else, fathertongue seeks to worship itself. The feminists insist that men are inherently rapists, that all men are rapists. This is the opposite of the truth. Human civilizations are all the product of fathertongue, and the purpose of civilization is to prevent rape, to make the world safe for women and children. To make a world where women are not raped and killed and where children are not stolen and sold and raped and killed. Civilization is the means by which men make the world safe from their worst impulses, and it is remarkably successful. And the most loving language of fathertongue is reserved in reverence for itself — witness Killian Court.

      • Thank you again for clarifying, Greg.
        It’s a distraction for sure to you who have already reasoned this out but not to those of us trying to understand your reasoning, so I appreciate your effort here.
        It was a fun read, by the way :-) Stories are often best at explaining reasoning.
        .
        However, I did not question whether or not men have been responsible for most Cultural achievements since recorded history, that would just be nonsense.
        What I was confused about was what are the characteristics of ‘fathertongue’ that inspire the fatherly designation?
        You see, I thought that you were referring to the thought processes, saying that basically they were conceptualization, notation systems, symbolic thought and reasoning. For want of a better word, I’ll call them ‘higher’ functions.
        If that were so, I don’t see the connection that because at some point in history these started to be expanded by men into wider disciplines in larger societies (western civilization) that these were/are somehow manly and even less so ‘fatherly’ features, because I don’t think they started that way in families and in societies nor do they exist that way now.
        I gave an example of all of these thought processes, conceptual and notational systems developed by women in at least one well-known society and in fact connected to their roles as mothers.
        I would argue from historical perspective as well as motherly experience that it is actually mothers who either first or concurrently with men Had to develop these ‘higher’ thought processes.
        Yes, one antelope-two antelope is important, so is one berry bush-two cherry trees, not to mention one child – space- second child (they did and even today in HG groups do manage spacing/survivability, a rather complex concept) and all the story-telling and other teaching and danger-avoidance systems they develop to protect and raise children, organize the coordinated work of the family group or tribe etc.
        Later historically, religion/mythmaking and ritual were perhaps the first wider application and development in larger societies of these ‘higher’ thought processes and again the historical evidence seems to point to women developing and managing these.
        .
        Hence the dissonance for me when I hear ‘father’tongue. Whether I look at an HG unit today or the family today, or whether I look at the first larger societal applications of higher thought processes, I don’t see them coming from fathers.
        Yup, they took the lead at some point historically in building on these processes, but so what, the processes are there in use and were developed at least equally by both mothers and fathers.
        It won’t be resolved, I now see, because the explanation above seems to imbue what to me is a misconception with an inevitability.

      • Use other terms. “Bodily signaling” and “notation systems” works just as well for me, and I translate out to those phrases if there is any doubt, in any case. The important matter is to sustain the distinction in your mind, because we cannot understand the uniquely-human life without taking account of the leverage we gain by mastering notation.

      • O.k., yes, that’ll work. Thank you :-)

      • You’re a gentle soul, a quality of character I learned to love in my own best-beloved. You might enjoy reading The Unfallen. It’s a love story, and sex roles and their inversion are dealt with throughout the book. The stories I cited yesterday in my comment to Edward are fun reads, too.

      • What a beautiful compliment, thank you. And I will.

  18. Pauline says:

    Hi Greg, I was not trying to be difficult for the sake of difficulty. Just expressing what I see as a discord in my own response to the terminology. I haven’t read your book, just bits and pieces as it has come in by chapter. I find your writing style quite complex. I read vociferously a wide range of subjects from psychology to arctic expeditions and everything inbetween. Hey but different strokes for different folks. However, putting work out on the internet invites these kind of discussions. I knew it would feel like a personal critism but sometimes when you are talking on the internet it sounds like shouting, which is not what I intended. Just giving you feedback and thought afterwards your unique reading and writing style/language is so personal and forged in our own real life observations and experience that it will be something you will not want to change because a few people feel it doesn’t work for them for whatever reason. That’s life. And bravo for writing it all out, some of us have been dreaming of doing just that all our lives. So much of what is written in comments in done off the cuff, in the spontaneity of the moment, and you can’t retract it. Good luck.

