Saturday, 6 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell On James Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Russell (1960: 767):
It will be seen that this doctrine [of James] abolishes the distinction between mind and matter, if regarded as a distinction between two different kinds of what James calls 'stuff'.

Blogger Comment:

James does not abolish the distinction between mind and matter; he merely claims it is derivative from experience, rather than 'primal' or 'fundamental'.  As James says, experience 'furnishes the material to our later reflection'.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, mind and matter are construals of experience as the domains of mental and material processes; that is, of sensing on the one hand, and of doing–&–happening on the other.

Friday, 5 August 2016

The Thoughts Of William James In Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1960: 767):
[James] holds that there is 'only one primal stuff or material', out of which everything in the world is composed.  This stuff he calls 'pure experience'.  Knowing, he says, is a particular sort of relation between two portions of pure experience.  The subject–object relation is derivative: 'experience, I believe, has no such inner duplicity'.  A given undivided portion of experience can be in one context a knower, and in another something known.  He defines 'pure experience' as 'the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material for our later reflection'.

Blogger Comment:

James' notion of pure experience as 'the immediate flux of life which furnishes the material for our later reflection' is incorporated in Systemic Functional Linguistic theory in the notion that experience is construed as meaning.  This also informs Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection which assumes that the brain has to categorise an unlabelled world.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of knowing as a relation between two portions of pure experience is the construal of experience as a senser mediating a cognitive mental process that either ranges over a phenomenon, or is caused by it.  In this sense, such 'a subject–object relation' can be considered derivative, since it is a construal of experience, rather than (unconstrued) experience.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Thoughts Of William James Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1960: 767):
Consciousness, [James] says, 'is the name of a nonentity, and has no right to a place among first principles.  Those who still cling to it are clinging to a mere echo, the faint rumour left behind by the disappearing "soul" upon the air of philosophy'.  There is, he continues, 'no aboriginal stuff or quality of being, contrasted with that of which material objects are made, out of which our thoughts of them are made'.  He explains that he is not denying that our thoughts perform a function which is that of knowing, and that this function may be called 'being conscious'.  What he is denying might be put crudely as the view that consciousness is a 'thing'.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, consciousness is both an ideational construal of meaning and an interpersonal enactment of it.

Ideationally, consciousness includes mental processes of perception, cognition, desideration and emotion, in which participate a senser as medium of such processes, and a phenomenon as the range or agent of such processes.

Two types of mental processes, cognitive and desiderative, potentially involve symbolic processing, whereby the the content of consciousness — in this instance: meaning, the semantic system of language — is projected into semiotic existence.

By the same token, verbal processes also potentially involve symbolic processing, whereby the content of consciousness — in this instance: wording, the lexicogrammatical system of language — is projected into semiotic existence.

Interpersonally, consciousness includes acting on each other through commands, offers, questions, statements and modal assessments.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Subject–Object Relation Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1960: 767):
James's doctrine of radical empiricism was first published in 1904, in an essay called 'Does "Consciousness" Exist?'.  The main purpose of this essay was to deny that the subject–object relation is fundamental.  It had, until then, been taken for granted by philosophers that there is a kind of occurrence called 'knowing', in which one entity, the knower or subject, is aware of another, the thing known, or the object.  The knower was regarded as a mind or soul; the object known might be a material object, an eternal essence, another mind, or, in self-consciousness, identical with the knower.  Almost everything in accepted philosophy was bound up with the dualism of subject and object.  The distinction of mind and matter, the contemplative ideal, and the traditional notion of 'truth', all need to be radically reconsidered if the distinction of subject and object is not accepted as fundamental.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the subject–object relation is a construal of experience as meaning; that is, both are in the domain of meaning, neither is in the domain outside meaning.  Within meaning, the subject–object relation is, in the first instance, a mental process involving a senser and a phenomenon.

The distinction of mind and matter is the semiotic distinction between the domain of mental (and verbal) processes and the domain of material processes.


