Welcome to a CCL seminar with Chris Sinha, Cognitive Science, Hunan: Praxis, symbol and language: developmental, ecological and linguistic issues
This presentation focuses on the interweaving of constructive praxis with communication in ontogenesis, in phylogenesis and in biocultural niche evolution (ecogenesis), within an EcoEvoDevo framework.
I begin by discussing the nature of symbolization, its evolution from communicative signaling and its elaboration into sign systems. There follows an outline account of language as an artifactual niche, and the interpenetration in the human bicultural niche-complex of semiosphere and technosphere.
Symbolization (the foundation of the semiosphere) is by definition normative; the normative character of the human technosphere is demonstrated by the interrelations in human development between affordance, action schema and canonical functional object schema. By analogy with Arbib’s account of the evolution of the language-ready brain, I suggest that the“basic-level” symbol-ready brain may have been present in the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees, but that the emergence of a pre-linguistic or proto-linguistic symbolic culture(conventionalized semiosphere) did not occur until considerably later. I propose that the presence of a symbolic culture can be inferred, if not completely reliably, in h. erectus around half a million years ago.
I then discuss the evolutionary step from symbolization to linguistic conceptualization and its dualgrounding in organism and language system. A speculative model of the neuro-computational implementation of dual grounding is proposed, and situated in the evolutionary sequence in terms of the transition from symbol-ready brain to language-ready brain, and the emergence of language from symbolic culture.