    • > I knew it would feel like a personal critism but sometimes when you are talking on the internet it sounds like shouting

      Not to worry. I haven’t taken offense.

      I just posted a long comment to Marie about the underlying logic behind the terms Mothertongue and Fathertongue. I consider this a non-issue, a distraction, but I don’t care what terms other people use to make the distinction.

  19. Pauline says:

    And so much of what it is written is from my own personal viewpoint, in the moment. We all read different things according to what makes our cerebral juices flow. My thoughts on mother/father tongue remain the same. but these are my own unique response to words and concepts and that is how it should be and hopefully as a writer you can respect that too.

  20. Pauline says:

    P.S. Just got a book from the library called “Bats sing, Mice Giggle” (the surprising science of animal’s inner lives) show how animals build, create and entertain themselves and others, how they express grief, joy, anger and fear and how animal ‘friends’ keep in touch, how some animals problem-solve even more effectively than humans. Do you think there is a joke hidden in there for all of us!

  21. Pauline says:

    How Cunning
    Lingus
    the wily fox licked
    his drooling jaw
    contemplating
    that feisty hen
    she chirped and pecked
    and feigned hurt
    playing dead
    while all her cousins
    flew and flustered
    squawking at
    his obvious intent
    he winked and waited
    then fluffed his
    tail in disdainful
    abandonment

  22. LOLOLOL ! Such perceptively Natural talent you have, Pauline!

  23. Pauline says:

    Thanks Marie, that poem wrote itself today!

  24. :)

  25. Pauline says:

    I should have written:

    How Cunning
    Linguist
    The Wily Fox
    Licked his drooling
    Jaw

  26. Pauline says:

    Afterthought, all has gone silent hereonwards. Greg, I just wanted to play in the poem with the the wordship of mother/father – hope you took it ‘tongue-in-cheek’ as intended.

  27. Apropos to the mothertongue/fathertongue issues, this may be of interest to some:

    http://freetheanimal.com/2011/11/of-the-beast-and-the-bi-cameral-mind-part-i.html

    • That was an interesting post. I have not read the book, but the summary suggests to me that the phenomena Jaynes is discussing can be understood as developments in grammar, specifically the egocentric idea of the present-active-indicative voice, the elaboration of subjunctvity that I mention to Marie in the comments above and the development of oral and then written poetry, followed by discursive prose. Discurro in Latin means “I run this way and that” and discursive prose is the willful imposition of focus on our easily-distracted minds.

      Richard Mitchell’s fictional Jiukiukwe tribe offers a nice illustration of the idea that the grammar of your language governs what you can think:

      http://www.sourcetext.com/grammarian/less-than-words-can-say/02.htm

      As we’ll see in Chapter 4, I believe Fathertongue is the most important invention in all of human history, the source of all f the riches we so blithely take for granted.

  28. Pauline says:

    What I love about poetry is the ability to distill a feeling or mood in an image or story. Its brief, concise, like a haiku, a ‘little’ poem which may or not rhyme but give you an immediate sense of something, which lingers long after read. I like reading your poems Greg more than the prose, that must be to do with something in me that prefers things distilled, which you can sip, like a rich wine, and savour as it enters your being. Or maybe its to do with time, there is so much information to absorb and so much distraction, if it is pared down to something that carries its essence so we can remember – as it does in music and songwriting. Maybe that’s why movies work there our senses are completely involved as I found when watching Prometheus – the visual the music the dialogue and the story, are enthralling. Afterwards its almost etched in one’s vision. Like a living painting.

    • Thanks, Pauline. I take up the idea of integrity in art — every form of Fathertongue deployed to tell the same one story — in Chapter 8. We’re completely on the same page: The job of art is to use mere abstraction to make a reality more tellingly real than the real thing. Art that succeeds begins but it never ends: It takes control of your mind and moves in permanently, changing forevermore the way you see the world.