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Marx In Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Russell (1960: 750):
It is essential to this theory to deny the reality of 'sensation' as conceived by British empiricists.  What happens, when it is most nearly what they mean by 'sensation', would be better called 'noticing', which implies activity.  In fact — so Marx would contend — we only notice things as part of the process of acting with reference to them, and any theory which leaves out action is a misleading abstraction.
So far as I know, Marx was the first philosopher who criticised the notion of 'truth' from an activist point of view. 

Blogger Comments:

This is consistent with the Systemic Functional Linguistic theory notion of (actively) construing experience as meaning.

It is also consistent with Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, which holds that an unlabelled world is categorised by the actions of neuronal systems.

It is also consistent with the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, which holds that we cannot say anything about what things are doing when we are not actively looking at them.

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Marx In Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Russell (1960: 749):
I think we may interpret Marx as meaning that the process which philosophers have called the pursuit of knowledge is not, as has been thought, one in which the object is constant while all the adaptation is on the part of the knower.  On the contrary, both subject and object, both the knower and the thing known, are in a continual process of mutual adaptation.  He calls the process 'dialectical' because it is never fully completed.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the 'pursuit of knowledge' is the evolution (phylogenesis) of ideational meanings in the registers of language realising particular fields (theories, etc.).  This evolution of ideas is fed by their development in individuals (ontogenesis), which, in turn, is fed by their instantiation in texts (logogenesis).

As such meanings evolve, they potentially change both the way experience is construed and the experiences that are construed.

The 'knower' and the 'thing known' are construals of experience as cognitive Senser and cognitive Phenomenon.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Marx In Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Russell (1960: 749):
[Marx] called himself a materialist, but not of the eighteenth century sort.  His sort, which, under Hegelian influence, he called 'dialectical', differed in an important way from traditional materialism, and was more akin to what is now called instrumentalism. The older materialism, he said, mistakenly regarded sensation as passive, and thus attributed activity primarily to the object.  In Marx's view, all sensation or perception is an interaction between subject and object; the bare object, apart from the activity of the percipient, is a mere raw material, which is transformed in the process of becoming known.  Knowledge in the old sense of passive contemplation is an unreal abstraction; the process that really takes place is one of handling things.

Blogger Comments:

Marx's 'activity' interpretation of perception, as the interaction of subject and object, has been imported into Systemic Functional Linguistic theory as the view that the impact of the environment is (actively) construed as meaning — an epistemological view that also follows from the theory of experience embodied in the grammatics.

The 'activity' interpretation of perceptual categorisation can also be seen in neuroscience, in Gerald Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection.  Here the impact of the environment on sensory detectors selects some active neuronal groups over others, differentially probabilised by the activity of inherited 'value' systems, with different impacts selecting different groups, resulting in different categorisations of perceptual experience.  Presumably the intellectual source, in this case, is the pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, rather than the dialectical materialism of Marx.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

The Thoughts Of John Stuart Mill Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 744):
John Stuart Mill, in his Utilitarianism, offers an argument that is so fallacious that it is hard to understand how he could have thought it valid.  He says: Pleasure is the only thing desired; therefore pleasure is the only thing desirable.  He argues that the only things visible are things seen, the only things audible are things heard, and similarly the only things desirable are things desired.  He does not notice that a thing is 'visible' if it can be seen, but 'desirable' if it ought to be desired.  Thus 'desirable' is a word presupposing an ethical theory; we cannot infer what is desirable from what is desired.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, pleasure is one type of emotive mental process; in this case it corresponds to that which accompanies the satisfaction of a desiderative mental process.  Mill's claim can be construed as follows:

α
x β cause: result
pleasure
is
the only thing [[desired]]
therefore
pleasure
is
the only thing [[desirable]]
Token
Process
Value

Token
Process
Value

The ellipsis of the Mood element in the embedded clauses serving as Qualifiers of the nominal groups serving as Values conceals important distinctions:

Phenomenon
Process: mental: desiderative
that
is
desired
Subject
Finite
Predicator
Mood
Residue

Carrier
Process
Attribute
that
is
desirable
Subject
Finite
Complement
Mood
Residue

Here 'the only thing' (referenced by the elided 'that') shifts from being construed as the Phenomenon of a desiderative Process in the α clause, to being construed as the Carrier of the Attribute 'desirable', in the β clause.

