October 12, 2010
The Magical Weave of Language
Here’s a pdf version of the chapter on the emergence of language from my book, Towards a Democracy of Consciousness.
The chapter’s called “The Magical Weave of Language.” It examines what makes language so special as a defining characteristic of humanity, and sees the crucial neuroanatomical source of language as the prefrontal cortex. It explores theories of language evolution, from the “gradual and early” school to the “sudden and recent” school. It goes on to refute Steven Pinker’s concept of the “language instinct,” arguing instead that we humans have a deeper “patterning instinct” which gets applied to language from the earliest months of infancy. The chapter proposes that there were, in fact, three phases of language evolution, with the most recent phase of modern language involving a crossing of the “metaphoric threshold,” which allowed for the emergence of a “mythic consciousness”. This permitted humans to think for the first time in terms of abstract concepts and begin the never-ending search for meaning in our lives.