Ideationally, 'desirable' is a quality of (impinging) desiderative projection, and the thing it is assigned to is agnate with the Phenomenon of a desiderative Process.  Interpersonally, it enacts modal assessment: modulation; that is, obligation and/or inclination.  This is the aspect that Russell picks up on in claiming that 'desirable' presupposes an ethical theory — 'macro-proposals' regarding behaviour.

The propositions of Mill's argument can be construed as follows:

the only things [[visible]]
are
things [[seen]]
the only things [[audible]]
are
things [[heard]]
the only things [[desirable]]
are
things [[desired]]
Value
Process
Token

The ellipsis of the Mood element in the embedded clauses serving as Qualifiers of the nominal groups serving as participants conceal the same important distinctions:

Phenomenon
Process: mental: perceptive
that
are
seen/heard
Subject
Finite
Predicator
Mood
Residue

Carrier
Process
Attribute
that
are
visible/audible
Subject
Finite
Complement
Mood
Residue

However, the qualities serving as Attributes, 'visible' and 'audible', unlike 'desirable', do not function interpersonally to enact modal assessment.  They are concerned with potentiality, rather than modality; see Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 143).

This is the grammatical evidence that supports Russell's philosophical analysis of Mill's argument as fallacious.

Friday, 29 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Bentham Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 740):
He recognises association of ideas and language, and also association of ideas and ideas.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, ideas are the meanings of language, which are projected by mental processes, and which are realised by the wordings of language, these projected as locutions by verbal processes.  Once established in the ontogenesis of language in individuals, the meanings of language can be incorporated and expressed in the other semiotic systems that language makes possible, such as diagrams etc.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Schopenhauer Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Russell (1961: 727):
Historically, two things are important about Schopenhauer: his pessimism, and his doctrine that will is superior to knowledge. … More important than pessimism was the doctrine of the primacy of the will. … In one form or another, the doctrine that the will is paramount has been held by many modern philosophers, notably Nietzsche, Bergson, James, and Dewey.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the distinction between will and knowledge is the distinction between desiderative consciousness (a senser desiring) and the contents of cognitive consciousness (the projected ideas of a senser thinking).

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Schopenhauer Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Russell (1961: 724):
But the will that is behind phenomena cannot consist of a number of different volitions.  Both time and space, according to Kant — and in this Schopenhauer agrees with him — belong only to phenomena; the thing–in–itself is not in space and time.  My will, therefore, in the sense that it is real, cannot be dated, nor can it be composed of separate acts of will, because it is space and time that are the source of plurality — the principle of 'individuation'*, to use the scholastic phrase which Schopenhauer prefers.  My will, therefore, is one and timeless.  Nay, more, it is to be identified with the will of the whole universe; my separateness is an illusion, resulting from my subjective apparatus of spatio-temporal perception.  What is real is one vast will, appearing in the whole course of nature, animate and inanimate alike.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, volitiondesiderative mental processes — is in space and time, since all processes are construed to unfold in time, and volition, space and time are all construals of experience as meaning.

From the perspective of Eastern philosophy, Schopenhauer has identified 
  • the Buddhist notion of 'the world beyond pairs of opposites' — 'beyond fear and desire' — with Kant's noumena, and 
  • the Buddhist notion of 'undifferentiated consciousness' — in 'the world beyond pairs of opposites' — just with desiderative consciousness.


* The term 'individuation' has been used by some members of the SFL community, but not with comprehension.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Schopenhauer Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Russell (1961: 724):
Kant had maintained that a study of the moral law can take us behind phenomena, and give us knowledge which sense-perception cannot give; he also maintained that moral law is essentially concerned with the will. The difference between a good man and a bad man is, for Kant, a difference in the world of things–in–themselves, and is also a difference as to volitions. It follows that, for Kant, volitions must belong to the real world, not to the world of phenomena. The phenomenon corresponding to a volition is a bodily movement; that is why, according to Schopenhauer, the body is the appearance of which will is the reality.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Schopenhauer ascribes the semiotic construal that is desiderative consciousness to the domain outside semiotic construals.

volitions
must belong to
the real world (things–in–themselves/noumena)
Carrier: possessed
Process: relational: possession
Attribute: possessor
a senser desiring
must belong to
the experience that is construed as meaning


Moreover, Schopenhauer regards desiderative mental processes as 'reality' (noumena) and their corresponding bodily material processes as mere 'appearance' (phenomena).

noumenon = reality
phenomenon= appearance
volition
bodily movement
a senser desiring
an actor doing

Monday, 25 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Schopenhauer Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Russell (1961: 723-4):
Schopenhauer's system is an adaptation of Kant's, but one that emphasises quite different aspects of the Critique from those emphasised by Fichte or Hegel.  They got rid of the thing–in–itself, and thus made knowledge metaphysically fundamental.  Schopenhauer retained the thing–in–itself, but identified it with the will.  He held that what appears to perception as my body is really my will.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Schopenhauer identified the experience that is construed semiotically as 'my body' with desiderative consciousness: a senser desiring.

the experience that is construed semiotically as 'my body' 
is
desiderative consciousness: a senser desiring
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value

That is, Schopenhauer locates the semiotic construal of experience as desiderative consciousness outside the domain of semiotic construal (meaning).

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Romantics vs Rationalists Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 696):
The romantic form of revolt is very different from the rationalist form, though both are derived from the French Revolution and the philosophers who immediately preceded it.  The romantic form is to be seen in Byron in an unphilosophical dress, but in Schopenhauer and Nietzsche it has learnt the language of philosophy.  It tends to emphasise the will as the expense of the intellect, to be impatient of chains of reasoning, and to glorify violence of certain kinds.  In practical politics it is important as an ally of nationalism.  In tendency, if not always in fact, it is definitely hostile to what is commonly called reason, and tends to be anti-scientific.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the distinction between the will and the intellect is the distinction between to two types of projecting mental processes — mental symbolic processing — desiderative and cognitive, respectively.  Desiderative processes project proposals, commands and offers, whereas cognitive processes project questions and statements.  Hence the alignment of the will with nationalism and the alignment of the intellect with science.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Thoughts Of Kant Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [10]

Russell (1961: 685):
Kant, like Berkeley and Hume, though in not quite the same way, goes further [than Locke], and makes the primary qualities also subjective.  Kant does not at most times question that our sensations have causes, which he calls 'things-in-themselves' or 'noumena'.  What appears to us in perception, which he calls a 'phenomenon', consists of two parts: that due to the object, which he calls the 'sensation', and that due to our subjective apparatus, which, he says, causes the manifold to be ordered in certain relations.  This latter part he calls the form of the phenomenon.  This part is not itself sensation, and therefore not dependent upon the accident of environment; it is always the same, since we carry it about with us, and it is a priori in the sense that it is not dependent on experience.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, all qualities, primary and secondary, are intersubjective construals of experience as meaning.

Kant's 'noumena' might be compared with the experiences that are mentally construed as meaning, as phenomena, with the provisos that these are not 'things' or 'objects' unless they are construed as such, and that it is the impact on the body that is construed as meaning, as mental phenomena.

Kant's 'sensation' might be compared with the phenomenon of a perceptual mental process, as instance, whereas Kant's 'form' of the phenomenon might be compared with the phenomenon of a cognitive mental process, as systemic potential.



phenomenon of cognition
phenomenon of perception
system
‘form’

instance

‘sensation’